Sunday, January 30, 2011

More Apps for the Print-on-Demand or Self-Publishing Author

In designing the covers for my two latest projects (see links at the top of this page), The Ghost in Me (Feb 2011) and Little Red Riding Hood (March 2011), I found two useful and FREE tools online. Although both are available for purchase in more advanced platforms, if you desire.

The first program is photo editing software at

I used this program to create, enhance, and adds effects and text to both book covers. For The Ghost in Me, I started with a photo I had taken of my models. Obviously, what I ended up with is far different from what I started with. The original photo is shown here.

I also used Picnik to enhance photos that I had created for the extreme donoughts project that Rick Walton and I are working on. (Merged photos were first made in Jasc Paintshop Pro).

The second program that I've found I cannot live without is Artweaver 1.0, which I downloaded from the web. It follows the same format as Paintshop, which is nice since I'm already familiar with that program. And overall, it is even easier to use. Artweaver helped me fine tune the watercolor image I had painted for the Little Red Riding Hood cover. This program can also be used to create original digital artwork on your computer. I used this feature to create my company logo.

Simple, I know. But simple is good.

Also, as far as scanning in the artwork I had created for Little Red Riding Hood, I made life easy with the fine folks at Alpha Graphics in Providence, Utah. They scanned all my images on to my flashdrive for a reasonable rate, which saved me from buying hardware and taking time needed to learn to use it.

Other artists/writers have had success going with this sort of route, as an alternative to scanning in images themselves. I know that Judith Torres, author of Duck, Duck, Moose (, Feb 2011), was very pleased with similar tasks completed for her at Square One Printing in Logan, Utah.

So, if you want to create your own artwork, but don't want to deal with uploading it into digital format yourself, look into local printing stores as a resource.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Works, and What Doesn't

Here's what works on the road to publication: Lots of long hours at the computer, while wearing many different hats, but it's oh-so-worth-it.

If all goes well, I will officially be releasing The Ghost in Me for publication in early Februray. I'm pushing for the 5th,... just because it sounds nice. The ghost's face is more prominent on the actual book cover, than how she appears here, btw.

Here's another thing that works:
Skechers tone ups!
Especially when those long hours at the computer keep you from the gym, provided you at least get up and walk around a bit.

Heres what doesn't work:
at least, if you're a NY Jets fan. 

Here's another thing that works:
Smiles. Even when you want to pull your hair out.

Food, of course always works, too.

But here is what doesn't work for writers, who type, think, and talk with their hands......

Doritos, 3rd Degree Burn
yes, jalepenos go a long way

And that is all I know. for now.

What works for you? What doesn't?
Post here. ; )

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Week in Children's Apps: December 23, 2010

The Week in Children's Apps: December 23, 2010

One of the children's books featured in this article, which is now an e-book, was a favorite for me to read to my younger sister when I was a child. So neat to see it here! The Monster at the End of this Book.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Tools for the Writer's Toolbox. Part 1

In my last post I said I would share what I learned on this journey in print-on-demand publishing. The first tool I'm going to talk about is one that I believe is crucial to anyone who is submitting manuscripts to editors today: the Kindle Previewer.

Note that I wrote PRE-veiwer.

I'm not suggesting every writer needs to purchase a Kindle, or a Nook, or a Reader.

However, I do believe writers who are trying to break in with a traditional publisher should consider using the Kindle Previewer tool prior to submitting a manuscript. It is available as a FREE download at Amazon through their self-publishing/e-store link.

WHY the Kindle Previewer?

I'll give you 3 good reasons.

1. In the paperless age, most editors now request manuscripts to be submitted via email. But what they see probably isn't what you see on the computer screen in your standard word processing program. Based on what I've heard at several conferences, many editors now upload submitted manuscripts on to their digital readers, which puts your manuscript into digital book form. And believe me, viewing manuscript pages as "real" book pages, makes typos, strange formatting, poor grammar, long sentences, etc., stand out. ....It gives editors all the reasons they look for in considering whether to reject a manuscript, or not. Digital readers show editors how well you have done your job as a writer, and how hard or easy their job as an editor would be if they were to take on your manuscript.

Sound like bad news? More work?  Maybe, considering that just because a manuscript looks "clean" in Word, it may show errors on a digital reader due to hidden codes in the document.

2. Here's the good news. Editing your own manuscript has never been easier, if you use a digital previewer. Typos, wordiness, orphans, unnecessary tags, etc., jump out at you.

In years past, one of the steps I used in editing was to view/print my manuscripts in a font other than what I typically used. For example, Times Roman is my standard font. Thus, during editing, I would print my manuscript out in Comic sans, or Courier. This helped errors stand out, and tricked my mind into reading the story with a fresh point of view, probably because I was seeing it in a different form.

As writers, we are all readers. Uploading and viewing your manuscript with the Kindle Previewer immediately gives you a reader's point of view in examining your story, because it puts the story in book form.

3. If the editor of your dreams happens to be one of those editors that uses the Kindle or the Nook as a tool for doing their job, then going through this extra step will not only help you fine-tune and copy-edit your manuscript, it will also help assure you that your submission is formatted appropriately for easy viewing, giving the editor one more reason to love you and your story.

Comments? Questions? Post them here. ;)