Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nook vs Kindle for the Indie Author

First, good news! The Ghost in Me is now available at B & N for the Nook reader. It includes the graphics that are included at the beginning of each chapter in the printed edition, with the added bonus of the pics being in color! Based on what I've seen so far, I love effect that the color images like this one add to the story. >>>>>>>

Now for my comparison of the Nook vs Kindle with respect to Indie Authors...

After going through the steep learning curve of converting The Ghost in Me to digital format for the Kindle last December, I was less than enthusiastic about repeating the process for the Nook. I'd heard that all the different readers weren't necessarily compatible. And so I slipped into the ease of procrastination--a habit I've mastered when facing difficult challenges. However, after mustering up the courage to tackle the task TODAY, I couldn't believe how easy publishing my story on Nook turned out to be!

Unlike Kindle, which required me to use Amazon's digital conversion software, Nook allows the author to simply upload their publish-ready manuscript directly from their word processing software. (I use MS Word). Nook does the conversion to digital format for the author in mere seconds. Plus, Nook was also able to handle the images that were included within the Microsoft document. The images showed up exactly where they needed to be on the reader, in color, which was a nice bonus. The whole process, beginning with setting up my indie account at B&N to publishing my book in digital format, along with all the supporting information needed to go along with it, took about an hour.

If only Kindle were so easy. Perhaps, in the near future it will be. After all, the kindle direct publishing site keeps adding new features all the time, with the intent of making it author friendly. But for now, Nook wins out in my opinion. 

I can only hope that the next two stores where I will be uploading my books--Apple's istore and Smashwords--are equally author-friendly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Setting, as it relates to: Living, Loving New Hampshire Again

My summer vacation with the kids was truly incredible. It was wonderful to connect with family and friends. The days were so full of sunshine, sailing, boating, fishing, and swimming, it was amazing to think I actually found time to sit back and relax in one place from time to time and simply enjoy the scenery.

Yet, even in those quiet moments, I was reminded of how when we settle down and be still, the world continues to move and breathe and fill in all the spaces around us with some form of energy, however subtle that may be.

The same can be said for writing, or more specifically, for writing about settings. (Yes, I always try to connect my posts to the subject). In a previous post, I said that a story is lost without a sense of setting. However, a setting is not simply colors and temperatures and textures and sounds. It's not enough to say, "The ridge was lined with green trees."

It's important that the setting be layered with a sense of movement, or energy.

Avi begins The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle with a setting that moves with the character:

Just before dusk in the late afternoon of June 16, 1832, I found myself walking along the crowded docks of Liverpool, England, following a man by the name of Grummage.

In Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz's setting seems nearly alive:

Lakes were scattered all over this part of the country, their outlines different, but their innards just the same. They were drops and drips and splashes on the land. They were holes and craters lined with skin too thin to hold back the springs that rushed to fill them, and most of them were dotted here and there with stubborn little islands, knobs of land that refused to dip their heads under water.

Good stories are written with settings that carry their own form of action, their own essense of life. In the real world, in nature, we become unsettled when something goes wrong, when the world becomes suddenly still--like the calm before the storm, causing us to stop, step back, and wonder what has happened.

Likewise, a reader can be thrown out of a story, or become disengaged, when the setting is too quiet, or too stark, or too absent (unless that in itself is part of the storyline). If too much is missing, if the reader doesn't become connected with a living world inside a book--one that moves and pulses with energy--then the reader isn't likely to stay too long. They'll wonder what is wrong, and perhaps, if they can't connect on a personal level with the character, they may walk away and connect with the energy of another.

I'm happy to say, my vacation, with all the combined energies of the quiet and action-packed moments, was far too hard to walk away from. But it's one that I can relive in the memories again and again.