I’ve Moved

Not too far though. I have moved my website from vaalascia.wordpress.com to my own hosted site http://www.vaalascia.com. You may need to update your bookmarks, so visit the site and see the new look. Also if you subscribed to stay in the loop I suggest you resubscribe on the new site. I have asked the good folks at WordPress to move everyone over but I cannot guarantee that everyone will be.

 

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Why Vampires

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Why in the great wide universe of things to scare you would any author in this day choose vampires? To hear it from some, zombies have replaced vampires as the go to monsters in any horror novel. Don’t get me wrong I love rotting hungry corpses as much as the next guy, but I still think the night walking blood drinking undead have more to give.

The modern vampire occupies one of several traditions. Readers have seen their share of everything from gentlemen in capes to crazed demon like creatures. Vampires can be ruthless but seductive, or gentile but heartless. They can command kingdoms or slink alone in the shadows as solo predators. I came upon the idea for the vampires in Undead Heart while reading about the book of Enoch. I immediately began imagining what I could do with the nephelim, beings born of human and angel. These beings coukd be immortal, retaining qulities of both. In the bibke theynare most often refered to as giants. Still these beings had to have enough human qualities as to be recognizable to the reader while being unlike anything the reader could be familliasr with. I admit the war between the vampires and lycans comes from the Underworld series of films but also has a healthy tradition in fiction. I wanted a story that did not have a clear cut good guy bad guy cast. As in life the details matter and there is always a little shade of gray.

Some of the best monster stories I have read have found a way to pit the monster against human adversaries but at the same time allowing the qualities of one to transfer to the other. A truly dramatic story has the monster demonstrating more human qualities and the humans become monstrous in their own way. It becomes easy to see the monster in ourselves but not so easy to see the human in the monster. That was a challenge I really looked forward to tackling. This idea guided me through the development of the world in Undead Heart. At its heart, no pun intended, it is a story of growth and romance but within a framework that makes it accessible but weird at the same time. I had a lot of fun writing it and look forward to revisiting this universe often.

You can pick up a copy of Undead Heart exclusively at Amazon.com in paperback and for the Kindle. Prime members can also boroww a copy form the Kindle Lending Library.

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In Just 2 More Days

Cover art for Undead Heart

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Inkslingers Anthology 2013

Inkslingers 2013 AnthologyI have recently had two of my short stories published in the anthology, Inkslingers 2013: Memoirs of the Southwest. The book is a collection of works by members of the West Valley Writers’ Workshop and all have a southwest theme or setting. If you have a taste for short stories and poetry head over to Amazon where you can buy the paperback for $9.00 and the Kindle version for $2.99. http://amzn.com/1937083330

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Formatting It’s a Bitch

formatWith all apologies to Mr. Jagger and Richards. So you have your plot all dialed in, your characters live and breathe in your readers’ minds and your grammar is spot on, not a comma out of place. All that remains now is to get your work in a proper format for your publisher. If you are fortunate to have a traditional publisher this becomes someone else’s headache. For independents it’s time to either open up the checkbook or break out the Tylenol. I have just completed the formatting of my latest work, Undead Heart. It was tedious, it was fraught with peril, hardships and even a few mistakes but in the end I am very proud with how it turned out. Which brings me to this post.

First off a word on drafts. I do my writing on my tablet so my rough draft is a text file with no formatting save line returns. When finish the work I format the paragraphs into 1/2″ indents and double space lines, clean up any obvious keyboard errors and add simple footers to make the first draft. I edit by sprucing up the descriptions and actions and any dialog that needs it for the second draft that I then let my wife read. Her edits and suggestions make up the third draft. Once I’m done with that I let a copy editor go over the manuscript from top to bottom. The final draft is completed once all those edits have been addressed. My work is now ready to be formatted for printing. I know some writers who will rework a piece ten or twenty times but that isn’t me. I have had works that I had to give up on because I could not get them into shape after several passes. You know better than anyone when you are just whipping a dead horse.

The formatting for print and eReaders need to be handled separately so you do not want to be making changes to the manuscript that you have to recreate in the other so make sure your edits are done because you will be making three copies of the file, one for print, one for eBook and one to have in case you really screw up the other two. I usually format the print version first. I pick my font, set the paragraphs to single space with extra space at the end of paragraphs. I set the page to the template size of the book, in this case 5.6 x 7.01. I use a 0.79″ margin with a 0.14″ gutter. I add different headers for the odd and even pages. My name goes on the left page top and the title goes on the right. The page number will go on the bottom of all pages except for the front title pages and my author bio in the back. I do not have a header or footer on the first page of every chapter. To achieve that you need a separate section for each chapter. The trick now is to make sure your page numbers are correct through all the chapters. I find it helpful at this point to zoom the view out so that I can see 2 pages at the same time. I check to make sure all the chapters have the proper page numbering and it is ready for the printer.

For the eBook version I take the final draft and turn the it into one large HTML document. I use MS Word filtered Web page setting. This creates a document with the least amount of junk tags. Now it’s HTML editing time. I use my text editor too strip out much of the CSS in the document. I then use this document to build the Kindle or ePub versions.

There are plenty of resources to get you there if you aren’t ready. A friend of mine, Greg Lundberg, has a very informative book available on Amazon, How to Publish an eBook For Under $350. If you are going the eBook route, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords also have a very large community of writers and support that can answer most of your questions on formatting for their platforms. These are some of the few that I have used and learned from in the past. You print publisher will have guidelines as well as to what type of file they accept and how they want it to look.

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My Session at the Arizona Library Association’s Annual Conference

2013-11-15 13.03.17I had the opportunity to present at this year’s AzLA Annual Conference. The title for my session was 6 Essential Apps for the Connected Librarian. I reviewed and covered six cloud based applications, Evernote, Dropbox, Chrome, Feedly, WordPress and Spotify. These are all apps that I use almost daily and make my work much easier. You know the question, how did we ever do this before, yadda yadda yadda? If you are interested you can get a look at me presentation on Slideshare are by following this link. 6 Essential Apps.

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5 Writing Rules I’ve Learned…

This is another one from the old RSS feed.  This post comes from Dena Dyer at the Wordserve Writer Cooler. These are all lessons I have learned though unlike the author of the post I learned them from other sources. Still I like the idea of learning from other media. I know much of my style and way I handle drama in my writing comes right out of the movies and television I watched while growing up and still watch to this day. Now on to the post. 5 Writing Rules I’ve learned from Pixar.

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Developing Your Voice

While going through my RSS feed I came across this guest post on the Killzone.com blog.

10 Key Essentials for an Authentic YA (or Adult) Voice

Developing a convincing voice is essential to your success as a writer. This article contains 14 tips that if followed will help you develop a natural voice that instantly make the story and characters come alive.

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Completed

So this week I completed the first draft of my Steampunk novel, The Fourth Prometheus. I am quite happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to see what my editor thinks. It could be the start of a series, I like the characters enough to revisit them at least. I also think the twist at the end opens the story up for more. Look for this sometime in 2014.cover the fourth prometheus

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What Indie Authors Do Well

This is an older post that I’ve been meaning to get back to. I can’t think of much to add to it, however. It is pretty self explanatory. One thing I struggle with and it is something I think we do to ourselves is perpetuate the label of Indie Author. When you do a search on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You get a list of books. There are no warning signs, “Work is From and Independent Author Your Reading Pleasure May be Compromised.” All the books are listed. So to the person looking for a read there are no sirens going off. Yet we still continue to feed the gulf between traditionally published authors and independents. I wonder why? If you have any thoughts let me know and enjoy the read, I found it very rewarding.

5 Things Indie Authors Do Very Well by Dr. Alison Baverstock on http://indiereader.com/

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