I’m pleased to announce that Parent.com is going to publish “Love by Numbers,” an essay I wrote about the 277 letters I’ve written to Harry since he was born. I’ll post again when the piece goes live; if my essay gets a certain number of hits and shares, I get a bonus! The money is cool (it’s always nice when you actually get paid to do something you love), but I’m gonna get a little Chicken Soup for the Soul on ya here: I care more about sharing my struggles with OCD and parenting than anything else; I care more about getting anyone suffering with chronic anxiety to stop feeling so ashamed, and my essay attempts to do that.
Although I did sign a contract with a new publisher (thanks Down and Out Books for reviving The Rook!), I have been writing a lot of short stories and personal essays in addition to working on my novel. The stories have been largely autobiographical, just tidbits that stuck with me from childhood. I was fortunate enough to have two pieces published lately, one called “Family History,” which you can read here at gravel, and another entitled “Cool Friend,” which you can read here atThe Citron Review.
As for the essays I’ve been writing, those are of the extremely personal variety. For whatever reason, I feel compelled of late to muse (read: obsess) about my three decades long struggle with OCD and Panic Disorder; my loving but complicated relationship with my father; and my attempts to stay sane as a new stay-at-home dad. As I’ve been writing about my life, I realized something: I’m getting better. Not smarter. Not richer. Not better looking. Not taller (certainly not taller). I’m getting better. Example: finally, after more than a quarter of a century, I no longer feel the need to refer to myself as a “neurotic,” an easy and ugly term to hang on one’s self. Finally, now that I am jobless and in the presence of a hilarious and difficult and intelligent four-year old all day, I no longer feel such extreme anxiety. I feel at ease. I feel calm. I feel capable, which would never have cracked the top 50 adjectives I would’ve used to describe myself even one year ago. Maybe I was not (or am not) cut out to have a “career,” and without the pressures of a job, I feel lighter. Or maybe I am just getting older and wiser. I don’t know. I do know that these essays I’ve written lately have brought up some painful memories–some of them very recent memories–but the pain has been twinged with humor. . .
Just as I was about to give up on writing mystery novels, Down and Out Books offered me a contract to re-issue Alphabet Landand continue the series. So it looks like the Rook, one of my favorite characters, will live on. . .as soon as I sit back down at the computer and dream up another sticky situation for him and his .45 Chief’s Special to get into.
I’m excited and honored.
In the meantime, I’ve become a stay-at-home dad (long story), and to cope with the stress and share the joys of parenting, I started a blog called Breakfast With Harry. It’s all about me trying to feed my four-year old breakfast everyday. The stories are funny, I think, so check it out.
Hey, wanna snag a paperback copy of my new short story collection, which is getting rave reviews (2 so far), but refuse to pay retail price? Then you’re in luck. Just follow these easy steps, and get 30% off!
Almost two years ago, I sat down with a composition notebook, a pen, and no real ideas for a story. All I knew was I wanted to try to write (as realistically as possible) a novel completely through a woman’s perspective. What I ended up with was Unlove Me, definitely the most personal book I’ve written to date. Because it doesn’t fit neatly into a specific genre, I decided to release it for free on Wattpad. Just click here if you’re interested.
Nearing forty, Hannah has a damn near perfect life. She is a successful HR director of a prosperous software company. She has a lovely home, two beautiful and healthy sons as well as a handsome husband who adores her. Life, on paper, couldn’t be better. But Hannah also harbors a macabre side, and when she–on a whim–purchases a bookcase that can be converted into a coffin, she unwittingly sets a chain of events in motion that force her to confront her troubled past. . .not to mention the many and varied lies she’s told her husband. Equal parts detective mystery and literary character study, Unlove Me, at its core, tackles the age-old question that every spouse must ask him or herself: can you ever really know your partner?
A new one for me: I spent a few bucks (a very few) and ordered a one day social media promotion through Books & the Bear. I’d read and heard good things about their editing and marketing services, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Here’s what I know so far. First, their website looks great and is very easy to navigate, which is a big plus in my book. Second, they have a range of marketing services from blog tours on the high end of the price scale, to book promotion packages and social media promotions on the lower end of the spectrum. Being cheap by nature (and wanting to do an audition, of sorts), I bought the social media promotion, which was only $5. For that, you get a one-day social media blast. I’m not expecting miracles, but Books & the Bear has a very strong social media presence (about 221K on twitter), and they even provide stats for the social media promotion: reach an audience of 210,00+ with an average of 458+ clicks. Whether this will translate into any sales, who knows? But it should, I hope, provide some exposure for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.
Max Everhart’s latest book is a collection of short stories called All the Different Ways Love Can Feel. It is available on his Createspace storeand Amazon. Find him on Facebook and twitter.
Good news, I set up a Goodreads Giveaway for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. The promotion will run from June 5th until June 12th, so drop by and put your name in the hat. I’ve got (2) signed paperback editions up for grabs. And I’ll probably write each winner a personalized letter in which I ramble about whatever is on my mind; lately, I’ve been preoccupied with such topics as the most recent season of House of Cards, how pharmaceutical companies re-purpose their drugs in order to extent the life of their patents, and my son’s floppy hair. Or I might just three pages worth of complaining about the Southern humidity in June. Who knows? Gotta enter and win to find out. (Actually, if you just send me your address, I’ll write you a letter. I like writing letters.)
On Createspace, you’ll find a tool called Cover Creator (guess what it does?), and within this tool, you’ll discover three basic options for creating your book cover. In this post, I’m going to go over those three options and briefly discuss the pros and cons of each one. Then, I’m going to explain the less-than-efficient way that I created the cover for my book, ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.
Option #1: Use one of the free templates provided. First off, let me say Cover Creator is pretty great–it’s totally easy to use and even fun, and I’m not a tech guy. Now: the free templates. There are, as best I could tell, about 35 different templates to choose from, and within each template, you can customize the text, font, size, color, layout, and a bunch of other things, too. The templates themselves are quite generic, and I wouldn’t recommend choosing one without really customizing it. (Note: regardless of whatever template you choose, you can upload images–JPEG files–and have them be a part of the cover. They just need to be 300 DPI (dots per image) or higher. And, of course, make sure whatever image you use, you have secured the proper rights to it.)
One of the templates allows for you to, essentially, upload a completed front cover and a completed back cover. That is what I did. Well, sort of. More on that shortly.
Pros: this option is free; user-friendly; fast.
Cons: templates are generic; formatting can be tricky, especially when it comes to uploading a 300 DPI photo.
Option #2: Upload a completed book cover to Createspace. This option allows a user to make a one-sheet book cover (front, spine, back), save it as a PDF, and upload it to Cover Creator. In the beginning of my book cover creation process, I chose this option. But, despite much effort, I could never get the cover to come out exactly the way I wanted it, so I circled back to the templates and found the one where you can upload whatever front and back cover you wanted.
Pros: allows for a completely customized book cover; you control every aspect of design.
Cons: formatting is very tricky; compared to using the free templates, this option is really difficult to use (to me, at least).
Option #3: Pay Createspace for a book cover. For a customized book cover, it’ll run you $399, which, after a bit of research, I learned is pretty standard. (Note: when 280 Steps went out of business, I asked them how much they wanted for the rights to use the ALPHABET LAND book cover, which I really loved. Memory serves, they quoted me a price of $325.) I read a bit about how this option works, and, as I understand it, Createspace sends you a detailed worksheet filled with questions about your book and your preferences regarding art, font, text, etc for the book cover. They then take that information, create a cover, and you approve it (or ask for more changes/tweaks). When you’re satisfied, you do a final approval, and your cover is ready. Not sure about the timeline for the process, but, per their website, Createspace employs lots and lots of book cover designers, and they’re the experienced professionals. Honestly, it sounded all right. . .if you got the money. Me, I didn’t want to pay. Plus, I wanted to figure it out myself.
Pros: you don’t have to make your own cover; you work with experienced book designers.
Let me preface this by saying up front that I am terrible at following instructions. And taking advice. And recognizing, once I’ve already started down an untenable path, that I should start over or change lanes.
I said all that to say this: how I created my book cover is definitely not the most efficient way to do things. Consider yourself warned.
So, with my disclaimer complete, let me begin. The first thing I did was create a free account with Canva, which bills itself as “amazingly simple graphic design software.” On Canva, I created a front cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. Using one of the free templates, I found a public domain image, cropped and edited it to suit my taste, and pasted it directly onto Canva. Next, I created a back cover on Canva, this time using a different template, but one that, I felt, fit the overall ascetic I was going for. All that was easy. Took me very little time. . .
Then came the fun part. On Canva, you can share your book cover on social media and email, no problem. But if you want to save your book cover, it must be saved as a PNG (portable network graphics). Createspace will not accept PNG files, so I had to convert the PNG file to a JPEG, and in order to do that, I had to find a free converter online (click here to see the one I used.) Once that was done, I chose the free template on Cover Creator that allows you to upload a front and back cover image; I uploaded the JPEGs I’d created on Canva, and voila. Except it took several tries (I’d guess around eleven, maybe fifteen) before I got the margins and formatting approved by Createspace.
If you’ve got a second, swing by InD’Tale Magazine, create a free account, and vote for my friend E. Michael Helms’s excellent mystery novel DEADLY DUNES, which is up for a RONE Award. I really enjoy his Mac McClellan detective series, and he is deserving of this award. Make sure to go vote by clicking here. Voting runs from May 22-28th, so don’t miss the deadline. Thanks!
This collection of short stories is twelve years in the making. I wrote the first story that appears in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL in 2005. Father’s Day was rapidly approaching, and I was a broke graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I had no money, so instead of buying my Dad a necktie or coffee mug on credit I wrote him a short story called “Five O’Clock Lightning.” It was about a fifty-year old high school math teacher who, with the help of his psychologist son, tries out for a local minor league baseball team. Like me, my old man is baseball fan, and he enjoyed the story. Back in the day, practically all professional baseball games were played during the day (no stadium lights available), and when the 1927 New York Yankees had “Murder’s Row”–Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Miller Huggins among others–the saying went that these sluggers hit so many home runs they could change the score as quickly as lightning strikes. At the time, I thought five o’clock lightning was a fitting metaphor for a middle-aged man’s comeback. I wrote that story when I was twenty four. Now I’m middle-aged and am looking to make a comeback of sorts.
Between 2005 and 2017, I wrote the rest of the stories in this collection, some while I was a creative writing student at UAB; others I wrote later after I became an English instructor, a husband, and a father. “The Man Who Wore No Pants,” a lengthy story about a single father who buys a lake house with a dying man still living in it, took me nine drafts (and six months) to complete to my satisfaction. Memory serves, the germ of that story came from an NPR story about a man who had terminal cancer and was selling his house, but with two possible asking prices: a buyer could have the house for a song if the seller was allowed to stay until he died, but if he had to leave, the price was set at market value. It was a fascinating story, and I’m pretty sure I heard it on This American Life. Anyway, “The Man Who Wore No Pants” was picked for Best of the Net for 2010 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. That story marked the beginning of my dedication to (or perhaps obsession with) third person narration, for that is the point of view I’ve written in almost exclusively ever since. That story is also primarily about a father trying to connect with his son, which is why I chose it to be the first story in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. The last story in the collection, “Just Gus,” also features a father and son. In this story, which I just finished in March of 2017, Gus Lockhart, an eighteen-year old about to leave for college, steals his father’s prized record collection, and the father attempts to better understand why it happened. I’m not one for boasting, but this is a very good story–it’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s honest. . .
As are the rest of the stories in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. Or, at least, I think they are. I hope they are. Either way, I wanted to share the book cover I created. I’m planning on writing more about the process of self-publishing on Createspace, so, if you’re so inclined, be on the lookout for my thoughts on that. In the meantime, voila. . .the book cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.