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.
Presidential elections bring out the worst in people. I’ve observed that every fourth year an alarmingly high number of people ramp up their usage of the L-word and the C-word. Republicans are quick to label those with opposing viewpoints as liberals, while Democrats refer to their political rivals as conservatives. For better or worse, those two words have, in my opinion, devolved over time, and now, they hold mostly negative connotations, even though both words, by definition, are inherently positive.
To my proof.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Online, a liberal is defined as someone “believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change.” Another definition reads as someone “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.” Going by these definitions, I am a liberal. . .and proud of it. I like to think of myself as actively supporting social and political change. And I’m not opposed to new ideas. Like, for example, term limits for all elected officials in local, state, and federal government. There’s an idea that is certainly not widely accepted.
And what about the other nasty word, conservative?
From Merriam-Webster’s Online: a conservative is someone “believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society.” It goes on to state that a conservative is “not liking or accepting of new ideas.” Interesting. It would appear I am a conservative, too. . .and proud of it. I believe in a great many established and traditional practices in politics. Democratic elections and freedom of speech, to name but two obvious ones. But I also do not accept or like certain new ideas, such as Obamacare, which, while well-intentioned, is quite burdensome on small to moderate-size businesses in America.
Look, I’m not naïve, nor am I Don Quixote on his high horse. I don’t expect people’s attitudes about those on the opposite end of the political spectrum to change any time soon. However, I would like to make a suggestion: the next time someone calls you a liberal or a conservative, simply smile and say, “Yup, I sure am.”
Multi-million dollar real estate deals. A priceless map drawn by 16th century explorers. Coded messages in Spanish and English. Femme fatales and callous businessmen. Snipers and lying women. Suicide and murder. Sex and intrigue. Like a complex stew, there are many layers to Deadly Dunes, the third installment in the highly-entertaining Mac McClellan series, and although I greedily consumed this mystery in one sitting, I’d recommend slowing down, savoring the many flavors.
The setup: McClellan is hired to investigate the alleged suicide of an archeology professor, who just so happens to have stumbled across a map from Hernando de Soto’s 1539 exploration of a place called Five Mile Island, an idyllic spot on the coast of Florida. Little does McClellan know that the map will draw him into the always dangerous world of big money real estate development, and before long, he’s embroiled in yet another complex web of lies, money, and murder. The only question is: can McClellan, a retired Marine turned P.I., discover the truth, thwart the bad guys, and remain in one piece?
This is a solid mystery with plenty of red herrings and double-crossings to keep the reader guessing until the end. But, as always, the thing I enjoyed the most was Mac McClellan. A drinker of Budweiser, an avid fisherman, a man’s man with a sarcastic tongue and a secret chivalrous streak, McClellan has quickly become one of my favorite P.I.s, and I look forward to his next adventure. Highly recommended.
Writing a novel with shifting narrative perspectives is good fun–for the author and the reader. The author gets a chance to really develop characters and voices, while the reader gets to experience the story from multiple perspectives. Some really great novels have shifting narrative perspectives. . .Bel Cantoby Ann Patchett, One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash, and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, to name but three.
My forthcoming crime thriller Alphabet Land has three different narrators, and it got me thinking about some “rules” for multiple narrative perspectives. I came up with four, if ever you’re looking to try your hand at this.
Stay with one perspective for an entire chapter. And when you do this, make sure to establish which character you’re following in the very first paragraph, the first sentence preferably. Otherwise, you risk alienating/confusing the reader, which is quick way to get him or her to give up on your book.
Move the story forward with every narrative shift. This means, of course, that the plot should progress with each new chapter, but, perhaps less obviously, the characters–all of them–need to evolve right along with the story. Doing that will only serve to increase the tension, and keep the reader hooked.
If using third person narrators, you must remain consistent. For example, if you allow the reader access to one of your narrator’s internal dialog, then you need to do that for all other narrators as well. Another example: if you include very little backstory for one narrator, and instead, rely on action and/or dialog to develop the character (which, as a writer, I recommend, and as a reader I prefer), then do that for all other narrators, too. Ditto style, tone, syntax, pacing, etc. (Note: if you’re using first person when writing with multiple narrators. . .all bets are off.
Bottom line, writing in multiple perspectives is a great way to challenge yourself as a writer, and it can be a deeply satisfying experience for a reader. If you have any other good novels that use this technique, drop me a line. Would love to hear from you.