Thursday, September 19, 2013

Createspace==Lesson #3 in humility

How hard could it be to create a book for my son through Createspace? I had the prototype, originally done through Snapfish and tested on my son already so I knew the book was something that my son and others like him would like and be able to read. And I'd now done 3 other books through Createspace so I knew how the process worked. So it would be easy, right? I mean, I did look for posts on the site as to what to do to include photographs, etc. Piece of cake, right?  (::SIGH:: Picture me banging forehead on the keyboard again.)

Okay, first an aside. My son (an adult now) has Down Syndrome. I cannot find any books out there appropriate for him to read. He does not relate to drawings or to imaginary stories the way ordinary children or adults would. Factual books tend to have a vocabulary beyond him and while he's fascinated by weather, it's not enough to make him want to read the book. Finally I decided to create my own line of books for him. It's not as easy as it sounds. Not only did I need to use photographs instead of drawings, but I needed to choose something to which he could relate. I also needed to consider how his brain seems to process language and vocabulary. The result was a book about a dog, written as if from her point of view, with elements to which my son could relate--making a mess, looking under the tree for presents on Christmas, etc. My son, who has never seen Sophy, ended up loving the book. It is also a book any young child might enjoy.

Anyway, back to Createspace. As I said, I figured how hard could it be, now that I had all this experience under my belt?  ::SIGH:: Things I learned THIS time using Createspace:

1) Microsoft Word compresses pictures unless one goes into settings and tells Microsoft Word not to do so.

2) Even if one tells MS Word not to compress, the moment one uses the format picture feature, the picture is compressed.

3) Createspace wants pictures to be at least 200 dpi and 300 dpi is better.

4) One needs to choose trim size and figure out margins using pictures that one formats with MS Word until one is sure one has that right. Once I knew what size the pictures could or should be, I then opened each one in GIMP (see previous posts for information on GIMP) and formatted the pictures in GIMP to be the resolution and size I wanted. Then I saved those pictures, deleted the pictures I had in the book file and replaced them with the pictures formatted exactly the right size. That way when I saved, the resolution would be kept. (Note: Since I had close to 30 pictures, this means I ended up with a very large file.)

5) In figuring out margins, etc., I had to play with where to put the page numbers. For whatever reason, the techniques I had used with earlier books did not work with this one. Which means some blank pages do have page numbers because I could not figure out any way not to have page numbers on them.  (Okay, this isn't strictly a Createspace lesson was part of the humility process so....)

6) Because there were so few pages in the book (total 30), the cover was skewed when I used the online cover creator even though I was using a file formatted for the right size cover. I had to go back into GIMP and play around until I had a cover that loaded with roughly the same size borders on right and left of the cover images (front and back).

7) Sophy's Story took much longer to show up on Amazon after I approved it for sale than previous books. I don't know if this is because it's listed as a children's book (even though my son is an adult) or because of all the photographs.

8) Amazon nicely decided to discount the book--a nice bonus for buyers.

9) Uploading a kindle or nook version was....interesting....too. For whatever reason, it did not go as smoothly as previous books had. They went "live" well before the paperback version showed up but even there they took longer than my Regencies or my Book in a Week workbook.

What have I learned from all my Createspace experience? Never, ever assume it's going to be easy THIS time! Allow for extra time for the unexpected glitches. One doesn't always know what one doesn't know until a glitch occurs.

And now I'd like to ask a favor. I know I'm not the only parent with a special needs (adult) child who can't find appropriate books for him to read. If you know of someone, please let them know about my book. Or maybe check it out even if you know a "normal" child who might enjoy it. Thank you!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Strange Feeling

It's a strange feeling seeing my first three published books available again. The were published in the late 70s and Amazon has re-released them thanks to buying out Avalon--my first publisher. Unlike my later books, these three were contemporary romances. They reflect how society viewed women and romance at the time--and how rebels reacted to those rules and attitudes.

If you've ever wondered about the difference between an author's first published book and her 32nd, you can find both PARIS SUMMER and DUTIFUL WIFE available now.

If you've ever been intimidated thinking a book has to be perfect or follow all the "rules" to be published, check out TRONDELAINE CASTLE (and the other 2).  Something made an editor want to buy those books!

These three books are also a glimpse into attitudes and expectations both in society and for romance novels in that time period--though I broke more than a few rules and I am profoundly grateful to Avalon for letting me do so!

At the same time, there were rules I didn't know about until the first drafts were done and I had to go back and make changes--sometimes significant changes. Sometimes the changes were made for me.

So...if you're curious, whether about my first books or about romance novels from the late 70s or just about how people thought and felt back then, I hope you'll read and love my first three novels.

Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon

Monday, September 09, 2013

September 2013 Book in a Week online class

Well, it's that time....

Here's the information on my next Book in a Week class--one of the best gifts I believe an author can give himself or herself. It's a chance to write better, faster and have more fun doing so. It's also a new way to look at the process of creating a book.

Dates: September 22, 2013 to November 1, 2013 (Note: Last week of class is wrap up and relatively low key.)

Cost: $85 ($45 if you've taken the class before) (Note: 10% discount if you send me proof of purchase of my APRIL KIHLSTROM’S BOOK IN A WEEK WORKBOOK available for kindle, Nook and in paperback )
Deadline to sign up: Sept. 20, 2013
Lessons: Everything is handled by email so you do the lessons at YOUR convenience
Class size is limited.

Payment for the class may be made by check or by PayPal. To sign up send an email to with the title of the class you wish to take in the header and in the body of the email please put: your name and whether you prefer to pay by check or PayPal. Also, please let me know if you have taken the class before and if you’ve bought the workbook (so I can request proof of purchase and give you the discount).

Note: If you do not get a response back from me, please try emailing me at Unfortunately email does sometimes simply disappear into cyberspace.

Class Description: This class will take you through every step of the writing process—from beginning to brainstorm all the way through sending material out to be published. And it will help you discover who YOU are as a writer. You can participate as much or as little as you like in email discussions.

Weeks 1-3: This is when you do the prep work with lessons that are designed to get you thinking in new ways about your project. Among other things, I'll cover characters and book structure, imagery and use of names, POV and how to make sentence and paragraph structure work for you. If you choose, you can post answers and get help brainstorming ideas for your book but NO ONE is required to do so!

Weeks 4 and 5: Intensive Writing Weeks (October 12, 2013 through October 27, 2013)This is your chance to write better and faster than you ever have before, to discover what YOUR natural first draft will look like and ways to fit writing into your life that you may never have thought of before.

Week 6: Here's your chance to look at the experience of weeks 4 and 5 and use it to create a writing method that works for YOU and is tailored to your most natural writing style. We'll also look at how to revise your work in the fastest, most effective way possible and I'll be sharing some of my thoughts on query letters, synopses, etc.

Does BIAW work? Well, a number of people who have taken this class are now published or under contract and/or were finalists in or won contests with material they worked on during my classes.  One author had her book optioned for a movie!

Bio: April Kihlstrom is an award winning author of 32 published romance novels. She offers coaching to fellow writers as well as classes and workshops on writing and has spoken at many conferences including: the Romance Writers of America national conference (romance) and the East of Eden conference (non-romance).

Testimonials from students who have taken the Book in a Week class:

“April's course always makes me take a good hard look at my characters, their motivations and what it will take to tell their story. Even better is the feedback she gives to responses.  She really makes me think!”--Anne McAllister

“I had been stuck for 18 months on my book, writing next to nothing after the loss of a family member. I was desperate to get it going but couldn't seem to muster the enthusiasm. Your class was just the ticket.”--Robin Heart Shepperd

 “Through the series of questions that April asks she makes each author delve deeply into their character and story line. April's questions make you think about how your character's history, social standing, occupation, family position, and more impacts how they handle the various situations we authors toss them into. At the end of April's class you have a deep understanding of your characters that writing the story will be a breeze. “--Ruth A Casie
“I so enjoyed every minute of April's class. First, she hands out the BEST lessons, they make you think and show you just how much insight April brings to her class, on writing, on writers, and on LIFE! Then she carefully answers all the questions online or privately and we all learned from everyone else too!  This class is really a fantastic jump starter for any book, idea, premise you might be struggling with.  I was unable to write but two days of the writing weeks and still got in over 10,000 words because the class allowed me to get to some truths in my work.  Hat's off to April for providing the inspiration and know how, and finally for her innate quality as a human study. If you are a writer - this is the class YOU need!”--Cheryl Rae

“I first tried "Book in a Week" when I wanted to start a new novel but was having trouble gathering ideas.  The process really jump-started my brain and my creativity and pretty soon the ideas were flowing!  Although I didn't finish the book that week, I wrote more than I thought possible and went on to finish the book more quickly than I ever had in the past.  That book was not only published, but nominated for a National Readers' Choice Award! Since then I have taken the class several times and it has always gotten me started with plenty of plot and character ideas; and has helped me to get my novels well underway!”--Roni Denholtz