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Thursday
Jan012015

I Began Praying for my Enemies Today

Actually, I only have one 'enemy" and I started praying for him last week. But as a blog title that wasn't as interesting.

My husband Neal received a book by Stephen King for Christmas (no, Stephen King is not my enemy). At some point, when I have time, I'll read it. But I already read the back cover (the book is "Revival", btw). I imagine, from reading the back cover blurb, that Mr. King may have originally wished to titled the book "The Fifth Business". The blurb consists of, in summary, comparing everyday life with movie industry plots. You have your main characters, your supporting cast and your bit characters. It goes on to read: "But sometimes a person who fits none of these categories comes into your life. This is the joker who pops out of the deck at odd intervals over the years, often during a moment of crisis. In the movies this sort of character is known as the Fifth Business."

I would add that in real life the Fifth Business character often takes on different faces. But one thing seems to be true, he shows up unexpectedly and his intentions often seem to be for no other reason then to derail your little red buggy from whatever happy path you have set it on.

In August of this year, long before I knew I was going to run into a Fifth Business character, I started a new job. I was quite joyous about it because not only would it bring a decent income in to help unstall our business, it was the first job I had held since being hospitalized over a year before and all the subsequent out-patient surgeries and of just feeling like I was never going to physically feel good again. And in all honesty, the day I took the position, I still only felt about 80%. I knew I was still weak, my stamina was no where near what it used to be and for the first month after starting, I came home and collapsed into bed by eight o'clock each evening. But I was a happy camper because the job was exactly what I needed. I was outside all day long, walking around with a clipboard and a measuring tape and talking to a variety of people from all over our area. I walked and walked and got sun-tanned and healthy again. It was exactly what I needed.

In late October my husband was diagnosed with a 90% blocked carotid artery. Surgery was scheduled asap. So, yeah, we were a bit in crisis mode. Suddenly I was faced with a date where my husband may or may not still be around. The date was the week before Thanksgiving. The date came, the surgery was done, not without it complications which I won't bore you with here, and his recovery was fast, smooth and remarkable. Also a little annoying because my health problems had put me flat on my back, so to speak, for nearly a year. He gets his throat cut and is feeling pretty much fine a week later. But all was well, and I was a very happy camper. 

Then a week before Christmas, the Fifth Business Joker popped out of the deck (why are all the crises just before holidays?) And a more bizarre Joker probably could not be found. A co-worker I was subordinate to decided to reveal to me a shocking confession (which I will withhold details as I still don't know the truth of it) and concluded by threatening my and one of my co-worker's lives by name, and included three others in our group with a general 'and the guys I'll take out with a baseball bat'.

Did I report this conversation? Hell, yeah. Anyone heard of the words "workplace violence"? Does everyone really think that all those instances came out of the blue without any warning whatsoever? I reported it to the company and to the police. The result? I'm sitting at home waiting to start another position with another company (starting date Jan 5th) and he's still working.

Sometimes, maybe most times, the Joker wins. He had told me "you can't prove it" and as I was the only one to be privvy to both his confession and his threats, he was right. I couldn't prove it. But I sure couldn't work there anymore because I knew what I heard and I knew he wasn't kidding around when he said it.

This left me and my entire family in quite a bind. I filed the police report with no more expectation of at least starting a paper trail, and maybe they could do a little background digging and see if he really did what he confessed to me of doing in the past. But there was no doubt that I had turned him in as both HR and the police were contacting him and asking questions. Of which he did confirm that he said what he said, but that he "was just joking around." It may just be me, but being told the who and the how seems pretty specific for a joke. He only left out the when and the where.  But evidently all he got was, "Good ol' Joe (not his real name) he's such a gagster!" and a "Carry-on soldier, the threatening of your co-workers is tolerated and no big deal within this organization."

Meanwhile, me and my family spent our holidays in full lock down mode at our home. Fun. At least I was probably under less stress than my fellow co-workers who still had to actually work with the guy who thought bashing their heads in with a baseball bat was all in good fun.

I knew as soon as I notified the company and the police that I really had a unresolvable problem on my hands. How long and how hard would the guy hold a grudge if he were fired? Even if, as the case turned out, he wasn't fired - not even suspended until a thorough investigation could be made? We're always told to forgive our enemies, and I normally find that very possible to do. Not always easy, but I usually get there. But I started praying for my enemy, because i came to the realization that the ONLY way resolution could come is if my enemy had Someone bigger than him working in his heart. It was a shocking confession he made to me, but it was a confession. And confession is the first step to reconciliation with our One True God. May Jesus reach out to him and may he find the love and warmth that Christ offers for any sinner who repents, no matter how large the sin.

Perhaps that is why the confession was made to me. Because God knew that through my fear, confusion, shock and yes, anger, I would get to where I needed to be, and pray for my enemy.

In Christ, may you all have a happy new year.

Thursday
Jun262014

So How Does One MAKE a Book, anyway?

We're on the threshold of releasing our next title, Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart Is Laid Bare.

Some of you may wonder just what is the process of taking a manuscript and making it into a book. In other words, what do I do all day?

Well, besides accounting, which is cranking up now because the end of the sales period is June 30th and I'll be working on royalty reports and checks, here's what the process for the actual book looks like:

Submissions:

The first step of the process is the submission. Sometimes we receive a query first and then need to respond and ask for the submission if we think we may be interested. Others just send along the manuscript with a query and synopsis. Either is fine but we don't normally respond unless we're interested, and the time-frame, I'm sorry to say, can be excrutiatingly long, depending on how large of a back-log we have going on. Authors we already have under our umbrella get preferential treatment, so it moves along faster for them.

Once we decide we like a submission, we offer a contract. If the author signs, then we start the editing process.

Edits:

We go through two rounds of edits and a proof. Just the edits can easily take six to nine months, depending on the size of the work and the amount of work needing done. The proof generally goes much more quickly because presumably we've weeded out ninety-nine percent of the problems by that point. 

Text Block:

As we go through the editing process we bring the book more in line with what the text block will look like. Font, dimensions and bleeds. By the time we get to the proof, it will be in final text block format and a pdf file. To get the text block to print ready status, I then save the completed pdf to a ps (postscript) file. Then I run it through Adobe Distiller which embeds fonts and makes it PDF-X1a-2001 compliant, required by all, that I know of, printers. Upon its distillation, it converts back to a pdf and is ready to go the printer. The text block is the 'easy' part.

Cover:

Usually by the time we're on the second round of edits, I'm beginning to get a cover concept in mind. The first thing I do is research similar subject books that are selling well and see what they used for their covers. If they've found something that works, then it behooves me to see if I can incorporate any of their cover theme into our cover theme. I then go online to dreamstime.com to see if they have images I can use. I prefer dreamstime because the quality of their images is usually pretty good and the royalty fees are reasonable. I'll download about ten images for different ideas on how to make the cover work, fiddle with them over the course of days until I've narrowed it down to three or four. Then I download the royalty paid versions of those three or four, which gets rid of the watermarks and gives you a professional dpi for printing.

Then starts the ardorous task of putting the cover together and making it fit within the specs required by the printer. After having the images worked out, placing in the title and author name can take another obscene amount of time. Trying to get an aesthetic balance of colors, placement, font and size can take days in itself. 

Here is Skylar Burris' finished cover:

The back cover can be an added challenge because you need to find harmony between passing along information about the book (readability of back cover description and, of course, the Bar Code) and keeping the image intact and pleasing to the eye.

After, finally, all this is done then I have to crop the image from the template I've been using in Paintshop and save it as a jpeg. Then I have to load the template into Adobe InDesign, open it, and open the cropped jpeg and reapply it to the template there. I then save it as a pdf. The pdf I convert into a PS, run through the distiller which converts it back to a pdf, but now PDF-X1a-2001 compliant.

Now it also is ready to go to the printer.

After all that, I'm ready to start the ebook formats, which is a whole other story....

 

 

Monday
Feb172014

The Reluctant Daughters

As some of you may have seen on FB, the cover for Veronica Hart's The Reluctant Daughters is now complete:

It's always exciting when we are able to put a 'face' on the work.

In other news: Karen Gonzalez's upcoming book Six Weeks at Ryder has been chosen to be presented at the IBIA in San Francisco in March. I believe (not certain, but believe) that the IBIA is for International Brain Injury Association. I know it is a huge international confrerence on Brain Injury and that they have chosen her book for the unique perspective it will give the attendees, including a myriad of congressman and other high-ranking officials from all over the world. Exciting!

Now we're hustling to finish it up and get a preliminary print run done so that she will have books to present in March at the conference, as the release date isn't until May.

In addition, before the end of the month, we need to also have some books available for Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart is Laid Bare for a promotional giveaway on Good Reads. The to do list also reads: 

 

  1. Complete and submit Wash Arts Teaching Schedule
  2. Statements for Investors
  3. Complete and submit State Use and Sales Tax
  4. Finish submissions from FWAC and send out responses.

 

Whew! It's already been a busy month and I'm running out of daylight. 

Everyone have a great week!

Friday
Jan312014

January 2014 Wrap Up

January is always a busy month, so it flies by. Taxes, 1099's, royalty statements and checks. As of today, the 31st, I'm able to check off all those items. Except the taxes. I'm as far along with those as I am able to get until a few missing forms come in.

Royalty Statements and checks (for those books still on a six months sales cycle - two years or less from pub date), and 1099's go out to our authors today.

We're on the final brush-ups of both Karen Gonzalez's Six Weeks at Ryder and Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart Is Laid Bare. And we're well on our way with Veronica Hart's next title The Reluctant Daughters. So overall, I'm pleased with our progress.

The only thing I'm behind schedule on is getting out responses to our submitters from the Florida Writers Association Conference back in October. I cited the end of January. It's going to be the end of February. Our policy on submissions, stated on our website, is that we won't respond unless we're interested but applies to those unsolicited manuscripts that come in via email. For conferences, where we sit down face to face with writers and agree to look at their work, we do respond. 

The other new thing going on is that I've been invited to teach an eight week class on writing at our local Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center, aka Wash Arts. This has been on a back burner for some time, since last March, I believe, when I was first approached about it. I'm scheduled for the semester starting April 7th. So, if you're a local writer, come join in on the fun.

Everyone have a great weekend! And here's to the passing of a very cold and brutally contrary January. February always has one advantage over January: it's short, although in my experience, never short enough. Every year about this time, perhaps more so this year, I ask myself: why do we live in Pennsylvania again? I saw where the cost of living in Costa Rica is very reasonable. 

Friday
Jan172014

Out with the Old; In with the New - 2014

I see that it has been two months since I blogged. Little wonder. I've been swamped and the swamping continues.

Always, there is the ongoing production of books. What's coming out, what needs a cover and by when, edits, formatting, and all of it on a deadline to make the distribution catalog.

The newest title pending to gain a cover is Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart is Laid Bare, which looks like this:

The book was extremely hard to come up with a cover concept for. Everything I tried turned out looking sci-fi, which is way of base. Finally, my daughter came up with this concept and we sat down and went through images with her pulling what I should use. I put it together, and although it is designed to intrigue more than inform, I am happy that because a younger eye came up with it (she's a freshman in college), mayhaps that will result in younger eyes picking it up.

But that is only one item marked off of a very long to-do list this month.

By the end of the month, I need:

  • a cover for Veronica Hart's The Reluctant Daughters
  • 1099's completed and mailed to our authors for their taxes
  • Royalty Statements and checks mailed to our authors (for those titles less than two years old)
  • Reworking our website as we no longer have a store front for customers to purchase directly from us (authors will still be able to order in their usual manner). I will need to redirect our links to online retailers. The short story is our store platform provider was bought out by a bigger platform provider, and the process of setting everything up again was too time-consuming to even mess with. As I had it in place as a convenience for those customers that didn't normally order through Amazon or B&N, I weighed the cost of maintaining it and the time needed to rebuild it and simply came to the conclusion that we could do without it.

By the end of February, I need:

  • two more covers
  • Investment Statements and checks mailed to our investors (Yes, we are now an LLC)
  • Letters of interest or rejection emailed/mailed out to our submitters from 2013 Florida Writers Association Conference

Throughout all this, I have numerous print jobs to set in motion and shipping to our distributor to cover orders that continue to come in, and editing. Always editing.

Everyone have a great weekend!