Month: June 2012 Page 2 of 3

New Cover for The Edge of the World

An updated cover!  It’s so pretty…

The Edge of the World

by DeAnna Knippling

And a new descripton…

When Jack was a kid, he was kidnapped by fairies.  Sounds great, right?  Except surviving the fairies was hell.  Jack only escaped with the help of his best friend, Felix.

Now his kidnapper’s dead, and Felix has come to take Jack back to the fairies…to take the place of the fairy who tortured him.  And to make Jack do the same thing to someone else.  To kidnap some other innocent little kid.  And if he doesn’t…they’ll find someone else to do it for him.

Someone not as nice.

Warning:  this story has a lot of strong language, as you will see shortly.

There’s not much difference between the real world and the land of fairies. Just take the number of assholes times ten. Bang! You’re in fairyland.

When I said “no,” Felix bound and gagged me, tied me onto the back of a prairie dragon, and flew me back to the Edge of the World anyway.

I watched the Edge coming up to meet me, the cottonwoods rustled louder than the dragon’s feathers in the heavy wind. The dragon landed right on the Edge, about a thousand feet above the prairie below.

About a thousand fairies had come to see Roberto burnt to ashes. Some were dressed in feathers and quills, as if it were a powwow; others wore Air Force uniforms or business suits with bare feet. The only ways to tell that they weren’t human were their ice-blue eyes, and they didn’t scream in terror at the dragon. Only mortals scream in terror. It’s a selfless act, a way of warning people to stay away or get their guns or whatever. Fairies are too self-involved for that.

I was still wearing my football jersey from practice. Felix cut the rope, and I rolled down the dragon’s side and the ground knocked the wind out of me. Felix jumped down and cut my ropes; I had to tear the gag off myself. I couldn’t believe they’d sent Felix. Then again, he’d been able to trick me long enough to cast the knockout spell on me when nobody else could have.

They’d laid Roberto’s body on a platform made of rough, green pine branches they’d dragged in from Hermit Mountain, rising above the last hills of the Edge. Rick Chamberlain held a bough burning with blue fire, which he tossed onto the base of the platform. Yeah, they’d just been waiting for my feet to touch the ground before they torched him, to make it official.

As soon as I could stand up, I ran over to the man who had abducted me, eighteen human years ago, and spit on his face. I screamed obscenities at him, and, “Why did you do it? Why couldn’t you leave me alone?” The man who had abducted me as a baby and held me prisoner in a razor-grass cage when I disobeyed him was dead, and the rest of them wanted me to take over his job.

Stealing kids.

The fire spread quick and hot, until the whole bier was black with smoke and sent sparks over the Edge. My last sight of Roberto was my spit running down his face, like a tear. And turning to steam.

Fucker.

(Available at SmashwordsAmazon.comB&NSonyAppleKobo, and probably more.  But they aren’t all updated yet.  If you want to check out the old cover and blurb…click at one of the links that’s not Smashwords, which is updated.)

I are a writter.

I see it all the time when I’m looking for freelance work to pick up.  People who are searching for a “writter.”  I have to laugh…those jobs are like time bombs.  You know that you can do some good there.  But you also know the person you’re going to be working for…won’t have a clue about the effort you put into it or whether your work will produce the results they want.  They won’t appreciate what you did.  They might be grateful that it’s done.  But they won’t actually know what it was you did.

This week is “abundance” week in The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.  Money week, that is.

There was a fill-in-the-blank exercise with questions like, “If I had money, I’d ______.”

And I answered them with things like “If I had money, I’d waste it.  Or hoard it and then waste it.”

In short, I found out that I have extremely negative attitudes about money.

But as the week went on, I found myself digging deeper and deeper into the idea of “worth.”

  • What I am I worth as a writer?
  • When I sell books, is it because they’re worth something, or did I just pull something over on someone?  That is, am I a con?
  • How do I judge my worth as a person?
  • How do I know when I’m wasting money (we had to track our spending this week, down to the penny).
  • What do I value?  Does what I think I value match up with what I spent?  If not, why?
  • What is “thinking too big”?
  • Should I reject things that people try to give me for free, when I feel like I don’t deserve them?
  • Why is having good luck so stressful?  Why do I feel like something bad will follow, to “pay” for it?

And things like that.  I have just been going around and around on this all week; I was considering doing this week over again, because I clearly had so many negative emotions about money, a horrible sense that I wasn’t worth anything (period), and that I would have to fight tooth and nail for what little I have, or it would disappear: that “frivolity” was a waste, a horrible waste.  Ugh.  It’s just been painful digging down into that and finding things out like, “I waste money because I won’t give myself permission to spend it on what I really want, so who cares what I spend it on?”

At the same time this week, I’ve been rereading a lot of Terry Pratchett (who has The Long Earth out with Stephen Baxter this week, and yes, the copy arrived yesterday).  At first, it was because I needed some Granny Weatherwax.  I had a conundrum that I couldn’t figure out on my own, and I needed her point of view, as it were.  (I can do that with books: reread them to pick up a point of view and use it to help process things.  I suspect everyone can, who’s a reader.  But I do it on purpose.)  And it worked like a charm: I sorted out the answer, added a thick SLAB of tact, and moved on.

But then I kept reading more Terry Pratchett–including some of the Rincewind books.

If you don’t know the Discworld, Rincewind is one of the earliest characters to show up, yet rarely makes an appearance in the later books.  He’s an incompetent coward of a wizard, and he wears this hat that reads “WIZZARD.”  You’d think he was the lamest character ever, and wonder why anyone wrote books about him.  I did.  Lee finds Rincewind grating.  I don’t know of anybody who goes, “That Rincewind, he’s my favorite character.”

In the books where he shows up, he usually:

  • Panics.
  • Saves the universe.
  • Ends up a laughingstock anyway.

Here’s an example of someone who doesn’t want to be a hero, who’s damned good at it.  And I generally look down on him.

But this morning, I was writing along in my morning pages as part of the weeks’ assignments and messing around with the idea of my value as a writer and whether or not I thought my writing was worth what people paid for it.  –And for some reason, I broke off in the middle of that idea and started writing, “But it doesn’t matter what I’m worth.  It doesn’t matter whether my writing is ‘good enough.’  I am a writter, and it is what I am and not what I do.  You cannot take being a writter away from me any more than you can take being a wizzard away from Rincewind.”

And it’s true.  I don’t have to have “value” as a writer.  It isn’t just a craft, where I can do techniques and jump through hoops better than anyone.  It’s something I am.  Even when I don’t write, even when I write terribly, I am a writter.  Incompetent?  Cowardly?  Writter.  I still writt when I sit down with a pen in hand.  My readers might mock me when I’m done–but I still performed that function.  I wrott, and they read it.

I:

  • Wrote a story that contains writting.
  • Got it to the readers.

The rest of it doesn’t matter, does it?

So there’s Rincewind.  A character of questionable “value” who nevertheless gets the damned job done, not because he can or he’s the only one who can, really, but because that’s who he is, and someone backs him into a corner where he must perform his function.  A character who shows up in the early Discworld books…then fades away.

I have to wonder if it’s because there really wasn’t anything else that he needed to teach his writter.

 

Exotics 2 Review!

The most excellent Emma Hunneyball has written the World’s Best Review for The Exotics, Book 2: Xanadu House:

This is an action-packed, fun book filled with the type of imaginative (and at times gross) adventures I’ve come to expect from De’s writing. The book is never predictable or patronising and the story itself concludes by neatly setting up the next book in the series. Children’s books don’t get much better than this.

Read more here.

What?  Don’t have book 1?  Sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter, and you can pick up a free copy.

[Dance dance daaaaaance!]

Exotics 2 Review!

The most excellent Emma Hunneyball has written the World’s Best Review for The Exotics, Book 2: Xanadu House:

This is an action-packed, fun book filled with the type of imaginative (and at times gross) adventures I’ve come to expect from De’s writing. The book is never predictable or patronising and the story itself concludes by neatly setting up the next book in the series. Children’s books don’t get much better than this.

Read more here.

What?  Don’t have book 1?  Sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter, and you can pick up a free copy.

[Dance dance daaaaaance!]

 

Exotics 2 Review!

The most excellent Emma Hunneyball has written the World’s Best Review for The Exotics, Book 2: Xanadu House:

This is an action-packed, fun book filled with the type of imaginative (and at times gross) adventures I’ve come to expect from De’s writing. The book is never predictable or patronising and the story itself concludes by neatly setting up the next book in the series. Children’s books don’t get much better than this.

Read more here.

What?  Don’t have book 1?  Sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter, and you can pick up a free copy.

[Dance dance daaaaaance!]

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-06-17

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Indie Publishing Heads’ Up: Cover Size Requirement Change

Starting June 14, Smashwords updated their requirements for covers to get into their Premium Catalog (worldwide distribution through Apple, etc.).  They are planning ahead for requirement changes in August from Apple: Apple will start requiring that the covers be at least 1400 pixels on a side.  The minimum requirements for Smashwords still are 600 pixels on the short side, but that will not get you into the Premium Catalog, and you want that.

Previously, I’d recommended covers be 750 by ~1000 pixels.  It ended up being 750 by 1150 pixels to be proportionate to a 6 by 9 cover, or 750 by 1200 for a 5 by 8 cover (the two most popular print sizes).*  However, with the requirement changes in August, that won’t work.

Here are what the requirements will be:

  • Smashwords: 1400 pixels shortest side minimum.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon): 1000 pixels minimum longest side, recommended 2500 pixes longest side.
  • PubIt (B&N):  2000 pixels length maximum, longest side.

The minimum size of a Smashwords cover will be 2100 pixels (proportional to a 6 by 9 cover) or 2240 pixels (proportional to a 5 by 8 cover), which is incompatible with PubIt requirements.

So here are your options if you want to use all three sites (and why not?):

  • Resize your cover to 1400 by 2000 pixels, no matter what the original dimensions are, and risk it looking weird as the proportions change, then use it at all three sites (not recommended).
  • Go with two different covers until B&N changes their requirements to look equally pretty as Apple.

Keep in mind that existing covers will be grandfathered in, according to Smashwords, so you won’t have to resize existing covers unless you update the cover for some other reason.

I recommend switching to two covers:

  • Smashwords/KDP covers at 1500 pixels on the shortest side.  This will lead to 1500 by 2250 for 6 by 9 proportional covers and 1500 by 2400 pixels for 5 by 8 proportional covers (with the benefit of being able to just set the short side at 1500 and let the program work the math, knowing you’re safe).
  • PubIt covers at 2000 pixels on the longest side (or 1250 pixels on the shortest side, whichever is easier to remember).
  • These covers are probably bigger than you want for a website small picture for promotions.  I’d go with 750 pixels on the short size for blog posts and 200 pixels on the short side for sidebar stuff.

I also recommend that if you’ve been buying 72 dpi images that you switch up to the next resolution bigger.  I use Dreamstime; the largest size of the 72 dpi pictures goes up to 533 by 800 pixels, which is WAY smaller than 1400 pixels on the short side and will probably look bad at the new sizes.

Something I think everyone should take away here: save the master file in a higher resolution (300 dpi, probably), and resize to the smaller dimensions using a different file, because who knows when the standards will change again…

*A 6 by 9 cover is a 1.5 ratio and approximates a trade paperback size; a 5 by 8 cover is a 1.6 ratio and approximates a mass market paperback size.  (The Golden Ratio is 1.61803399-ish, if you follow such things.)  Personally, I recommend going with a cover size that wouldn’t be incompatible with the print book, because it’s a pain to resize those things anyway, and you want to do less resizing rather than more.  KDP recommends going with the 1.6 ratio.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-06-10

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The Exotics: Tigerlilly (A Short Story)

Before Rachael was kidnapped aboard The Floating Menagerie…

Available at SmashwordsB&NAmazon, and other online bookstores.

The Exotics: Tigerlilly

(A short story)

by De Kenyon

After Rachael’s friend doesn’t return on the first day of second grade, she asks her mother to find her new address so they can be pen pals. But Rachael’s mother can’t find Brenna’s family anywhere: it’s like they were erased. And it’s a lot like what happened to her mother’s friend Lilly in second grade…except that Lilly is dead, and her mother won’t talk about it. Rachael’s mother has secrets…but Rachael’s going to find out.

Rachael’s best friend from first grade, Brenna, wasn’t there on the first day of second grade, so she asked her teacher, Mrs. Sorensen, where Brenna was, but Mrs. Sorensen didn’t know either. She didn’t even know who Brenna was. When Rachael asked her classmates, most of them couldn’t even remember her.

It was like a nightmare she had dreamed once, where her parents vanished when the bad guy erased their names off a list. As soon as he had finished erasing and brushing the last pieces of eraser off the paper, they were gone. “You will be alone …forever!” It was an evil laugh, and she had woken up crying.

On her way home from the first day of school, Rachael asked her mother, “What happens when you die? Is it like being erased?”

Her mother gave her a weird look. “No,” she said after a while. “I don’t know if anyone really knows what happens. But you don’t just…disappear. Your body’s left behind, whatever happens to the rest of you.”

“Oh, good,” Rachael said. “Because Brenna wasn’t at school today, and I was worried that her name got erased and that she died when it did.”

Her mom gave her another weird look, this time a sad one. “When people die, it’s a little bit like they’re erased,” she said. “They’re gone, and you miss them, and you can’t do anything about it.”

They stopped at the crosswalk and waited for the light to change, then waited for the crossing guard lady to walk ahead of them into the street, holding her stop sign high and looking crossly (her mother had said that the reason they were called crossing guards was that they looked cross, or angry) at all the cars. Rachael had once seen the crossing guard lady slap the top of a car that had tried to sneak by her when it wasn’t supposed to. But not this time.

She and her mother walked across the street, and Rachael said, “Is Brenna dead or not?”

“I don’t know,” her mother said. “I mean, I doubt it, but I haven’t heard from them since school got out. I’ll find out…but I have to warn you, she’s probably moved far away. That’s usually what happens when people don’t show up at school all of a sudden.”

“That’s okay,” Rachael said. “Then she can be my pen pal.” They were supposed to be pen pals with someone at another school this year anyway.

She didn’t have any homework ( yay!), so her mother let her play her zombie game until bedtime. Her father gave her kisses, then her mother. As her mother was kissing her, she asked, “Did you find Brenna yet?”

“No,” said her mother, sounding puzzled. “I had her last name and phone number written down for your birthday invitation list last year and everything. But now it’s like…like she disappeared. I’m still looking.”

Her mother kissed her again, but Rachael had nightmares about the eraser man anyway.

We live in a military town, so that means kids come and go suddenly: they vanish without leaving behind any way to contact them.  It never stops being heartbreaking to lose a friend into thin air like that.

The plan with these short stories is to do one for every main book…that follows a side story  that stands alone but weaves within the main books.

The Exotics, Book 2: Xanadu House

Now available at Smashwords, B&N, and Amazon, with more to come. What?  You don’t have Book 1?  You can find links for purchase here, or you cansign up for my newsletter and get a free copy.  There’s also a short story, Tigerlilly, that happens before the main story.  It has more clues, but the books can be read without it…

The Exotics, Book 2:

Xanadu House

by De Kenyon

Rachael survived her adventures on The Floating Menagerie and went back to her normal life…except that her mom is still missing. Now she’s coming down with the Exotics virus herself and is changing into a half-human, half-animal Exotic, just like her friends. As a new Exotic, Rachael can’t control the change, so she travels to a safe place for Exotics in danger—Xanadu House. The house is owned by an aunt that Rachael never knew she had, and who will protect any Exotic, no matter which side they’re on. But is Xanadu House as safe as it seems?

Chapter 1

“Go on!” Rachael’s dad yelled. “Get out of here!” The front door slammed.

Rachael rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times; they were all dried out.

Second grade had been a really weird school year so far. At least it was almost over.

First her mom had disappeared, and then she and her friend Raul had been kidnapped and taken to The Floating Menagerie, a strange ship in the middle of the ocean.

The ship had been run by the Shadow Dogs, a group of…well, she didn’t know what to think about them anymore. At first, she’d thought they were people who kidnapped and smuggled Exotics. (Exotics were humans who had been infected with a magical virus that turned them into magical half-animal creatures.) Some of the Shadow Dogs, like Mr. Hightower and Tapeworm, were pretty awful. But some, like Captain Monn and Dr. Menney and maybe even Ken and Sponge and Bob, were pretty nice, and they weren’t trying to smuggle Exotics at all, but protect them.

The bad Shadow Dogs had wanted to make Rachael tell them her mom’s password, because they wanted the secrets on her computer…her mom was an Exotic, a bee (the Queen Bee was her name, and she was a spy for another group of Exotics, the Animal Lovers’ Club).

Rachael finally told them the password to keep them from hurting her and Raul, but the password had been changed.

Her mom hadn’t come back. Nobody knew what happened to her.

And nobody would explain anything to her. Her dad didn’t know, and nobody else would talk to her about it.

So now she was spending a lot of time searching on the Internet for weird stories about animals, trying to find anything that might tell her more about the Exotics or where her mother was, and sometimes she forgot to blink, and it felt like her eyes were dry all the time.

She yelled, “Who was it?”

“Kids from that club of your mother’s,” her father said. “Just because you’re back doesn’t mean they can start having their meetings here again. It’s not like you’re part of their club.”

Of course Rachael wasn’t part of the Animal Lovers’ Club; the club was a fake club. It was really only for Exotics, and Rachael was just a normal second-grader.

But maybe they wanted to tell her something about her mom.

“What did they want?” she said.

Her father said a bad word and stomped out of her hearing. Rachael tiptoed into her bedroom, where she could look out the window over the front door.

She’d taken down all the pictures of princesses and put up glow-in-the-dark stars and pictures of panthers, horses, and falcons. Secretly, she hoped she’d be infected by the Exotics virus, and she was trying to decide what kind of animal she wanted to be. The stars were there because she just liked them.

To her surprise, she didn’t see anybody from the Animal Lovers’ Club out of her window. Instead, the twin Shadow Dog boys who had helped kidnap her and Raul hid behind a tree in the front yard. They weren’t doing a very good job of hiding.

They saw her face at the window at waved her to come down to them.

She opened the window and hissed, “What do you want? Are you going to break down my door and kidnap me again?”

The two boys looked at each other. One of them said, “We wanted to apologize.”

Rachael wrinkled up her face. She wanted to yell at them and call the cops to make them arrest them—but then the truth about the Exotics might be revealed, and everyone would freak out, so she couldn’t.

“I don’t forgive you.” She had to get them to shut up as soon as possible, before her dad came over to find out what was going on. “Go away.”

“Wait,” the other boy said. “It’s about your mom.”

Rachael snorted. “I know, I know, you want her password so you can break into her computer and steal all her secrets. But it’s too late. The password is changed; nobody can get in.”

The second boy shrugged. “I’m just supposed to tell you she’s safe in a castle in Hungary.”

The first boy elbowed the second boy. “You weren’t supposed to say what country.”

“Sor-reeeee,” the second one muttered. “I told you to do the talking.”

Both boys turned around and started walking away from Rachael’s house.

“Wait!” she whispered as loud as she dared.

The first boy stopped, looked up at her, and said, “Sorry, Baby Bee. That’s all we can say.” Then both boys ran down the street.

She closed the window. Baby Bee was the nickname the members of the Animal Lovers’ Club had called her…it was weird that the Shadow Dog boys knew it, too.

This one I wrote while Ray was in third grade.  It was a crappy year for her.  She liked her teacher a lot (the teacher was different than the one in the book, of course), but the class was riddled with bullies.  There was a kid who took a plastic knife to another kids’ throat.  There were two other kids who ran away several times.  And then there were the girls and the namecalling.  What is it about that age?  I dug in deep to pull out memories of what it was like to be bullied as a kid (not fun), and tried to find a way to tell Ray that it was okay, that it was the people doing the bullying who were at fault, not the people who were getting bullied.

No matter how many times people tell you, “You have to stand up for yourself,” it’s still not your fault that bullies are bullies, you know?

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