I’m happy to report that I am not the only one who has
noticed this is definitely a weird time of year. I’ve been struggling with
productivity for weeks now. I can spend hours at my desk and then discover that
I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. I have deadlines looming, but that doesn’t
make me work any faster. I keep a calendar in front of me, but I more often
look at the pictures than the dates. Oh, and the deskpad one with its “color-me”
border! Whatever made me think it would be a good idea to have coloring book
access at my fingertips all day long, along with a whole mug full of pretty
So, is there an explanation for all of this silliness (or
sheer laziness)? Well, a friend in England tells me it’s because of Mercury
being in retrograde for almost the entire month of March. And what does that
mean? I’m not sure I understand it myself but it has to do with the planet
Mercury appearing to move backward in the sky. No, it’s not defying the laws of
the universe. It’s the same phenomenon that sometimes makes the wheels of a car
appear to be turning backward while the car is actually moving forward—something
about the speed at which our brains can assimilate visual data, I suppose. Still, it’s discombobulating and confusing,
and throws our reasoning abilities into a tailspin.
Then there’s the equinox theory offered recently by a
well-known blogging superstar. She insists that twice a year, during the spring
and fall equinox periods, she experiences a burning in her chest that warns of
disruptive life changes. The theory
there? Something about the seasons. In the middle of summer, days seem to last
forever, and the bright sun lets us know we should be busily planting corn, or
whatever. And in the midst of deep winter, the days are short. We can almost pull
the drapes in mid-afternoon, light a candle or two, and then hurry off to bed
for a long winter’s nap because only a silly old man in a red suit would go out
with a troop of reindeer in that kind of weather. But during an equinox, the
day and night are about the same length, and who knows what we are supposed to
be doing? Confusion reigns, and we feel torn between two opposite desires—to
sunbathe or hibernate.
Now imagine what happens when the equinox and Mercury in
Retrograde occur in the same two-week period! No wonder I’m not getting much
done. I have my excuses all lined up and I’m sticking to them. However, I’m
going out on a limb here and making a couple of announcements about what I intend
to be doing in the next few weeks. First, I’ve set the date for the launch of
my new book, “Henrietta’s Legacy,” for Thursday, April 18. That’s
just five weeks from tomorrow. And between now and then I’ll be tempting you
with tidbits of information designed to make you want to buy it. We’ll start
with a cover reveal—currently scheduled for tomorrow!
One last announcement:
The trade paper edition of
The Second Mouse Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age
is now available on Amazon.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I am a big fan of electronic editions. I love my Kindle, and I'm even fonder of reading books on my iPad. I really like being able to carry a whole library full of great literature in my purse. But once in a while, only a real book will do the job. I suspect that is the case with my current book.
The Second Mouse Goes Digital is a fun read. You can whip through it in a day or so, and you'll end up with a much better understanding of what self-publishing is all about. It may even convince you that you want to give this publishing avenue a try for yourself. But if you're a serious writer--if you want to put all these mousey tips to work--if you're ready to become a published author rather than a would-be writer--then you're going to need the paper version.
You'll want to remember the name of that grammar-checking software we recommended. You'll want to find a good writer's conference to attend. You'll need to review those tips about identifying a scam. You'll need to check up on one of those confusing pairs of sound-alike words. You'll want some help in re-writing a sentence with a passive verb or a dangling modifier. You'll have to decide which of Amazon's promotions will best fit your needs. A "How-To" book is not much good if you can't find the details you need at the moment you need them. And, honestly, digital books just aren't very easy to search.
The most useful books are the ragged ones--the ones that sit on your desk day after day. The pages are dog-eared. The important points sport neon highlighting. The margins may be full of your own notes. There's a coffee-ring on the cover, and the spine is starting to show cracks. But that's how you know that this is a book with important stuff inside.
And here's the best deal of all! Purchase the paperback Digital Mouse from Amazon at the list price of $16.95, and get the Kindle version for just $0.99. Then you'll never be without this important new guide through the mysteries of self-publishing. Happy reading!
The Second Mouse Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age
Author Carolyn Schriber takes a closer look at recent self-publishing innovations that have opened the gates to mainstream book publication.
Pre-Orders available now, with Kindle release date: Wednesday, November 15. Print version should be ready by Friday, November 17
While this blog has been out of service, I've been busy getting ready to publish a new version of my "how-to" guide for self-publishers. The launch day is a week from today, so, for the next few days, I want to catch you up on the book details and give you a glimpse of the contents.
Prologue: So, You Want to Write a Book
We begin with an imaginary conversation between Second Mouse and a budding writer who is considering what kind of publication would be best for her particular book idea. They discuss the various publishing options available today, along with their advantages and drawbacks of each one. Then Second Mouse offers a set of self-evaluation questions to help the writer determine where her strengths and weaknesses lie. Finally, they touch on one of the keys to a successful career in any field—giving the customer what he is looking for.
Chapter 1: Establishing Yourself in the Business.
The Second Mouse is again the guide as she leads the writer through the story of her own experience as a writer and the factors that convinced her to become an indie author. They look at the lessons she learned the hard way as she tried to find an agent or publisher—what it means to have a “platform” and the importance of the internet.
Chapter 2: The Legalities and the Niceties
In this chapter, the guide is Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tittlemouse. She discusses the need for a business plan, the importance of tax considerations, the process of setting up a home office, hiring an office staff, and establishing a website for your new business. These are the housekeeping details that can get you off to a solid start.
Yesterday, I tried to give you an idea of what “Henrietta’s
Journal” is all about. Today, here are the answers to a couple of questions
that keep popping up.
Q. Are these all new characters, or is there a connection to
your other books?
A. For the most part, the Beauchenes are an entirely new
family. However, it helps me to visualize the story if I can relate it to
others I’ve written, so there’s at least one connection. Sharp eyes will
recognize Elizabeth Dubois, whom you have met before in “Damned Yankee” and “Yankee
Reconstructed.” In those books she was an old lady, the widowed mother of Susan
Grenville, and grandmother to the Grenville children. In this story she is
still a young woman in her thirties, and her daughter Susan appears briefly at
age seven. Elizabeth befriends Henrietta early in the new book, helps her
adjust to life in Charleston, and serves as godmother to Henrietta’s children.
Q. I want to know more about Henrietta’s later life as the
Civil War draws nearer. Will there be a second book?
A. At the moment I am planning a second volume. Of course, I
can’t promise anything, for, as Henrietta would be the first to tell you, life
changes very rapidly. However, as my mother would have said, “I’ll do it, God
willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise!” But here’s what I think will be coming a
couple of years down the road.
The idea for “Henrietta’s Journal” came out of a rough sketch
for a much larger book dealing with the beginning of the Civil War, its effect
on the cotton trade, and some interesting but little-known facts about southern
blockade runners, spies, and smugglers during the war. The diary Henrietta kept was
originally going to hold some clues to a couple of mysterious happenings in the
larger book. Then the diary took on something of a life of its own and became a
stand-alone novel. The next book will take place some twenty-five years later.
The main characters will be Henrietta’s children (now all grown up). They will
solve some of their 1860s dilemmas by re-discovering the diary their mother
wrote and uncovering the clues she left in the journal.
Eventually the two books will have close ties. I’m even
considering an electronic edition for the two stories that would let the reader
click back and forth between Civil War crises and the unsolved issues in the 1830’s journal. I’m
as curious to know what will happen as you are!
What’s more fun than peeking into someone’s diary and
learning all their secrets? Well, how about an entire novel, written as diary
entries that chronicle the story of a marriage?
Henrietta’s Journal is a historical romance. Henrietta is a
20-year-old English girl, raised among the sheltering walls and dreaming spires
of Oxford. In 1832, her diary begins with the first day she meets Julien, a
handsome and wealthy cotton broker from Charleston, South Carolina. The two
could not be more unsuited to one another, but their attraction is immediate
and unbreakable. A whirlwind courtship, a hasty marriage, and a stormy journey
across the Atlantic-–and Henrietta finds herself in a strange new world. Charleston in the 1830s is an insular society
controlled by a small group of families who consider themselves a new
aristocracy of culture, wealth, and refinement. Their public buildings are
modeled on Greek and Roman styles. Their children receive classical educations.
They spend their days recreating the past, while relying on black slaves to do
the hard labor that makes such leisurely white lives possible. As a ruling
social class, they do not welcome outsiders.
Henrietta declares she will never be a slave-owner. Julien
replies by agreeing, because in South Carolina, a married woman is not allowed
to own property of any kind. Henrietta tries to hold onto her independence;
Julien and his father will not even allow her to choose the name of her
first-born child. Henrietta’s every word and action are noted down for
criticism and correction. Julien’s younger brother, a lecherous and vicious
drunk, is forgiven for any misdeeds because he is still young. She soon gets
the message. Men may do as they like. Women must do as they are told.
The book is a love story, but it also provides a revealing
look into the contradictions and injustices of the South in the years leading
up to the Civil War. The bonds between husband and wife are frequently tested
by their differing value systems. Henrietta soon finds that she has compromised her own beliefs in order to keep the peace
within her disapproving family. Then the principle of compromise takes on a
life of its own, leading her further and further into a world where
prostitution, rape, murder, opium addiction, and kidnapping are all excused as
The Amazon print version should be functional by the