Kindle sale .99 – The Forest Beyond the Earth

Greetings all!

You can grab The Forest Beyond the Earth for .99 on #kindle for the next 5 days – Mar 22 – Mar 27!

When Dad disappears, twelve-year-old Wisp journeys out into the Endless Forest, determined to find him. Chased by the monstrous Tree Walkers, she must rely on everything he’s taught her to survive.

The Forest Beyond the Earth is a post-apocalyptic adventure suitable for young readers as well as adults.

Cover Reveal | Wayfarer: AV494

I’m excited to be able to reveal a new cover!

In Wayfarer: AV494 (described by my publisher as John Carpenter’s The Thing meets The Martian), Kerys Loring finds herself stranded on a planet far from Earth, facing a deadly alien menace as well as something worse–her abusive ex fiancee.

This science-fiction/horror novel releases March 8th via Curiosity Quills Press


Kerys Loring hopes an expedition to a distant alien ruin will make her career―assuming she lives long enough to still have one.

Her last team made a significant find, but her bosses took all the recognition and grant money. When Avasar Biotechnology appeals to her unique combination of experience and desperation, she jumps at the chance, even if it means leaving her little brother behind for a three-year trip.

At least she’ll be thousands of light-years away from her abusive ex.

Within minutes of arrival, her excitement shatters at the sight of her ex already there. Clinging to the hope his position with botanical sciences will keep him away from her team, she forces herself to continue.

On her first day in the ruins, she makes a profound discovery… but something goes terribly wrong.

Her domineering ex soon becomes the least of her problems as an unstoppable alien threat plunges Wayfarer Outpost into chaos. Trapped in an isolated facility with death stalking every corridor, Kerys finds herself up against an even more insidious threat than ancient aliens: the truth.

Guest Post | An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale

A guest post from Ann Noser:


Valentine’s Day means different things to different people.

Honestly, sometimes in the past I hated the date (thought it was a way for couples to make singles feel inferior), but this time around I have something to really celebrate.

This year, my beloved fairy tale will become a reality!

Which means that this year, Valentine’s Day will mean the following:
– Princesses and dragons
– Shape-shifting nuns and meek scientists
– Giants (both good and bad) and royalty (also both good and bad)
– Sword fighting and demon hunting
– and so much more!




An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale

Prince Bane Baronne has baby fever. He is in search of a wife with the proper mystical bloodline to bear him the heir of prophecy. Anna Leon is chosen, but Bane only pretends to be Prince Charming. When Anna questions his intentions, she vanishes from the castle.

Convinced she is to blame for her younger sister’s disappearance, Maria Leon is coerced into the royal marriage instead. She is older, wiser, and should know better–but Bane always gets what he wants. And he is not above using trickery or treachery to do so.
Maria attempts to salvage what she can of a “happily ever after” by working hard to be the best mother and wife. Until the day she learns that every woman who has married into the Baronne line disappears soon after they have produced an heir.

And she is next in line.

Available for purchase on AMAZON starting February 14th, 2018!
Also available on Kindle Unlimited.

About the author:



More about me: Growing up an only child, I learned to entertain myself. During summer vacations, my greatest form of exercise consisted of turning the pages of a book. Now I’m all grown up, and full of stories half-written in my head. I have to write them down so I can find out what happens next.

What I enjoy: Writing, reading, being a small animal veterinarian, trail running, being a mom (although sometimes the hours do not promote good sleeping) and wife, and yoga (not saying I’m good at it, just that I enjoy it)

Why I wrote this book: Almost thirteen years ago I became a mother to my son. I had no idea how over-protective I would become over this little baby. That’s why I started writing this book — because new moms have so much free time, I thought I’d pick up a new hobby. Makes total sense, right? I’ve written several other books since then, but kept coming back to revise and rewrite this one — my first writing love, so to speak. So happy it will finally be out in the world, and I sure hope the world enjoys it!

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Paperback Giveaway | The Forest Beyond the Earth

Hi all –

Quick post this time. I’m giving away two paperback copies of The Forest Beyond the Earth via Amazon. Click https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/927a50f68a6182a8#ts-en to enter.

I will have them onhand soon if anyone would like to buy a signed copy straight from me ($10 + shipping). If anyone is interested in a signed copy, please email me (mcox2112 at gmail).

Happy reading (and good luck to those who enter the giveaway!

Ebook conversion with Calibre

Okay, so I’ve recently been doing a bit of conversion, generating ebooks. I’ve had a number of people ask about the process, so I figured I may as well write a blog post about it. (Yay for content generation, right?) Anyway, I’m far from a master at this but I have worked out the kinks in getting a manuscript out of Microsoft Word and into the Shakespearean tragedy that is Amazon. How something can be simultaneously wonderful and painful, I’m still working to understand.

Anyway, you will need the following things before proceeding:

A completed manuscript. (This may seem glaringly obvious, but I suppose in a country where coffee needs to be labeled hot, nothing is too obvious to mention.) Your manuscript should be (at this point) finished, edited, proof-read, left to age gracefully in a wooden ice box on the side of the Rocky Mountains for a couple months, then re-read until you don’t want to change even one comma.

Okay, perhaps that’s a lie. No true author can ever read their own work and not want to change something. So, suffice to say, get the edits and proofs done, and put the manuscript in a state where you can read it without screaming.

Completed artworkThis includes the cover as well as any interior (chapter header) art you wish to include as well as if you are going to use an artistic element as a scene break. (Looks a bit nicer than * * * in print.) This too is part of the whole completed manuscript thing. You’ll want to have the interior art embedded in the Word document beforehand.

Calibre Ebook Management. Here I am again with the glaringly obvious thing. It’s difficult to use a piece of software without actually having that software installed. So. Install it. If you’ve never heard of it, you can find it here: GET CALIBRE. I do not have any affiliation with the creator of Calibre, other than using the software.

Microsoft Word – This little guide is written assuming you are using MS Word. I’m not terribly familiar with OpenOffice, but if it has the ability to save a document as Webpage, filtered, it should be okay.


Step One – Formatting in MS Word

There are a few things to bear in mind when formatting the manuscript to be turned into an e-book. I tend to have three copies of the MS. One is a master file with no formatting at all, the same thing the editors and proofreaders saw. Take that file and save two other copies with different names, one for e-book conversion and one for paperback conversion if you’re going to do that.

With an e-book document, most of the fancy fonts aren’t going to make it into the final MOBI file. That nice fancy Foglighten font you’ve got as chapter titles is going to turn into something plain. Kindle readers (so I have been told) are more interested in story than fancy, so don’t worry too much if your nice fonts go poof.

Drop Caps – It’s been my experience that drop caps and Calibre don’t get along well. They float above the line, disappear, migrate to another page, and so on. Even the e-books my publisher puts out sometimes have drop caps with an irresistible migratory urge to head south. (I guess it’s the margaritas?) So, unless you’re a master already at converting e-books (in which case, I doubt you’re bothering to read this) skip the drop caps for the Kindle version. In print, they’re fine.

 

Page Breaks – herein comes the tricky part. I found a little workaround that helps, since I like to use chapter header art. This is a screenshot of The Forest Beyond the Earth Word document that I set up for ebooks. By default, Calibre detects new chapters with Heading 1 or Heading 2 styles. The problem I ran into when using chapter art, is that the heading comes after the artwork. That resulted in the image floating by itself on a separate page.

To get around this, I added a blank line formatted with Heading 3 above the image. I’ll explain more about how that helped later on, but for now… if you are using chapter header art and you don’t want it floating on a separate page, drop a blank heading 3 line above it.


Once you have the Word document ready and formatted, the next thing you’ll want to do is save it. After you save it, save it again just to be sure. When you’re sure the e-book formatted document is saved, go back into the file menu and select “Save as.” Scroll down the document type to “Web page, filtered.”

I suggest you save this file in a separate directory as Word will create a subfolder for all the images contained in the document. You will wind up with an HTML file and a folder.

After the save completes (be careful not to close Word before it’s done exporting) you’re ready for Calibre.

Calibre Ebook Management

This is the main screen you’ll get when you open Calibre. Any e-books you have are in the middle, the highlighted one will display its cover in the top right.

The first step – click the “add books” button at the top left corner, and navigate it to the filtered webpage document you just made.

Here, I’m using Axillon99 as an example. This is what the folder should look like where Word did the export. The highlighted file is the HTM, the folder above that contains the artwork. Click on the HTM file and hit “Open.”

Calibre will then import the webpage document and appear like this. Since you haven’t done anything yet (and Calibre is not psychic) the cover area shows a fancy little pattern like grandmother’s tea set.

Next step: click on the “convert books” button at the top.

Important: Make sure that you select MOBI as the output format at the top right. Whenever you change this selection, all the fields below it clear out. So if you do this last, you’ll have to re-type everything else. (Ask me how I know this.)

So, after you select MOBI for the output type, fill out the other info: Title, Author name, tags, series title, and book number. Then, click the little blue folder icon in the middle section to add your cover.

Navigate the file window to the cover image and hit Open, and Calibre should look like this. (Well not exactly like this. You shouldn’t be using someone else’s book cover. But, you get the jist. Your cover art will appear in the middle of the screen instead of grandma’s teacup. And you’re done with this page.

Next, on the “Look & Feel” tab, check these two boxes. Embed all fonts in document will attempt to load the data for the font files you use so that other readers can see them. Depending on the font, this may or may not work and your readers will still get plain text. The subset all embedded fonts is a file size saving measure. Font files can contain hundreds of characters. This option causes Calibre to delete data from the fonts for any glyph (character) that is not used anywhere in the document. Basically, you’re only packing up the stuff you’re going to need.

The text tab has some options (like insert blank lines between paragraphs that some people find help readability). Other people hate the blank line. Fiddle in there at your own discretion, but you don’t need to.

Skip Heuristics unless you’re a programming wizard with copious amounts of LSD on hand. On Page Setup, select the device you’d like to optimize for. (I tend to prefer Kindle Fire as they seem to be pretty popular these days.)

Structure Detection – This is the important part. This is the part that made me tear my hear out and scream invocations to ancient Assyrian demons until I figured out the reason my chapter art floated on separate pages. When you first arrive on this screen, you’ll have an enormous text formula at the top and a not so enormous one in the middle.

Remember the heading 3 thing I mentioned earlier? This is where it comes into play. This page tells Calibre where to create the chapter breaks. By default, it’s looking to do it for heading 1 and 2. Now, if you did NOT use chapter header art and you don’t have the extra blank Heading 3 lines in your word document, you can probably leave this page as is and not change anything except for the middle line.

The “insert page breaks” line does exactly what it says. I have no idea why this is a default option since it results in extra blank pages in the MOBI document after every chapter. People hate having to double swipe to get to the next chapter. Delete this line.

If you DO have chapter art and did the Heading 3 thing, you’ll want to edit these formulas as follows:

Edit the top line so it has only H3 and not H1 and H2. Clear out the “insert page breaks” line in the middle. Leave it blank. Extra white pages = bad. No one likes a litterbug.

Skip down to the MOBI output tab. You should have added a Table of Contents in Word, so you do not need Calibre to add another one. Check the box for Do not add Table of Contents to book. I get it that a lot of people these days have short attention spans, but no one needs TWO tables of contents in a book.


And that’s that… Click the OK button at the bottom of the screen. The little army of gnomes inside Calibre will start slaving away at their hot forges. Eventually, that little “Jobs” indicator at the bottom right will go back to zero. When that happens, the magic is finished.

Hopefully.

If you’re like me, you’ll know that nothing ever works perfectly the first time. More like conversion #40. So, the true final step is to open the e-book and scroll through the whole thing. Look for weird formatting, stuff out of place, strange justification.

Calibre does a pretty decent job of rendering the e-book but it’s not infallible. If you don’t catch any errors while viewing it through Calibre, you can move on to the next step. If you DO find a problem, delete your Webpage, filtered folder, go back to your e-book version of the Word document and make any changes there. Once you’ve updated the Word document, save it again. Then save it as a Webpage, filtered. Then repeat all the steps in this article all over again. Keep doing this until you can’t find any flaws in the e-book while looking at it in Calibre.

Finally, ten shots of the hard stuff later, when you’re sure the e-book is perfect, go up to the top and click the arrow next to the SAVE button. Select the option “Save only MOBI file in a single directory.”

Point Calibre at wherever you want it to generate the MOBI file.

This is the file you’ll upload to KDP. If you have a Kindle (I really hope you do since you’re an author) email the document to yourself at your kindle.com address. Open it on your actual kindle and repeat the checks to make sure everything looks fine. If you find any issues, it’s back to the e-book version of the Word document to fix them, then re-export, then re-convert.

Isn’t this fun 🙂

But it’s worth it.

Happy writing!

-Matt

(Feel free to post questions in the comments)

 

 

New Release | The Forest Beyond the Earth

After a late night (no way was I going to sleep- too excited), The Forest Beyond the Earth is live on #kindle!

Paperbacks will be available soon (within the week).


Under the watchful eye of the Mother Shrine, twelve-year-old Wisp ekes out a simple, but challenging life with Dad, foraging for food and losing herself in old books from the world that came before. She loves the Endless Forest―except when the Tree Walkers come for her.
In ages past, the great rain of fire and ash destroyed the Earth, wiping out the ancients and everything they had made. Nature has reclaimed much since then, spreading out in a vast forest full of wonder and dread. Ever in fear of being taken away, she follows Dad’s rules without question while learning to survive off the land.
No longer a small child, she accompanies Dad on one of his treks, her first time more than a few steps away from the cabin. A day exploring with him is the happiest time of her life, but joy is short-lived.
A monster follows them home.
Safe in her Haven, she hides while Dad goes outside to confront the beast. She wakes alone the next morning, and waits. Alas, her hope of his return fades with the daylight. Desperate, she breaks his strictest rule and goes outside alone. Not far from the cabin, she discovers his rifle abandoned next to the monster’s strange footprints.
Afraid but determined, Wisp sets off on her own into the Endless Forest to find Dad―before the Tree Walkers catch her.


Read & Review copies are available upon request – email me at mcox2112 (gmail)