Archive for 2013

Happy New Year from Carolyn!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Pink Tulips

Happy New Year

Photo by: Yours Truly. 2013′s tulips were lovely. There are something like 300 bulbs in the fridge so 2014 promises to be another banner tulip year. They’ll go in the ground soon and come early Spring I will have pictures! And vases of tulips in the house, too.

Happy New Year!

2012 turned out to be a year of ups and downs, more than usual, I think. My son graduated from High School and then went off to college. O_o

My day job turned out to be stressful in ways that aren’t good. It’s sapped time and energy from my writing.

I turned down a contract offer from NY.

I published my first independently written novel; My Darkest Passion, Book 5 in the My Immortals series. It was . . . something to write exactly what I wanted to write. I’d catch myself thinking, can’t do that! And then I’d realize I could. So I did. My editor edited for my story. Not for the market.

I took a serious look at some short, super dirty stories, some of which were written years ago. And I realized they could be out there making money for me, written exactly the way I wanted. One of the reasons I’ve not looked more seriously at the commercial erotica market is the language — words I feel writers are being asked to use. Words that make a lot of erotica/erotic romance feel cookie cutter and forced. As if vocabulary matters more than what sex means to the characters. I spent a fairly brief amount of time polishing etc and got them out there with words that were right for what I wanted to do. That’s the stories in Whispers, Collection No. 1.

Yes, there will be a Collection No. 2. Including continuations of the characters in Inigo The Magician and the world in My Goblin Boyfriend. And new stories. Some of the other stories hanging around needed more work than the 5 I put out.

The sequel to Lord Ruin continues to go much more slowly than I want it to. (See: Day Job, supra) It’s really at critical mass right now–enough words that really, the story is done, and I just need to make it work. It will work. It will be done. But I won’t put it out there until it’s ready.

Books You Should see From Me in 2014

Kind of in order.

My Dangerous Pleasure, My Immortals Book 4 (Reverted, re-issued with few, if any changes.) I know hardly anyone read this book, but I like it a lot because I got away with a lot. Because, I suspect, my publisher had already given up on the series. (When your editor sends you an ENTIRE CASE of Arcs they found weeks after release you know nobody gave a damn about the book.)

Lord Ruin Sequel

A novella in the My Immortals world

Whispers, Collection No. 2

A novella for Hester and Camber from Not Proper Enough

My Immortals, Book 6.

Resolved!

Not much.

Write more.

Possibly eat less chocolate. Or less of something else so I can keep chocolate levels optimum.

Write balls to the wall. Everything on the page.

What about you?

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Review of Whispers

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Carolyn Jewel’s Whispers is a collection of five erotic short stories. Some are historical, some historical and some have paranormal elements. Not all are romances, but all are intriguing stories that push the envelope with respect to the heroines’ notions of sexuality. Also, all are fairly dark in their portrayal of sex. Think demons. While not all the heroes are actual demons, they all are in the darker plain of existence.

Whispers, Collection No. 1 is an anthology of eclectic erotic stories that will challenge readers and make them think. The endings are not always expected, nor are they easy—but they are well done.

Jennifer Porter, HeroesAndHeartbreakers.com
Read the full review

Buy Links here

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Irony Chickens? Smashwords, Scribd, and Piracy

Friday, December 27th, 2013

So there’s Scribd. Trying to reinvent itself. It’s a site that was trying to be Wattpad before there was a Wattpad and it’s not still clear from either site whether there’s a business model there. I suppose there’s something– ad revenue? I don’t know. Anyway, both sites allow anyone to upload documents. Any documents. And there have been legitimate uses of that. Court filings, for example. Other documents in the public domain or uploaded by the actual author. But not always, and now there’s a clear case of Irony Chickens coming home to roost as Smashwords, Scribd and piracy collide.

And then, as just about anyone could foresee, there is lots and lots of pirated material.  Books. Lots of novels. Lots. The DMCA says Scribd and other such sites are not responsible for that contact, the user who uploads it is. All Scribd has to do is take down the content when sent a DMCA notice. That’s the state of the law. It is, on the one hand, fair. Because it IS the user who is engaging in the pirating. Scribd merely provides file space.

Speaking not at all about piracy, but only about the DMCA and the ecosystem of pirated content, the problem with DMCA take-down notices is this:

If you’re an author concerned about pirated content, the more popular you are, the more your content is out there. There are authors who have THOUSANDS of pirated copies of their books on Scribd (as an example) and the DMCA says the author must send a URL to each and every allegedly infringing instance. Obviously, this becomes impossible to comply with. No one author has the time to do this. And Scribd, like every other similar site, is not required to self-police or in anyway assist with what becomes an impossible task for an author.

Scene set. Ready?

So now Scribd wants to become a subscription reading service. A publisher or author agrees to have their books posted on the site and readers (subscribers) will pay a modest sum per month to read all they want. From what I hear, the plan is to pay authors for full and even partial reads, if the readers progresses beyond a certain point. Sounds kind of interesting if that’s the way it works.

What I find more interesting is that if you visit the Scribd site, it’s easy to find out what subscribers will get in return for their money.

If you’re an author, however, there’s only a contact form. “We’d love to hear from you!” And you fill out a form where you tell them the number of books you have available, the genre and the format. That’s it. Classic gatekeeper.

In our quest to ensure Scribd subscribers never run out of great books to read, we’re constantly looking to expand our digital library. Please contact us if you’d like to make your ebooks available via our subscription offering. Our content acquisition team would love to talk to you.

There’s NOTHING at the site that tells me, an author, why I would want my content in their subscription service.

I find this language alarming. I think it’s an indication that Scribd sees the author as a resource to be consumed by them, not a business partner. Otherwise, wouldn’t there be something there that says, Hey, Author! Here’s what’s in it for you! That contact page, which you can only find if you clicked on the subscription FAQ and scrolled down a lot, makes it pretty darn clear that Scribd isn’t thinking of authors as potential partners.

If I go to any eBook vendor, I can find out what’s in it for me if I make my books available through them. I know how and when I get paid.

Other than the rumors flying around, where is Scribd telling me how and why I would benefit? If the answer is “Readers!” that’s not good enough. That’s more of the baloney along the lines of “We can’t afford to pay authors, but you’ll get exposure” and someone gets free professionally written content for their website. Or free graphics. Or what have you. If you think you have a service where my books will make you money, then you should tell me how that happens and why and how it makes money for me, too.

I’m getting to the chickens.

Smashwords, a company that allows authors to self-publish books and then sell from the site as well as distribute to other vendors, recently sent a letter informing Smashwords authors that they had a deal with Scribd and that beginning January 1, content would automatically be enrolled in Scribd’s subscription offering. What became apparent when authors went to look was that books were ALREADY opted in and being made available. (That was true of my books.)

It’s my belief that no book distributor should opt-in automatically to some other vendor. This should NEVER happen without the author’s explicit consent and review. First, the distributor does not have rights in the content. The author does. The author elects where that content is distributed. There are cases where authors do not have ALL rights. There are cases where an automatic opt-in could put an author in violation of the terms of a contract.

Further, it’s not cool to automatically opt-in content under terms that may be less favorable than if the author, if she wanted to be there at all, went directly to the vendor. Because, really?

This automatic opt-in by Smashwords is a major misstep.

Pirate Chickens.

Authors are well aware that Scribd hosts a massive amount of pirated content. And there are authors who feel strongly that pirated content should be taken down wherever it exists. (It happens that I am not one of those authors, but that has nothing to do with the authors who do feel that way.)

So. Smashwords just opted those authors into a service they know nothing about at a site that hosts THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of pirated copies of their books and gave them no opportunity to think and consider.

Some authors objected to that. They wanted nothing to do with what they consider a pirate site. And they appear to have been told–quite bluntly and directly, “opt-in to this service and Scribd will take care of the piracy problem for your books.” Otherwise, too bad.

That is fucking ballsy.

What the hell did Scribd think would happen? They have a piracy problem. Lots of authors are upset about piracy (again saying nothing here about whether there’s actual harm). Scribd wants to sell subscriptions to books while at the same time continuing to permit users to upload documents where hundreds of thousands of those documents are pirated books.

Did they really not anticipate that authors might say, well, eff you? Because that’s what’s happening.

It’s what you call chickens coming home to roost. I’m sorry, but this was completely foreseeable.

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Why eBook Formatting Will Drive you Crazy

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Here’s a new problem I encountered today. I’ve been uploading Whispers to various vendors and I ran across a new issue. First, here’s my process–it includes a short cut that hasn’t been an issue until today.

My shortcut is that I upload an ePub to Amazon and let Amazon convert it. That saves me some trouble, but I have long recognized the risk inherent in that. What I should do is upload a mobi. But I haven’t been because it’s an extra two or three steps. Until now, that process has been error free and, even, produced a better result than a lot of mobi uploads I’ve seen.

[Clarifiction: When I say Kindle Previewer, I mean the app you can download from Amazon. I am not talking (much) about the emulator portion of the tool. You can never fully trust an emulator. I am talking about the FILE produced. The downloaded Kindle Previewer app produces a Mobi and prc file that you can upload. It is NOT just a file previewer. It is also a file converter. I am NOT saying that when I looked at a Kindle Previewer display I saw these differences. I'm saying the physical file that resulted from a local Kindle Previewer conversion displayed differently from the file Amazon converted on line when viewed on the same physical devices. And that the file converted by Amazon via the dashboard was WORSE.]

I have an iPad 3 and I do almost all my reading on my iPad, usually with the Kindle app. When I am proofing final files, I use Kindle previewer to preview my ePub across devices. This also creates a file that contains a mobi and a prc, and you can upload that file to Amazon which will then deliver either the mobi or the prc to the user, depending on their device. I also email that previewer generated file to my Kindle account so I can preview it on my iPad.

Today, I uploaded the final epub to Amazon and when it was live, I bought the Kindle version so I could see what the actual delivered file looked like.

So. First, here’s a screen shot of what the Kindle-previewer mobi that I emailed to my kindle account looked like when I was proofing stuff yesterday:

My mobi converted epub. Italics

Note these things:

1. My slug line (the city and date) is in italics.
2. In the first paragraph I have a bold initial letter and then normal text.
3. In the 3rd line of the 2nd paragraph, the word “Da-veede” is in italics.

My personal compromise has always been No. 2. I use a set of style that, as you will see when you compare it to the next image, degrades very nicely (in my opinion) in an ePub converted by Amazon and viewed on the Kindle App on my iPad 3 (and elsewhere).

Until today, there has never been a difference between the Amazon ePub conversion and the converted file I mail to my account. Now there is.

This is a screen shot of the ePub Amazon converted today, viewed in the Kindle App on my iPad 3:

Amazon Converted epub

1. The italics from my slug line is gone.
2.  My first paragraph styles are rendered. I have an initial large, bold cap AND my small caps for the first line.
3. The italics for “Da-veede” do not display.

For reference, here’s a screenshot of the same page viewed in iBooks (via the BookProofer tool, since I can’t do the Apple upload until they’re re-opened to submissions):
ibooks Version

As you can see, I have italics AND my first line/first para styles

In the Kindle previewer tool, by the way, the tool previews my file across the various devices with ALL italics text appearing as italics and the expected ability to render my first paragraph/line styles or to degrade acceptably.

Here, for another comparison, is the converted mobi viewed on the Kindle App on my iMac:

KindleDesktopApp mobi

As you can see, I get italics and my first para/line styles rendered.

I am reasonably certain that if I instead upload the mobi instead of an ePub, this will resolve the issue. So I will try this and let you know. Otherwise, I’ll have to introduce another hack to the hack that already deals with device incompatibilities with respect to the display of italics. Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn’t have been taking any shortcuts and yeah, I know, this is what you get when you take them. But come, on! The display of italics should be a no-brainer–the core set of html that should NEVER break. It’s already beyond stupid that some devices don’t render the italics tags correctly and require a hack.

Grumble.

 

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Whispers – Update

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

My collection of erotic short stories, Whispers, Collection No. 1 is in soft release now. Uploads to Apple and Kobo will have to wait until those vendors are open to uploads again.

Cover of Whispers, Collection No. 1, by Carolyn Jewel

So far, two vendors are live:

It’s not too late to get a review copy. Let me know if you’re willing to post your honest review and I’ll get you a copy.

Find out more about the stories.

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Happy Holidays from Carolyn!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
Persimmons

Natural Ornaments

Wishing you the happiest of holidays.

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Progress Report – The Next Historical

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Lucy and Thrale still do not have a title.

But here is a link to the current Chapter 1.

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Review Copies Available for Whispers, Collection 1

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

I have a collection of erotic, romantic-ish, risky short stories that I am getting ready to release. I’ll send a review copy to you if you’re willing to read and post an honest review where others can see it.

Edited to Add: You do not need to be a professional reviewer or blogger. I am happy to send review copies to avid readers who are willing to post an honest review at the vendor of their choice. By honest, I mean, what you thought. If it doesn’t work for you, then you should say so.

Here’s the Long Description:

Five graphic, erotic, romantic, short stories from Carolyn Jewel.

Don’t read these if you’re offended by strong, possibly offensive, sexual content. Really. Don’t.

  • A demon delivers on an ice-cold revenge after a magician uses him and a human woman to satisfy his sexual perversions. Six months later, she’s not even close to recovered. He’s free and their first meeting is a volatile combination of minds, bodies, and the consequences of a promise made.
  • New Orleans, 1859. At nearly twenty-eight, Zoe remains at home to support her widowed father. She longs for something more in her life. David Nataniel is a dangerous man for a woman to know. He’s a client of her father’s and is often at the house, but Zoe believes she’s safe from his wickedness. She’s not.
  • My Goblin Boyfriend should say it all, but in case it doesn’t, Violet finds out first-hand why goblins have a rep for mastery in the bedroom after she finds an injured goblin passed out on her porch. She does the right thing for everyone involved and nurses him back to health. He’s big, strong, definitely not-human, and not shy at all. Features goblin sex. Doh.
  • In Edwardian-era America, Nathan reluctantly agrees to seduce and impregnate his good friend’s cousin. As he comes to know and like the woman, her tragic past changes him forever.
  • An unrepentant werewolf finds the woman of his dreams. She needs the kind of pain only he can deliver— As long as she’s willing to get Wild with him. Not for the faint of heart. Includes werewolf sex.

The stories are approximately 130 pages (32,000) words.

Looking for a few Good Reviewers!

If you’d like a copy for review, email me through this site (carolyn AT carolynjewel DOT com) and let me know your preferred format. All I ask is that you post an honest review.

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So, Carolyn, Whatcha Been Up To? A SECRET Project?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Oh, hey! Good question!

Petting the cat. That’s one thing. Also petting the dogs. Important.

I sprained my ankle pretty badly right before Thanksgiving and spent a week barely able to walk and completely unable to drive. My son was home from college and it was a challenge to find someone to drive me to pick him up and return him to the bus to get to San Francisco and back to get here from/to school. I can drive and walk now, but my ankle is still bruised (so colorful!) and quite sore. Ouch. That should conclude the pity part of this post.

Oh, except for this: I have been unable to wear my normal totally cute shoes on my injured foot because 1) swelling 2) pain 3) my brace would destroy the shoe. I thought I’d cleverly put the right-foot half of my go-to pair of around-the-house shoes (well, everywhere shoes but whatever) out of the big dog’s reach. I was wrong. She retrieved my shoe from the bag where I had hidden it from her and chewed it to bits.

Wah!!! On the other hand, I can still wear the left one.

Writing News

1. Lucy and Thrale (The Next Historical) are coming along. I actually think I finally have a 1st chapter worth posting. I’m in the final phases of having something to send to editing. I’m close…

2. My secret project is about ready… I’m waiting on final covers and a few final edits before I prep the final files. Yes, covers. The name is “Whispers” and you can learn about it here.

3. I have some other news that’s good for me (and readers!) that I’ll only hint at. I want the paperwork in hand before I say anything for sure.

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Say What?

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Melville House blogs this post about Indie books that may, or may not be, bestsellers.

The quarter of sales they site [sic] here is referring to total sales, which gives us no information about the total revenue. Self-published titles are likely to be marked in a lower price range, beginning at ninety-nine cents. So while this is a great campaign to appeal to authors interested in self-publishing, there’s no information for authors about the bottom line.

I’d say that quote is just as problematic as the problem cited.

Except the blogger wonders “A Quarter of What?” when right below is the explanation: “A Quarter of the Top 100 books on Amazon are Indie-published.” I don’t think Amazon was saying that Indie titles are responsible for a quarter of the revenue. Amazon is saying that of the top 100 books on Amazon, 25 of them were Indie published.

She goes on to say this:

So while this is a great campaign to appeal to authors interested in self-publishing, there’s no information for authors about the bottom line.

OK, look, I don’t get why this is so hard for those in traditional publishing to grasp. Maybe it’s because they know the statements they send to authors are pretty close to impenetrable when an author wants to know how she’s doing. But really, when I see my self-published income, I know exactly what the book cost me to put out, and I know the percentage Amazon (and other vendors) are paying me. And guess what? I have no problem figuring out whether I’m making more self-publishing or traditionally publishing.

None at all.

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