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Sunday, January 22, 2017

SERIOUS WRITING, by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

Just because I write cat mysteries and not the great American novel doesn’t mean I’m not a serious writer or that my work, however light and cozy, should not be taken seriously. I realize that some cozy authors write for quantity instead of quality but I’m not one of them. My books are my soul, revealing hopes, fears, and the human condition. My cat sci-fi explores the secrets of the universe. My mysteries seek to answer not only whodunit but why. Why do we kill? If that’s not a serious question, I don’t know what is.

Do you ever wonder what drives us to entertain ourselves with murder? If the things that happen in books, even in cozies, happened to us in real life, we’d all have PTSD. In fact, I had that experience. I was working on a mystery that took place at the beach, a beach very like our place in Ocean Park. We visited our little cabin often. It was quiet and slow-paced with clam-digging, crab dinners, and long walks on the shore. Then one night we got a call that a friend was dead. As the story unfolded, it turned out he had been murdered, right there in our quiet little town. Gone was the safety I’d always felt in that beautiful place. And gone, at least temporarily, was my ability to write about fictional murder.

For most readers, a murder mystery is merely a puzzle to solve.  I enjoy solving them too; I do read what I write. But since my experience with my own real-life murder mystery, (which unfortunately didn’t wrap itself up in a nice neat ending but instead lingered on until finally the killer was set free for lack of evidence)  I try never to make light of death. Thankfully I was able to finish writing the book eventually and have gone on to write many more. I am grateful for both the resilience of the spirit and the opportunity to learn.

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Happy reading!

Friday, January 20, 2017

What is KENPC?

Remember the big brouhaha a year or so ago when it was discovered a few independent authors using Kindle Unlimited were committing fraud by uploading humungous book files, having people zip the Kindle page slider from beginning to end, then claiming an unfair proportion of the Global Select fund? The effect was there was less of the pie for the legitimate books on the market. Legitimate authors were getting paid less than they should have. Well, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Amazon put an end to that in more ways than one.

I am an author whose publisher is now publishing exclusively on Amazon in order to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited since that is a service to which many of our readers subscribe. I have an interest in knowing what Kindle Direct Publishing is doing, particularly regarding Kindle Unlimited. 

First of all, KDP changed the rules regarding the size of the files that can be paid for on Kindle Unlimited. They will only pay for 3,000 pages. An author or publisher may upload a giant manuscript file of say, 100,000 pages, but Kindle Unlimited will only pay for 3,000 of those pages. The fraudulent ten million page book days are over.

Second, KDP developed what they call Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC v2.0). KENPC—that’s quite the acronym, isn’t it? Hey, I’m a retired federal employee, and we love our “alphabet soup,” but I’ll have to admit that is a doozey.

To quote from the KDP website regarding how they figure page counts for Kindle Unlimited:

To determine a book's page count in a way that works across genres and devices, we developed the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). KENPC is calculated using standard formatting settings (font, line height, line spacing, etc.). We use KENPC to measure the number of pages customers read in your book, starting with the Start Reading Location (SRL) to the end of your book. Amazon typically sets SRL at chapter 1 so readers can start reading the core content of your book as soon as they open it. Non-text elements within books including images, charts and graphs will count toward a book’s KENPC.

Why did they go to that? Let’s face it. Different authors like to format their manuscripts differently: different fonts, different point sizes for those fonts, single space as opposed to double space or somewhere in between. It is possible when Kindle Unlimited came out, some authors tried to influence their page counts by using larger fonts and/or point sizes. And, I have also heard complaints by indie authors who claim the number of manuscript pages on their computer they upload on KPD and the number of pages they are given credit for on KDP don’t even come close.

Here’s why. That KENPC program takes whatever an author or publisher uploads into KDP and standardizes it. It creates for your manuscript what are known as Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP). That means, no matter what font you used on your manuscript, it is going to be changed to the KENP default font. Same with font size and line spacing.

I have it on good authority from some indie friends of mine that the page count you see on your book description is not necessarily the same page count for which you will be paid. In fact, an author or publisher can influence the page count that shows on your book description by the type of file they upload. For example, uploading a epub file will generally generate a larger page count than a Word document.

The only time that may be a benefit is for the sake of promoting a book on an advertising vendor that requires a book to be at least 100 pages. If your Word file comes out as 91 pages on your book description, and your KENP on which you get paid is 159, it won't do you any good in those instances since the promotion vendor cant's see your KENP. Only your publisher can.

If a publisher like Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints creates a CreateSpace file for paperback publication, they can enter the actual page count from the print book. (How do I know my publisher does that? Because that is the format they use for the galleys they send me for final edits.) That page count will tend to be higher than the default page count that results from uploading a regular Word document, even though both have the name number of words. 

The important thing for an author to know is, no matter what kind of file is uploaded, when it comes to Amazon’s KDP determining how many pages your book has for Kindle Unlimited payment, they use the page count that results from them grinding and churning your book file—be it Word, pdf, mobi, epub or html—through their—here we go again—KENPC software to create your standardized KENP pages.

So, don’t worry someone is going to get paid a bigger portion of the Kindle Unlimited pie just because they will have more pages after using a 24 point Verdana font on the manuscript they uploaded on KDP and your publisher only used 12 point Times New Roman. It ain’t gonna happen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hitting the Wall

The term “hitting the wall” is most often used by runners to describe a feeling of sudden fatigue and/or loss of energy making it difficult, if not impossible to finish their race. However, runners aren’t the only ones that experience the feeling of not being able to go on. I “hit the wall” writing-wise at the end of September 2016.

It all began with working on the revisions to Dances with Werewolves, the second book in my Kudzu Korners series. (The first book, Dial V for Vampire, was published by Fire Star Press in August 2016.) I love my world of Kudzu Korners and all of the books that I have roughly plotted out in my head. However, the more I worked on my revisions, the worst things got. My story wasn’t flowing – it was choppy and I wasn’t happy with it. I realized that, in order to fix the problems, my book basically needs a complete rewrite. Whereas the basic plot will remain the same, the story is currently told from the hero’s point of view; it will flow better if told from the heroine’s point of view. This realization really took the wind out of my sails and, rather than deal with the situation head-on, I began avoiding it.

Image courtesy of

Things just went downhill from there. As a writer, the world of social media is a big part of my life. It was not a fun world to be a part of for most of last year due to the presidential election. No one other than God and my husband know how I vote and I avoid all political discussions online. As you probably already know, the 2016 election was highly divisive. (I know someone whose own daughter stopped speaking to her because she disagreed with who her mother voted for. Seriously?) I consider myself to be a relatively optimistic person and for months I had been patting myself on the back about not letting all of the negativity steal my joy. Well, about the time my story blew up, my joy disappeared as well. The constant online negativity became an emotional drain. I lost a lot of respect for people that I consider friends because of their judgmental comments toward anyone who dared to think differently. Sadly, the election did not end the hostility but at least the levels of hysteria are no longer in the stratosphere. (It probably helps that I no longer follow individuals who spew nothing but anger and negativity toward others.)

November and December were tough emotionally due to the death of my father earlier this year (and my mother moving away to live with my sister). While I came through my daddy’s birthday and the holidays relatively well, it was period that was also seasoned with its share of sadness.

I’m a book cover junkie and I have bought covers for books that I haven’t even written yet. I use the covers as the wallpaper on my laptop; seeing them makes me smile and keeps me motivated. Once of the most frightening events during this whole I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up season was when I was using my laptop and one of my beloved book covers came up and I had no reaction to it. Zero. Even worse, I couldn’t remember what the story was about or the main character’s names. That really, really scared me.

However, I’m pleased to announce that the tide has finally turned. My characters are talking to me again and I’m slowly regaining my joy. I write humorous stories about people falling in love and I think our world needs more humor; I honestly believe that it is one of the reasons I was put here. So, it’s time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to the joy of writing.

Here’s to a new hope for a new year! *raises hot cocoa in toast*

How have you dealt with the difficult seasons of your life?

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year from the author of, "The Battle of Broken Moon."

JILL seen from the lunar surface.

2016 is in the archives. Frankly, I’m happy to see it go. Not that it didn’t have its high points.
My first novel was published in March, Dark Moon Rising. My second novel, The Battle of Broken Moon, was released in December. I can’t start to describe the rush that accompanies seeing your words in print! This, of course, is followed by the deep concern that readers will like what they read.
The series, “The Unborn Galaxy,” is made up of five separate stories, all taking place within the “Unborn Galaxy.” Two are published, the publisher has the third, the fourth was edited this past summer and I just got the fifth back from my editor.
Additionally, in the wings, is a separate story, a medieval adventure filled with mythical creatures, a beauteous young damsel as quick with her sword as she is with her wit. An elder knight who bears a great burden, and a malevolence to vile for even the most hated of mythical monsters. This story I call ― “The Witch of Vindemiatrix.”

Another point of celebration; this past December 21st of 2016 saw the one year anniversary of my wife’s survival after her heart attack. Additionally, her cardiologist has given her a clean bill of health. Nevertheless, she will remain a heart patient for the rest of her life.
 The event took place inside the VA hospital, where my wife took me for an examination. If you’re going to have a heart attack, have it in a hospital.
As a result, my family missed its traditional Christmas celebration in 2015. We made up for it Christmas of 16, however.
I have learned a lot about heart disease in general, and in women specifically. It is often called the silent killer of women, because, unlike in men where a sudden pain in the chest, arm and or leg signals the onset, in women it is far subtler.
And women suffer a disproportional number of heart attacks.
Ladies, if you’ve not been examined I cannot encourage, cajole, or warn you enough. There is no typical target for the disease. Young, old, tall, short, smoker, non-smoker, lite, or heavy.  My dear wife was the picture of health. Where I was taking a bevy of meds supplied by the VA, my wife took none. She had regular checkups, exercised, ate right, she was the archetype of what our doctors want us to be. Yet, on 21 December 2015 she was laid low by a near microscopic tear in the interior lining of a blood vessel on her heart, smaller than a strand of spaghetti.
This past Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we certainly thanked God for his blessings, and have been doing so every day since that dark date.
So, please, see your doctors, have your risk assessed, and your ticker scrutinized.
None can cheat death, but you can increase the distance from him―and it is not difficult at all.
So, as we enter a new year, let me wish you all a happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year. A year that can be made much more adventurous within the pages of Dark Moon Rising, and The Battle of Broken Moon.

Mike Gonzales

Atomic bombing of JILL