Old Dog, New Tricks!

Yeah, that’s me.  Old Dog.

I’ve been in a fraud conference the last two days and there’s these presenters – really cute, really funny, smart young guys in business suits (I love a man in a nice fitting suit!), then suddenly I realized – I could be their mom!  So I’m feeling a bit like an old dog today.

But Darn it – This old dog done learned a new trick!!!  🙂

SmokeandMirrors_amberback[4]Today is the launch of my contemporary paranormal short story, Smoke and Mirrors.  This story was actually first published back in 2003 in an anthology called DREAM QUEST (don’t you love that cover!).  The beauty of being in that anthology was the company of the other incredibly talented authors.  As you can see by the editor names on the cover, Linnea Sinclair had a hand in that book and the connection with Linnea has paid off multiple fold.  (Linnea definitely believes in paying it forward).  The DREAM QUEST publisher went out of business and reverted the story rights to the authors.  The story was written and edited and just sitting there, waiting for something to happen.Dream Quest 2

So I epublished it – me!  🙂  All my previous books have been traditionally published.  My agent handled everything about publishing Bound by Moonlight – another epubbed paranormal project.  So this is truly my first learning experience with processing an ebook.

The process is easy…if you know what you’re doing.  I’m one of those people that learn by making every mistake possible.  This was no exception 🙂 .  I’d like to thank Gwen Hernandez who came to my aid over the weekend to tell me what I was doing wrong.

boundbymoonlightstandard[1]Thank you as well to Sandy Loyd, who also came to my aid, but simply did the work for me instead of telling me why the project wasn’t loading correctly.  Do you know people like that?  She helped me in that I felt better knowing I had a file I could publish if I absolutely had to…but I still took Gwen’s advice and changed the project so that it would load correctly.  I’m proud of that.

Then the cover wouldn’t load.  I sent an urgent email to my cover designer who sent back a resized cover.  Thus I’m learning.  I know this process will be much easier the next time I publish an ebook – and I plan to do several.

But enough about that.

This is a cute short story about a plump girl who buys an amber amulet imbued with magic.  While wearing the necklace, she wishes to be thin.  A heavy scented SmokeandMirrors_amazonsmoke emits from the back of the necklace and the fun begins.  You can see the inspiration for the cover.  🙂  This story has a nice twist.  You’ll have to let me know if you figure it out before you reach the end and all is revealed.

So tell me, have you had an experience where you resisted someone who wanted to just do it all for you?  Are you, like me, one who learns by making every conceivable mistake along the way?  Tell me about one of your recent discoveries.  I have a $10 Amazon card to send to someone leaving a comment.

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  • flchen1 says:

    Probably–I did a lot of my learning about desktop publishing and graphics by asking those helping me to show me and then to let me do it with their help. I do think I’m able to retain many things better by muddling through it myself, even though someone else could do it faster and probably better… As for a more recent discovery? Hmm… maybe muddling through stuff on my new smartphone… how does this panoramic photo thing work anyway?? 😉

    • Hi Fichen!

      Smartphones – Good analogy! I have a ton of apps on mine, yet I keep returning to the tried and true ones and ignore the rest. I think I know how to take the panoramic photo, based on other more traditional cameras, but I wonder how it would look on the camera roll. Obviously, I haven’t tried it yet…but I might have an opportunity next month. I’ll give it a try.

    • Hi, Fedora–Congrats on nabbing the Rooster!

      It’s great that you know desktop publishing. I’ve never sat down and figured it out. I learned how to hook up radio equipment in college and was lucky that the guy who taught us all understood that we would learn best by doing. He leaned over our shoulders and advised but didn’t touch anything unless whoever he was helping was just hopelessly befuddled. He was a classmate of mine, a real genius with cameras and AV equipment.

  • flchen1 says:

    And congrats on your newly (re-)published project, Smoke and Mirrors! What a fun story it sounds like, and glad you had the chance to learn how to take it all the way to us readers yourself!

    • Thanks Fichen. It feels good as this was one of those goals I made for myself at the beginning of the year. Projects are always scarier when they haven’t been attempted 🙂 . Now I have to learn how to upload to B&N and ibooks – then how to reduce the price so Kindle will match. Then I’ll feel like a pro! 🙂

  • Jane says:

    Congrats, Donna. I’m probably like you in that I eventually figure it out after some trial and error, but sometimes I just straight up ask for advice/help knowing there’s no way I’ll figure it out myself.

    • Hi Jane –

      This was a good project because I hate to ask for help. I hate to ask anyone to stop what they are doing to explain something to me. When you think of it, that’s a really crappy personal trait, but that’s me – so this was a mentally growing project as well as a “how to” project.

      But you know, I think I’ll remember the lessons learned better for having screwed it up so royally the first time 🙂 !

    • Jane, I’m okay with trial and error, but if I’m in a time crunch, I go looking for an expert. The dh figured out how to hook up a DVD player once when I was out of town, and this was a landmark for us. 🙂

  • Mary Preston says:

    I am constantly asking my daughter to help with new, and not so new, technology. She makes ME do it while she talks me through it. It really is the only way I learn. I’m always chuffed when I can finally do things for myself, by myself.

    • Hi Mary –

      I’ve been in Accounting seminars the better part of the last two weeks. In one of them, they showed a graph of technology advances and it was incredible to see everything that has come about in the last ten years. It’s hit us so much faster than the previous 20 or 30. They said many of us are now technology weary and wary of constantly learning how to use it.

      It’s good that you have your daughter to help you learn the new stuff. We’re blessed 🙂

    • Hi, Mary. Don’t you just love the feeling that comes from having mastered something challenging?

  • Minna says:

    Well, it depends. Sometimes I rather figure things out through trial and error and sometimes I just go ahead and ask.

    • Hi Minna –

      Oh – I’m so hesitant to ask, it’s ridiculous. But when I finally figure it out, It’s seriously ingrained in my brain. However, now that I’ve conquered this ability to upload a work to Amazon – you can bet that there will be a giant change that will throw me back to square one! LOL 🙂

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Huge Congratulations on the release, and on jumping into the self-publishing world! That’s fantastic! I will google something like crazy to figure out how to do it, but definitely make mistakes along the way. I Google those too. I’ve made quite a few new discoveries owning a home. Thankfully, I always have people offering to help, but I like to learn new things, so I try to do it on my own. I also don’t like to bother anyone. My most recent discovery was changing the belt on my dryer. Thank goodness for youtube. 🙂

    Congratulations again!!!

    • Thanks Heather –

      You changed the belt on your dryer! I’m seriously impressed!

      Yes – I’ve recently discovered the fabulous power of youtube. You can find out how to anything there. And I love that you can see it being performed right in front of you. I didn’t think to google on how to solve the problems I encountered. Have to remember that.

      We sound so alike in our aversion to ask for help. Why is that? Is it the public admission that we don’t know everything after all? LOL. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I had friends who could come to my aid. 🙂

      • Heathercm2001 says:

        I used youtube for the dryer belt, replacing the motherboard on my washer, and then the door latch and catch on the washer too. Plus, I replaced some outside light fixtures too. It is extremely helpful.

    • Heather, I can do some household repairs, thanks to my dad. I tend to shy away from plumbing or electrical anything, but I’m pretty decent with a hammer or a screwdriver.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Donna

    Woohoo on the release and yes am like you I do like to learn myself but I do often have people that like to do everything for me and I have to say sometimes I let them other times I ask them to show me 🙂 we bought a new PC at the beginning of the year and there was a lot to do to save data and transfer it over to the new one and I did it with a little help 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Hi Helen!

      Congratulations on the new PC. Isn’t it amazing how you think you know how to do something on the computer, but then you get a new one and everything you once knew is now obsolete. I find myself yearning for the days when you could click on words and not odd pictures to do what you needed 🙂 . My family tends to just “do it” for me when I need help but that doesn’t really help as I have to ask the same question the next time it happens. My husband is the worst. LOL . So I’m especially proud when I figure it out for myself. Still, it’s a blessing to have friends you can depend upon to give you guidance when stuck.

    • Helen, congrats on your data transfer! I have to confess, I get someone else to do that for me when I need it done.

  • Debbie says:

    I usually make all kinds of mistakes when trying something new. Most recently it’s been a couple of computer glitches. I know very little about these modern contraptions so when something goes wrong, I usually call my son-in-law who works in computers. The last two times, however, I’ve managed to fix it myself. It took me awhile and I have to admit I am not the most patient person in the world, but it got done!

    • Hi Debbie!

      I cringe whenever I learn that there’s a new operating system update for the computer. I want to yell “But I knew how to do it the old way! Why can’t they just leave it alone.” Then I realize how I sound like my mother 🙂 Good on you for figuring it out yourself. My husband is my computer guy and he’s one of those that just fixes the problem without explanation. I’m especially proud when I figure something out on my own without his assistance. Take that you IT guy! 🙂

  • Erika Kelly says:

    Yes, Donna, I’m just like you! My husband jokes that I’m a slow learner, but I have to learn by doing it myself–encountering and overcoming the obstacles on my own. I don’t even care that it takes me longer–because once I learn…I got it! Gorgeous cover! Congratulations on taking the plunge. I think we’ll all at some point go the way of SP in some form or another. So good for you for learning it now!

    • Thanks Erika –
      I figured a short story would be good as it’s so basically simple, and if I messed things up I wouldn’t be nearly as despondent as I would be with a novel 🙂 I admit that makes no sense, but that’s how I felt. But it’s good to know. I feel so empowered. LOL.

  • Donna,
    Congrats! I love the cover and the story sounds amazing. I am on my way to RT2015 today. That is my adventure in doing something I have never done before: a huge book signing! Nervous! Wish you were going to be there.
    All the best to you.

    • Hi Deb –

      You’ll have a great time and this is the first of many big booksignings for you! You’re so personable, fans will love you. I think Dallas is the one to worry. They’ve never encountered you in cowboy boots! 🙂

  • Congratulations!! And, yes, it IS a gorgeous cover!! 🙂

    • Thanks Madeline –

      I love the cover as well. It was done by the daughter of a COFW member. I love how she has the heart hidden in the smoke. I believe she said that required a special brush. Funny how computers require brushes just like paintings. 🙂

  • Jan Terry says:

    I’m happy to ask for help! One thing that has helped me learn to do technology is that I bought notebook. In there I take notes from sitting at my computer and figuring out the programs. I actually sketch out what I’m seeing on the screen and what happens when I click something. This helps the next time I use that program. I’m starting to add pages from using my phone and tablet. I’m making my own users guide!

    • Hi Jan!

      Making your own user guide is brilliant! You know – I’m a CPA and it always bothered me when I’d be showing a client how to do something that they’d asked – like how to do a bank reconcilation on their computer. Yet they never took notes! Sure enough – I’d be back the following month doing the same thing. I suddenly realized that they wanted me to do this easy thing for them – so I did. I, however, prefer to know how to do it myself. I can tell – so do you!

  • Donna Steele says:

    Congratulations! I’m getting ready to take the plunge myself – I’ve been as obsessive over the formatting as I was the dang story, but I’ve learned a lot!

    • Hi Donna!

      I specifically choose this story as a learning experiment because it had been already edited. I figured formatting a short story can’t be too difficult, but I forgot about the front matter and the back matter. Geez Louise. However, as a friend told me. Hiring a formatter is inexpensive. I’ll do that for the novels. Short stories? I wanted to do those myself.

  • Kate Sparks says:

    Congrats!! Learning something new and accomplishing something afterwards!

  • As I say in my memoir, “I dig myself into figurative and real holes by taking on anything that comes my way. Sometimes, I get the better of the holes; sometimes the holes get the better of me.” Trying to do everything by myself, sometimes without training sometimes with, is “the holes.” One of the figurative holes is asking my hubby and son for help with learning to use computers in the 1990s, and was eventually told “Figure it out for yourself!” Well, I did. Now, my husband COMES TO ME with questions sometimes! I’m tempted to tell him to “figure it out for yourself,” but I don’t.

    • Hi Sandy!
      While frustrating, figuring it out for yourself is something of a blessing. You end up learning all kinds of things, many you didn’t expect. Plus you feel empowered afterwards. I just wish computers wouldn’t keep changing their methods of operations as rapidly 🙂 As you’ve been in it since the 90s, you know what I mean 🙂

    • LOL! Sandy, that’s a great story.

  • Kat Sheridan says:

    Many, amny congrats on getting this out there! And what a gorgeous cover!

    • Hi Kat!

      She did a really nice job, didn’t she. I love it. We originally were looking for something with a girl wearing an amber necklace, but Rachel thought all the images she found looked slutty 🙂 I think this one turned out perfect.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Donna! I love that you published this story! WOOT!!! Excited tp get it. ;> And I love the cover. As to things I’ve done in “figuring it out” – holy cow. Wish I could learn from other’s mistakes rather than just blasting in and making my own. Alas, I seldom do. At least it’s made me good at apologies. SNORK!!!

    • Jeanne –

      I hear ya, sistah! Especially on learning from other’s mistakes. I can’t manage to do that either. I’ve often said that I’m a great beta tester because I mess things up in ways no one can forsee. Even on this small project, Gwen told me she had no idea how I had managed to do what I did with the title page, but to try deleting it and make a new one. Who screws up a title page! 🙂

      It feels good to put this out. I’ve got several more projects right behind it.

  • Patty L. says:

    I want to “do” everything so i am always taking on more than I need to. I love learning new things but it makes me so more. Haha

    • Patty –

      There’s a beauty in learning new things, Don’t you think? I think I read somewhere that learning new things keeps your brain making new connections, expanding. You stop learning and those connections start slipping away. Now I have to catch up on other things that I set aside to learn this one thing – LOL.

  • L.L. Muir says:

    Sandy Lloyd is wonderful, isn’t she?
    Going to get my copy now.

    • L.L. –

      Sandy is wonderful. We both attended a Scrivener presentation. When I asked questions, Sandy just turned around and said “Donna, if you have problems, just ask me.” I wrote it in my notes.

      Thanks for the download, but it’s only a short story – an old short story. The whole purpose was to learn how to epub, not to make money. In fact my next step is to upload to B&N and ibooks and then set the price to .00 so Amazon will match. This really was just a learning experience.

  • Colleen C. says:

    I am one that will ask for help if needed, but I will not sit back and let someone else do everything… I like to try to figure things out…
    😀 Happy Re-release!

    • Colleen –

      You are a wise woman. I think the difficulty in asking for assistance is a generational thing. Plus I entered a man’s field when few women were CPAs. A woman asking questions was viewed as a weakness. So I learned that I had to figure it out for myself.

      But asking for help is so much smarter and productive. Good for you for making that choice.

      • That woman in a man’s field thing could be part of where I got it from too. I was a programmer, then a manufacturing engineer. You quickly learn to show no weakness…

        • Ha! See – that common background is why we clicked so well while eating Nora Robert’s excellant shrimp 🙂 That and our common fashion sense. 🙂

  • Donna, congrats on the launch of your story! That’s a fabulous cover. I have to trundle off and get my copy. 🙂

    I haven’t had the experience of someone wanting to just do it for me over my objections. I know that has to be frustrating, though!

    • Nancy –

      To be clear, Sandy didn’t fix the problem over my objections. She just changed some files, recompiled and sent the files ready to upload – which is wonderful. If I wasn’t approaching this as a learning project, I would have been estatic. But the whole point was to learn to do it myself as I have some more short stories that I plan to epublish. Sandy is great!

  • So glad I was able to help, Donna! You got most of the way there by yourself. And I’m just like you. I want to know how to do it myself, unless I know for sure I’m never going to do it again. 😉

    Can’t wait to read this novella! The little glimpse I got sucked me right in. 🙂

    • Hi Gwen!

      I love that you spotted a typo in that little glimpse. 🙂 That typo became important as it was how I knew my corrected file wasn’t replacing Sandy’s file. Then I figured out to rename my file and everything worked beautifully. Thanks again!

  • Maria D. says:

    Yes, I too am an old dog and need to learn things from start to finish – the blogging community is very generous in that there are people willing to help and when I first started my blog and reviewing books – I needed all of the advice I could get and help. I try to pay it forward and help others now but I’m still an old dog and run across things where I need help and fortunately have plenty of people I can turn to.

    • Hi Maria!

      I believe the romance community of readers and writers is the friendliest, most helpful community there is. This includes finding someone to help explain things along the way. Believe me – this old dog needs lots of instruction with it comes to technology 🙂

  • I was very fortunate in my first indie pub adventure because two of the people in the anthology with me were already indie published and knew a great deal more about it than I did. Now that I am hoping to bring out some of my full-length books out indie-style I am FREAKING OUT BIG TIME !!

    I am gathering together as much information as I can and I do have friends who want to help me. And in this instance you had better believe I will ask for help!!

    Asking for help is not a skill I use with ease. I am fairly stubborn about being self-sufficient. My reasons are varied – I try hard to have confidence in myself because my Dad told me confidence will carry you a long way. He raised us to be self-sufficient. And a number of the instances in which I did ask for help it didn’t turn out well. And as Forrest Gump says “That’s all I’m going to say about that!”

    I am a complete techno-dinosaur and I know the indie pub world runs on techno-knowledge. SO for the sake of my stories I will swallow my pride, panic and then find someone who can help me !

    • Louisa –

      If I can help you, I will. But I’m guessing you have some far more experienced people on your resource list.

      I would have approached this project differently if it was a novel. Indeed, I will approach it differently when I bring a novel to the fore – especially in utilizing people to help. But a tiny short story just didn’t require that kind of involvement, I think. I wanted to start with something easy – and this is as easy as it comes 🙂

      Can’t wait to see those full-length novels out!

  • Barbara Elness says:

    Congrats on your accomplishment! Yes, I always resist someone doing things for me, I’ll never learn if I don’t do it myself. And doing it myself is a challenge, where I make mistake, after mistake, but I’m persistent and in the end I always get it done. 😀

    • Hi Barbara!

      Yeah, I’m stubborn that way as well. Except when I know my husband can help me out. He’s not the best teacher as he’s one to just fix the problem without explanation, but he’s available. 🙂 I figure after being asked the same question a couple of times he’ll explain what I need to do. LOL.

  • Shannon says:

    I am in desperate need of a handy man. I almost went to one of the Bandita’s webpage to ask if she knows of handy men in my metro area. I have asked a friend of a friend, and I’ll let it go. Somehow my furntiure will get assembled. Some how.

    Congrats on the republishing.

    • Thanks Shannon –

      Yeah, a guy handy with a hammer is a treasure to be sure. Did you get some IKEA furniture? The kind that has pictures but no words to tell you how to assemble? Those are a challenge but can be done. Have you tried Anglie’s List? They have people listed as handy men in your area.
      Hmmm…could be a story brewing in your situation. 🙂

  • June Butka says:

    I am just like you. I learn my trail and error. Sometimes more errors, but once I learn I can usually do it afterwards. I did an book for my family of my free verses. I used my own photo for the cover. It was a challenge at every step, like your described above. You will rock it next time.

  • IreAnne says:

    Congratulations Donna! So, now you’re a Hybrid Author 🙂 I’m going to be testing the waters of epub myself very soon. I am also afraid of making too many mistakes. I expect it will happen. But, one thing I am learning–if there’s a mistake, all you have to do is fix it! And, it won’t be a long waiting process because you can do it yourself. That in itself relieves some of my stress anyway.

    • Hi IreAnn –

      Well – I’m already regretting that I didn’t mention that this was published before in my description in the metadata. I meant to put that in but I was just too close to pushing “submit.” It’s a short little thing so hopefully I’ve caught any errors in the copy – but you never know. Even the NY publishers miss a few typos.

  • jcp says:

    I make all kinds of mistakes when learning something new.

    • Hi jcp!

      Sometimes it’s the best way to learn…at least I hope so. I’m hoping I won’t make the same mistakes again. Probably will make a whole new batch with the next project.

  • So I ran a random number generator and it said number 15 – So Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter wins the $10 Amazon gift card.

    Thanks everyone for sharing the excitement of epublishing my very first (short) story. Hopefully, more will be following on its heels.

  • Welcome to the Self-pub ocean! You’re gonna love it here. The water’s great.

    Story sounds like a fun read.

  • Kym Lucas says:

    Good job, Donna. You’re a lot of fun however you’re published!

  • Saralee says:

    Congratulations, Donna! That’s terrific!