Ambient Lighting and the Comforts of Home – In the mood…for writing

I’m currently away from home for a few days for my non-writer job, and I’m staying in a room with very bright lights.  They are not “soft white,” and though they can be turned on and off in many different combinations, the quality of the light is the same.  I’m pretty peaceful here, reading, writing, and editing in solitude, but I do miss the atmosphere of home.  My husband laughs at me when I come into the living room when he’s been sitting in there for a few hours and adjust the lighting.  Hey, I like my lighting, all right?  It sets a mood.  I love feeling like I’m in a calm, inviting environment, and lighting is one of the keys to that.

I also should have brought my sweatpants.  Mistake!  I mentioned in my last post how I hate to be cold…well, the AC in this place is not fully within my control, and it’s a little chilly.  I may or may not have slept in my jeans and a wool sweater each night.  I was warmer that way.

Still though, it hasn’t been a bad few days at all.  I’ve got some more writing work to do after I finish this blog post.  I’ve got the lights turned down as low as they can be while still functional.  (They are still too bright and too white.  They are saying, “What’s the problem?  What kind of fancy light do you want?  Aren’t we good enough for you?” and then they think about dimming, but don’t because they weren’t made to, and they want to speak to me in a softer tone, but they can’t.  Still, they feel sorry, so they add, “We have our good points.”  They don’t elaborate.)  I acknowledge that I can see everything very well.  There is no question of that.  (The lights appreciate the concession and show their appreciation by shining in exactly the same glaring way as before.)

When I’m home, I like to have the light right, and sometimes I listen to music with headphones, though other times I write in the relative silence that is not headphones but still life.  Often, I read something to transition into what I want to work on…even if I’m focused on editing.  I’m replicating as many conditions as I can here.  Home soon.

Any other writers have your own “getting in the mood” rituals?  Or anyone else have a preparation ritual for some other work?  

P.S. My short story, “Glass Eyes” is still free at Smashwords through tomorrow with the code SW100 at checkout through their summer sale.  Also available for purchase for Nook at Barnes & Noble and for Kindle at Amazon.

Links:

“Glass Eyes: A Short Story about a Family’s Struggle” on Smashwords

“Glass Eyes: A Short Story about a Family’s Struggle” at Barnes & Noble

“Glass Eyes: A Short Story about a Family’s Struggle” at Amazon

“Where There’s Smoke” by Jodi Picoult – Review and Connections

While out and about in the car today, I used the Kindle Text-to-Speech feature to listen to Jodi Picoult’s new (FREE!) short story, “Where There’s Smoke.”  I loved it.  One of my all-time favorite Jodi Picoult novels is Second Glance (another is The Storyteller), and I’m excited that Picoult is again taking on ghosts and their interactions with the world of the living.  I love the way she did this in Second Glance: the novel remains character-driven and has a great plot as it incorporates elements of the paranormal.  Second Glance has a similar feel to Picoult’s other novels for me, and I think the strength of the characterization make this novel accessible, not only to those who enjoy paranormal novels, but to readers who tend to focus on commercial, upmarket, and women’s fiction which might not normally include any ghosts.

In “Where There’s Smoke,” the main character is Serenity Jones, a TV psychic receiving communication from spirits on the other side and struggling as we all do, to live life the best way she knows how.  I really enjoyed the story, finding Serenity easy to relate to despite my initial hesitation over her profession.  Though I’m interested in the paranormal (loving shows like Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, and The Haunted), I sometimes feel skepticism when it comes to big TV psychic personalities and wasn’t sure what to expect with Serenity.  Well, I loved the story and the stakes that Picoult created for this character and those around her.  I’m looking forward to Picoult’s upcoming novel, Leaving Time.  This novel will include Serenity, and the short story definitely worked to hook me and cause me to breathe a sigh of disappointment when I saw that I’d have to wait until Leaving Time‘s October release date to find out more.

What are your favorite Picoult novels?

Do you find the paranormal interesting?

Short Story “Glass Eyes” FREE for a limited time on Smashwords!

Read my short story, “Glass Eyes,” FREE on Smashwords!  Just follow the directions on the page (enter the code SW100).

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459999

Five-year-old Kate struggles to understand what is happening to her father and her world as she witnesses his deepening depression. In the midst of her family’s turmoil, Kate finds solace in her grandfather’s upstairs apartment, though she is troubled by the stuffed fox in his bedroom. As Kate tries to adapt to the changes in her life, the fox becomes a symbol of what she fears.

Trying Self-Publishing: “Glass Eyes” Now Available for Purchase!

I am a high school English teacher, and this takes up a lot of my time during the school year, so this summer I’m trying to spend as much of my time on writing as I can.  As I’ve been reading, dreaming, writing, editing, and querying, I decided to self-publishing an ebook.  This is the perfect time for me to delve into this process and learn the ins and outs through firsthand experience.  I took a story which is dear to my heart, “Glass Eyes,” and prepared it for publication, focusing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Cover Art

I had a lot of fun creating the cover for my ebook.  A stuffed fox features prominently in the story, and I knew that my aunt and uncle had one.  I drove down to their place and took several photographs of it.  My aunt and uncle were very helpful and accommodating!

Here are some covers that didn’t make the cut:

         

Once I got home, I sifted through my photos and edited the ones I liked best with the Microsoft Office Photo Editor.  I brought my favorite edited images into Microsoft PowerPoint and added the title, subtitle, and my name.  I played with placement, font, and color, and feel satisfied with the final product.  I can’t wait to make another cover!

Here’s the one I went with:

 

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I like the way the fox breaks up the image in this cover.  If you look carefully on the right, there is a swing, representing my five-year-old protagonist, Kate.  While I liked the images of the fox indoors in front of the books, I felt that those covers were too busy and distracting.  I also felt the cover I went with felt more modern than some of the others.

Preparation and Formatting

To prepare for launching “Glass Eyes” as an ebook, I read Building Your Book for Kindle and Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing, and Mark Coker’s Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

The Kindle publications had some helpful information for how to navigate the process of publishing on Amazon.  I found Coker’s book the most helpful.  In addition to giving instructions for publishing an ebook, Coker also gives tips on marketing, defines terminology, and talks through the pros and cons of different ebook publishing decisions.  Once I had gone through the steps to publish on Amazon, I also read the Smashwords Style Guide and carefully worked through the Smashwords template.

Formatting was a big part of this process.  I spent a lot of time trying to get my indents to look right for the Kindle edition, and I read several pieces of internet advice and eventually found the right advice, written in a way that I could understand it, and (Hallelujah!) made a well-formatted book.  I plan to add a blog post about formatting that goes into more detail, and I’ll share the resources I found helpful.

Published!

Once the ebook was available on Amazon and Smashwords, I was so excited!  None of this excitement has dissipated yet.  It’s exciting to have a published story out there, and I’m also looking forward to learning about marketing and sales through this experience.  I’ll keep my ears open to advice.  I meet with a weekly writer’s group of very kind and talented individuals, and I constantly benefit from their points of view.  I’m also keeping in mind what I learned from attending this years NECRWA conference (New England Chapter Romance Writers of America).  Many authors spoke about their experience with self-publishing and ebooks.  In particular, I benefitted from author Katy Regnery‘s workshop in which she shared her experiences about indie and self-publishing, and all that goes along with them.

More details to follow!  Have you self-published or indie published?  What were some of your takeaways?