Monday, May 31, 2010

Learning About Alzheimer's -- Part 1 of 5

In Chapter Eight of Where Love Once Lived, the male protagonist, Brian Donelson, learns that his mother has Alzheimer's. This week, I'm going to give you the entire chapter to read. I would love to hear what you think about it. I know that Alzheimer's patients react in different ways, but I'm basing this on my own experience with my mother.

Brian parked his rental car in front of his parents’ home in Redondo Beach, California, and glanced at his watch. Last week, at this time, he was parking the bookmobile at Karen’s school. An image of her walking across the parking lot was as clear to him as if he were there now. He wondered if she’d miss him when he didn’t show up today. He started to call her before he left, but he wasn’t ready to talk about why he’d shut down the bookmobile service. He owed her an explanation after barging into her life the way he did, but he wasn’t sure what he’d say. He still wanted her to love him the way she once did and the way he loved her still, but the bookmobile approach hadn’t worked. Perhaps this trip to see his parents and his daughter would give him time to decide what to do next. He stepped out of the vehicle and breathed in the smells of his youth. Even though his future was fuzzy, he felt a calmness he only found here in his old neighborhood with its palm trees, stucco homes, and the fresh smell of saltwater from the nearby Pacific Ocean. As he walked toward the house, he noticed Dad hadn’t kept the yard as neat as he usually did. Perhaps Brian could give him a hand with it while he was here. It’d be fun to trim the bushes, dig up the weeds in the flowerbeds, and mow the grass again.

The front door opened as he approached the house, and his daughter stepped out. She shut the door behind her and put her arms around him.

“Hi, Daddy.”

He’d planned to stay in his old room while at home, but when he called Amy to say he was coming, she’d insisted he stay at her place. She wanted to show him her new condo, she’d said, and it’d give them more time to visit. Even though he talked to her by phone and e-mail frequently, seeing her now reminded him why he’d stayed in a loveless marriage for so long.

“Hi, sweetie. What a nice surprise.” He backed away and looked into her eyes. “But what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

Her smile faded slowly and her eyes took on a seriousness he’d seen only once before, the time he told her he was getting a divorce.

“I need to talk to you before you go in.”

Something was seriously wrong.

“What’s happened? Is it Mom? Dad?”

Amy reached out and grasped his hands, her brown eyes focused on his eyes. “It’s Grandma.” She gently squeezed his hands. “Don’t be alarmed, Dad. She’s in no danger. It’s…it’s Alzheimer’s.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Final Text Changes Made Today

Today, I made the final text changes to Where Love Once Lived. That scared me because every time I look at the manuscript I find something else to change. For example, I just happened to see this:

She felt the heat of his body and his familiar scent, both so strong she turned away.

Yikes! She couldn't have felt his familiar scent, not unless it was burning her nose. I changed it to:

She felt the heat of his body and smelled his familiar scent, both so strong she turned away.

Not great literature, but more accurate. This I found after millions of edits by me and several professional editors. So, I know there will be mistakes in the printed book. But, I've reached the point where it doesn't matter. Surely, there won't be anything too seriously wrong.

I made the final text changes because I received the interior proof for final approval. It was the first time I have seen the entire book in its final format. I had been wondering if it would look like a real book. It does. It's not huge. About the size of Elizabeth Berg's books. It is 5 1/4 x 8 inches and has 296 pages. The Microsoft Word version is 310 pages, double spaced, so this gives me an idea of size for future books. Now that we know the number of pages, the cover designer will know how wide the spine is.

CreateSpace recommends printing the interior proof out so you can see what it looks like on paper, but I only printed the first chapter. Then I scanned the rest of it on the computer screen. It looks pretty good. It would have been much longer if I hadn't cut out so many of the subplots. I kept everything and might find a way to use some of it in another book. But, I like the way the book ended up. It contains just what is needed for an interesting story.

Next week, this blog will be a little different. I've taken an entire scene from Where Love Once Lived and divided it into five parts. You'll be able to read one per day starting Monday, May 31, 2010. Let me know what you think about this. I might do it again sometime.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Smoking Grapevine

In Where Love Once Lived, one of my characters lives in the Clarksville area of Austin, Texas. There are references to my own experience living next to the neighborhood that was reserved for blacks only back when I was there. I lived on the white street, but our backyard was adjacent to the backyard of a black family. I don't remember anything about the parents of that family, not sure I ever saw them. But, I did talk to the children. We would often meet at the wire fence and stare at each for awhile until we finally got into a normal childhood conversation. I'm not sure how old I was, but since my family moved from there in 1946, I had to be about nine years old.

In future posts I'll tell you more about living near Clarksville because it made a big impression on me. However, today I would like to tell you about the move to South Austin. Back then, and to a certain extent now, South Austin was like a separate town from Austin. I remember telling my girlfriend goodbye. Lajuana Jolly. I bought her a necklace so she'd always remember me. But I knew I'd never see her again. After all we were moving to the other side of the river.

But we might as well have moved to another city. After the move, we only ventured out across the river when we had to go downtown. Checking Google Maps today, I see that it is only 2.3 miles from West 9 1/2 Street to Josephine Street. Today, I walk further than that for exercise.

The nearest grocery store was on Kinney Avenue and it was the size of a current day home two-car garage. Maybe smaller. Mother would send me to the store nearly every day to get groceries. We had a charge account there. They would give me what every was on the shopping list and then Dad would go in on Saturdays to pay for the week's purchases. I would often sneak in a candy bar that wasn't on the list so I didn't mind doing the shopping.

One day, a neighborhood friend went with me and he showed me a shortcut to the grocery store through a wooded area. Right in the middle of the forest he stopped and pulled out a knife. I didn't know what was going on and thought I better get out of there. But before I could move, he grabbed a thick piece of grapevine and cut off a few inches of it, stuck it in his mouth and lit the other end just like adults did with cigarettes. He took a few puffs, coughed, and passed it to me.

There were many interesting childhood times while I lived in the Josephine house. I wish I could put them in the book along with the Clarksville story. But, I'll tell you more here in the future.

Smoking grapevine is not smart, but it is not as serious as what our children and grandchildren face today. Did you have similar temptations when you grew up?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cover Sketch Approved

I received the second sketch for the cover of Where Love Once Lived and approved it. It has all the elements I asked for and I think it will be eye catching when done. It has the bookmobile and school children from the first design, but now it doesn't look like a children's book. The designer said she thought it best not to add the church she had in the first sketch because it might interfere with the title. I like the cross in the clouds. Nice effect.

The next step is for the CreateSpace cover designer to prepare a black and white illustration. When approved by me, a full color illustration will be prepared. Finally, two cover concepts will be made for me to choose from. At each point along the way, I get one free redo. If more are needed, there is a charge of $100 per hour.

It is a slow process, but it is rewarding to be involved in all the parts of the book production.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More on Christian Fiction

I'm still analyzing so-called Christian Fiction and remembered this review of Dee Henderson's The Witness which I wrote for in July 2006. I thought it would be useful to include it here because I want to talk more about this thing called Christian Fiction. I titled the review, The Middle Drags:

The WitnessI must admit this is the first Dee Henderson book I've read so I didn't know what to expect. I bought it because it was said to be a Christian romance thriller. It begins with a bang and I couldn't put the book down for the first quarter or so. Then, it seems to go into slow motion for the next fifty percent or so. Then it kicks in again for the close. I was okay with the resolution of the story, unlike other reviewers. I didn't spot the lack of editing as some have reported, but I was distracted by the use of "couple" without "of" after it. I had never seen that before and it appeared a number of times.

I watched for the Christian view, and felt it was subtle. Not preachy at all. Just a few personal prayers, some discussion of one's belief in God. I noticed that there was no swearing or the use of alcohol or drugs. This I appreciated.

I plan to read more of her books.

I'm looking at other Christian Fiction to see how it is different from mainstream fiction because I want Where Love Once Lived to qualify for sale by members of the Christian Booksellers Association. However, I don't intend to make changes to it at this point in time, but I have made it fit the guidelines to the best of my understanding. I'll tell you more about this is a future article.

Have you read novels labeled Christian? If so, which ones? What did you think of them?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bicycling Memories and Guilt

Today, I pedaled around Sun City in Georgetown, Texas for my health. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone quite so far the day after donating two pints of blood. Also, if I had it to do over again, I would have eaten breakfast first or at least had some orange juice. I thought about all this will parked on the side of the road trying to decide if I should call 911 or just throw up. After some deep breaths, staying close to the flower garden at the woodworking shop, I managed to get past the nausea. I had already thought of a way to hold on to the branch of a tree for support if needed. But soon, I felt better and was back on the bike heading for home.

Perhaps I was delirious, but as I rode the rest of the way (mostly downhill, by the way), I had vivid memories of bike riding as a kid. I remember sneaking off when I lived near Clarksville in Austin, so I couldn't have been more than nine years old. My friend, Bobby Bayer, went with me. We told our parents we were just going to see someone a few blocks away and we ended up in deep South Austin. I felt terribly guilty for lying to my mother. But not guilty enough to keep me from repeating the trip several more times.

Those memories and reminders of the guilt I felt, made me think about Brian, the male protagonist in Where Love Once Lived. Don't forget I said I may have been delirious at the time all this was going through my head.

In the novel, Brian had been brought up in a Christian family and attended church every Sunday. What's more, he loved to go to church and continued to go while he was away from his California home attending the University of Texas. Then, he commits a sin and, even though he knows better, guilt is such that he believes he is being punished by God. His punishment is to be in a loveless marriage.

He drops out of church for the next thirty years. This is all leading up to my wanting to tell you this is not a biographical story. It didn't happen to me. I was brought up in a Christian home and my life revolved around the church. I still have friends I met at church and we still get together frequently. I'll tell you more about the Combine as we go. I continued to be involved in church in college and while in the Marines. After marriage and kids there were times when I wasn't involved as much as I should have been, but that didn't last long. I may tell you about that period of my life someday, if I'm ever delirious again.

How about you? When did God become a major part of your life? Have you ever dropped out? What brought you back?

Friday, May 21, 2010

CreateSpace Publicity Services

I purchased CreateSpace's Publicity Kit for Where Love Once Lived. The kit includes 500 postcards, 500 bookmarks, and 500 business cards, all full-color, for $499. The book cover is a prominent part of the design, so I won't expect to see any of these items until the cover design is finalized.

You can see an example here:

CreateSpace also provides Sell Sheets for $199. You get 100 full-color, single-sided 11" x 8.5" sheets featuring book description, author information, cover art, and buying information.

Here is an example:

I decided not to buy this one since I have all the required information and can easily create my own. Unlike postcards, bookmarks, and business cards, the sell sheet is a standard size.

I'll show you samples when I get them.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Cover Sketch No. 1

I received the sketch for the book cover for Where Love Once Lived yesterday. In an earlier posting, I told you how I had answered the questionnaire about the cover:

Q: Describe your own ideas that you would like to see captured on your cover. Are there any particular color(s) or types of imagery that you would like to see on your cover?

A: A potential reader should know by looking at the book that it is Christian in nature. That can be as subtle as a cross or a partial view of a church. Not too flashy. Solid looking. Peaceful. There could be an interior or exterior view of a bookmobile since it plays a big part in the story. The main characters are in their mid-fifties, but they first fell in love thirty years earlier while in college. The male lead character has a neatly trimmed beard and light brown hair. The title is Where Love Once Lived. Brian thinks he will find love by returning to the city and the job where he last felt love, but instead, he finds happiness when God's love returns to his heart, where it once resided.

Then, last Wednesday, I talked to the CreateSpace account manager about the cover and I reported this in a recent blog:

I told her I see a man and woman looking at each other with a bookmobile in the background with children near it. I said I would like a symbol to show it is a Christian novel, but I wasn't sure what. She said the artist would read everything they have about the book and then come up with a sketch.

Now, take a look at the sketch I received yesterday.

Here is my response:

I love the bookmobile, the children running, and the trees and church in the background. However, without more, the book could be mistaken for a book about children or a book for children. The main characters are in their mid fifties and the book is about them getting back together again after thirty years. The man has a well-trimmed beard.

Perhaps the sketch could be reduced in size by at least 50 percent and moved to the background. In the foreground could be a man and woman looking at each other, maybe touching, but not a full hug or kiss.

I'm also concerned about the size. I know the sketch doesn't have to be to scale, but the perspective is off as is. The book size is 5 1/4 x 8.

Bookmobile is one word.

Let me know what you think. I started to ask for comments before responding, but the cover sketch needed to be changed so much I thought it best to get started on it.

Some of my friends with books published by standard publishers are amazed at how much input I have in designing the cover, so I can at least be happy about that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Bookmobile Librarian

Liz Siedo, the librarian assigned to the bookmobile in Where Love Once Lived, and who rides with Brian everyday is a memorable character. She's always jolly, a bit nosey and opinionated, but everyone loves her anyway, except the head librarian who is a grump and who assigned Liz to the bookmobile to get her out of the library.

But, what most people don't know is that Liz's outlook is due to a strong belief in God. In reality, Liz has lived a difficult life. In this excerpt, Brian and Liz are alone on the bookmobile and he has admitted to her that he hasn't been in a church in more than thirty years and that he bought the bookmobile to impress Karen and try to win her back.

“It all makes sense now.” She paced in the narrow hallway of the bookmobile. “My husband, back in Holly Springs, North Carolina, was an alcoholic. I got counseling and begged him to get help, too, but he just kept drinking until it killed him. I took the insurance money and used it to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a librarian.”

“Good for you,” Brian said. “But I don’t see what this has to do with the bookmobile.”

“I’m coming to that.” Liz sat on the bench in front of his desk. “I heard the University of Texas had a great library science program, so I moved here.”

Brian wished she’d get on with it. They still had to set up for tomorrow’s runs, and he wanted to get home. He was thinking about calling Karen to see if she’d talk to him on the phone.

“So, you graduated and went to work for Austin Public Library.”

“Right. I hadn’t planned to stay here in Austin, but by the time I graduated, I was too involved in my church to leave. Besides, Michael liked it here, too.

“Michael? Who’s Michael?” He wished he hadn’t asked. This was taking forever. He looked at his watch.

“I haven’t told you about my grandson. He was living with us back home, and when I moved here, he came with me.” She looked sad all of a sudden. “That may have been a mistake. He’s in prison now.”

“Your grandson’s in prison? For what?”

“Driving under the influence,” she said. “Well, five convictions, actually. At least he can’t drink while he’s there. But getting back to what I was telling you. You know, why I think God put me here.” She pointed at the floor.

Brian checked his watch again. He didn’t have to be anywhere at a particular time, but maybe she’d take the hint and wrap up her story so he could go home. “Why?”

“It’s simple,” she said. “I’m gonna help you find God again.” She had a self-satisfied look on her face that was frightening.

Have you had the privilege of knowing someone like Liz?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Publishing Status Report

CreateSpace Projects:

LCCN Assignment--Completed. LCCN stands for Library of Congress Control Number. I also have an ISBN, International Standard Book Number.

Total Design Freedom Custom Book Interior--I approved the interior design (again) Friday, May 14, 2010. CreateSpace is now preparing the interior proof. I will have the opportunity to make text changes prior to the creation of the final files. I've been making notes of changes I want to make and hope I can get it all done soon. To see the latest interior design, see Where Love Once Lived.

Comprehensive Copyediting--Completed

Promotional Text Creation--Completed

Press Release Creation--Being prepared. Next is reviewing, approval, and final verification

Press Release Distribution--Currently scheduling. Next is distributing.

Publicity Kit--Currently working on proof. Printing is next. However, since the cover is used in the publicity items, I don't believe much will be done until the cover is complete. I'll tell you more about this later.

Illustrated Book Cover--The account manager called last Wednesday, May 12, 2010 to talk about the cover design. I told her I see a man and woman looking at each other with a bookmobile in the background with children near it. I said I would like a symbol to show it is a Christian novel, but I wasn't sure what. She said the artist would read everything they have about the book and then come up with a sketch. If I like the sketch, the artist will prepare two cover designs for me to chose from. She said it will be about ten days before I get the sketch.

This is a slow process. I can see now why it takes so long to publish a book. In addition to what CreateSpace is doing, I am writing a daily (M-F) blog called the Christian Bookmobile to help publicize the book and build title and author name recognition. By mentioning the book each day since March 31, 2010, the search engines have already picked up the title and the blog.

In addition to the blog, I've made contact with other Christian Fiction blog writers and am planning a virtual book tour using blogs. As soon as I have a definite publication date, I'll finalize the tour schedule. I'm also working on a Facebook fan page which I'll activate shortly before the publication date.

I've identified book reviewers who I will send sample copies of the book to in hopes they will review it. I will ask for honest opinions only and will not pay anyone for a fake review. If any of you would like to review the book when it comes out, please let me know. I can also send pdf versions sooner, but not until I quit changing it. Soon, I hope.

Also, I have identified book stores in both Georgetown and the Austin area, and will be talking to them about book signings. I'll prepare press releases for area newspapers as well and I plan to write articles for the newsletters of two of the writers' organizations I belong to.

Meanwhile, I should be working on my second book, Vengeance Is Mine. I've been so busy with Where Love Once Lived, I haven't touched the new book in several months.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bragging about Josh

Today I'm not going to talk about Where Love Once Lived. I'm not even going to talk about writing at all. Today all I'm going to do is tell you about my grandson Joshua Frost.

When my kids were growing up, I took them to church most every Sunday. Once they were out on their own, they didn't continue to go. There was the excuse of being too busy. Sundays were the only day off, the only day to sleep in, etc. etc. I'm not sure how anyone can get by without a church family, but I usually keep my mouth shut and hope they'll find their way back to a church soon.

I was surprised, and thankful, when my grandson Josh announced he was going to Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). He graduated from Texas Tech this past weekend and has taken a job with Teach For America in Dallas. The studies at DTS will be mostly online and he's not sure yet what he wants to do in the future. But the fact that he wants to take courses at DTS warms my heart.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 Christy Awards -- Part 2

The nominees for 2010 Christy Awards were published April 29 and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in St. Louis June 26. The nominees are:

Contemporary Romance: Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills (Tyndale House Publishers), How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group), Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus (Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas: Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson (Thomas Nelson), The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group), Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth (Zondervan)

Contemporary Standalone: June Bug by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers), The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson), Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle (Tyndale House Publishers)

First Novel: The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry (Moody Publishers), Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent (Tyndale House Publishers), Scared by Tom Davis (David C. Cook)

Historical: A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group),
Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group), The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Revell Books: a Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance: Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group), A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group), The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander (Thomas Nelson), The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group). The Historical Romance Category includes four finalists due to a tie in scoring.

Suspense: Intervention by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan), Lost Mission by Athol Dickson (Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster), The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Visionary: By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press), The Enclave by Karen Hancock (Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group), Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik (Tyndale House Publishers)

Young Adult: Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma (Thomas Nelson), The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason (David C. Cook), North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

For more information, see:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010 Christy Awards -- Part 1

If you like Christian Fiction, you'll love the winners of the Christy Award. Actually, I think you'll like all the books nominated for the award.

The Christy Award is named after the Catherine Marshall novel Christy to recognize novels and novelists of Christian Fiction. Each year, publishers are invited to submit nominations in several genres of books they have published during the previous year which they feel should be honored. A panel of seven judges composed of librarians, reviewers, scholars, and critics, not associated with a publishing company, then evaluates each category of novels. See: for a list of participating publishers.

The first award was in 2000 and the winners were:

Contemporary: A New Song by Jan Karon (Viking Press)
Futuristic: By Dawn's Early Light by Grant R. Jeffrey and Angela Hunt (Word Publishing)
International Historical: Out of the Red Shadow by Anne de Graaf (Bethany House Publishers)
North American Historical: The Meeting Place by Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn (Bethany House Publishers)
Romance: Whispers from Yesterday by Robin Lee Hatcher (WaterBrook Press)
Suspense: Final Witness by James Scott Bell (Broadman & Holman Publishers)

The nominees and winners for 2000 through 2009 can be found here:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Time I Saw You

I just finished reading Elizabeth Berg's latest novel, The Last Time I Saw You. This book is not a Christian Bookseller Association pick. It violates all the rules for that. But it is good reading as are all her books. I liked this one in particular because, like Where Love Once Lived, it is about older people getting back together after not seeing each other for many years. It is about a fortieth high-school reunion as told through the eyes of several different people planning for the reunion, attending the reunion, and then what happens afterwards.

Dorothy Shauman, the high-school beauty, now divorced and having a difficult time being alone and with her grown daughter, sees the reunion as a chance to get back together with chief jock Pete Decker. But Pete is having problems of his own. He still has his good looks, but he finds he is with a woman he doesn't like or respect. He wants his wife back, but she has decided to move on.

Lester Hessenpfeffer, the school nerd and valedictorian, is now a successful veterinarian. However, since his wife died, he fears he will never find love again. His office manager talks him into attending the reunion even though he would rather stay home and take care of his patients. Mary Alice Mayhew was never part of the in crowd, and doesn't know why she should go to the reunion. But she's curious about how her classmates turned out. She's been helping care for an elderly neighbor who decides she should go to the reunion and he goes with her.

Candy Sullivan, a high-school beauty, has just learned she has ovarian cancer. Her husband has all but ignored her for years and now he is concerned about her and offers to go to the reunion with her even though he refused to before they knew how serious her illness was. She goes without him.

The Last Time I Saw You: A NovelThe author did an excellent job writing in the various points of view. In one place, she partially repeated a scene to show it from another characters viewpoint. The story is about what happens when these characters and their friends and classmates get together again. Elizabeth Berg was born in 1948 and that makes her eligible to have attended a fortieth high school reunion. Since I've been to my fiftieth reunion, I know she is talking from experience. It was a wonderful experience reading this book while thinking about my own reunion. I just wish there had been more follow up on the characters before the book ended. But it was just enough to let us know what happened. I guess I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my new friends.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Piffle, Hogwash and Other Four-Letter Words

Where Love Once Lived was written to conform to the definition of Christian Fiction and be eligible for sale by members of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). CBA novels contain no explicit sex, no premarital sex, no swearing, a Christian worldview of some sort, and normally a strong evangelical message. What was most difficult for me was the swearing rule. My characters sometimes felt like screaming a few four-letter words, especially when they were alone or in the presence of an understanding friend.

That's why you'll find my fictional character Karen saying piffle from time to time. I learned that word from Jinx. Before she died, Jinx was a school counselor and had to be careful about what she said in front of the students. However, I think everyone, including the students, knew what she meant by piffle. It was the way she said it, not the word itself. She had so-called clean words for just about any situation. My favorite was fluff, because it was a word you didn't often hear in mixed company.

I thought about CBA's guideline about swearing last week when CreateSpace sent back the book mockup with a blank page before chapter two and told me it was the industry standard to begin each chapter on the right facing page. I checked at least twenty novels in my library and they all started chapters on the left or right page so that blank pages between chapters wasn't necessary. I did find several non-fiction books with a blank page before a chapter beginning. So, I wrote back that I didn't agree. I had to rewrite my response when I thought about how I was writing a Christian novel and my comments didn't sound very Christian.

I got the mockup back the second time Saturday, May 8, 2010, and they had removed all blank pages. I'm almost positive I said there should be no forced blank pages after chapter one. By the way, this is a problem with communicating with CreateSpace. There is no record of my messages. I can see their messages, but my responses are not saved and available to me.

Most books I have in my shelves start the dedication, the acknowledgement, and chapter one on the right facing page. The mockup I received had no blank pages in the front section at all and chapter one started on a left facing page. So, this time I was very nice and very specific about what I would like. We'll see how that works.

Before I got into the business of making a book, I would have thought a company like CreateSpace would know the standards for page layout. It shouldn't be left up to the writer. But, in a way, I'm the publisher here.

I'm not sure what's right or wrong. All I know is what looks best to me. What is the industry standard for beginning a page on the left or right? Is it different for fiction and non-fiction? Does anyone know? If so, please comment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Texas State Capitol Memories

A novel is fiction. It's not true. Pure imagination. Right? Well, yes, but... I suspect every novel contains some little something from the author's past. Where Love Once Lived is no exception. While I didn't make the same mistakes Brian did, there are events in my life I wish hadn't happened. But I trust God lead me to where I am today.

In the following excerpt, I describe a scene at the Texas state capitol that I had with my mother and dad and sisters when I was a child. Photos reminded me of the event for years after it happened. My dad tricked me into drinking the sulfur tasting water that day cementing the memory forever. I also remember a time when I wondered if people were staring at me and a fellow marine who happened to be black as we traveled from California to Texas.

When we reached my parent's house in Austin, I was concerned about their reaction since, as far as I knew, Bill would be the first black person in our home. However, he was accepted graciously. My dad even drove us the rest of the way to Houston, saying we were probably too tired to drive further.

In this excerpt, Brian had asked to meet with Mr. McCullough, the 78-year-old father of Brian's best friend Phil, because Brian wanted advice on being close to God. You'll have to read the book to find out more. I only included enough here to describe the setting.

“You know,” Mr. McCullough said as he and Brian walked through the capitol grounds, “a few years back, ever’one would be staring at us.”

Brian was six foot two, and Phil’s dad was five two or three at the most. Mr. McCullough had just gotten off work at the Driskill and still had on his white shirt and bowtie. Brian wore shorts and Birkenstocks. Still, Brian knew Mr. McCullough was talking about race, not stature or clothing. Mr. McCullough was from a time in history Brian could never fully understand, but he’d read about how blacks suffered. It was a time of segregation.

Mr. McCullough looked around. “When I was jus’ a kid, nine or ten I’d say, my parents brought me here.” He motioned toward the spot where they sat. “My daddy told me to drink from a sulfur fountain that was here. Said it’d be good for me and make me healthy. But there was a problem. Back then, you see, we had separate drinking fountains. One marked ‘white’ and one marked ‘colored.’”

He paused, but Brian waited for him to continue. “There was only one sulfur fountain and it wasn’t marked one way or ‘nother, colored or white.” He laughed. “Didn’t matter. We sneaked a sip when no one was about. Only once, though.” He shook his head and made a face. “Terrible stuff. Smelled like rotten eggs.”

See: for photos of the area where Brian and Mr. McCullough may have been.

I would love to hear from you. Do you have family memories about visiting places like the state capitol? What caused the memory to stick in your mind? Have you experienced racial segregation? Have you ever felt people were staring at you because you did something out of the norm? Please comment below or email me:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Publishing a Kindle Version

I’d like to have a Kindle version of Where Love Once Lived ready at the same time the printed book is released. I asked my CreateSpace publishing consultant how to do that. Here is the response I received:

Dear Sid,

No problem! We should have the Kindle file conversion option up and running in the middle to end of next month. The soft cover files would be created first, but we can create the Kindle files quickly after. Keep an eye on your email as we will be announcing this service to all authors once available. Thanks and have a great day!

April Bogdon
Publishing Consultant

The next day, I got this message:

Hello Sidney,

Thank you for your message and your interest in’s eBook program and making your books available for the Amazon Kindle wireless reading device. Although CreateSpace does not currently offer support for this program, you may visit for more information.

If you have further questions regarding Amazon’s eBook program, please feel free to visit their FAQ and help section at:

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns.


Account Management

I'm not sure, but I think the publishing consultant is saying there will be some easier way to create a Kindle version soon and the account management representive is saying I can create a Kindle version now if I want to. Click here for more information. I think I will wait for the easier approach, mainly because I want the Kindle version to look more like the printed version. I'll let you know more about this as it progresses.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yankee, Go Home

While searching through some old files, I found this letter I wrote to the editor of the Austin American-Statesman. The tear sheet didn't show the date, but based on my age and the reference to a May 8 news item, it had to be 1981. Here is what I wrote:

As a 46-year-old native of Austin, I would like to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. James Michener for the actions of two Austin drivers. According to the May 8 Houston Chronicle, James Michener and his wife were told to go home (referring to their Pennsylvania car tags) on two separate occasions while driving in Austin.

We used to have a slogan here, "Austin, the friendly city." I wonder what happened to it?

Sid Frost

Reading this now, nearly 30 years later, I wonder if the reason they were told to leave town might be because of Mrs. Michener's race. In Where Love Once Lived I included a marriage between a young couple, one black and one white, and how this marriage affects their parents. I have no first hand information about mixed marriages, but I've always had an interest in equality and what it would be like if race didn't matter.

How about you? Do you think we'll ever have racial equality in this country?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Selecting the Best Bible Reference

Since Where Love Once Lived is a Christian novel, I looked for a Bible reference to place at the beginning of the book to give the reader a hint as to what the book is about. During my search for the right passage I found three and decided to include them all. The references below are to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matthew 6:14-15.

I picked this reference because both Karen and Brian had someone to forgive before they could move on with their lives. Karen needed to forgive Brian and Brian needed to forgive himself. But there is more to it than that. After the two broke up, Karen turned closer to God and Brian turned away. Karen knew in her heart that God had already forgiven her for what she perceived she had done. Brian felt he wasn't worthy of God's forgiveness, and he started seeing God as vengeful. Luckily for both characters, they find forgiveness.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28.

This verse was selected because Brian's happiness and his ability to achieve his goals improved when God came back into his life. Brian's love for God grows until in the end he realizes it is the love of God that he had been seeking all along.

“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”—Isaiah 30:21.

I liked this verse because it describes how the bookmobile librarian Liz and Brian's best friend's father George continually prod Brian. No matter where Brian goes or what he does, Liz and George remind him how wonderful it is to walk in the way of the Lord.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Approving the Interior Design

I received the mock-up of Where Love Once Lived yesterday and thought you might want to see it. First let me describe the communication from CreateSpace.

I got the usual no reply e-mail telling me action was needed. I logged into the CreateSpace site and selected the book with action required. In the section called Total Design Freedom Custom Book Interior I found this:

Your design mock-up is available!

Next steps:
1. Download and save your design mock-up
2. Review carefully
3. Accept Design Mock-Up to have your interior proof created based on your design mock-up within ten business days OR Provide Design Feedback to have elements represented in your design mock-up changed. Your revised design mock-up will be available within five business days of receiving your feedback.

Please note: This phase is intended to finalize your book's design. You will have the opportunity to make textual changes at a later date.

Download Design Mockup

Accept Design Mock-up | Provide Design Feedback

I downloaded the design mock-up and printed it out. The front material, chapter one and the first page of chapter two were included to show the appearance of the book. Everything looked good except they had left out my middle initial which I had specified should be used. I had already corrected that for the publicity material, but I guess I'll have to do the same for each separate team who works on the book. Since the instructions say I will have an opportunity to make textual changes at a later date, I accepted the design mock-up as is. This means I should have the interior proof within the next ten days.

Click Where Love Once Lived Mockup to see how it looks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More About Book Covers

When I first started working with CreateSpace, I selected a package deal. Go to and click on Services. Next, click on a tab called Publishing Solutions. From there the best thing to do is to click the button on the far right to show a side by side comparison of the various solutions provided. I selected the Advanced Solution. The next better choice was Marketing Pro with a better cover, basic copyediting, and a sales video. I didn't need the video or the basic copyediting, but I wanted the better cover. So I talked to CreateSpace and was able to get the better cover by paying extra. It wasn't until later that I noticed an even better cover not included in the publishing solutions choices. You can find it only by selecting the Layout and Design tab under Services. It is called Illustrated Book Cover. I had to pay extra again to get it.

This cover includes a custom illustration created by a professional artist, the text, barcode, and formatting. They will include author photo, but I chose not to do that. The next step is for CreateSpace to review the information I provided through the questionnaire and send me a sketch of the illustration for the cover. If I like it, then they'll design a black and white version. When I approve that, they'll create a full-color version for my approval.

Next, they will create two cover concepts using the approved illustration with varying title designs, colors, and back cover layouts. Additional layouts will cost extra. Then, I will select the layout I like best.

This process is expected to take six to eight weeks. I'll be sure to let you know how the process is going and show you the drafts along the way.