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Month: April 2015

Brothers of another evolutionary line

Posted in A Writer's Desk

MSC-20150424-5993_DxO-RGBThe white turkey is back, and this time I have pictures.

It's a buddy story. Seems clear to me that these two gobblers must be siblings. They're of a size, and very friendly with each other, and it's hilarious watching each of them behave as wing man (so to speak) to the other as they gobble speculatively into the woods, hoping to hear from some interested hens.

Now that I can see him better, I can see that this white turkey is certainly not an albino. He's clearly marked, on a cream background, and his beard is black. A domestic turkey somewhere in the ancestry that expressed itself only in this individual, or some sort of natural color variant for wild turkeys?

[Update] It turns out there is a recessive color trait called “smoky gray“, and that's what this turkey has. Much more common in hens, for some reason.

Nature naturing

Posted in A Writer's Desk

Would you be impressed, if you were a hen?
Would you be impressed, if you were a hen?

And in other news, today we were woken up by urgent, loud, gobbles echoing through the bedroom window from the lower slope of the orchard, where two wild turkey jakes, puffed up in full display, were following a couple of hens with clear, if stately, intent.

The slow procession wound its way back behind the root cellar. Don't know how it will all come out, but I expect to see poults in a couple of months.

One of the jakes was completely white — a domestic turkey somewhere in the woodpile, no doubt, or perhaps an albino. Surprising that he survived his first year without the benefit of camouflage.

Decorative elements for The Chained Adept

Posted in Artwork, and The Chained Adept

One of the pleasures of working with a cover artist is that you can request extras as part of the arrangement.

For the series of which The Chained Adept is the eponymous first entry, I asked for my usual decorative bits for inside the book (ebook and print).

ChainedAdept-Extras-SketchesThe top one will get used for the Title page and for the End-of-Book marker, before any name index or other back matter.

The middle one will be used as a Chapter divider, and the bottom will be a Scene separator.


Using CreateSpace vs Ingram for Print-on-Demand (POD) Distribution

Posted in Just for Writers

An earlier version of this article was published here.

Note: The following observations reflect my personal understanding of the differences between the two services, based on my own and others’ observations. They do not include private information received from any of the vendors involved.


Ingram is the largest worldwide distributor of print books. When a bookstore orders a book, it probably comes from Ingram (perhaps through an intermediary).

IngramServicesIngram offers two services for publishers: Lightning Source International (LSI) and IngramSpark. The former is for “real” publishers and was all they offered until a couple of years ago. Its contracts are daunting, its interface is a bit clumsy, and its communications are a bit slow and sometimes cryptic (especially to indie publishers who aren’t familiar with publishing industry terms). Indie publishers and others lamented, and Ingram offered a new service, Spark, with a friendlier front end and slightly more restricted discounting terms. They stopped letting most indies into LSI once Spark was launched (I got into LSI just in time). Both systems, I understand, use the same back ends and services — the only difference seems to be that there are fewer discount terms on Spark, and the front end/customer service is easier for the newbie.

Ingram will charge you for returns, an area that terrorizes new indie publishers because they don't know what to expect. (These days, it seems to be pretty harmless, now that bookstores have adopted just-in-time ordering practices instead of ordering in bulk and returning leftovers. UPDATE (2017): I no longer allow returns, since I don't expect to be stocked on bookstore shelves without some form of significant marketing, and that removes one financial risk area. I may revisit this once I step up to that form of marketing.)


CreateSpace (CS) is owned by Amazon and intended for indie publishers. It’s very user friendly, with good customer service. It had a fee per book, just like Ingram, but then dropped that altogether. It lets you use a CS ISBN if you don't have one of your own. (Ingram requires you to have your own ISBNs, like a “real” publisher). In fact, it requires a CS ISBN for the Library portion of its expanded distribution service, presumably due to its relationship with Baker & Taylor.

There are two basic levels of CS distribution: Amazon-related, and expanded. The Amazon-related is closely tied to the KDP program, so linking your ebook and your CS POD book is very easy. CS also offers a webstore, for what that's worth (I've never sold a book there).


Posted in Characters, and Heroes

Jo March (left) & Family (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott)
Jo March (right) & family (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott)

What is a tomboy, exactly?

I participated in a discussion recently about the tomboy character in literature. We discovered that we all had very different opinions of what constituted a tomboy. If you search online these days, you'll find definitions associating tomboys with lesbians and transgenders, which I think is wrongheaded and anachronistic.

I know what I mean when I say tomboy, and I think of it it as an example of a story character archetype which, like all archetypes, reflects something in real life.

Let's try this definition:

A tomboy is a girl or young woman, typically pre-pubescent or at least virginal, who values highly the same male virtues that appeal to boys of her own age, and values less the virtues that appeal to girls of her own age.

How to use Pretty Links

Posted in Just for Writers

A version of this article was originally published here. It is co-authored by authors AD Starrling (part 1) and Karen Myers (part 2).

Pretty Link Lite (free) and Pretty Link Pro ($37 for one website, $97 for unlimited websites) are WordPress plugins that enable you to create and control all kinds of links by funneling them through your website. Be they social links, redirect links, or affiliate links, you can shrink, cloak, track, and share your links through your WordPress dashboard.

A D Starrling’s Experience of Pretty Links

As part of my business strategy for 2015, I was looking for a simple way to introduce platform specific review and buy links in my ebooks, links that I could easy control and adjust. My formatter, Streetlight Graphics (also my cover and website designer), installed the Pretty Link Lite plugin on my WordPress dashboard and Pretty Links in my ebooks.


All the review links in my ebooks now redirect to the retailer page where the books are on sale (Amazon US for my Kindle file, iTunes for my Apple epub, Nook for my Nook epub, and Kobo for my Kobo epub) and to the Goodreads book page. The only exception is my Smashwords epub file, where I only have a link for the Goodreads book page. As a distributor, Smashwords won’t accept other retailer links inside ebook files. Neither will Draft2Digital from my conversation with them. Below is an example of the link inside my Apple epub file for The Meeting (A Seventeen Series Short Story).