Tuesday

Free Web Graphics

Now, every blog and website needs a little color and graphics every now and then. A good source for images would be http://www.1clipart.com. Here you can find all sorts of free images like this one:



And the cool thing about this site is that you can edit the images first. Would you rather have the image in grayscale? It can fix that for you. Want it in an oval? It'll do that to.

And of course, best of all, it's free.

Monday

Favicon, Get Yer Favicons

When typing a domain name, like say cbaybooks.com, have you ever noticed that some sites have little icons next to the name? These are called FavIcons. They are a very small (16 x 16 pixel) image that you can set to appear in the address bar of most browsers. How do you set it? Well, I haven't quite figured out how you code it yet. I'm still looking. But I have found a place where you can take your normal logo (in a jpg or gif format) and translate into the special .ico format you need to make this work.

The site is http://www.htmlkit.com/services/favicon/. Here you upload an image, they convert it, and then you download it back to your computer. Pretty simple. Pretty snazzy. I used it to make a little favicon for the Buried in the Slushpile Forum, but if you can figure out how to code it, you can use it on any webpage -- including your blog.

Of course with those of you with webmasters, you can have them do it. But for all the rest of us, converting the file on this site is, you guessed it, free.

UPDATE: I found a site, http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/favicon.shtml, that tells you how to do it. As you may have noticed, I have now added my own little favicon to the address bar of the site.

Friday

Big Day for Book of Knowledge

Yesterday was a big day for the Book of Knowledge. It was mentioned in both the PW Religion Line (enewsletter) and the PW Children's Bookshelf (enewsletter). You can see the PW Children's Bookshelf one here. Look at that mention in the headlines at the top and that beautiful cover art below.

I'm so excited I could cry. However, I decided a more productive thing to do would be to offer the books for sale. It's also a way for me to debut the new Blooming Tree store. I had hoped to have all the site links working by the time I did this, but alas, I've been sick. So, for now, ignore all the beautiful drop-down java menus at the top. They don't go anywhere yet. But instead, enjoy the new look and feel of the Blooming Tree store.

And even better, enjoy the CBAY books that I've put on sale. Curious to see what all the controversy is about in David's books? You can buy both of them as a set for only $20. And to be fair, you can also get both of the The Forgotten Worlds books in a set for only $20. That's for the science fiction enthusiasts. Or perhaps you would rather have paperbacks? Well, you can get The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate and our newest book, The Amulet of Amon-Ra, together for $10. There are bargains to be had for all.

So, check out the new store. I hear books make great gifts.

More Free Stuff

I had meant to have all sorts of posts about free stuff this week, but I've been sick. Sleep all day, only wake up to take cold medicine, kind of sick. So, I'm going to have extend my free stuff posts through next week too. Think of it as a Christmas present of freeness.

Today's free web stuff comes to us from the pretty cool website Widgetbox.com. Here you can get all sorts of widgets for your site and blog, and most of them are free. As an example I made a slideshow of the Sacred Book Series covers:



You too could make a slideshow with your covers (if you have multiple books), artwork from the book (but only if you get permission) or photos from events or promotional art.

Another option is to make your very own widget for your blog/website. I made the free example below:



With this, you can put it pretty much anywhere on the web, and even better, other people can too. Of course, for a small fee you can make a much nicer looking one, but this is free. And today, we are all about the free.

There are also a bunch of other widgets to play with and customize. Browse the site and have a looksee. At the very least it will help you put off that revision you've been meaning to do.

Sunday

Newsletters

Since I'm working on websites this week, naturally I find that I have the internet on the brain.

Specifically, I have been thinking about free stuff that you can do with the internet. And so, I thought I'd share the great e-newsletter manager I found called MailChimp.com. As long as you don't send more than 6 emails to 500 users a month, the thing is free. It comes with free templates, free subscriber collection, and free management. Yes, I said free.

Blooming Tree will soon be starting a newsletter, and you can guess who we plan to use in the beginning.

So, if you want to test out an enewsletter, now you can start for free.

Thursday

We made PW's Children's Bookshelf

They discovered we exist! True, CBAY is never mentioned by name, and it's not the profile that will later be in the Religion Bookline, but the article about David Michael Slater that's been kicking up all this dust is mentioned in Publishers Weekly!

I'm doing little fancy dances around the room.

You can see the link here. It's under the "In the Media" heading. Yeah!

Could a review at some point be next? We can only hope . . .

So much to do, so little time

I am swamped. There's no other way to say it. I am bogged down with a thousand things to do, and that doesn't even include my personal life. (Oh that's cute. I pretended to have a personal life.)

What all this means is that I have a ton to talk about, and no time to talk about it in. For instance, someone is trying to hack my author, David Michael Slater's, website. Yup. Apparently the forum on the Oregonian article is not enough for someone. They would like to use David's own website as a forum against him. Crazy. (I suppose the hackings could just be coincidence, but the timing is just a little too suspicious.)

Then, I've been trying to get the new BTP and CBAY sites up and going. I've got a whole new shopping cart for BTP that I am tres excited about. Only, I can't get the shipping information to show. At the moment, it just tells me it doesn't ship to whatever area I've chosen. Grumble. I'm communicating with the developer on that.

And finally, I have to edit David's third book. The whole thing. Today. Ack! What am I still doing on the internet?

Sunday

One Page Summary Winners

At long last, I am announcing the one page summary winners. Admittedly, I notified them a while back, but this is the first chance I've had to fully discuss them again.

The Top Five (in the order they happen to be in my email) are:
  • Kelly Lyman, The Watcher
  • Lori Calabrese, Playing Hardball
  • Tiffany Harrison, Shades of Gray
  • Buffy Andrews, Brain Invaders
  • Susan James, Beneath the Trees

Congratulations to you all, and thank you to all of those who entered. We had a tough time narrowing it down to those five.

All five of these did an excellent job of fully representing their story but still staying within the word limit. They all gave me an excellent idea of their entire plot, introduced me to the key characters, and were straightforward and well written. What they did not do was have teaser questions, hint at a plot point but then not tell it, or play coy.

Now, when we went to choose the two overall winners, we did not judge solely on the summary. You have to recall that manuscript request was the prize, so the Blooming Tree folk and I had to consider what would be a good fit for our overall list. One of the summaries was for an adult novel (the rules didn't exclude them), but neither CBAY (which doesn't do adult) nor BTP (which does but isn't acquiring for right now) are reading adult ms at the moment. So obviously, this summary couldn't be an overall winner right now.

So (drumroll please) the overall winner for Blooming Tree Press was Playing Hardball, a midgrade boy's book with baseball and injustice.

The overall winner for CBAY was Beneath the Trees, a YA high fantasy complete with love, loss, and good and bad fairies.

Congratulations again to the winners and to everyone who entered. There wasn't a single summary I read that made me think, "Ick. What a horrible idea for a book." (I have read some query letters before that have made me think that.)

Saturday

A Banning in the Making?

So, I had planned to use this post to announce the one-page summary winners, and to discuss them, but I'm going to have to bump them one more day.

*** SPOILER ALERT *** I will be mentioning the climax of The Book of Knowledge, which just sold out on Amazon. However, there are more on the way.

It seems there is a storm a-brewing in the ultra-conservative, hot bed of fundamentalism, Portland, OR. Yes, that's right. I typed Portland, OR. It seems that even in that green, progressive city, people still want to burn and ban books.

It all started a few weeks ago when my author, David Michael Slater, got interviewed for his local paper. Then this week the state paper, The Oregonian, ran the following article:

Beaverton teacher's teen adventure series is stirring up a storm

You should really read the comments on it. Add to them if you've read the book. Or for that matter even if you haven't. Reading the book never seems to be a requirement for engaging in a banned book discussion. My personal favorite is the one that called David a satanist. I'm assuming the person hasn't read the book, although of course I could be wrong. It's just that there aren't any witches, wizards, black cats, black masses, inverted crosses or other things associated with satanism in the book. There are just books (and a reinterpretation of the first part of Genesis. It's not even the whole book.) But I suppose to some, books (or perhaps reinterpretations) are satanic.

It's been snowballing from there.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. If anything I'm running around giggling with glee. I want my books to get banned -- it's my whole slogan and all. And if anything, I kind of expected this one would. You can't really publish a book where ***SPOILER*** one of the characters is biblical Adam trying to rid the world of free will in an effort to coax God to return to Earth. There's a good chance you'll get some flack.

However, I must point out that I can't imagine a child reading this and going, "Wow, the Torah (or Bible) is wrong on this. It says Adam and Eve had children and died, but Slater in his fictitious book says Adam really is still alive today trying to trick kids into using a magic book to destroy free will. And then God will come back. Yeah!" I mean this is no DaVinci Code that was based on suppossed historical facts that supposedly proved the whole mortal, married Jesus thing. I'm pretty sure no one's claiming an insane thousands-of-years-old Adam is running around. But of course, Pullman's Dark Materials and Lewis' Narnia aren't exactly paragons of realism and they have been censored for their religious overtones.

So, if anyone decides to stage a public burning, as David says, buy them first. But then let me know because I a)want the pictures and b)will plant a tree to offset the carbon footprint of the bonfire. It seems like an Oregonesque (and Earth friendly) thing to do.
I have not internet for the past few days, and now Publishers Weekly, yes PW, wants to interview one of my authors and I have to get them all of the press stuff.

So, blog oh blog, you're going to have to wait a little longer for your post.

Wednesday

Tip of the Week 12/2/09, Part II

All right, now I have an addendum for the tip I posted earlier: If an editor (or agent) asks for your full manuscript, send them the entire thing. Do not just send the chapters they haven't seen yet, unless they specifically ask you to.

Previously in the contest, the entrants submitted the first 3 chapters as part of their book proposal. I just got an email for chapters 4-10. Now, I was not on the initial reading committee, so I have never seen chapters 1-3. Even if I had, I wouldn't remember them since it's been several months since the initial reads. I now can't read this one until someone at BTP gets me the rest.

And as an FYI, these are blind readings I'm doing. I have no idea who the people are that are doing these things. But if it does happen to be you, remember these tips the next time you are asked to submit a full. It just makes the editor's life easier. And since I'm typing this with one hand while the other holds a sick, but fortunately sleeping, baby, I could use as much easy as I can get.

Tip of the Week 12/2/09

Tip of the Week: When an editor (or agent -- this applies to them too) asks for your complete manuscript via email, do not send each chapter in it's own separate attachment. Send the entire work in one document.

This is not a joke. I really did get a full manuscript from the Bloom Award sent to me with every chapter in a document. I threatened to refuse to read it on principle, but I was told I had too. Remember you don't want to alienate the editor before you even get started, and having to combine 17 documents into 1 so I can load it on my reader definitely puts me in a foul mood.