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Check out Colleen Anderson’s blog where I am honoured to be a guest blogger for Women in Horror Month. That’s now.

Colleen Anderson

WiHMX-horizontal-WhiteToday, we have L.V. Gaudet, crime, horror and children’s writer for Women in Horror Month. She talks about research, gory stuff and being a woman.

Research is Key, So Don’t Hold Out On Me

I am honored to be invited as a guest for Women in Horror Month.

Gaudet Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front coverResearch is key to making or breaking any story. As I write and edit I am constantly asking questions. I will research any little thing. I constantly flag lines with a note to come back and double check it. Should that little door open from the left or the right? Find a picture. What does it look like? What does it sound like? Is there a smell? Sound? What cereals were available then? The purpose is to make sure my descriptions fit and feel real.

I flag things I think I know because the odds are pretty good that someone out there…

View original post 1,171 more words

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via Where the Winter Wind Howls by L.V. Gaudet

Where the Winter Wind Howls

Those Eyes by L.V. Gaudet

Those Eyes

by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

As I stand in the damp shadows of the night looking through the muted sheen of drizzle in the night lights, a darker shadow comes into view.

It moves as if apart from the world around it.  Coming slowly towards me.  It cannot be more than four feet high.

I turn and scurry, ducking to hide behind a large tree spreading its darkly leafed limbs in the front yard of a house behind me on the street.  Peeking out, I look up the rain slick street.

The clash of cool rain against the warm night air thickens into a fog, filling the air with its ghostly aura.

The light of the street lamps still glow sallow and mute despite the rain misting them and the fog folding them into its thickening embrace.

The shadow moves, untouched by the dim light, the rain, and the fog.

I am filled with the urge to duck deeper into the tree, to become one with it, hiding like the little grey squirrel who I know lives in this very tree.

Fear breathes from my mouth and I imagine I can feel the little squirrel trembling in fear inside its tree home, holding its breath and listening.

I look again and the shadow is closer now.  It has split into two somehow.  Identical.  Almost.

The urge to laugh at how stupid I must look sits heavily in my chest.  I have no idea why I am afraid.

Swallowing the sick bile of fear in my throat, I force myself to move, darting for the darkened house behind me.

Yanking at the door is useless.  The door is locked.

Ringing the bell brings no solace with the impotent pushing of that little button on the wall next to the door.  No one is there to let me in.

Looking around quickly, I remember there is a shed behind the house.

The shadow twins are still there, closer now, in the middle of the road where the street lights reveal them to be nothing more than two children, a boy and girl.

A laugh bubbles up my throat, filled with the tension of unease.  I feel foolish.  They are just a couple of kids.  The smile that cracks my face is a little sickly looking.

I move to step towards them.  I should greet them and ask what they are doing out here in the middle of the night, in the rain.  Are they lost?

They are staring at me.  I know this by the way their bodies look in the dark and the rain, the dim light glittering with a fiendish wet sparkle that touches everything but them.  They are facing me, staring at me, although I cannot see their faces, their eyes.

As we face off in the rain glistening in the street lamps dark of night, the warm air loses its clash against the chill air brought by the rain, and the fog thickens.

The other night shadows recede, but somehow the two children seem to be shadow and real at once.  An aura of shadow that is a part of them.  They are untouched, somehow, by the street lights.

Fear oozes through me, slithering dark and oily.

They move towards me in perfect unison, taking a slow step, unhurried.  They have all the time in creation of the planets and the universe.

I don’t know when my feet moved.  I only know that somehow, inexplicably, my feet are moving beneath me.  Running.

It feels like I cannot take my eyes off those children.  I feel bad that I am not offering to help them.  They should not be out here.  Yet, I know I cannot be looking at them because the house passes to my right in a fear-fogged blur.  The driveway moves beneath the slap of my feet. The rain soaked grass of the back yard dampens the bottoms of my pants legs.  I see the shed coming at me, the hand that moves as if it is not a part of me reaching, grasping, and pulling the door open.

The darkness of the shed’s interior with its lawnmower squatting like some strange alien bug, the rakes and shovels, and the spindly spokes of a bicycle rearing suddenly before my eyes, hanging from the roof or the wall, I am not sure which.

My breath is panting raggedly out of my mouth and I am certain I can smell my own stink of fear sweat.

The two kids are outside of the shed as I pull the door closed, jamming a gardening utensil into the handles on the inside to lock the doors closed, even as my displaced thoughts wonder why those handles are even there on the inside of a small shed.

Utter blackness fills the shed with the closing of those doors.

I can feel them out there, staring at me.

The last image of them is burned into my eyes, my mind.  Their faces, so strangely devoid of emotion, of life, of whatever it is that magically makes the living feel animated.

Their eyes, twin orbs of blackness staring out of twin pale moon faces.  Expressionless.  Lifeless.

Soulless.

Their eyes are all black.  The pupil, the iris, the sclera, the part that is supposed to be white.

Their voices come through the rough wood door, close on the other side; hollow, surreal and weirdly dreamlike.  As if they are speaking to me through some strange mutant sound muffling and distorting mist from far away.

“Please, let us in.  We only want to come in.”

“Let us in out of the rain.”

“It is dark out here.  Please let us in.”

Everything that is human and decent in me tells me that I should open that door.

The slithering dark oily fear filling me holds me prisoner.  I cannot move.  I cannot scream.

I somehow manage to look down and wonder at my bare feet.  The bottoms of my now wet pajama pants.  I am dressed for bed?  Did I go to bed?  I don’t remember.

How did I get outside?  I don’t remember.

I can only see those black eyes.  Strange and lifeless, staring at me without expression.

The all black eyes.  Football shaped marbles of black that do not, cannot, glisten in the light the way eyes do.  Light cannot touch them any more than it can touch the strange children or the shadows that became them.

They are the absence of light.  Of life?

I want to scream.

I can only see the eyes.

 

 

Hint:  scroll to the bottom if you want a fast answer without reading through all my gobbledygook explanations and descriptions and chatter.

 

First, after uploading my Kindle cover and publishing my book, everything looked just fine.

HMU KDP

 

Later, when I went on the Amazon site to see what it looks like. This is what my book cover looked like:

Hint: ALWAYS go on the sites selling your books to verify how it looks to your potential readers.

amazon no image available

 

After some days where I unsuccessfully tried to re-upload the cover, even shrinking the file size a few times and trying again, and republishing it (because on the KDP publish your book site it all looked perfectly fine), and waiting for it to go live to view it on Amazon again, only to have the same “No image available” Kindle book cover, then abandoning it because I didn’t have the time . . .

(Wow, that is one run on sentence!)

After some days of doing nothing, my “No image available” Kindle book cover turned into this on the Amazon site:

Kindle Book Cover Wont Show

Pretty, huh? Not what I was going for.

 

Why won’t my Kindle book cover show on Amazon?

I tried to search this question online with zero hits. I’m a direct kind of person when it comes to online searches. (Obviously I did not word the question right because there is no shortage of blogs answering this question.)

“Odd,” I thought. After all, it can’t be an uncommon issue with so many self-publishing authors DIYing it.

I also had no issues with any of the other books.  So, after using the same template for the book cover, I knew it has to be something simple.

Either I had an internet connection issue, or it’s a problem with the file.

When it’s a file issue, the most likely culprits are an incompatible file type, or a problem with the size of the file.

 

On kdp.amazon.com’s help link, it lists the ideal dimensions for the cover file as being 2560 X 1600 pixels. The minimum size is 1000 X 625 pixels. The maximum size you can go is 10,000 by 10,000 pixels.

Now if you are like me, with limited digital and computer geek knowledge (geeks are beautiful people, by the way, so this is not to be insulting), you would be staring at your screen now with a confused look going, “Eh?”

These aspects, which are a foreign language to me, are in relation to the physical dimensions. The height and width of the cover.

Here’s a fancy fix to that confusion:

(This is in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018)

Go to Image Size:

adobe image size menu

 

Adjust your Pixel Dimensions, which will also adjust your Document Size width and height.

If you look at this, my latest attempt to resize my cover, I did NOT do it right. My height is over the allowable pixels height.

Adobe Image Size

 

Changing that every time shrinks my cover size increasingly smaller than the print book size. That’s okay. This is a digital ebook cover that most people will not read on any device that big.

Adobe Image Size2

 

 

Now, while you need a decent sized cover file to have it show as decent quality to your readers who pay good money to read your book, file size also can’t be too big.

Kdp.amazon.com’s max’s out your file size at 50MB.

At this point I’m going “?”

HMU file size

 

How does KB translate to MB?

1 KB (kilobyte) = 0.001 MB (megabyte). I had to look that up.

 

Simple math: divide the KB (2,336) by 1000.

Ie) move your decimal left three spaces (the number of zeros after the 1 in 1000)

2,336 KB divided by 1000 = 2.336 MB

 

 

So why did my file NOT work on upload to KDP Amazon?

amazon no image available

Simple. My height is too damned big.  And at only 2.33 of a possible 50 MB, in my attempts to blindly reduce the file size, I also probably decimated the picture quality with shrinking the resolution. Yeah, I did shrink that multiple times.

Adobe Image Size3

The lesson learned:  take the time to figure out what you are doing before you do it.

Yes, it’s a no-brainer.  But, I figured, the problem is simple, and it was. And I was in a hurry.

 

The fix.  Since I already buggered my file (this is why you ALWAYS save an original unaltered version. ALWAYS!), I had to go back to the start and redo it.

Not so big.

  • I had to re-crop the print book cover to the front cover only for the ebook.
  • Save as a JPEG or TIFF (the only cover file types supported for ebook, unlike KDP’s print on demand book covers). I use TIFF.

(Yes, I did also commit the tomfoolery of changing the file to a JPEG, something I don’t normally do, in my efforts of reducing the file size while *hoping* without actually taking the time to check that this would solve my problem. As you can see from the TIF file size below, this was completely unnecessary.)

JPEG vs. TIFF:

  • TIFF = larger file size (not compressed, therefore detail is preserved)
  • JPEG = smaller file size (compressed file, causing detail loss)
  • JPEG in a TIFF = same limitations and detail loss as a JPEG (because it is a JPEG)
  • Resize the pixels to fall below 10,000 in either direction (height specifically, the width will fall in line because my proportions are “constrained”)

Adobe Image Size4

HMU file size2

 

YESSSS!!!!  SUCCESS!

Amazon HMU

 

 

The quick answer:

Make sure your cover falls within these specifications:

Digital cover size:

Smallest – 1,000 X 625 pixels (or 625 X 1,000)

Best – 2,560 X 1,600 pixels (or 1,600 X 2,560)

Largest – 10,000 by 10,000 pixels (or 10,000 X 10,000)

 

Digital cover size:

Largest – 50 MB (50,000 KB)

Really? 50,000 KB looks so . . . big.

 

 

warren-wong-238677-unsplash

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

We’ve all experienced it in the world of relationships, first, second, or third hand; the person who distances their self from those around them. A fear of intimacy, of others getting to know them, or perhaps of revealing their deepest darkest secrets? These are possible reasons.

In your stories, you want to reveal your characters’ deepest secrets. You want the reader to uncover the story’s darkest hidden agendas. In time.

While closely guarding those, doling out hints in tantalizing little teases, you don’t want your reader to feel pushed away. It is not a bad relationship where the other party is treated like an outsider.

Distancing the readers distances them from the story and the characters. They need to feel connected to them to really care about them.

The language you use writing the story needs to invite the reader in to share the experience. Don’t put up a wall of distance, pushing the reader away, with your choice of words.

While I revisit my old friends, The McAllister Clan (they are of Celtic descent, a small tidbit revealed in one of the books), I am rediscovering things I learned through endless hours spent writing, editing, researching, editing, researching writing, editing, reading, editing, researching editing, and yes, more editing.

Third person feelings, describing the characters’ feelings as an outside observer narrating them, gives the reader a sense of distance from the feelings.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every writing method has its place and time. But, when you want your reader drawn deeply into your character’s psyche, too much can leave the reader feeling like an outside observer too.

Writers: We learn and improve, but we don’t always see the ways we have improved until we take that in depth look back at our old selves.

Editing bits:

An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he felt the sudden urge to pee.

Changed to: An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he has the sudden urge to urinate.

– two words changed. One to draw the reader into the immediacy of the moment, the other because it’s a more mature word option and that’s the target audience.

She felt relief at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

Changed to: She is relieved at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

– two words changed to bring the reader into the character’s emotions and share them.
Writing is an adventure of continual learning and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Together, we can bring new worlds of discovery to new readers.

The McAllister Series will return better than before.

  • Where the Bodies Are
  • The McAllister Farm
  • Hunting Michael Underwood
  • Killing David McAllister (new – coming)

In the meantime, you can enjoy these:

  • The Gypsy Queen (new release)
  • Garden Grove

The Gypsy Queen:

Travis discovers his newest get rich quick scheme in an abandoned riverboat. Dreaming of the wealth and glamour she will bring, he becomes obsessed with rebuilding her.

Darius sees only rot, decay, and their ruination in the old boat. Travis’s best friend and unwilling business partner, Darius is unwilling to abandon Travis to his fate. He is committed to seeing it through, regardless of the costs to himself.

Struggling to rebuild her together, they are pitted against everyone from the Shipbuilders’ Union to the even more ruthless local casino boss, who desires to possess the Gypsy Queen himself.

As Travis and Darius’s lives become further intertwined with the Gypsy Queen, the strange accidents surrounding the boat escalate. Under the Gypsy Queen’s spell, Travis is oblivious to the sense of dread that fills those who enter the boat as she awakens with a hunger for blood. The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

Garden Grove

Garden Grove Meadows, “Where families come to live.” A new housing development promises a better future in a growing bedroom community. A project that seems to be the eye of a storm of strange events. Plagued with vandalism, the work crew poisoned, altered blueprints, and human remains intentionally planted for the crew to find.

Who is trying to stop the development?

Includes short story Old Mill Road

Writing is about stringing words together to tell a story.

Good writing is about doing that in a way that speaks to the heart of the reader, drawing them in, and not letting go.

If you need the truth of it, it’s the massive hours spent editing that make your story come alive.

This is where you have to put on all your hats.

You edit the general story, scenes, and flow of the story itself. Pick apart the details, add and remove them, and research little things that seem unimportant but are important to the reader who knows more about it than you.

You edit for grammar and sentence structure, wondering if you could pass a fifth grade English Language Arts test.

You become a copy editor, seeking every wayward character, backwards quotation mark, and researching the proper usage of the “. . .” Character.

Most importantly is the careful picking apart and nitpicking of the little details in your choice of words.

There is something to be said for the words you use. Careful choice of words changes the meaning and tone.

Here (excerpt from Where the Bodies Are below), I changed “with” to “to”. Because, when people are gathered, eager for news, they are not really talking with someone. With implies a shared moment, not the shallow moment they are in. They would be talking to each other. Talking at each other. Any response is irrelevant unless it feeds the yearning for more juicy gossip.

“The normally empty foyer is filled with people, most of them talking animatedly or looking around eagerly for someone to talk animatedly to.”

Where the Bodies Are and the subsequent books in the series are currently in transition, being revised and edited to return better and bolder.

As a writer, you never stop seeking to improve your craft. And, what you wrote years ago is not going to meet the quality of your writing today. Given the chance, I am taking the McAllister series and putting that improved skill to work, improving on the flow and feel of these stories.

Watch for the rerelease of Where the Bodies Are.

I’ve been with the same publisher for some years now.  Through thick and thin, and a rebranding from Second Wind Publishing to Indigo Sea Press.  They took a chance on me, a complete unknown with no experience in the world of writing and publishing.

They edited and formatted my books, while I continued to focus on writing and marketing.

Now, as the publisher is revisiting another major change with a restructuring of their business model, I found myself again with the choice of what to do now.

As an author, there is only one way to go with your writing, and that is to improve.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always room to improve on yourself.

Research is key to opening the world of writing.  Researching little details in your stories to make them pop more, pulling the readers in with those tidbits and keeping them real.  Researching writing, editing, and the publishing world in whole and in parts.

The old saying “practice makes perfect” never gets old, even for someone like me who believes there is no such thing as true perfect.  It doesn’t matter how many times I edit a piece; I will always find something to change. Even if it is written by a well-known famous author, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it.  I’ve just spent so many hours editing that my mind automatically looks for things to change and attempts to improve on whether it needs improving or not.  Art is subjective and writing is an art form, making its valuation subject to the views of each individual.

A great deal of practicing writing is, of course, a given.  Your writing talent is in a state of constant flux as you improve.  Your voice evolves.  My writing now is different from that first published book.  And from the second.  I find my voice is different with the different feel of my stories.  If I lose passion for a story, the story loses its luster and the voice falls flat.

 

So what to do when your publisher is changing their business model and you have the choice to opt in or out?  To each the choice is their own.

For me, I chose to take advantage of the opportunity to revisit old friends.  Freshen up and perhaps rewrite sections of my books. Make them better, since my writing is better.

I know, it’s not always best to keep worrying at that old bone when you need to focus on writing, editing, and sharing with the world new stories.  And I have more stories in various stages from an inkling of an idea to a full first draft than I can probably write in this lifetime.

But, they can be better.  I’ve found a new voice since writing them.  And, I’ve cringed at a few minor things during my re-exploration of these stories.

So, soon the McAllister series will vanish.  Where the Bodies Are, the McAllister Farm, and Hunting Michael Underwood.  But they will re-emerge.  Better.  Fresher.  And I must continue working to finish the final chapter, Killing David McAllister, for in all stories someone important must die.

 

But not Nathan.  Nathan lives on.  Nathan will have his own story and it will reveal the dark and twisted world of a mind even more troubled than a serial killer lost in a blurred reality between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind.

 

So, watch for the re-emergence of the McAllister series, freshened and improved with new covers.

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_Kindle

where the bodies are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front cover

 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Garden Grove, a bit of a quirky and fun to write story.  The scene at the end came from an actual dream I had. A dream about the story.  There is always something in the woods, isn’t there?

 

 

 

The Gypsy Queen

 

And my newest just released, The Gypsy Queen.  This is a story I wrote years ago, and finally focused on editing that first draft to complete it.  Her dark past will not be forgotten.  And, I am already being pressed by a fellow book lover to write a sequel to this one.  I love the art for this cover.  This is an artist I definitely will use again.

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