Reading in the Great Outdoors!

Most of "Here Be Monsters" takes place in the deepwoods of the Adirondack Park in Northern New York; the outdoors are as important to my protagonist, Tyler Cunningham, as they are to me.  He spends a lot of his time (when not solving, or involved in, murder mysteries) paddling or camping or reading in the woods.

That being the case, I thought that it would be cool/fun to gather some pictures of people reading in the woods for use in starting some buzz for the book.

If you have any pictures of you, or anyone, reading in the woods, please send them to me at jsheffield@gmail.com .





I'm using CreateSpace to self-publish my soon-to-be-released book, "Here Be Monsters".  While the editing is still in process, I cannot get too far into the guts of their online machinery, but have been very impressed so far.

They have extensive articles and forums for help and information, as well as live people at the other end of email addresses and phone numbers who respond to pleas for help within minutes (in the case of my phone query) or hours (in the case of my email query).  Their online apps for planning covers and trim-sizes and book costs are instructive and easy to use.

They do offer assistance-for-pay for every step of the publishing process, but also allow those of us who want to go it alone to do so (with help from the exhaustive resources available to members).  The option that I'll be paying for in the whole process will be expanded distribution ($25), which makes my book available through other bookstores beside Amazon.com and libraries and other academic institutions and other resellers (through B&T and Ingram and CreateSpace Direct). 

I was surprised today to find that my 180 page manuscript translated into 360 pages, when dropped into a pre-made template CreateSpace offers in the trim-size that I'll be using (5.25"X8").  I've also been playing with Cover Creator, a free and handy online tool for designing your book cover, and have high hopes for the final product.  I've read through about 30 of their articles on the self-publishing process, which range from very general to amazingly specific.

As the process moves forward, I'll post about the good, the bad, and the ugly from my experiences with CreateSpace.



A Recipe from "Here Be Monsters"

Tyler Cunningham, the protagonist in my soon to be released novel, is not much of a cook, but in an effort to appear more human (and distract attention from some recent mayhem that he was involved with) he makes a mean Tiramisu.

It occurred to me today, that some people following my progress towards publication through the blog or FB or twitter might like a nice dessert recipe for their Thanksgiving dinner that was not simply another pie...

Tyler's Tiramisu

5 egg yolks
0.5 cup maple syrup
0.5 cup bourbon
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 dash vanilla extract
40 ladyfinger cookies
12 ounces espresso
3T bourbon
2T sugar in the raw
2T cocoa powder

1) beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl
2) add maple syrup and bourbon, whisk until blended
3) put yolk/syrup/bourbon mix over heat in doubleboiler and mix until smooth and just beginning to bubble, set aside to cool
4) whip heavy cream and vanilla extract to soft peaks in another bowl
5) mash/whisk the mascarpone until smooth in another bowl
6) pour yolk/syrup/bourbon custard over mascarpone and mix until smooth
7) fold in the whipped cream with a spatula
8) mix espresso and sugar and bourbon in another bowl
9) dip one ladyfinger at a time into the coffee mix and arrange them fairly tightly packed across the bottom of a baking dish
10) when the bottom of the dish is covered in dipped ladyfingers, spread half of the yolk/mascarpone/cream mix over the cookies
11) repeat step #9
12) repeat step #10
13) sift the cocoa powder over the top
14) chill covered for 4 hours before eating


Cover Design, Website Design, and Formatting

I've moved on to the next stages in preparing the book for publication.  It's being edited as you read this; after that edit, I'll give it a final going over for content, and then put it to bed.  While that's going on, I have started to think about the design process for the cover; a photographer is generating some hi-res pics for use in the cover, and I'm working through the process of what information goes on the front and back covers (as well as the Front/Back Matter).  Along with those mini-projects, I've been working my way through the steps involved in setting up my writer's website.  All of these projects will certainly take me through into early December.

My goal is to finish up editing work on the novel in the first two weeks of December, then shift into formatting mode (hopefully finishing before New Year's Day).  Once the formatting is completed, I'm hoping to get the book up and available in ebook and print formats by Mid-January.

I'll try to update weekly(ish) with progress reports.



Saying Goodbye to a Friend

I snuck out of work early today,
not wanting to miss the chance to say goodbye to Cedar.

At this time of year, one needs to plan,
to catch the ground between the frosts of morning and night.

I got lucky, and one of his favorite places in our backyard
was still being warmed by the thin November sunlight.

It's just outside the barn
where he once moved faster than I would have thought possible
to catch a quail in his soft mouth.

Miles helped me to pass the time,
not digging much, but also not talking, as others might do.

We both remembered Cedar,
each in his own way;
Miles was done before me,
and sat while I dug, and sweat, in the cold.

I enjoy grave-digging,
not for the occasion, of course,
but for the time and effort that it requires.

Time to think...
about death and dying,
life and living,
friends leaving before you're ready,
wanting it all to be ... neater, better, more...

I always dig a grave too big,
death diminishes my friends;
my memories of them are far grander than the reality.

Miles sits and stands and walks and wags and cries,
I give him a pat and look down into the hole,

The first shovelful never fails to bother me,
but not Cedar...
he's passed caring,
passed indignities,
past tense.

The sun has moved off of the spot by the time I've filled the hole,
topped it off with sod and logs,
and tried to explain what's happening to Miles.

Cedar was a little shit,
a prince,
a hassle,
a giver of sweet little kisses in time of need,
irrationally hateful of red squirrels,
beautiful to watch on the hunt in his prime,
ugly as a mud fence when death was hunting him.

In the end, he tricked us one last time,
dying bloody in the road,
when we all knew he'd now die peaceful in his sleep.

He was better than I gave him credit for,
and he gave me credit for being better than I am...
dogs are like that.