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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/12 - User's Manuals

After reading the weakest thriller I'd ever opened, I decided to cleanse the palate with non-fiction. Life: A User's Manual seemed like the perfect tonic. It's a collection of 24 pieces by not only established writers but people famous in other fields, such as Mother Teresa, former U.N. head Dag Hammarskdold, and MLK. It is divided in five sections: Search, Love, Faith, Meditation, Death. I liked three pieces in particular. In Religion, Zora Neale Hurston relates how her strict upbringing conflicted with her growing awareness, to which I certainly related. Albert Einstein's positivism shines through in The Meaning of Life. Despite his incredible intellect, he has always seemed so down to earth. In Christmas 1992, Isabel Allende powerfully describes the death of her daughter, who was in her late twenties. Most of the pieces are short, a few no more than a page. The book would be an excellent primer for anyone unfamiliar with the work of Albert Camus, Maya Angelou, Walker Percy, Marcel Proust, Joseph Campbell and the others represented. Does it solve the bittersweet mystery of life? Of course not. Would it provide the reader with comfort? Perhaps. Only three users at Amazon have rated it, and all gave it high marks. Published in 1998, it was edited by a John Miller, on whom I was unable to find any information. It's only 132 pages, minus the many blanks between the sections. I wonder how such a book comes into existence. The cynic in me sees it as a clever marketing ploy that doesn't cost much to issue and has the potential to bring in a substantial profit. Then again, it might comfort someone or lead others to delve into the ideas of great thinkers they had previously neglected or were unaware existed. For me, on a scale of five, three.

From Yahoo's Odd News: Austrians speak German. Here is their word of the year: "Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung," or "postponement of the repeat of the runoff of the presidential election." The tongue-twister was coined to reflect the record time it took to elect the country's president. It makes one long for the simplicity of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," which in sensible terms means extraordinarily good; wonderful. For those not old enough to remember, it was used to great effect in a song from Mary Poppins (1964).

I've begun the process of getting my eighth book into print. Of course, there are always snags. When I went to Create Space to upload the file, I was surprised that it now accepts only PDF. I found a site that converts for free, but it ignored the blank page four in the Word file and began the numbering on page five with four. There was no way to edit it. I turned to my literary angel, Victoria Valentine of Water Forest Press, who sent me a link to a site that specializes in numbering PDF files, also free. I hoped it would override the numbers already there. It didn't, so, with much trepidation given how long it took me to get the numbering right in Word, I eliminated them from the original file. I then converted it to PDF at the one site and added numbers at the other. It worked like a charm. Now I await a confirmation email from CS. I will then use its online simulator to see how the interior of the book looks. If it's okay, I will order a proof copy and weed out the infernal errors that, however obvious, always seem to escape attention. One worry -- the file shrank from 185 pages in Word to 181 in PDF. I believe that's happened before in previous books I've submitted. I won't know if something is missing until I read the proof. I've already established the Amazon list price at $8. I've amassed $464 in gift certificates through survey sites. I will buy 50 copies, and receive a royalty on each, which will knock down the cost from $400 to less than $350. The Kindle will be a buck.

The rain ceased in the late morning, which allowed the floating book shop to open. Unfortunately, only one customer made a purchase. My thanks to the gentleman who bought Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum Health by Andrew Weil, who a frequent visitor recently labeled a fraud.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

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