Amazon and Other Publishing Tools

What I have quickly discovered throughout these past few months is that e-publishing is hard work. There are a lot of different options, formats, methods, fonts, and other oddities that come into play when uploading a manuscript onto Amazon/ iTunes/ Android.

Many people assume that my generation, the “millenials”, are all inherently tech-savvy, born with the ability to read HTML code and create websites before we even learned to talk. However, I will be the first to admit that I am no Zuckerberg. Sadly, I will not drop out of an Ivy League university to invent the next Facebook, Microsoft, or Google. So when my publisher began to explain the intricacies of e-publishing to me over the phone, I knew I would have to google everything afterwards.

Now googling, I can do. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I am one excellent google-searcher. With a simple phrase, I stumbled upon numerous articles on e-publishing that “dumbed it down” for the rare, exotic non-tech savvy millenials like me. Although I still lack fluency in HTML, I can now confidently say that I understand how my manuscript is becoming an e-book (sort of).

I found this video called “Publish on Kindle Amazon Kindle Publishing Tutorial” that should more accurately be called “ePublishing for Dummies”. Which I then thought would make a great second book, only to discover that it’s already been published AND e-published :(

for dummies

However, those of you who don’t want to read that 23556546743534 page book, check out the link below for a quick and fun tutorial on e-publishing that I found really helpful! (Whew, that was such a long sentence. My apologies.) Anyways, enjoy!

E-Publishing Tutorial

Sneak Peek!

Hello again! Sorry it’s been so long; I’ve been super busy editing A Pink House for the seventh and final time! I’ve read this story so many times that I’m convinced I could recite it backwards. As author Tiffany Madison so accurately put it, “while writing is like a joyous release, editing is a prison where the bars are my former intentions and the abusive warden my neuroticism.”

However, I think that all of this hard work has paid off, and I hope you do too! So in order to make up for lost time, I’ve decided to share a sneak peek with all of you! Below is a YouTube clip of me reading the first page of A Pink House. I filmed this on iPhoto while also reading from a word document, so sorry for the spastic eye movement :) Otherwise, enjoy your sneak peek!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40NbvqFddvY&feature=youtu.be

Mothers

In the aftermath of Mother’s Day, when all Hallmark employees sing Bruno Mars’ Billionaire and count all of their post-Mother’s Day earnings, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about mothers.

My favorite scenes in A Pink House, both to read and to write, have been the scenes in which Jax interacts with his mother. Throughout the narrative, Jax’s mother constantly teeters on the edge of a psychotic breakdown. With the background of the early 1960s, Jax’s mother struggles to live up to the idealized Stepford-housewife standard that the 1950s left on suburban America. I found this picture (below) online the other day, and thought it perfectly summed up Jax’s mother in A Pink House. It also made me chuckle, so I thought I would share it with all of you. :)

housewives

In a book filled with many dark, intense scenes, Jax’s mother provides a lot of necessary comic relief as she burns grilled cheese sandwiches and pretends to read home-management magazines. Playing with this stereotype throughout A Pink House resulted in a lot of fun, whimsical scenes that also allowed me to reach Jax’s mother’s underlying issues with society in a non-obvious way. This character was so fun to build throughout the narrative because she asks the question, Is something wrong with me, or with the rest of society?

 

Without getting too sappy, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mom for all that she does. And to thank her for not being a neurotic, hot mess like Jax’s mom in A Pink House. Writing this novel has reminded me that there are a lot of other mothers that my mother could be, and I’m glad she’s not any of them.

So to all the mothers, happy belated mother’s day! That’s all I’ve got for now. Signing off!

Illustrations

Chapter 2 Final Draft

During my sophomore year of high school, I got this idea in my head that I wanted to be a Pixar animator. Despite my inability to draw, I was dead-set on creating the next Up or Wall-E that seeped with such cuteness that it physically hurt to watch it. (And I mean this in the best possible way.)

So, I signed up for a “stop-start animation” class at the Cleveland Institute of Art to learn the tricks of the trade for my future career in animation. After about 20 minutes of the class, all my Pixar dreams had been shattered due to this simple fact: I really really can’t draw.

Because of this experience, I was immediately jealous when I met Keara McGraw. I met Keara, the brilliant illustrator for A Pink House, through my camp counselor, Aileen. Keara and I met in person for the first time at an Argo Tea (where non-artsy me mistakenly ordered a green tea bubble tea with coconut infusion? Be forewarned; it was disgusting). At this point, we had been talking on the phone for a few weeks, and she had already gotten me a few sample illustrations for A Pink House.

Above is a teaser for all of you of one of her illustrations for the book. Working with Keara has been such an amazing process, and it has been so fun watching her visualize the characters that have been living in my head for so long now. I’m really excited that I get to share her brilliant work with all of you in just a few weeks now! The interaction between Keara’s illustrations and the text tell Jax’s story in a really interesting way that I hope you’ll all like as much as I do.

When we talked on the phone for the first time, I explained to her that I was looking for something fun and quirky, like Quentin Blake’s watercolors for all of the Roald Dahl books I read as a kid. With Quentin Blake as the starting point, Keara cranked out a first round of beautifully unique illustrations that exceeded all of my expectations. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Quentin Blake’s work, one of his illustrations is below.)

the BFG

Not only is Keara speedy, but she’s also incredibly talented. I hadn’t given Keara too many guidelines because I knew that she would come up with illustrations that were far better than anything I could’ve imagined. And she did. Collaborating with Keara has been one of my favorite parts of the publishing process because I got to see my own characters grow through someone else’s eyes. And I am happy to say that Keara went above and beyond, doing my “babies” (aka the characters I’ve created) justice in her depictions of them.

If you’d like to see more of Keara’s work, check out her website! http://www.kearamcgrawcreative.com/

Okay, so that’s all for now. Signing off!

Welcome!

me

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Carolyn Mazanec and I wrote the novel, A Pink House, which is a story set in the 1960s about a chronically nervous boy whose goal is to befriend the “cool” kids on the block by the end of the summer. A Pink House will be available on Amazon, iTunes, and Android in just a few months now! I can’t wait to share this story with all of you, and so I thought that I would blog about my journey, from writing to editing to publishing, in the meantime.

First, to know a little bit more about me, I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. I now attend Northwestern University, where I have met many interesting people from all over the country, and even the world. The other day, one of my friends from downtown Chicago told me that when she was little, she used to get nightmares about moving to the suburbs. This made me laugh because I loved growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland.

Throughout this brutally long Chicago winter, I’ve missed the many happy summers I spent in Cleveland. I’ve missed the summer concerts at Blossom Music Center, where people come out with their towels and lawn chairs to sit on the lawn and listen to the Dave Matthews Band or Rascal Flatts. I’ve missed driving to school each morning for soccer practice, coasting up and down the long hilly roads past big green landscapes. And I’ve missed the best-kept secret of Cleveland, aka my favorite place on earth: Nelson’s Ledges, which is a quarry in Garretsville, Ohio, that has big rocky cliffs you can jump off of and a crystal blue lake that catches you below.

As I was writing A Pink House, my love for the greater Cleveland area seeped into its pages. Part of the reason that I am so excited to share my novel with all of you is because I want to showcase the unique, culturally-rich city that is Cleveland, Ohio.

In A Pink House, the setting of Parma, Ohio, has a personality of its own, and acts as “one of the gang” throughout the novel. I chose Parma as the backdrop for my story because that’s where my dad grew up, and it was fun for me to imagine the characters I’d created on my dad’s old stomping grounds.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.43.44 AM

Above is a picture of my grandma’s house. No, her house isn’t pink. And it didn’t house the horrors that Jax, my story’s protagonist, faces in A Pink House. However, Grandma’s house and the memories it holds showed me how a house can mirror the family that lives inside it. When my grandmother reluctantly moved out of her house of fifty years, I realized that she was reluctant because the house had become a part of her. While I was writing A Pink House, I think that this idea was at the front of my mind. As I developed this idea through Jax and the other characters in the book, I simultaneously wrote my love for Cleveland and my grandmother’s house into every page.

Alright, so that’s all I’ve got for now. Signing off.