I’m all Smashworded out today. Not only have I been formatting the May volume of Two-Hundred Steps Home (including a lengthy and arduous search for a cover image), I have also been attempting to load Dragon Wraiths to Smashwords, now it is out of the KDP Select programme.
I think that about sums it up. Thank goodness I now have the iPad and can put a few more of the download versions through their paces. For example I discovered the ISBN I had for Dragon Wraiths was for the sample I put up in February, and so no longer appropriate. I discovered that the Contents File works fine in the Kindle App but not in the iBook app. I learned that Smashwords makes my 12pt Headers HUGE for no apparent reason. I also learned that it is much harder to get a 113k word file through the AutoVetter than it is a 20-25k word file (as the Two-Hundred Steps Home Volumes usually are.)
The outcome is I’m still not happy with my Smashwords Dragon Wraiths file, although I have left it live for now, as I don’t know how to fix some of the issues. I’ve dropped the price on Smashwords and Amazon to 99c so hopefully people don’t feel they’re being ripped off if they buy it and the formatting stinks. I’ll say this for Amazon, my html file turned into a perfectly acceptable .mobi file with minimal effort.
As far as the May Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Five is concerned, it’s not my finest – that probably goes for the cover and the content. It was a bitty month, more about Ruth than Claire, and so there wasn’t really an image that pulled it all together. I had to Photoshop this one to remove an extra person on a horse in the river, and it’s almost what I was after, though not quite. With a tiny budget there are limits to my ability to fulfill my vision!
I’ve also discovered that Volume 3 isn’t available on iPad even though it’s meant to be in the Smashwords Premium Catalogue – that might explain my poor download numbers for 3 and 4. So much of self-publishing seems to be wandering round in the dark. At least I found a new source of free ebooks in my iBooks app, so the day wasn’t a complete loss.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Your wrist isn’t broken, Ms Carleton, but you do have a nasty sprain.”
Claire looked up at the A&E doctor and groaned. “How bad? You’re not going to plaster it, are you?” Carl is never going to accept another doctor’s note stopping me working, but I can’t drive with my arm in plaster.
“No, I think a bandage and a sling will be sufficient. You’ll need to rest it for several days, however. Do you work?”
And how exactly is that relevant? Claire glowered at the doctor, who continued to look blandly at her as if she was as interesting as wallpaper.
“Yes, I work. I’m a travel journalist.” Well, I guess that’s what I am these days. How odd not to know what my job title is.
“Well, no sitting at a computer for hours, and no driving until the swelling has gone done. You’re best to follow the PRICE routine.”
Claire looked at the woman blankly, waiting for her to elaborate. The doctor looked surprised at her silence, then seemed to realise she wasn’t speaking to a fellow medical professional.
“Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation,” she rattled off, as if listing the ingredients for a cake. Noticing the panicked expression in Claire’s widened eyes, the doctor handed her an information booklet.
“The main thing is no heat, alcohol, massage or strenuous activity. Rest, Ms Carleton. You’ll be fine in a day or so.” She began tapping words into the computer and Claire wondered if she had been dismissed.
“And the pain?” Two hours sitting in the Milton Keynes A&E waiting room, watching small children come in screaming and leaving sobbing, had numbed Claire’s pain to a dull roar.
“Over-the-counter medicine should be fine. Paracetamol for the first day or so, to let it heal. Then ibuprofen. Codeine if it’s severe. No alcohol.”
You said that already, you silly cow. I get it. No G&T to ease the misery. Great.
“How about food?” Claire had no idea what time it was, but it had to be at least mid-afternoon. The two-hour wait had been followed by a trip to X-Ray and a further wait to see the doctor.
“You can eat, if you feel like it. It’s only a sprained wrist, Ms Carleton. Book an appointment to see your GP if it isn’t improving after a week.”
This time the dismissal was clear. Claire thanked the doctor, gathered her bag, and headed out to the waiting room. The First Aider at the snow dome had sent her to A&E in a taxi, and she had no idea how to get back to her car or whether it would even still be there. Looking down, she realised she was still wearing the snow dome clothing and her things were in a locker at Xscape.
She stood motionless, staring blindly at the rows of faces sat like an audience watching the drama of A&E unfold.
I have to get the car. And get back to the hostel. Except I can’t drive and I don’t know anyone in this stupid town. For the first time in weeks, Claire felt defeated. Without caring who was watching, with no real thought at all, she sunk down into an empty seat and sobbed.
“Are you okay, Miss?”
Claire looked up into the kindly gaze of a young nurse, who had rested her hand on Claire’s shoulder. She tried to control her tears, but the warmth of the touch made them come faster, until she was gulping for air.
The nurse dropped down onto her haunches and looked into Claire’s face. “Can I get you anything?”
Aware of the snot threatening to leak from her nose, and the mascara tracking down her cheeks, Claire smiled through her tears and said, “A tissue?”
The nurse nodded and disappeared from view. She came back with a box of tissues, and sat in the now-vacant chair next to Claire.
Funny how quickly a weeping woman can be alone in a crowd.
The nurse handed over tissues, and sat silent while Claire mopped her face and blew her nose.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened. It’s only a sprained wrist, for goodness sake. Nothing tragic.” She thought about Ruth, and all the time she had spent in hospital with her. Crying over a bandage seemed selfish and uncalled for.
“Sometimes it’s the little things that break us. Do you have anyone I can call, to come and collect you?”
The words made Claire sob again, as she realised the answer was no. Her parents were fully occupied with Ruth, and Robert had gone back to Geneva. She thought about calling Michael, but dismissed the idea. He had finally stopped ringing and it wouldn’t be fair to reignite his hopes, just to get a lift.
She shook her head in answer to the nurse’s question, unable to speak.
“What about a friend, there must be someone?”
Kim. What about Kim? I wonder what it would cost me to get a taxi to her place? I’d have to sleep in the bath. I guess I could go back to the hostel now, and figure it out tomorrow. They’ll probably have towed my car away by that point anyway.
She realised the nurse was waiting for an answer, and gave a weak nod. “Yes, I have someone I can call. I need to get a taxi to my hostel though, is there a taxi rank near here?”
The nurse nodded and gave some directions, clearly relieved to have been able to help. Claire watched her leave, then went out to the lobby and dialled Kim’s number. Please be home.
“Hello, Claire. I was about to call you, you must be psychic. We need to talk about the wedding, I’ve got so many ideas and I want to pick your brains about hostels.”
“Hi, Kim.” Claire’s voice wobbled as she interrupted the flow of happy words, and she was unable to continue.
“Claire, honey, are you okay?”
“What is it? Is it Ruth? God, is she alright?”
Kim’s words stabbed at Claire. What am I doing, feeling sorry for myself when my sister has cancer. She took a deep breath and tried to stop the shake in her voice.
“No, Ruth’s okay, as far as I know. It’s me, I sprained my wrist, and I guess I’m feeling a bit fragile. I wondered if you could cope with a visitor for the weekend?”
“Of course! Actually, that’s perfect. Jeff’s away, so we’ll be able to talk babies and weddings without driving him nuts.” She babbled on excitedly, and Claire tried to listen with patience.
Lovely. A weekend of happy families, love, nuptials and procreation. Just what the doctor ordered. She let Kim make arrangements and tried hard to hold back the tears.