Smashwords Gifts and Underground Railroad Stealth

Dear Reader,

I sit here at my desk eating a McDonald’s McGriddle and pondering the odd combination of a sandwich that uses pancakes for bread. The rain is pouring though it is the middle of January in Ohio. The world is an odd place.

Last night, I decided I would redesign the cover for my short story, Mad Maxine. The first cover was, admittedly, thrown together. I thought I needed a photo-realistic cover for whatever reason, and that it needed to match my historical fiction covers.

Fact is, Mad Maxine is a contemporary short story that is so different from my historical fiction, I’m certain I was confusing readers. Maxine is a smoker, she’s just lost her husband and the story location is at his grave site. The original cover showed none of that.

So on Sunday, I pulled out my sketchbook and began drawing.  I scanned it in, did some Photoshop magic, and uploaded it to Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and

Should be live on all those sites and propagated across Kobo, Sony, etc, over the coming days.

Smashwords Gifts

While at Smashwords, I noticed they have a beta “gift a book” option. The way it works is when you purchase the book, you submit the recipient’s email and they get an automatic email with instruction to get their copy.

This is a great option not only for readers giving gifts to readers, but also for authors who are holding contests! I hate the fact that when I want to give a free book to a reader, I usually have to send them this email stating “here is a 100% coupon for you to download the book.” Now, it seems Smashwords takes care of it for me. Huzzah!

Underground Railroad Stealth

In terms of my research for The Rebel’s Touch, I hit a gold mine while reading John P. Parker’s autobiography. Parker was an escaped slave who became a very successful businessman in the Cincinnati and Ripley, OH areas. He also happened to be a primary operator for the Underground Railroad. First off, this book reads like you are sitting at an old southern man’s kitchen table, listening to him tell his story. It is FANTASTIC! I often find myself reading a passage out loud, slowing down my natural rhythm, trying to hear how he would have said that particular sentence.

Parker’s attention to detail and storytelling is the kind that gets passed down in storytelling families. I know, I’m in one of them. My father once told me a story about how a crocodile used to eat lying children that sounded so plausible, I really thought he lost a brother who lied to this super smart, Peter Pan-esque crocodile.

Anyway, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Ripley, OH during the Civil War years and those leading up to it. He gives names, describes where the houses were, and the terrain he had to cross when leading contraband (what the Union army called escaped slaves) across the Ohio River from Kentucky.

I have at least three more books I want to read about Ripley Ohio and John Parker. Because I live in Ohio, and Ripley is only a couple hours from me, I want to visit the town and get a feel for the landscape. Many of the original houses still stand, sentinels on the river. I need to write to the local historical society to get additional resources, and I plan to visit the Ohio Historical Society to see what else they can tell me.

I want to get The Rebel’s Touch out sooner rather than later. But I also want to do a good job of it; I commonly hear that Haunting Miss Trentwood felt a little rushed, and maybe it was.

So yes, with the new year comes lots of grand plans. I mean to enjoy this research process, though, and I hope to translate it into a great book.