Tuesday, December 29, 2009

COT Feline Christmas Feast

Instead of turkey we opted for Christmas beef this year. It was a winner!

Target and Au start their Christmas lunch at racing speed.

Au pauses to appreciate the Christmas beef; a fatal error.

Target finishes first and spots Au still has some food left.

Target has elbowed Au out of the way and is eating the last bit.

Double-checking to make sure all the food is gone.

Food coma!

For more cats, check out Gattina who hosts Cats on Tuesday.

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

As you can see, Au and Target have started Christmas early with some treats sent by Girl's mum and dad. We hope your Christmas is filled with treats, nip, long petting sessions, and all good things.

We'll be taking a break until next week Tuesday, the 28th, so see you then!

For more cats, check out Gattina who hosts Cats on Tuesday.

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

Subscribe to Katz Tales in a reader

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Writers Craft Online: Leon Wing guest blogs

Leon Wing is a wellknown Malaysian writer and blogger. I met him a few weeks ago at Readings, a writers group inspired by Sharon Bakar from Bibliobibuli and found him an interesting man to talk to. Checking out his blog, I was surprised to see that despite the few comments, there are many people who link to him! So I asked him to guest blog here, so we can all learn how to promote out work online.

Here he is, *drumroll* Leon...

I was actually quite astounded when Ellen asked me to guest blog here about how my blog acquired 200 links or thereabout. At first I was thinking this was about the other two blogs, http://puisipoesy.blogspot.com/, for which I write about poems, oftentimes taking them apart to show the mechanics; and http://themalaysianpoeticchronicles.blogspot.com/, for which I edit. _No_, this is for http://leonwing.blogspot.com/.

In this, my personal blog, I write, or rather, review books I’ve finished reading. And, I can tell you for a fact that I go through quite a number in a short space of time: two to four books in a week or so. I would be reading a book I bought, always from my favourite book store in the city, Kinokuniya (http://bookweb.kinokuniya.co.jp/indexohb.cgi?AREA=05); and another – or 2 or all – I’ve taken out from the city's National Library.

For borrowed books, I used to frequent The British Council's library. When I was little and could read, I used to climb with my little legs the long, long winding stone steps, all the way up, to a little hill, Bukit Aman, which housed the Brit Council’s premises and its library. This was where I first discovered, like treasures, books, most of them hardbacks – back then the library did not deign to house paperbacks – by such writers as Beryl Bainbridge and Muriel Spark, for the first time. A few years back BC decided to close almost all its libraries outside of Britain. You can imagine how devastated someone like me was: I couldn't just read one book a week – I needed my 4 to 5 books ration every month. Luckily I re-discovered The National Library. When I had the BC library then, I, unashamedly, snubbed the Nat. Now, I quite like it, whenever I happen to come across some new book.

The rest of the books I would be reading would include ebooks, read from my PDA and, sometimes, my phone.

I’m still clueless about the large number of links to my blog. But, I’m guessing my Twitter could have helped a bit: http://twitter.com/leonwing. I would squeeze into 140 characters of information and a link to my blog after every book I finish. Unlike the other website for which I edit, I do not rely so much on linking using some directory listing site, like http://www.blogged.com/. There, what you do is submit your site's web address, so that other members could find and propagate and link it.

Even when I've said about my not using such sites, I really think it is a good idea to use them. You might even like to try out others, like http://www.blogarama.com/, http://technorati.com and http://www.blogged.com. For Malaysian blogs, sign yourself up at http://blogmalaysia.com/.

Oh yes, another thing that would help. I’m sure you could be facebooking, even now itself, while reading this posting. In Facebook join the group NetworkedBlogs. This one is similar to the few directory sites I just mentioned. Another one, in Facebook, is Simplaris Blogcast. Every time you’ve done posting anything to your blog, go there and update it. Within seconds all your FB friends would be able to see your blog's links.

And finally, of course, you must have something interesting to blog about; something your readers would want to stop by and spend time in your Web space and enjoy reading from.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Repost Friday: The Alpha Dog Myth and The Perfect Mate

Dog Talk is out tomorrow in the print version of The Star, Weekender section. It's all about how doggy social life and how scientists who thought they had it licked 20 years ago are now saying they got it all wrong. Apparently hierarchy schemes, dominance, and all that sort of stuff just doesn't happen in natural dog or wolf society. Plus, the story features Bushy, my Yorkshire terrier friend from across the street.

As promised, here are some links on this topic:

Click on Alpha Dog Myth

All about new wolf research

Discover more about Mech, the man who studies wild wolves

New thought training tips

Wild wolf researcher blog

And here is a repost from Monday, July 24, 2006 The Perfect Mate...

Lunch with a pal last week turned into a discussion about life, love and loneliness. As he has a nice house with a garden, and is at home quite a bit, I suggested he give a home to a stray - or preferably two!

The discussion quickly turned to the merits of cats versus dogs. A non-animal lover who was no doubt bored witless by my enthusiasm, my pal cut me short after a generous ten minutes by saying,

"I value independence, loyalty, intelligence, and hard work. I want a companion who can look after themselves if I'm busy but who isn't standoffish when I'm in the mood to play games. I also like beauty and I think family are important so it will have to be a pedigree of some kind. But I can't figure it out, should I get a dog for it's loyalty and capacity to work or a cat because of it's independence and brains?"

Stunned by this catalogue I answered before engaging my brain, "No wonder you're single!" I gasped. He bought me lunch, but I don't think he's forgiven me.

PS the picture is Haurvatat or Khordad, the personification of perfection according to Persian mythology. This image is courtesy of Hannah M.G. Shapero whose scholarly specialty is the ancient and still-living religion of ZOROASTRIANISM.

PPS My pal is still single and decided not to take on a pet either. But he has forgiven me!

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Katz Tales NTV7 Breakfast Show

Au Speaks Out: How To Trayn Yor Hooman Survants

As Au's language is too sophisticated for some audiences, he allows his personal servant Ellen Whyte to write the columns and the book in her own way. However, as Ellen has been invited to the NTV7 Breakfast Show today that runs from 830AM to 10AM, (you can see it online here now) Au has agreed very graciously to type his own message…

Helo reederz. i dont do intervoows ewesualee but aftur my big suksess Au Reveals All my feemale survant begged an begged an begged so i sed OK as long as yoo make me a hole rost chikkin. i am a verry kind kat. i no i spoil hur.

Although i am now famus bekuz of the feemale writing storees abowt me al the time, i live a very simpel life. i haf onlee two survants: the male and the feemale. Dey serve me 5 or 6 meels a day plus a few simpel snaks like ham or cheez wen i wan sumfing spesial.

I sleep on the sofa or on the bed or on the rug. Yoo kan see me sleeping in the pikchure. My onlee luksury is that i haf 3 kardbord bokses of my own. One upstairs, one downstairs and a small garden boks.

Although i like the simpel life, i heer that sum katz kannot get even one proper devoted survant. i haf herd of katz hoo DON EVEN GET MEELS SERVED ON DEMAND!!!

So tooday i want to share with thos poor katz sum tips on how to trayn yor hooman.

In this furst lesson we will diskuss how to get yor hooman survants to feed yoo wen yoo want it, not wen dey feel like it.

Hoomans ar stoopid so be payshunt. i dont believe in ewsing the klaw bekos it's kruel. Hoomans kant help not having brainz like katz. Insted, ewes purrs to enkourage dem wenever dey get sumthing rite.

Keep it simpel. Start during the day wen yor survant is awake. A good time is wen dey ar kwiatlee watching TV or reeding a buk.

First, rub an ankel to get attenshun, then look up, purr loudlee, say meow follow me, and take a step towards the kitshun where the big white boks with the food is.

Wen yoo start to walk to the kitshun, look behind yoo to make sure the hooman is following. If yor survant dusn't get the message, go bak and start again. Meow and purr until dey look yoo in the eye. Think food thots at them.

Yoo kan also be kunning. Purr nicelee. This will make dem want to stroke yor soft beeowtiful fur. Wen dey reech for yoo, step a little bit away. Wen dey half stand up to touch yoo, meow loudlee in praise, purr again, and take another step away. Always move towards the kitshun.

Yor hooman will then say sumthing stoopid like, what do yoo want then littel fuzz? Dont hiss at dem in temper! Remember, hoomans ar not klever like katz. Just meow payshuntlee, purr to enkourage, and walk dem firmlee to the kitshun.

Once yoo haf yor hooman in the kitshun, tap the big white boks where the food is with yor paw. Yor hooman will say, do yoo want sum food then? Again, dont hiss sarkastiklee. Dont klaw dem in frustrayshun. Praise yor hooman with purrs and meows for getting the messsage. Remember: yor survant kan't help being slow.

Important poynt: wen the survant puts down the bowl of food, remember to reeward dem. Rub an ankel and purr loudlee. This is not a waste of time but forwurd thinking: the better yor survant feels abowt dooing this simpel task, the eesier it is to get dem to repeet it.

Once yor hooman is trayned to get up and feed yoo during sun time, yoo kan start dem on dark time.

Hoomans ar funny abowt dere sleep. Start by wakening dem an hour before dey ewsuallee get up. Jump up in the bed, and follow the rooteen. Be payshunt but firm! Purr dem awake and then meow dem owt of bed.

If dey hide under the pillow, insert a paw and tikkel dare nose.
If dey kover dare face with dare arms, give dem friendlee enkouraging hedbutts.
If dey hide under the blankett, walk up and down onn dem.

A badlee trayned survant may throw a pillow at yoo. That's OK. Just stand round the korner of the bedrum door and meow from a posishun of safety till dey get up. Then reward yor grumpy hooman with ekstra purrs.

Yoo kan get bak at dem later for the pillow by waking dem at 1AM, 2AM and 3AM the nekst night, demanding food and then not eeting it.

I sed don ewse the klaw. I didnt say yoo shud spoil dem!

Katz Tales, Living Under The Velvet Paw is out in bookshops now. Price RM28 ISBN: 978-967-3035-64-9. For a free sneak peak and free sample story, visit http://www.lepak.com/katztalesbook.html

Au says, "buy the buk! Not only is it filed with wunnerful stories al abowt me but 10% of the feemale's share wil go to help owt kitties hoo ar living withowt the benefit of pershunal servants."

If you want to keep in touch with Katz Tales updates, here are some simple ways:

Subscribe to Katz Tales in a reader

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Follow KatzTalesTweets on Twitter

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For more cats, check out Gattina who hosts Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Writers Craft Online: Ads That Work

Studies suggest global online advertising spending will reach US$67 billion and account for 12.3% of total ad spending next year. That means that 1 out of every 8 dollars/ringgit of ad money will be spent on online media.

For authors online ads can be useful as they are much cheaper than print and other traditional media. However, consumers are becoming adept at spotting and avoiding ads of all kinds. New Internet users develop blind spots to online banners and ad boxes within a very short time.

To catch the eye and capture the heart of today’s impatient, jaded, cynical consumer, companies are now starting to invest in relationship marketing. Putting ads on your blog and web site, and connecting with reader via social networks like Facebook and Twitter too, can help make your ads visible.

I'm using all my blog and Facebook to connect and have started Tweeting. I've also put an ad on the bottom of every email I send that reads, "Looking to buy a present for someone? Buy Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw for animal lovers and Logomania: Where Common Phrases Come From And How To Use Them for people who loooove words or just want to improve their English. Visit my blog at http://www.lepak.com for free sample chapters and more."

I think it's working because people I have not met are contacting me. It's fun!

Find out more about advertising trends and relationship marketing by visiting the following sites:

Customer Relationship Marketing Today

About Online Advertising



If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

Subscribe to Katz Tales in a reader

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Follow KatzTalesTweets on Twitter

Follow Ellen on Facebook.

See you tomorrow when Au speaks out on how to trayne yor hooman.

I've been invited to the NTV7 Breakfast Show tomorrow on Tuesday, 15th December at about 9AM to talk about Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw. If you're in Malaysia, please tune in. If you're not, you can catch it on the NTV7 web site on the Breakfast Show Page the next day. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Repost Get What You Want: Cat Style

I've been invited to the NTV7 Breakfast Show on Tuesday, 15th December at about 9AM to talk about Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw. If you're in Malaysia, please tune in. If you're not, you can catch it on the NTV7 web site on the Breakfast Show Page the next day. I'm soooooo excited!

As I'll be busy on Tuesday, I have convinced Au to speak once more. After his debut on Sharon's Bibliobibuli site with Au Reveals All, His Royal Catness will hold forth on How To Train Yoor Hooman.

This Friday repost from Thursday, June 15, 2006, is rather appropriate as it's Get What You Want: Cat Style. Enjoy and see you Tuesday!

Affiche pour le As any ailurophile will tell you, living with cats is a truly humbling experience. Cats are the epitome of sensible living. They never, ever overeat and make themselves ill - even at Christmas.

But that's not all. Cats who enjoy human company, find themselves a family they like, move in and live a life of luxury only enjoyed by multimillionaires. They command the most comfortable spots for snoozing, regular meals supplemented with delicious titbits, twice daily massages and recreation on demand.

This black cat by Theophile Alexandre Steinlen painted in 1896 is clearly making a demand for service!

One question is: how do they do it? Better still: how can we live life as comfortably as cats do? According to Joseph Wood Krutch, literary naturalist, the answer is simple, "Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

When cats want something they consider is due to them, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, cuddles or a fresh bowl of cool water, they will ask for it with the loud RAH-OW!!

Au demands his bowl of kitty crunchies to be filled up regardless of time of day, if he feels the level is too low. He's dragged me out of bed time and time again at 4AM without the slightest hesitation.

But when a cat is asking for a special favour, the approach is quite different: they turns begging into an artform. Purring vigorously a cat wanting a favour will caress your ankles and pose in the most appealing attitudes until you give in.

When Au decides he needs a treat, he specialises is a sweet look, a loud purr and the most affecting pose of starvation - even if he's just had a huge bowl of biscuits. I know it's a con but it works 99% of the time.

Cats really have it sussed; I'm going to try their methods for a week and see if it works for us non-cat people too. Fingers crossed!

PS the black cat is courtesy of Wiki Commons.

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pick Up Sticks Kitty

We're making Pick Up Sticks games for Christmas by dying sate sticks blue, orange, red and green.

I think I've dyed a thousand of the things, so hopefully we'll get a lot of sets out of it. Then we will give them to our young friends in orphanages and homes as a stocking-filler.

We roadtested the sticks for colour fastness yesterday, and Target got in on the game. We think he could be a champion player!

You may notice I'm messing about with the blog a bit, as is Jett, my neighbour and web designer. It should look better next week.

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

Subscribe to Katz Tales in a reader

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For more cats, check out Gattina who hosts Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Writers Craft Online: Get visible in search engines

Aren't making it in the top ten results for Google, Yahoo and other search engines. META Tags can help boost your visibility.

META tags are not visible on the web page itself, but they are invaluable for storing information about your web page and essential for advertising your web site correctly in some search engine and web directories.

You can use the tags containing a description of your site, identifying the author, the keywords and description of the page.

For example, if you click on View, Site Source for my Logomania book page (you didn't think I'd miss an opportunity for a plug, did you????) you'll see these META tags at the top of the page...

meta name="description" content="Katz Tales and Logomania books by Ellen Whyte, plus beginner's Guides to email, corporate web design, newsgroups, cv writing and more."

meta name="Copyright" content="Copyright 1999 - 2010 Inkblot Sdn Bhd"

meta name="Author" content="Inkblot Sdn Bhd"

meta name="Keywords" content="logomania, the star malaysia, mind our english, etymology, origin of phrases, where words come from, improve your english, english as a second language, malaysia, ellen whyte, MPH publishing house"

If you use META tags to describe your site, many search engines will use these to index your site. Otherwise they use the first thirty words which appear on your site.

META Tags give you have more control over how your site description appears to potential visitors. You can use keywords that appear, like Katz Tales and related phrases that do not actually appear, like The Star Weekender and cat stories, that help the search engine make meaningful matches.

For search engines which ignore descriptions inserted in META tags the first sentence of your site will show up in search engines results to give surfers an idea of what is included in your site, so it's also important to make the first sentence count.

That's it for this week for Monday Writers Craft Online. Hope to see you tomorrow for Katz Tales or next week for more writer stuff.

If you want to keep in touch with updates, here are some simple ways:

 Subscribe To Katz Tales in a reader

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Follow me on Twitter as KatzTalesTweets, on Facebook.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Repost Friday: How The Tabby Got It's "M"

We're trying to make sure the feed works properly. It seems to be fine with the usual feedburners and Blogger is also showing the update but if it's not working for you, can you drop me a comment and tell me what you're using? THANKS!

 Subscribe To Katz Tales in a reader

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Follow me on Twitter as KatzTalesTweets, on Facebook or on the Katz Tales Blog.

Katz Tales is out in the print version of The Star, Weekender tomorrow. It's all about Target, his accident, and how Au is making capital out of the situation.

And now, it's Repost Friday - cos I'm too busy to write something new! This one appeared on 20th May 2006. Hope that you all haven't seen it before...

How The Tabby Got It's "M"

There are lots of cat legends, but while talking in the pub the other night (Kusar Cabana in SS15!) I heard one that's new to me the other day on how the tabby cat got it's "M", the typically have dark markings on their foreheads.

Christian legends say the Virgin Mary marked the tabby with an M for Maria as thanks for warming the baby Jesus in the cold stable at Bethlehem, while Muslim legends say the Prophet Mohammed bestowed the mark as thanks for a timely warning from his pet cat Muezza that a poisonous snake had crawled into his coat sleeve.
Photo taken by Bernard Landgraf; courtesy of WikiCommons http://commons.wikimedia.org
Many of the jungle cats, such as tigers, cheetahs, and ocelots also have the M marking. Wonder who was brave enough to pet those big kitties!

This tiger was snapped by Bernard Landgraf; the Ocelot was taken by someone working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both pictures are in the public domain. Source: WikiCommons

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dirty Little Secret

I'm checking why some of you don't get my update. Hope to have it fixed SOON!

I was invited to talk about my book Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw on BFM radio yesterday. I wrote a special Tale for it, so for those of you who didn't catch the show, here it is...

Dirty Little Secret

A few weeks ago I went out to a party across town. Usually I'm out early and back early but this was an exception: my taxi pulled up outside our gate just after midnight.

As I paid the driver, I saw Au sitting bolt upright on the garden wall. His ramrod back and half flat ears were clear signs of our senior fuzz's disapproval. When I opened the door, Au gave me a hard look and shouted, "MEE-OW!" The taxi driver turned to me and said, "You're late! Oh man, are you in trouble! When's your curfew?" Then, this man who had been morose and silent during the entire journey, talked enthusiastically and charmingly about his two cats.

We could have chatted for hours but as Au's censure was patently clear, we shook hands, exchanged cards and agreed that the next time I needed a taxi, I'd give my new pal a ring.

The thing is, we love to talk about our pets. Cat lovers can talk for hours about how little Smokey can't stand tuna anymore and has developed a passion for turkey, or how Snow fell into a storm drain and had submit to a bath afterwards.

For the cat lover every detail of every catty story is fascinating, wonderful, inspiring, appealing. This pathology is so well-known it has an official name: we are the ailurophiles.

However, as other people become rapidly bored with cat chat, we have to be careful not to introduce our furry friends into the conversation. And that's a tough proposition because for people like us, cats are part of our family.

When cats move in with you, they take over your life. For one thing, cats are very social creatures. They take a very close interest in everything you do, which makes them wonderful companions.

Better still, they are very intelligent companions. Cats have strong likes and dislikes, and they are not shy about making their opinions public. It's great if they approve, but if they don't you've got a problem. When you live with a cat, you are living with an equal. If there's conflict, you and your cat have to negotiate mutually agreeable terms.

And that's the cat lovers dirty little secret. Dog lovers, rabbit connoisseurs, guinea pig fans, and other pet people who are used to animal companions that obey rather than pets who command think that cat lovers are a little bit nuts. As a consequence, we cat people tend to keep quiet about certain compromises we make. In fact, some of us go to extraordinary lengths to spare ourselves public embarrassment.

One very senior executive (let's agree to call him Hairul, it's not his real name but it will spare his blushes) pretended to have out-of-office meetings, doctor's appointments, and even car trouble, rather than confess to his secretary that he wanted to be home by 6 at night because his wife was away and he was worried the two cats were lonely.

Another pal, (we'll call her Grace) told her family she had subscribed to Animal Planet because she wanted to improve her general knowledge, rather than tell them that she had signed up because her cat likes watching wildlife documentaries.

Then there's John who learned to cook so that his cat Chloe could have boiled fish and roast chicken with her biscuits; Lesley who moved apartments because her cat Bottles needed more floor space; and Wati, Evelyn, Lim and Faisal who call home every day when they are outstation so they can talk to their cats.

Recent American and European studies show that cats are becoming more popular than Man's Best Friend, the dog, so hopefully in a few years time we cat crazy folk can come out of the closet and talk openly about our obsession. But until then, we have to draw a discreet veil over our foibles - or make assignations with likeminded folk when we want to blow off steam.

Me, I'm lucky because I get to indulge my passion by writing the Katz Tales column for The Star. Because of that, I've met lots of fellow feline fans who blog, Facebook or Tweet.

But my favourite time is the Cat Girls Breakfast, where half a dozen of us meet up for thosai, roti canni, and catty talk.

We can really let ourselves go at these gatherings because the café owner is also a cat fan. He doesn't mind when Cathy meows to show us how Cosmo's voice is different from his sister Ling's; when Sharlene imitates the way Ginger's whiskers twitch when he's having a spot of his favourite type of yoghurt; or when Faridah hisses to show us how her very senior fluff Chichi chastises Puddles the kitten.

He didn't even turn a hair when I described how our brave senior cat Au had chased off Yow Yow, the big street cat bully of the neighbourhood who was threatening our little Target, and enacted the story complete with hisses, yowls, growls, yargles and paw waving.

Mind you, I have noticed other customers giving us wary sidelong glances. And some of the waiters seem to be avoiding us. Clearly they think we're crazy, but I know we are the lucky ones: we live with cats!

Katz Tales is published every first Saturday in the print version of The Star, Weekender section. The book, Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw is available in bookshops and online. Check out free previews by clicking on the picture.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Writers Craft Online: What you need to know about writing E-books by Kristen J. Tsetsi

Today we have a guest, American author Kristen J. Tsetsi whose independently released Homefront paperback and e-book has been featured in publications that include the Huffington Post and the Stars and Stripes, on television, and on (American) National Public Radio.

Thank you so much for inviting me as a guest. I’m happy to discuss the future of e-books and e-publishing, and I think you'll find I have great news for those of you considering digital publishing.

The most important question is whether selling e-books is a viable proposition.

Answer: Yes! People with e-readers are far more likely to buy your e-book than they are to buy your paperback, and the Kindle and other e-reading devices are extraordinarily popular and more than a passing trend. Omar Gallaga, who reports on technology for the Austin, Texas Austin-American Statesman daily newspaper, says in a recent radio interview that he expects more than three million e-book readers to sell this year and that ten million are expected to have been sold by the end of next year.

Westerners are even using their smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, etc.) to read books electronically.

In short, independent authors are doing themselves a disservice by not turning their paperback books into e-books. Ten million e-readers may be sold. How many of those people might buy your e-book?

As you begin experimenting with e-publishing, be aware that Kindle is not the only option for you. You may also format your book as a PDF you can sell (or give away) at Scribd.com, and there’s also the digital publisher Smashwords, which – when it receives your prepared document – converts your file into a number of digital formats that work with a variety of e-readers. (This very informative and interesting video at GetPublishedTV.com discusses Smashwords, digital publishing, and the future of e-books.)

When you format your book for the Kindle (here is a guide to selling on Kindle), you set the price and receive thirty-five percent of the suggested retail price. It’s advised that if you’re a lesser known author, you sell your book at a lower price if you want people to read it.

I started out selling my critically-acclaimed literary novel, Homefront, and my short story collection, Carol’s Aquarium, for ninety-nine cents each. (Both appeared on the same list of Kindle's Top 100 best-selling independent books.) You want to draw the readers to your work. I'd sold just under 300 copies of Homefront as a paperback in two years before turning it into an e-book.

Within months of releasing the digital version, more than 2,000 people had read, downloaded, or bought it online. Reader satisfaction has never been the problem when it comes to my book sales; reviews have been glowing and passionate. But good reviews, sadly, don't sell the work.

The problem as an independent author is that people don't know you, and you have to work harder to get the readers. That involves offering your work at a lower cost so they're not risking as much. Once they read it, if readers like it, they'll talk. And that's what you want.

The best part of publishing an e-book: minus the percent the publisher takes from sales, it's free to you.

Smashwords and Kindle both offer comprehensive formatting instructions, and a search engine query will link you to a number of free help manuals. (To format my books for the Kindle, I used April Hamilton’s incredibly thorough and easy to understand Indie Author Guide.)

I hope this has been helpful. Thank you again for allowing me to be part of this exciting discussion about the future of e-publishing. I hope I’ve convinced you to participate.

I have just a few words of advice to those seriously considering e-publishing:

1. Covers are visible on the sites where you sell your writing, so put as much energy into your e-book cover as you would the cover of a paperback.

2. Market your work. Create a website, start a blog, and become part of the digital publishing community. Writer/reader forums, such as KindleBoards.com, provide an opportunity to connect with readers.

3. Enjoy this new venture! After the holidays, many new people will be armed with the e-readers they were given as gifts, and they’ll be looking for books to buy. Make sure one of them is yours.

Kristen is a former reporter, former writing instructor and English professor, former cab driver, and an award-winning fiction writer whose work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a founding member of the independent publishing collective Backword Books and editor of the literary fiction journal American Fiction, due for release in the Fall of 2010. Her website is www.kristentsetsi.com and she blogs at From a Little Office in a Little House.

If you have questions, you can contact Kristen, or ask them here so that we can all benefit from the answer...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Biting the hand that feeds, and cuddles, and pets...

Great news! Target is feeling a lot better.

After dislocating his front right paw a month ago, Target has been getting better slowly. Three days ago he put his paws around Au's neck and challenged the senior kitty to wrestle. Au is a nice fluff so he was very gentle.

And Target is also playing "bite the hand that tickles your tummy." We worry about his sore paws so we hold our hands still and let him choose how hard to push. He's not pushing very hard but gosh he has sharp little teeth!

I'm also very excited because I've been invited for an interview at BFM89.9 the Business Station radio channel in Malaysia on Monday at 2PM local time. I will be writing a new story especially for the radio programme, so tune in. 2PM in Malaysia is 7AM in Spain and Belgium, 6AM in the UK, 1AM in Michigan USA, and 10PM California USA. Hear it online live here!

See you then!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Au is happy

Au is an indoor kitty as Target has a sore paw but our senior fuzz quite likes being indoors.

First of all, it's monsoon. Au doesn't like wet paws. And secondly, he enjoys being given extra treats in compensation.

Here he is, hanging out.

Check out more by visiting Gattina.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Writers Craft Online: Attracting Press Coverage Part 2

Katz tales book
I'm in the middle of writing a children story, Mystery of the Demon Caves, and so I am totally frazzled. I'm also pushing Katz Tales with media releases this week so I'm going to give you short notes.

And speaking of media releases, here are some tips on using them for Attracting Press Coverage.

When an newspaper is short of material, they sometimes push in a press release... as long as it's well written.

1. A simple press release has a strong focus, a quote or two, and a picture. Put extra and background information at the end. The idea is that the end bit may be cut, without the release losing its message.

2. Make sure you've got your name and contact on the release. And date it!

3. To find out who to send it to (and how! by fax, email etc) contact the company and ask. This may take some calling around but it's worth the effort.

4. If it doesn't work, don't despair. Just write another one. Sometimes it takes familiarity before your press release is pushed onto the top of the stack of stuff to be used next. Also, it may tempt someone into inviting you for an interview.

5. If the group has a policy of not using press releases (and they'll tell you this when you phone) ask about taking out an ad. All companies always favour advertisers over non-advertisers.

If you have a good publisher, they should be doing quite a bit of this media release stuff. However, not all books get the same attention, so it's worth co-ordinating your efforts.

That's all for this week. But good news, I'm arranging for a successful American author to give us tips on e-publishing next week. So stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freaky Dogs and Other Horrors

Dog Talk is out in The Star, Weekender section, print version only. It stars Girl, our friend from down the road, and discusses the pedigree controversy.

For those of you interested in reading what the big Crufts scandal was all about, check out these stories:

Story: The Big Question: Is the breeding of pedigree dogs leading to cruel abnormalities?

RSPCA Australia explains why pedigree inbreeding is cruel

Story why RSPCA withdraws from Crufts show

Story why Pedigree drops Crufts sponsorship

The official BBC statement explaining why they did not televise Crufts this year.

Story how Kennel Club asks for permission to change breeding rules to end cruelty

How new rules will change breed looks story: Healthier new bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl

Learn about the film that opened up this issue worldwide Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Target Is Cold

Thanks to the monsoon it's been about 20C or 70F here the last few days. Au has fluffed up his coat and is keeping warm with lots of games. Plus, he's got layers of fat like a polar bear.

But our tropical Target is cold. We've given him a fluffy towel to cuddle inside, and he sleeps under the sheets with us at night.

More on Friday! For other cats, visit Gattina or the links in the margin. And buy my book Katz Tales, OK?