Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Create A Riveting E-Book Powerpoint

Very few people are blessed with mad artistic skills as well as writing ability, which leads most indie authors to dread the cover image creation process. That small little rectangle on the screen with your title and name scrunched in is the first impression readers will have of your e-book, before they even get to the book description. That being said, the text and sharpness of image must be just as clear on the product description page as it is on the e-reader. Make sure to check your final cover image on a variety of views in JPEG format by zooming in and out.

Cover Image Requirements: 600x800 pixels (Imports to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, ect.): 1600x2400 pixels

Cover Image Options:

1. Hire A Cover Designer 

Quick Steps: Check out your favorite self-published e-books. See an Indie cover you like? Look who the cover design is by. Contact them via email to receive quotes.The cost will range, depending on what you want done. Some packages are available for $100-200. Other professional designs that include custom illustrations can range from $500-1000.

No idea where to start? The Kindle Boards have a list of artsy folks:,123703.0.html

2. Create the cover yourself using public domain images/stock photos

Public Domain Images: free images for use that are not under intellectual property rights. Always examine a "public domain" image carefully for licensing agreements, however.

Stock Photos: a collection of random images to be used for creative purposes-at a cost, available on a variety of websites. Stock photos can be as little as a dollar to hundreds of dollars, depending on the size and resolution. Make sure you read contracts carefully to understand what the copyright limitations are for that photo. If you are using a stock photo with a model who is identifiable in any way, make sure the website has negotiated a model release, meaning the model is giving their permission to use their image to create and sell. (This is also important if you've decided to create your own original artwork and are using a friend as a model, for example.) 

I have worked with for my book covers without complaint. The website can be on the pricier side, but a little extra for imagination and quality will matter that much more to readers. Plus, always negotiates model releases, gives you a legal guarantee, and offers a wide range of how the image can be used for e-book authors. (In print, the image can be used for book covers up to 499,999 times, before it requires one of their extended licenses.)

Create the E-Book Cover:

Most Important: At the beginning of the post, you noticed that asks for your final book cover image to be 600x800 pixels, while recently changed their cover requirements to 1600x2400. Always keep these in mind when buying images, as stock websites like will offer you a variety of photo sizes to choose from. You might have heard the saying, it's easier to scale an image down than to make it larger, and it's true- no one wants to try and resize their cover image pixel count in Paint and wind up with a blurry image. 

However, I bought  the original YEAR OF THE WOLF cover at 1132x1696 pixels and was able to make it work for both retailers. How? I followed fellow author William King's steps for creating an e-book cover yourself in Powerpoint. I give full kudos to Mr. King for his clever thinking and conciseness:

Mr. King has written instructions for importing a 600x800 cover to For, when you are setting up the slide's dimensions, simply play around with the ratio. For example, I set my slide's dimensions to 16.7 by 25 inches, and then followed Mr. King's steps. When I saved the slide as a JPEG photo, it clocked in at 1603x2400 pixels.

Check Your Pixels: 

Unsure about the pixel count? Hover over the JPEG image icon to see the dimensions. Or open the image up in Paint and check for the Pixels--PX--count along the bottom blue tab. 

Public Domain and Stockphoto Websites: 

Ready to shop around for cover images? Start at these websites:




4. (free and commercial use)

5. (free)

6. (check licensing restrictions)

7. (free)

*If you are a cover designer who would like to be featured, send me a message.


1. King, William. "Create Your Own Ebook Cover, Step by Step, With Pictures." 02/22/2012. Accessed January 2013.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hiking in the Backbone of South Korea: Seorak San National Park 설악산 국립공원

TUCKED away in the eastern corner of South Korea is a dramatic crown of mountain tops plunging into the ocean: Seorak San National Park, spanning over 150 miles of peaks in the Taebaek Mountain Range. They are dressed in shades of fiery red in fall, glacial blue in winter, and cherry blossom pink in spring.  The park is named after the third tallest mountain in South Korea: Seorak, so named because for the longest time, the snow never melted. 

We caught a bus from the East Seoul Terminal which took us over the pass and into little seaside Sokcho City in two hours. Just around the corner was the House Hostel, which had fantastic English-speaking service (Their website is available in Korean, English, and Japanese). The owner’s son sat down with us and helped map out the highlights of the area: Wangshi Riku Hanmadang, the rustic all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for 8,000 won (6 dollars), and Seorak Waterpia, a steamy hot springs--the perfect end to a day spent trekking the well-maintained trails of Seorak San. 

The 7 and 7-1 bus take you straight to the park entrance. We headed past the statue of the rare Asiatic black bear, and followed the overhanging string of colorful lanterns out into the wilderness. The scent of incense lingered in the air, offerings to a gigantic bronze Buddha housed in a broad pavilion. 

From there, well-marked trails split off, each leading to a spectacularly different hidden treasure: the Biryong Falls trail is leisurely and well-suited for families, and leads directly along the gorge. Iron cages protect hikers from the slippery rocks and mists. A more moderate hike that does involve a harrowing staircase up a cliff face is Geumganggeul Cave. The hike is well-traveled up to a red bridge and restaurant hidden up the valley, but upon emerging from the tree lines, the stairs go on for what can seem like forever. It’s well worth it. The cave itself is a slim doorway overlooking a vast sea of trees: emerald in springtime, and a halo of fire in autumn. This cave is, in fact, a Buddhist shrine, an ideal place to meditate with only the wind to whisper in your ear. 

The highlight day climb of the park, which can be done by all age groups if properly equipped, is Ulsanbawi Rock. The trail is a ponderous climb through the misty valley floor, in which tiny Buddha statues wink at you from the arms of cherry trees, past the steady beat of a local monastery’s drum, and then, finally, to the foot of a worn red staircase. You’ll be all too familiar with stairs by this point, and the climb to the summit can be eerie, surrounded on all sides by rolling fog. In the brief breaks, the steep granite faces plunging down on either side of you are mesmerizing, but take advantage of it quickly: all too soon, waves of clouds will swallow the view whole. We were surprised by several showers on our way up; the Koreans we fell into company with instantly pulled out umbrellas or donned ponchos. The range of ages was a surprise—the young, twenty-somethings were failing to represent; instead, a fleet of grandmothers and grandfathers charged their way up those steps.  Round trip will take anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on experience level with Stairmaster. (This is a hike you definitely want to take time to enjoy)

When we saw the Korean flag waving at the summit, we all celebrated together. Winds whipped about our ears and plunged into endless chasms, and a whole range of mountains bucked up and down like a rodeo for as far as the eye could see. This was the whole of Seoraksan, one of the most unique national parks I’ve seen in my travels; it’s a view so incredible that you welcome the rain and the roaming fog—it only makes the rugged backbone of peaks more extraordinary. 

For serious backpackers, there are more multi-day hikes available into the back country, such as the famous Dinosaur Ridge (Gongryong) that spans 13 up-and-down miles. It’s advised never to hike alone, but the Koreans are quite friendly and curious about foreigners they encounter on the trails. My recommendation is to bring along extra snack food, because you might find yourself sharing some kimbap—popular rice rolls wrapped in seaweed—with that elderly Korean woman you’re fighting to keep up with. 

For more information on Seorak San National Park, visit:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

YEAR OF THE WOLF available in multiple E-Book Formats

YEAR OF THE WOLF has expanded to, a wonderful e-book website that includes e-reading formats for PDF, RTF, Nook, Sony Reader, Apple iTunes, and more!

Book II, YEAR OF THE TIGER, is still under exclusive contact with, but will also be available on on April 5, 2013. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

~Memory of Light comes out tomorrow~

In honor of a legend, tomorrow marks the publication of A Memory of Light, the final, yes, FINAL book in the beloved Wheel of Times series written by the late Robert Jordan, with books 12-14 coauthored by Brandon Sanderson. 

The first book, The Eye of the World, was published in 1990. 1990! This series is nearly as old as I am. It will be difficult to say goodbye to so many complex and fascinating characters...but at the same time, I think the question on everyone's mind is: How will it end? The short answer is, of course, that it won't-- "There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time." (Robert Jordan, 1990)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

You've heard of this song. Have you also heard of...?

 1. PSY: "It's Art"

I'll still remember the time I heard PSY's "Gangnam Style" come on Power 104.3, one of Honolulu's major radio stations. I remember thinking, "WOW! A Korean song, playing on mainstream American radio? Amazing!!!" 

PSY has been a singing sensation for quite a while, his first album debuting in 2001. He was also born in Gangnam, the wealthy district of Seoul featuring in the international popular hit. Here's another favorite song of his: 

Why is it Awesome? From the moment the chorus swells, you're swept off your feet by a beautiful and moving melody. 

2. Bruno Mars: "Show Me" 

The fast-paced "Locked Out Of Heaven" is instantly memorable, but equally so is this slower reggae jam:

Why is it Awesome? I dare you to listen to it and not hum the chorus all day. It gets you in a very good...mood...

3. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz: "Thrift Shop"

Pretty much all of Macklemore's songs are witty and highly entertaining, as well as catchy. I'm a little bit biased, too-- the down-to-earth musician is originally from the Seattle area.

Why is it Awesome? It's clever and exposes the designer clothes industry for what it is-- "Yo, that's fifty dollars for a t-shirt." (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, "Thrift Shop")

4. Maoli ft. Fiji: "Blew It"



Why is it Awesome? It takes a strong, powerful stand to not take an ex back--and yet at the same time you feel so relaxed and carefree sway-on-your-feet. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

YEAR OF THE TIGER is Published

Thank you to every one of my readers! This has been an incredible experience so far. I truly, truly appreciate your support.

I've been getting a lot of heat for ending the last book in a cliffhanger... I deserve it, I'm evil like that.

However, I think you will be pleased with the direction YEAR OF THE TIGER goes. 

Thank you again, and without further ado, below is the link to the second book in the Changeling Sisters series. I look forward to expanding to Barnes and Noble and Smashwords soon! If you would like to rate, review, or like Book I: YEAR OF THE WOLF, it can be found on,, and now has its own Facebook group. Cheers!

In the second book of the Changeling Sisters series:

Citlalli spearheads the mission to rescue her sister when she accepts an invitation to the treacherous Vampyre Court. Meanwhile, Raina discovers a transformative family secret of her own. As sides in the Were War grow blurrier, the innocent fall, ghosts pray for second chances, and each of the sisters’ budding romances face the trial of a lifetime. The Lunar New Year is coming, and the only thing certain is family.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! ~2013~

In celebration of the New Year and to commemorate the launch date of YEAR OF THE TIGER, the second book in the Changeling Sisters series, YEAR OF THE WOLF will be free for Kindle/Kindle App download on Friday, January 4th, 2013. Happy New Years!