Six hours to publication

DegreesofObsession240Old dogs hate new tricks…especially the 71 year old female know-it-all variety! Little matter that it might make one’s life simpler and more profitable. The last time I published a paperback, at least the first edition thereof, was in 2005 when CreateSpace was known as BookSurge. I recently revised the interior of DEGREES OF OBSESSION but that doesn’t count.

It took my therapist, who is generally dead on when it comes to my bad habits and peccadilloes, several tries before I believed what he knew to be true, that publishing even paperbacks is absolutely free on CreateSpace (and I’m sure on other sites). He knows because he has published several of his own excellent books on EMDR and related topics. To those whose hearts are beating faster at this moment, YES, I can divulge that he’s my therapist but don’t worry, he can’t divulge that I nor anyone else is his patient, except, now, of course you all know that my 40 years as a practicing psychologist did little to disentangle my own demented brain.

Paperback cover finalI digress. So good patient that I am, I rushed home, went on the computer and within six, count them SIX hours, had a paperback version of MOTHER TONGUE ready for submission. I admit that I cheated a teensy bit. I had prepared the interior in advance, knowing that some day I might go for the hard copy version in addition to the Kindle version ready for pre-order and release on December 6th. And I used their Cover Creator instead of trying one more time to figure out how the layers function on Photoshop works. Having run the new cover design past my faithful cover critique group, after a few more tweaks, I’ll be ready to hit APPROVE. Stay tuned. Please feel free to add your comments. Unfortunately the Cover Creator for Kindle is different so I’ll have to make a choice at some point.


Book signing LA Festival of Books 2006 for DEGREES OF OBSESSION

Now my good friend won’t have to wonder how she can throw that book signing party for me when all I have is a Kindle edition. Sign their Amazon receipt? Be arrested when I take a sharpie to their computer or Kindle screen?

So stay tuned. A bit more tweaking and the paperback version of MOTHER TONGUE will be good to go. And that one I can autograph for you without doing jail time!

Photos from Corse Passion on FB


This gallery contains 6 photos.

My favorite Corsican website is CORSE PASSION, which features spectacular photos of Corsica that convey not only its stunning beauty but its mystery and culture. I gleaned photos for my cover for MOTHER TONGUE (gratitude to Fabie Centulle) and others … Continue reading


FWT Homepage Translator

MOTHER TONGUE by Karen Stephen
New cover 10.20 Finalin the Kindle (English) version
can be PRE-ORDERED NOW at for $2.99.
Or at
The RELEASE DATE is December 6, 2014
Enjoy the TRAILER and pass it on to anyone you know
who enjoys a great suspense novel
loaded with romantic and thriller elements!



Life Interrupted

P1010462I retired FOR GOOD four and a half years ago (the 100 flamingos in my yard were proof of that) after a forty-year career as a Clinical Psychologist. That’s eight thousand patients and tens of thousands of hours of listening to the basic seven stories of humankind: bad spouse or partner, bad job, bad kids, lousy childhood, maltreatment, bottom of society’s totem poles, or spiritual vacuum. But each retelling had its own flavor or its own horrors (just when you think you’ve heard the worst!) and the resilience of the human soul is a marvel to observe. Give it a place to flourish and flourish it will.

I turned my attention and my time toward being a loving grandparent and to fiction writing. I enjoyed putting the final touches on my second novel, MOTHER TONGUE, and developing a social media campaign to sell the first, DEGREES OF OBSESSION. How different the market has become for self-published authors. I even created a book trailer, which brought out the “director” in me.

And then my stellar work history caught up with me. A former colleague gave my name to a large heath care plan that services the Medi-Cal (Medicaid) population in 14 northern California counties. They were seeking someone with clinical experience and organizational skills (which I had obtained through leadership in my union) to serve as their Mental Health Director. Two days a week seemed doable and the lure of having a paycheck again, and a handsome one at that, led me to applying and then accepting the position.

So the plan is to sort out the new position, see what I can contribute to serving the Medi-Cal population in terms of mental health services, and run the Grammie and fiction writing “businesses” on the side. Who knew that entering the eighth decade of my life would be so invigorating and challenging. And I can always quit after I earn enough money to buy that Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce I’ve been hankering after!

DIY Book Trailer for $19 vs. $2199

I thought I would pass along how I made my very own book trailer. I made the decision to try DIY when I saw that CreateSpace, the Amazon self-publisher for the paperback version of my novel, DEGREES OF OBSESSION was offering to produce a 60-second book trailer for $2199.00. Good grief! I won’t live long enough to make that worthwhile.

I first discovered that Windows Live Movie Maker was useless in this venture because you cannot make the mini-adjustments necessary to match video and sound in each segment of your storyline. But I came across Blaine’s Movie Maker Blog and in the third paragraph down, in a highlighted box, he has links for downloading the much more effective and usable prior Vista version, Windows Movie Maker 6.0, in either 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

The next step was to write the “script” for my trailer. I followed a simple format similar to the plot structure of the novel itself. Start with the status quo, build the tension, throw in the inciting incident, add a couple of significant complications, then build to the “battle scene” or climax, and move on to a final denouement with purchasing information.

Then I began to collect still photos for the various scenes. I chose non-royalty photos off the internet along with some of my own photos.The search process for photos was a long process, several hours over a few days. One must weed through all the ridiculous stock photos that are made primarily for home-made office PowerPoint shows in order to find photos that express the proper emotions found in a work of fiction. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 to alter some of the photos but the EFFECTS menu available on Movie Maker 6.0 was quite sufficient in and of itself, especially with the myriad of TRANSITIONS that could be added between scenes, to alter the photos for my needs. I could, of course, have purchased rights to other photos but did not find any that suited my needs.

Live video is essential to an eye-catching book trailer and, through much searching again, I found and bought ONE video clip for $19.00 from Shutterstock.

My biggest find online was SoundsCrate which offers an interesting and varied menu of royalty free music and royalty free sound effects divided into categories that match most genres of writing. I downloaded several pieces of music and several sound effects.

With all the materials gathered, I opened the STORYBOARD option on Movie Maker 6.0 and began to drag and drop my photos and video clips into place. Then switching to the TIMELINE option, I dragged and dropped sound clips into the video and added superimposed titles and credits at the end. Again there were many options for each of these features. This is where an artistic sense and the patience to make dozens of minute adjustments is necessary to coordinate sight and sound.

Total time? About 25 hours of work for 1 minute 30 seconds of trailer. Of course, some time is attributable to learning the new software. So next time it should go faster. I enjoyed it so much that I’m thinking of offering my services to other authors who would like to have a book trailer for their novel. Please go to my contact page if you have an interest.