Summer sun shining…

Today I have been working on several smaller projects, getting things set up for the rest of the month. That includes getting my bullet journal in order, setting goals for the month, and starting in on a new art challenge to get me warmed up in the morning.

I’ve also made a priority of taking care of my mental health this month. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is having trouble with staying indoors so much. I’ve been trying to just get out in the back yard and sit in the sun a bit more. Exercise every day by dancing. And eating something healthy (with the occasional unhealthy cookie now and then.) I’m in Texas so things are starting to open up again, but I won’t be able to go out just yet. But soon!

This weekend I have two free books, and anthology and a short story.

Twilight Tales: three unusual tales of creatures that go bump in the night.

Ghostly Intentions: A fantasy horror romp through a haunted house.

2019 Writing in Review

It’s the new year, and it’s time to look back at what happened in 2019, and see where things will go in the future.

2019 was a year of change. First, I quite my job and we moved from Seattle to Houston. That was a huge change for Bjorn and I, but so far it was definitely been worth it. It was also the first year I have been writing full time. That’s taken some getting used to, and I am finally starting to get into the swing of making writing/editing/etc a priority, but I have a ways to go.

In 2019 I wrote 209k words. (Red line on graph is story writing, blue line includes newsletters, blog posts, and other projects.) This was double what I wrote in 2017 and 18, and a lot closer to what I was writing before that dip happened.

 

With all that writing I published three books. Steel Heart, and Steel Line which are the second and third books in my  litRPG series, and an anthology of scifi short stories, Stars End. I also started working on Vertigo, which I have uploaded six chapters of for free. It’s available on RoyalRoadWattpad, and WebNovel.

I am disappointed that I didn’t keep up with the chapter a week on Vertigo. To be fair, the reason I stopped was because of NaNoWriMo, and getting the 50k done on my Half Blood Sorceress, and book four in the litRPG took up a large part of my time. Then December I spent most of my time hand making all of my Christmas gifts. I forgot how time consuming crocheting hats could be. And a final trip back home to Seattle rounded out the end of the year, so I didn’t get much writing done in December, but I did spend some quality time with family and friends.

Going forward for 2020 I told my family I would be looking to complete, and publish, four novels. That will include book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series, book four in my litRPG series, finishing up Vertigo and publishing that on amazon, and …. I’m not sure what the final book will be yet, but I have a few ideas.

I have been scheduling time to write, read, and edit for this year. Three things I need to do more of in order to get my goals. I’ve also been making some plans to do something more with my art because it makes me happy, and is a nice break from writing when I need it. It also gives me something to do while listening to podcasts.

We’ve also committed to taking better care of ourselves, Bjorn and I. We’ve been eating more salads, going on walks, and getting to the gym more. It’s making him feel better, I’m still struggling with the exercise part, but I can be pretty stubborn, so I haven’t given up yet. I would just like to get to the point where it doesn’t feel awful every time I go… Don’t treat your body badly for years on end, folks, fixing it sucks.

Overall I have high hoped for 2020 going forward. More writing, more art, and more creativity in general. Lets see how far I can go with this.

The sea is deep and full of terrors.

The first trilogy I published is set in the Sea of Tears where witches are hunted, and the kraken is feared. There is more to this world than the island nation, and I hope to revisit it some day.

This weekend you can get the first novel in this exciting trilogy for free. Witch’s Sacrifice, the first steps in this dark fantasy.

 

Also an update to Vertigo. It is available on WattpadRoyalRoad, and now WebNovel. I add a new chapter every Saturday, and there are currently five chapters up. You can follow it there, and I will occasionally send out emails to notify when several new chapters are up.
Vertigo is a side quest for The Hub world based around trading card games.

 

Next month is NaNoWriMo and I already have the fourth book of The Hub World series planned and ready to go. Currently I’m working on the second book in The Half Blood Sorceress series. I’d like to get both out soon. I’ll give you an update on that after NaNoWriMo.

Until then, keep reading!

Short or Long?

Sometimes when you’re working on novels you can get to a point where progress seems so far away, and sometimes you can get disheartened. Even want to quite, or procrastinate.

There was a talk Adam Savage gave once where he said at some point in every project he feels like he has no business making. A man who creates amazing replicas, props, and cosplays that the world loves. A man who does one day builds that many would struggle to do in a month. Someone who has working on major motion pictures, and The Mythbusters. And he feels like he has no business making.

And that’s how I feel writing a novel. I am sure that many creatives feel like that, like they are an importer and shouldn’t even bother trying to create whatever it is you are creating. I get so far into a novel, hit that wall, and it feels insurmountable. But I keep going, a little at a time, pushing to get to the end because I know once I reach it I will have something awesome.

I’ve picked up little tricks here and there to help me get through it. One of them is writing short stories when I’m really stuck. At the moment I have been editing a few of the finished short stories I have, and trying to finish four other short stories. Since they are shorter I can usually finish one much faster than a novel, and that little boost keeps me going for the larger projects. Plus the stories I am working on currently are science fiction, while the novel I am working on is fantasy. This allows me a change of scenery, so to speak, and take a breather before going back to the novel.

Speaking of the short stories, I think I’m about ready to publish some of them. Another pass of the editors wand, and they should work well as an anthology. Oh, and a cover. The other four short stories I am still completing I already have a cover for, I just have to finish three of the shorts.

But the novel is still my priority. I’ve been working at a (mostly) steady pace trying to get through the second half of the book. I’ve hit a few snags with the plot, but I think I’ll be able to untangle them. Plot holes, they are my nemesis! Funny, it used to be fight scenes. Now I have a system for the fight scenes and I have more trouble with the time line. I think that’s because the story is taking place over the course of a year and I want it to reflect that.

My daily word count goal dipped a little in august, so I’m working hard to get them back up to what I consider a good pace. I still want to hit 1000 words a day by the end of the year, which means pushing harder and making fewer excuses. But I’m working on it.

By the way, here is a really good video about why many of us procrastinate, and some great ways to fight against it.

Now… off to write about dragons.

Kindle Unlimited for FREE for 3 months!

Amazon Prime day was just last weekend, but they didn’t stop everything. I just found out today that they are giving away three months of Kindle Unlimited for absolutely free for three months. You have to cancel after the three months or get charged $10, but there is no obligation to keep your subscription after the three months.

If you have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Android or Apple device, you can read kindle books wherever you are. And the authors still get paid, so it’s great for everyone involved.

Also, my books are in KU so if there is one you’ve been thinking about reading the next three months have you covered. From litRPG to fantasy, and all the short stories in between.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you read, this is your chance to check out what is available in KU, and get your summer reading. Here are some suggestions:
The Hollow Series by Kim Harrison (A little like a female Dresden, but with her own twists.)
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is one of the best litRPG adventures I’ve ever read.
Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits where a player gets trapped playing a monster and the only way out is to get stronger.
The Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker. Think Firefly, cowboys in space, with a new flare.
The Baine Chronicals by Jasmine Walt. A young shifter in a world of mages. Fantasy with a touch of steam punk and political intrigue.

Happy Reading!

Crissy

The Trilogy is Complete!

The trilogy is now complete!

Witch’s Sacrifice 

Her forbidden secret will make her powerful… and hunted.

Witch’s Curse

Hunted since birth, now Okira must use the power she’s been hiding…or die trying.

Witch’s Stand 

The battle has been won, but the war is far from over.

WSsmlWitch's Curse smWitch's Standsml

One last short story, “Witch’s Sight,” to come out next weekend. It’s going to the editor today. Or you can get the entire trilogy in one convenient pack, with the bonus short story. That will also be out next weekend also.

Witch's StandkoboThe final short story is how Salvia became the little mother.

I am so thrilled to have them all completed. The story tells a wonderful transformation from meek girl to powerful witch, and leader of her time.

My love/hate affair with reviews

“As an author…” Don’t you just hate it when someone starts the conversation as “As X I believe Y.” It sets them apart, says “I’m X and you aren’t therefore you don’t understand in the same way I do.”

Except that we all have those moments. Because I am a mother I see things in certain ways. Because I am an author I see another faucet of the world. A girlfriend, a divorcee, a survivor of abuse, a high school graduate. All of those things are things that I have done, as have many thousands of other people. So as one of them I do have a different perspective then someone who isn’t.

It’s still a bothersome way to start a conversation. And yet I almost did here.

Anyway, back on subject. I’ve been thinking about reviews a lot lately. NOT reviews of my book, as you might have guessed, but reviews from my day job. Some of you might know that I am a manager at a little store. Our corporation has “asked” us to get reviews from the customers. This means we hand out cards that say “give us a review on Google or Yelp to let others know how you like us,” or something to that effect.

For every fifty cards you give out you might get one review. This causes problems in a little store like mine where I only see two to three people a day. I ask, I hand out cards, and I just barely manage to get their quota of two reviews a month most months.

Then I have to go through the whole conversation of “Why aren’t you doing better?” Sigh.

So when I come home and I deal with my writing and it comes time to ask for reviews…there is a love/hate struggle of epic proportions going on inside of me.

First of all, I LOVE reviews on my books. I’ve only gotten a couple of bad ones, and so many great ones. I’ve read every single one and they just make me happy. Happy that someone took the time to read it. Happy that someone bothered to write a review. Happy that people ACTUALLY LIKED my book.

But the asking…the asking for reviews sucks and I hate it. I hate to feel like I’m imposing myself on others.

“Reviews are the life blood of authors” as the email I just got this morning from another author friend reminded me.

Then you go to Target, or the local boutique, or the car wash and are bombarded by people asking for reviews. Then you get these postcards of “review us please” filling up your pockets.

reviewAs an author I love reviews. As a consumer I am slightly annoyed with every store asking for them. And as a manager at a little shop I feel guilty asking for them, and frustrated that I can’t make the quota.

I still do it. I do my job, put a smile on my face, hand them the card and say “Please give us a review to let others know how helpful we’ve been.” Then I ask the next person, and the next, rarely expecting a review because so few people actually do.

And that’s the crux of the problem. The new internet revolves around reviews, but only a small fraction of us actually do them. I know I don’t do them very often. I just added a ton of books to my Goodreads library and only reviewed a handful of them.

Your book reading choices are being influenced by a fraction of the reading population. Did you know that? If 1000 people download the book, and 100 people read it, but only only ten actually give it a review that is a really small portion of the people who own it actually saying anything about it. That means if you care about reviews only a small portion of people, those who review everything, or those who had significant interaction with (good or bad) are influencing your decision on which product to buy.

And there are good reasons to review, and good reasons not to. For me, I prefer to review books that I really ABSOLUTELY loved so that others will know how much I loved it and might also read it. But I’ve read a lot of books and reviewing them all would take a very long time.

I don’t know if there is a point to any of this. Review my book? Yes, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read my book. But I don’t want to seem pushy either. So read it, enjoy it, and if you want to then let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you, even if you hated it.

Wide Release

wpid-wp-1427063101748.jpegThis is the first time that I’ve actually put a book up on ALL the platforms.

Paperback on createspace, kindle, Koboitunes, B&N, then Draft2Digital also had Inktera and Scribd.

Is it useful? I’m not sure yet. I’ve never had a book on most of these sites. I still haven’t figured out how to post a book to google books. At the very least maybe someone will notice it and pick it up now and then. I’ve had books up on Smashwords and Kobo before, but really the only place I’ve sold many books is Amazon so…I figure it isn’t a bad thing to have them all out there.

Draft2Digital was surprisingly easy to set up and use. I know people have said it was, and after trying to get through the meat grinder over at Smashwords I just didn’t believe them. It was incredibly easy though and everything just went through without a hitch.

So…the book is out, the book is beautiful, and I can’t wait to get my own copy (of the final version) in the mail to stick on my shelf. It even has a map of the world so people can follow along in the journey!

This experience has been all about learning. With the short stories I already have out it was a lot simpler. They are often just one story, no need for chapters, maps, or major formatting. The trick with short stories is about telling a cohesive and compelling story in few words. With long format, like this novel, it’s about immersing the reader in the world, and sticking with that immersion for quite a while. Formatting consistency helps with that. Going from one chapter to the next and seeing the same images and typography. Making sure you don’t accidentally have a type change on the next page.

There is just so much to do. So many little things that can go wrong. And one little thing isn’t too bad, but thousands of them is TERRIBLE and will cause you to fail. So you have to carefully go through everything over and over again until you fix all those little things. Like the name that was spelled wrong even after three edits and my own proof reading. Or the time I formatted it with the wrong page size. Or trying to get the map to lay in the book JUST RIGHT. All those little things and more.

This means that I have to finish the next two books. I’m just glad they are already mostly done, lol, because this process takes a while.

I’m a book snob!

A few months back I got an email from Amazon reminding me that the book I pre-ordered is now coming out. I was kind of surprised. I don’t generally pre-order anything. But I looked up the book and discovered it was the XKCD hard copy of “What If?“, and thought I probably ordered it for my son (since he’s very sciency) so I kept the order.

I love the book and I’m glad I bought it. Every so often I pick it up and just read a few of the questions for those bite sized chunks of science in a slightly funny tone.

Then there was “Choose Your Own Auto Biography” by Neil Patrick Harris, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” by Felicia Day, and “ASAP Science; Answers to the Worlds Weirdest Questions” by the guys over at ASAP Science. “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. All of which are books I would love to read. All of which are books I don’t necessarily want to buy. At least not now at their price.

Most of these individuals made their name famous by doing things on their own. Felicia Day made a web series that is highly acclaimed on her own. ASAP Science is a well known youtube channel that they did on their own. Amanda Palmer has a fantastic music career that she became famous for ON HER OWN. And each of them went to a traditional publisher (or they were probably approached by the publisher) to do their book. Each time I heard this I was slightly disappointed. These well known figures who lead the “do it yourself” community … I guess I wouldn’t say they sold out, but they didn’t stick with the indie vibe that got them where they are today.

And I can’t say I fault the various authors for going with traditional publications. They get an advance, they don’t have to deal with editors, illustrators, formatters, etc, they don’t have to pay for everything up front. They just have to write it and hand it over and maybe go on some book tours. I get it, and I might even do it if I got a good enough advance (and liked the contract enough).

Besides the fact of losing their indie feel, there is the price of the books. $18 for print, $13 for ebook, and that’s with amazon’s discounts. “What If?” is a little older so there are used copies, but still… really? $13 for an ebook?

I think I’ve been spoiled having $2.99 to $5.99 ebooks. I look at those prices and think “If I buy that book that means I can’t buy the three other books on my wish list.” So they are sitting on my wishlist till the day they either go on sale, or I convince myself it’s alright to spend that much on a book. (Or maybe someone buys it for me for Christmas.)

Here’s the thing… I don’t even spend $15 on my video games very often. With Humble Bundles and Steam sales there really just isn’t a reason to pay more then $5 for most games. The few that I do get that are over $5 I wait till they’ve been out a while so I can see some game play, and hear some honest reviews about what the game is really like. I want to KNOW I will like the game before I ever spend the money on it. And the few AAA titles that were close to $60 when I bought them I had some hands on game time with before I ever purchased them. (Thank Star Wars Old Republic for that one. Bought it, hated it, and wasted $60 better spent elsewhere. Not doing that again.)

In an age where people increasingly have less and less money to spend on entertainment it makes no sense to keep pricing things at a premium all the time. (Especially things that are sometimes broken in the case of video games.) But as long as there are people willing to buy them at that price I guess it’s going to keep happening. I guess if I had more disposable income I would to.

Apps are where it’s at!

Not long ago Humble Bundle updated their Android app.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with Humble Bundle it is an online marketplace that bundles games together and let’s you pay what you want for the games. A portion of the proceeds goes to charity. They also expanded to ebooks, digital comics, and often add sound tracks in with their games.

The app use to allow you to download the Android games you bought through their bundles,  now it allows you to download the ebooks,  comics and music as well.

This is amazing news! It is a pain in the neck trying to side load ebooks on my phone or tablet. Now I just open up the Humble Bundle app and download the comics and books I want to read, or the music I want to listen to, and it’s all right there. All accessible and regale right in the app.

This is the future. Eventually someone is going to put an app together that will go around all the side load bs and just let me read the content I bought. It isn’t here yet, but I can see enough people asking for it that it is coming. Eventually. Maybe some authors child will be really into programming and will set it up for them.

Not only that, but if there are apps out there that provide this service then amazon will be forced to add an auto install for ebooks as well, something they haven’t done yet probably because they want it to be hard on you so you buy direct from them.

Truth is I don’t mind buying stuff from amazon  I do it a lot. But I don’t buy EVERYTHING from amazon so I don’t want to be stuck side loading things all over the place. Plus I’d really like to see all my media in one spot so I can just search for books, games, or music I own and download from one app instead of all of them.

It’s interesting times we live in. Things are changing rapidly and in ten years this will probably seen like a minor irritation along the way to progress.