What should the title be?

mermcursI’ve been talking about and showing snippets from my upcoming book for over a year now. For that entire year I’ve been calling it “Mermaid’s Curse”.

The book is a Lovecraft meets high fantasy with witches, merfolk, and clerics bent on killing all the witches. The first book is how the curse happens, and the evil clerics trying to sacrifice her.

I’ve been told “mermaid” in the title might limit sales since it’s so specific … So I’d like some feedback.

Would you buy this book? Would you change the title? Suggestions maybe?

Anyone who would like to read the first chapter, it’s available here!

Back tracking

zombie miniA while ago I started working on a short story called Zombie Swarm. I even came up with a cover that I really liked.

So why isn’t it out? Because as much as I liked the concept and several of the scenes of that story, it just wasn’t good enough.

The biggest problem was easy to fix. I added a few more characters. The whole situation wasn’t very convincing or suspenseful enough so it ended up falling a little flat. Most of the story takes place inside of once little lab, but with only two people working in a lab you don’t have a lot to work with. I added three more people and suddenly things started coming together. There were more issues between characters, more problems, and more strife. Then the creature they are dealing with, I didn’t have to change it much, but I did have to add a few more scenes to the original plot, and a lot more detail.

So it meant going back, completely reworking the original plot line, and rewriting it. I threw away the 6000 words I’d already written to start all over again. But I know I’m going to have a better story because I did that, even if it really REALLY sucked throwing away 6k words that I wrote. I’m also expecting the finished story to be twice as long, at least, so that’s a plus.

Don’t be afraid to throw it out and start all over again.

Time, Resolutions and Free Books

Why do we mark the perfect time to start things by calendar months? It isn’t as if the sacred sheet of paper with the squares and numbers determines when the best time to start doing X is. “I’m going to go to the gym because the sacred sheet of dates has declared it a new year, and I must make a resolution to do better this year!”

This morning I got out of bed and thought about my vlog. I didn’t do a great job of Vloging every day. More like 4 times a week. More then I ever did before that, but still. And the thought came “Well, tomorrow is a new year, I could start again. Right?”

I could. Definitely. But why not start today? Why not start last week? Why not realize the fundamental futility of the calendar and just DO IT!

And I think I know why… We, as humans, need validation. We need that demarcation of time so that we can say “I accomplished X in this amount of time.”

Last year was a fantastic year for me to write. I wrote almost a quarter of a million words, nearly completed three novel length books, and am planning to publish. It was a TERRIBLE year of my publishing. I only published one short story. So here I am demarcating a length of time and saying last year wasn’t so great, so lets make this year better. Even so, NaNoWriMo went amazingly and I know I can do it. I just need to DO IT!

On the personal side, the last three months of 2014 were FANTASTIC. My boyfriend finally figured out what he wanted and moved in with me. My children have started to leave the nest and make lives of their own. My job is still not fantastic, but I feel like I’m getting closer to the writing career I want all the time, even if I didn’t publish much in 2014. So there’s hope.

For the free books!

footprintsminiFootprints will be free on January 2-4th and the 17th and 18th (B00JT3889Y)

Jake is on a journey to reunite the shattered past with the present. Faced with his fathers death, he goes to the family cabin one last time to say good bye. But he isn’t alone.

Potion Shop will be free on January 9-11, and the 24th and 25th (B00FUYS6BG)potionshop

Curiosity, desire, and magic.
When little mousy Marcy get’s pulled into a potion shop she finds more magic then just what’s inside the bottles.

 

Forgotten Ones

forgottenonesminiI am down to the final edit of “Forgotten Ones”, and adding in the last few scenes.

So I finished the cover.

Thank’s to David Wright for pointing me in the direction of Font Squirrel, and the twenty-eight fonts I downloaded last night. The one I used for the title and this cover is “Griffin”. An unusual font, to be sure, but I found it eye catching.

The cover depicts “the all seeing eye”, which is appropriate since “Forgotten Ones” is about the goddesses of Fate who share an eye. (Not literally, but we’ll get to that in the story.)

I will be so happy when this one is finished. It is 22,000 words long at the moment, and I still have a few thousand to go before it’s done. That puts it at short book status, and I will be putting out an ebook and a paperback, on the new Kindle Matchbook program. So if you buy the paperback you’ll get the ebook for free. It will just take a couple weeks longer for the print book to be available as I go through for a third edit, then format, and finally set up the printing. (And the Matchbook won’t be available till October, but if you buy print copies before October you still get them once Matchbook takes affect.)

I know, I know… so much of this must be fascinating.

Know this… This time all three fates are in the fight, and they learn something about themselves they had forgotten in their attempt to survive the rise of humanity. Something that allows them to defeat a god who has regained a lot of his former power.

The Camera is OUT!

camera2“The Camera” is finally out.

Ever have a day when you know what you need to do, you know the process, and how you’re going to get there, but you just can’t seem to do it?
That was this book.

I knew the plot. The characters. What was said, when it was said, and who got hurt because of it. All of it. But when I sat down to put it together my mind froze. I’m not even sure that I know why.

The idea for “The Camera” actually pre-dates “The Ring”, which is the first book in this series. When I first started writing it I didn’t really know where I was going with it though, just that a boy bought a camera that actually stored things within the film, and it was going to cause him some trouble.

I had “Needful Things” in mind when I started it. Or “Friday the 13th”, or “The Room”, or “Warehouse 13″… you take your pick. They all have one thing in common. Cursed items that seem to give you what you want, but come at a price. The camera didn’t give Anthony anything he needed or wanted, it just happened to do something unexpected.

So I had this story idea, and I thought it was a good idea, but it was born during my “stress induced writers block” years, so it never went anywhere.

I wrote “The Ring” years later. It was one of those stories that just flowed out onto the page, and I think that is why it is one of my better stories. It took about five hours to get the entire story written, but I wasn’t publishing when I wrote it. I didn’t even think about it when I first started publishing, and I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, I would have put it up as a stand alone story and “Illicit Gains” would not exist.

After “Flight of the Griffins” and “Twilight Tales” were out I did an audit of all the stories in my files, and found “The Ring”, and several other stories. I started grouping them together to form books, and noticed the five stories revolving around cursed items. It was too perfect. I went back and added some foreshadowing in “The Ring”, edited it, and published it.

I thought “The Camera” would be easy to finish. I had three-quarters of it already written, and already knew what happened in the middle. Easy. Right? WRONG!

Every time I sat down to write it something would just scream “wrong” at me. The plot wasn’t right, lets tweak it. This character isn’t right. Lets tweak him. This could be worded a LOT better, tweak. Tweak. Tweak some more.

The entire plot (beyond boy finds camera, boy discover camera does something weird, boy has a horrible thing happen because of camera) changed at least four times. At first there was a thief, then there was a bully, then there was… Well lets just say that I didn’t have the true plot until I started fleshing out the 5th book in the series, “Marco”.

Those of you keeping score, I’ll actually give you the titles of all five of the stories in this series:
“The Ring”
“The Camera”
“The Scarab Necklace”
“The Pocket Watch”
“Marco”

If you read “The Ring” you’ll know who Marco is. He ties the whole series together.

Pressing publish on “The Camera” was a huge weight off my shoulders. After three weeks of saying “it’s going to be out this weekend” I finally got to say “It’s OUT”. I was starting to wonder if it ever would be.

But, this is a good thing. It means I don’t want to put out just any old crap. I want to tell a good story. Maybe there’s a missing comma, or I screwed up a homonym, but the story itself, the characters, the plot and setting, I’m proud of that. I can go back and fix the typos and polish the grammar a bit. But I can’t retract a bad story. I don’t even want to put out a story I’m not proud to call mine.

Now, ten years down the road I fully expect to hate everything I wrote and want to rewrite it. But I’m going to resist the urge. I’ll definitely be hiring a pro-editor, when I can afford it, to re-edit everything, but I won’t be changing the core story. I will let it stand as a testament to my progress because I fully expect each story to be better than the last.

Small Bites 4

4SB4smI just hit publish for “Small Bites 4”.
This will be my first Science Fiction stories to see publication, but not the last. Androids, genetic manipulation, planetary colonization, time travel, and everything that can go wrong with it… And maybe a few things that go right.

Ravens
A planetary mission goes terribly wrong.

Past Talks

A time traveling documentary maker is interviewed on VR.

Skin Deep

There’s something different about Abby, and the cat she’s trying to catch knows it.

Updates all around!

The latest episode of Self Publishing Round Table: Episode 2 is now up and ready for your viewing pleasure. And I HAVE A CAMERA! So you can see me laughing, blushing, and getting flustered in recorded time. Awesome!

WATCH IT HERE!!!

My co-hosts–  Carl Sinclair |  Wade Finnegan  |  Bill Dowis  |  John Ward

Also, I have eight books up now, and a few hopefully coming soon.

comingsoon

That about sums up the updates for now. I’ll to a more in depth post later.

Self Publishing – $1500?

I’ve been following Joanna Penn since she appeared on “The Self Publishing Podcast“. She’s a very interesting, thoughtful, and educated woman. She’s got her stuff together, and her books are pretty good too.

She often links to interesting articles about writing and publishing on her twitter and facebook. That is where I get a lot of my “This week in publishing” links.

Today she linked to “How Self Published Books are Made Start to Finish“.

The first thing I notice is a list of “things you should have” and one entry:

  • Money to invest in said book. I wouldn’t start this without $1,500 in the bank marked ‘I can lose this’

Who can afford to just mark $1,500 dollars as “I can lose this”?

Okay, I understand her reasoning. There are editors, book cover designers, marketing, print books, advertising… Ya, there are a LOT of things that go into writing, publishing, and selling your books. Even if you go with a simple cover design that you put together you probably need to buy a licenses for the art work, unless you have some art skills.

But… $1500?

I’ve got 8 books out now. I’ve spent a total of $400. All of that went to editing one book, “Osiren’s Tears“. Granted, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the the editing. It seemed rushed, and I know someone who could have done a better job for a little more money, but he wasn’t available then.

Editing is worth the investment. Some day, I hope, I will make enough to have everything I have already put up re-edited, and then re-published as a new, better edition. But I’m on a budget, and my budget does not include $1500 to blow.

The nice thing about going indie in ANY industry (movies, music, writing, theater, art…) is that you can invest what you have. You can outsource, barter, scrimp, save, and adjust.

Here is what you really must have for self-publishing:

  • An idea
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • A plan
  • A finished manuscript
  • The ability to take criticism
  • An edit
  • A cover
  • More patience
  • The willingness to ask questions.

Only two of those things might cost you some actual hard earned money, and there are ways to get around that too. Got a friend who is an artist? Suggest a trade. You’ll do something for them (babysit, cook, clean, wash their car) if they design a cover for you. Got a group of friends that like to read? Will they be your beta readers and give you some good feedback on cleaning up your prose? Writers workshops are free, and often help a lot.

Another wonderful part about indie industry is that there are a lot of people doing the same thing, and willing to help out in many ways. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, look for tutorials on youtube, read a how to book, and ASK QUESTIONS!

Now, granted, just throwing your book up on amazon will not bring a lot of sales to you. That’s where marketing, and word of mouth comes in. But if your book is good, interesting, and well written, and you put yourself out there where people will see you, then you have a good chance of getting some readers.

Then the trick is to start the whole process over again. The more you publish, the more noticeable you will be. This is true even for really bad writing. There are some terrible books out there with awful covers, and horrible grammar. But they keep producing, and there are people who read their stuff. Go figure.

Point being… you can produce a book for the low cost of ZERO dollars. Doesn’t mean it will be good, or sell, but you can do it. 

And if it is good, or just pretty good, and you get some sales, then maybe you can start saving up for that $1500, and a proper release of a bigger project later.

A New Book, and the Next Book

sms3mall

“Small Bites 3” is now out.

The third installment of the Small Bites dark, flash fiction stories.

And it already has one 5 star review! Awesome.

BUT! Because of this book, and how publication is gong lately, I think I am going to have to take a one week break from publishing.

The goal was to publish one book a week until I had a nice selection of books available on Amazon. I wanted each publication to be on Friday night for the weekend. Ideal would have been Thursday, so that it would be available on Friday morning.

But with everything going on, my new podcast, D&D once a week, and general family time… I need to get ahead a week in order to have the Thursday night release.

With my schedule I generally end up finishing the stories sometime around Friday night, Saturday afternoon. Then I scramble to get the formatting and everything finished, along with a few last minute edits. That means I don’t actually get to hit “PUBLISH” until about 2 am.

Because I want it out for the weekend, not just part of the weekend, I think I need to finish it that weekend, and release it the next Thursday night. That will give me time to catch up on a few things.

camera2The next one scheduled is The Camera, the second book in the Illicit Gains series.

Expect it on July 6th.

And to get any of my books, including a paper back version of “Osiren’s Tears”, check out my Amazon Page.

Adventures in a Book Warehouse

A friend called me up the other day and told me about this amazing sale. A book warehouse was selling everything, just $10 for one bag of books. And you brought the bag, any size.

Well, I had a rolling cart. I could fit a lot of books in that thing. Maybe even a couple hundred. Didn’t matter, she said. Ten bucks.

2013-05-30 20.01.24

The warehouse was actually three buildings FILLED with shelves of books. The shelves were pretty close together, too.

Enough that I sometimes had to squeeze through to fit. 

Books upon books, stretching out as far as you could see. All of them mixed together in no logical order.

We were hunting for hours to find any that we might like.

2013-06-01 08.14.57

Many of them were romances. A lot of mystery. It took me hours to find some sci-fi and fantasy, or paranormal. But I eventually came away with a nice stack of books. I grabbed some Nora Roberts, who seemed to be one of the most prolific authors there, and a few Dean Koontz, and then a bunch of random books with interesting covers.

And you know what I discovered while crawling through those three buildings with thousands and thousands of books laid out before me? Mind you, I could throw as many as I wanted in my cart, and price wasn’t really an option….

2013-05-30 20.20.18

Book covers are boring.

Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and more… all of them.. boring covers.

You have the authors name in HUGE letters, a boring picture, and not much else. Most of them just labeled them as “fiction” so I couldn’t even get a read on what kind of fiction it was. It was frustrating… three warehouses worth of books and not much time to pic out a book, and this is what I had to choose from.

2013-06-01 08.18.28I did manage to find a lot of books with good covers… but it was hard to find them. And a lot of them were meant for younger children.

I notice that Sci-fi and Fantasy are more likely to have expressive covers. Romance is likely to have two people kissing, or something like that. Paranormal will often have an expressive cover.

This is why I work so hard on my own covers. I want someone to be able to look at a glance, and get an idea of what’s inside the book. So far I think I’ve done alright… You be the judge.

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