The Search for Independence: part 1

I haven’t written a blog post in a while because I didn’t really know what to say. Things are moving along on their slow way to finishing, and a lot is happening, but they are kind of up in the air at the moment.

This last couple of weeks I’ve realized that the best option for my health is to either work at a small location with few people at it, or work from home, so I’ve been looking into working from home more and more. I’ve found a lot of options, and resources, and I’m trying to find what will work best for me. I am going to be taking a multi stream income approach for the best results.

First, my books of course. I have three scheduled for the editor, one currently at the editor, and two more I am working to complete. The release will be Costume Shop by end of this month, Steel Soul in October, and Steel Heart in November. I’m hoping to have Steel Line (book three of the Steel Series, my litRPG) or Dragon’s Heart (book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series) out in December and January. That’s five books in five months! Sign up for the newsletter here to hear when they come out.

On the art front I’ve uploaded more images to redbubble for stickers, t-shirts, and the like. I’ve also got some ideas for Halloween and Christmas themed fabric for spoonflower. I’ll be doing those soon. I’m also working on drawing something every day, even if it’s just working on a larger project, and I’ve been showing the work over on Instagram. I’m considering doing some sort of comic or story line for the art, I’ll have to see if I can come up with a good story for it that can fit into a series of little strips. Right now I’m focusing on finishing a coloring book, and getting that up on amazon/etc.

And of course I have my etsy where there are pins, key chains, and other physical things I’ve made. That includes the little enamel pins you see here.

Then the last arm of my working plan….freelancing. This is the tougher one since I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been doing some research and finding various places where I can submit to write for blogs and magazines, and it’s been an interesting learning experience. Most of them require you to do a lot of prep and fill in the questions before you can even do actual work. And learning about it is difficult too because there isn’t a guide or anything, you basically have to piece information together from other sources until you figure it out. I guess that’s why only those with perseverance make it in the freelance world. I don’t have a lot of perseverance, but I do have self preservation, and if I want to stop working in an office where I keep having asthma attacks because people wear perfume…. here’s an option. I just have to make it work.

There is one more thing, and that’s recording. I have a twitch, and two youtube channels (one for art/writing, the other for gaming) that I haven’t been using that much. I stopped using YouTube because they took away my monitization, and I wasn’t doing a lot with it anyway. Twitch I haven’t been able to do as much because I’ve been sick. I’d like to get back into making videos, probably once or twice a week. I think trying to do them every day was too much and it just got overwhelming so I stopped. I also want to stream on twitch. I really enjoy playing some of the more story driven games, like The Turing Test, and talking about the different story situations. The Turing Test has been really interesting because it deals with AI, and what separates people from machines, and when a computer becomes creative. It really made me think about Googles Deep Dream simulation, and where tech is going.

I’d also like to stream some of the artwork I’m doing, maybe some of the larger projects. I’ve done a few streams like that, but the goal is two a week. One game, one art/writing. Scheduling doesn’t quite work yet, but I’m trying to figure that out. Every time I set a schedule something comes up on those days.

The other thing I’d like to do is start tracking this progress, showing what I’m doing and where I’m succeeding and failing. I think I’ll call it “Road To Independence” and put up a video every week with my trials and tribulations, as well as my successes, so expect that. It might mean fewer games, and more working on writing/art/marketing…but if that means eventual independence I’m all for that.

FINISHED! Book 2 done!

I just finished the first draft of Steel Heart, book two in my litRPG series.

I finished the first book, Steel Soul, in June, and the second book today. That’s two months of writing. I’m getting a little faster.

Both books would be in the novella category at the moment, about 100 pages I think. Each is a full story on its own, but part of a bigger story. I’m going to go over them one more time, add in some details, some foreshadowing, and other plot things that I can add now (since I haven’t published them yet) which will add a few thousand more words to them both. I expect they will both still fall in the novella range, but I’m okay with that. A story should be as long as a story wants to be, and each of theses has a definite end point.

I’ve already started book three, which I might be calling “Steel Trap”, I haven’t decided yet. I also know this isn’t the final episode in the story. They are finally going to meet someone pulling all the strings, but it won’t be the end of the matter by any means. In fact…the game might start falling out into the real world. We’ll have to see. I’m still discovering the plot as I go as well.

Also, I wanted to let you know that The Ring is free this weekend. I won’t be putting short stories, or any litRPG into KU anymore, I’ll be taking them wide, so this will be he last time this particular story is available for free for a while. I will probably make a few of my short stories perma-free just because it might a few more eyes on my books, but for now I’m just writing more, and saving releasing them all at the end of the year. Look for that!

Currently ready to be edited:
Steel Soul
Steel Heart
Costume Shop

Working on:
Half Blood Sorceress book 2
Steel Trap

If I can get everything done….I’m working on it! I know that Costume Shop needs to come out on October 1st since it’s a Halloween story. I would like to release a book a month every month after that. I’ve got three so far!

Potions and Rings

I’m slowly pulling all of my short stories out of KU. I have a few reasons for that. First, the people using KU seem to like my novels more than my short stories. The biggest reason I used KU was for the free days so that I could advertise the free books and sometimes people would also pick up my other books. Secondly, I am getting closer to releasing my litRPG books. I think I’m going to be going wide with those books because it makes more sense, and I’m also worried about all the authors who have been having their accounts banned for “out of the ordinary activity.” I’d rather just not have that problem, and since it seems to be hitting litRPG authors the hardest I’m not willing to risk it with a brand new series, especially one I love this much.

Maybe I’m being a little paranoid, but that’s okay. The lovely thing about self publishing is that I can change my mind later down the road and try something different.

So, for now, I am using up all the free days available for my short stories. Here they are for this weekend:

The Ring: Illicit Gains Book 2
Potion Shop

Create Space vs KDP Print

Yesterday I did something I’ve only dreamed of. I put up a print version of a book, hit publish, and ordered copies to be delivered to my door two days later. Two days from pressing publish to getting a book in my hand. That’s amazing….if it works.

I’ve been using CreateSpace for putting out print books for a while now. I’ve gotten to the point that I can format and compile a print book in a day or two. Once the actual print files (a pdf for the inside, and a wrap around cover for the outside) are created it takes a little tweeking, rearranging, and setting up to get them all compiled into a print file on CreateSpace. If you have a little practice this might take a few hours. For me, getting the cover exactly right was always the hardest part. Stretching it here, adjusting it there, and heaven forbid if I had to add a few pages in after hitting compile.

But it worked. CreateSpace also did something I loved. It let me order a proof for my boyfriend to put on his shelf. And it let me order printed books at cost so that I could give them away, resell them, or take them to signings.

When KDP print came out I decided to try it. The first thing on the front page when starting a print book was “you can not get printed proofs or at cost copies if you continue,” so I stopped and did the book in CreateSpace.

A few weeks ago I tried again because I had gotten an email from KDP saying proof copies and wholesale priced books were now available. I took the opportunity to create my first KDP print book.

The process was simple. All of the information from my KDP kindle edition was already linked to the book so I just had to choose a size, upload the file, and add a cover. The cover creator was the second change. It did not have all of the choices of the original CreateSpace, but it did have a very simple wrap style that allowed me to add an image to the front, and the back, and leave the spine a solid color. I chose to put an image on the front, and leave the spine and back black for this first edition. It will be easy enough to update that later on if I decide to.

KDP print has the same on screen proofing process as CreateSpace. If you know what you’re looking for you probably won’t even need a physical proof to fix things. I found a few errors and was able to fix them and reupload the inside file quickly. I did not have to change the inside drastically to update it, but it was a quick process of uploading the new file and just a minute before I could review it again. Once reviewed you can choose to order a print proof, or publish.

I did both. First, I wanted to experience the print proof process because this was a new thing. I also wanted to see the quality of the proofs. And I love supporting my boyfriend and his weird desire to have a proof of all my books (though it’s kind of cool to see old designs verses new designs of books, and my improvement.) I ordered a proof, then went back in and approved the book for publishing.

This is where the waiting happens. Generally with CreateSpace you push through the book then it tells you that it will be approved within a couple of days. Usually it takes a two to three days for CreateSpace to get back to me. Occasionally it has been 24 hours later. With KDP print it was just a few hours before they approved it. I assume this is because it’s still newer, and not as many people are publishing through there, but it was absolutely amazing to be able to publish a print book and order that same book before I went to bed!

The ordering process for KDP is where the biggest change is. With CreateSpace all you do is place an order, and it puts any orders into a shopping basket right inside CreateSpace. With KDP print orders you are taken back to the Amazon ordering site, and you order books directly from Amazon at the print only fee. You also can’t use your Amazon prime for these orders, which is expected. You’re getting your books at cost, so Amazon would be paying you to get books from them if they didn’t charge you shipping.

I did order a proof for my boyfriends shelf, and I ordered a stack of print copies for the table I will have at RadCon. I’m a bit nervous about ordering so many books sight unseen, but I am pretty confident it will arrive intact.

I’m very curious to see the books in person. I expect it will be the same quality of book since I’m ordering it from the same company, jut a different branch of it. Still, I’m surprised to see just how well I know the specifications of a print book, and what it should look like.

Anyway, this was not a five minute writing session, this was a lot longer than five minutes. If you have any questions please let me know, I am sure I didn’t answer everything here.

What’s that?

The last couple of days I have been busy working away on a few things. Today has been the most important. I got the edits back for Dragon’s Flame, put up the pre-order, and started working on the revisions. It is up for pre-order for 99 cents right now, and will be released on the 29th.

The edits are going well, and there are only some minor reworking to do, but over all I’m pretty happy about this novel. Then back to working on Dragon’s Blood.

I’ve also been finishing Costume Shop, my first children’s story. It will be a chapter book, with an R.L. Stine feel to it. And it will be out in time for Halloween.

I’ve also been updating a lot of my covers. A few months ago I did a complete over-hall of my Illicit Gains series, I thought it was about time to redo the text on my Small Bites short stories series. The text just looked so boring next to all the other ones. With the new text I think I’m happier with the covers.

It’s all about the little things

For the last week I’ve been setting up all the print files for my trilogy. I had to redo the one book I already had out because I rewrote three chapters, and the other two I had been putting off till I had “time.” You never have time. It’s just not there, never is, and I should just stop kidding myself. Something needs done? Do it.

Anyway, I got everything put in, ordered copies so I could see them, and then today I did the virtual proof just to take a look…and there was an error. Not like an error with the words, or with the cover. No, I was missing a page. A BLANK page even. But that one page made a huge difference. Without that one page right after the table of contents the rest of the book shifted. The first page wasn’t on the right hand side. The margins were backwards because they were formatted for being on the opposite side. And everything just looked WRONG.

I had to open the file, add one blank page, and resubmit everything.

Little things can matter, even blank pages. Sometimes you’re staring at that blank page wondering what the heck you should write, and you get an idea. Other times you stare at it, type a few words, delete them all, and try again.

I’ve had a lot of new ideas lately, but few of them get completed. That’s just another thing that gets in the way of following your dreams. But I don’t want to be just a dreamer. I want to be a finisher. I want a stack of books sitting on my shelf, all of them with my name on the spine.

So I finished editing the book again, and republished it. Now I’ll wait for it to be proofed, and order another copy. And it will finally go up on Amazon in a few more days. No big.

Because of one page.

It really is the little things that make your dreams into reality. I’m going to go write a page in my novel now.

Dragons? Where?

I’ve been really busy the last few weeks plotting and writing the first few chapters of my new series: “The Half-Blood Sorceress.”

I am so excited about this series! I first got the idea back at NorWesCon in the art gallery. I found an artist that had absolutely magnificent work. I mean he does paintings for several of the big publishers, he was that good. And at the bottom of his display was one loan painting. I overheard him talking to someone else about how he just had to paint that one night, even if it hadn’t found a home yet, be he was sure that the right author would come along to give it a story.

“You could write that, you know,” Gregg said.

“No, that covers too awesome for me,” I said, and kept walking.

Three feet down the hall and I looked up at him and said “You suck!”

“See,” he said, “told you that you had a story for that picture.”

Not a story, as it turns out. A whole SERIES! All based on this one painting, or rather the girl depicted there.

Of course, I asked the artist how much it would cost for me to use that as the cover… As it turns out, WAY more than I can afford at the moment. However, this painting is the one I need for book six, so there is still a chance I could do it. I just have to get writing, and see how things work out.

So what is this story about? A half-blood sorceress? What does that even mean?

Well that’s coming, but today I’m going to tell you a little bit about the world. First: a map. I’ve been working on it on and off for a while, but the world has no name yet. I would absolutely love my readers to name this world for me. And no, I won’t be naming it Mappy McMapface, sorry.

Dragon MapWhat should you know about this world? Here there be dragons! Four of them, in fact.

Nyasama – Earth dragon
Anulaer – Air dragon
Ningirsu – Water dragon
Alshadu – Fire dragon

Together, the four dragons created the world, then slept in various places around the new planet. Every now and then the dragons wake and travel about the planet they created in human form, interacting, causing mischief, or doing something extraordinary.

This book isn’t about the dragons, though they do have an influence on the world at large. No, the first book is about Sybel. She finds herself in an awful place in time, watching the mother she loved waste away, and then learning a horrible secret that thrusts her out into a world filled with magic and darkness that she did not know existed.

I am currently seeing how the first book goes. I’m already 14k into the initial writing, and loving the way it’s going. I want to write one book a month, with a month for editing, formatting, etc. I just have to see how I can handle it since I’ve never pushed myself to do something this massive before. I’m only looking at 50k words per book, but I haven’t even gotten a third of the way into this one so I have no idea if that estimate will fly right out the window.

All I know is, I love this world. I love the characters. And I love the story. I’m more passionate about this story than I have been about anything in a couple of years. I want to see it live, and I want others to love it too.

So look for more snippets about the world, and maybe some snippets from the actual novel soon.