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books

MultiverseCon 2019

MultiverseCon

Ready for the first ever MultiverseCon? I am so excited for this convention! From the MultiverseCon website:

Every fan has a story. Together, our stories make up MULTIVERSE, the multi-genre literary con for everyone. Panels, Gaming, Cosplay, Shopping, Art Show, Book Signings, Parties, and more!

I am heading up the Writers Track and we’re going to have a bunch of great programming for you! Have I mentioned how excited I am? 🙂 Check out our Featured Guests of Honor:

Author Guest of Honor: SEANAN MCGUIRE

Artist Guest of Honor: JOHN PICACIO

Industry Guest of Honor: CAT RAMBO

And that’s just the beginning! 🙂

MultiverseCon memberships are now on sale. If you purchase before March 1, 2019, you can get an entire weekend pass for under $60!

Get your membership here!

JordanCon 2019

JordanCon

I’m a Featured Guest at JordanCon for 2019! Come on down to Atlanta and hang out with me!

Once I find out my programming schedule, I’ll post it here so you know where you can find me. I will also have a table in Author’s Alley, so you can get signed copies of my books 🙂

From the JordanCon website:

JordanCon is a fantasy literature convention founded in honor of the late author, Robert Jordan. Jordan was the author of the best-selling The Wheel of Time series.

JordanCon features eight tracks of simultaneous programming, a Dealers’ Hall, gaming, an Art Show featuring original art by a variety of artists, and charity events benefiting the Mayo Clinic and other charities. Past guests have included Harriet McDougal, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sam Weber, David Wong, Jana G. Oliver, Emilie Bush, David B. Coe, Eugie Foster, Seanan McGuire, Michael Whelan, Larry Elmore, Saladin Ahmed, Todd Lockwood, Catherine Asaro, John Picacio, Patrick Rothfuss, Charles E. Gannon, and Stephen Hickman.

We are a 501c4 tax-exempt organization. Contributions to JordanCon, Inc. are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.

In 2013, we hosted the fifty-first DeepSouthCon, the Southeast’s premiere regional convention for fans of genre literature, and we hosted DeepSouthCon 54 in 2016.

 

 

Quick Review of Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

Reading

From my Goodreads review:

 

Black City SaintBlack City Saint by Richard A. Knaak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading these books because I’m going to be doing a review on Book 3 for a website I contribute to. So I’m plowing through books 1 and 2 🙂

I love the 1920s Chicago time/location! This is what actually drew me to the series. I’ve always been fascinated by the 20s and the entire role of the mob in social and cultural fabrics of the time. It’s really clear that the author put a lot of research into this time period. Sometimes it was a little too clear (ie – the author was dropping details that weren’t necessarily important — particularly about cars 😉 ). But those were not problematic at all, for me. Just noticeable.

The other thing I really liked about this book is the portrayal of Feyrie. Original folklore about the fey show them as … well, narcissistic sociopaths at best. Psychopathic at worst. And I really feel that these books kept to those traditional ideas about the fey.

I also found the “retelling” of the St. George tale, the twist on it, really engaging. Not gonna spoil it, but it’s revealed within the first 75 or so pages.

The only thing I found occasionally problematic was the relationship between Nick and Claryce. It felt very angsty on his side and it felt like she latched on to him WAY before there was anything to warrant it. There is some previous connection to him (again, no spoilers), but that as the reason for the fast connection isn’t on the page until much much later. Too late, to me. So that bit didn’t ring particularly true for me. It wasn’t enough to make me put the book down, not anywhere near that. Just a niggling.

So, overall, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to Book 2! 🙂

View all my reviews

Official Jivaja Release! Get Your Copy Now!

Book news, Writing

Today is the big day! Jivaja is officially launched! Woooo!!

So you can find links to Amazon and B&N, as well as Goodreads on my website page for Jivaja. Oh, and as a note, I enrolled Jivaja in Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a bit short on cash right now, but subscribe, please feel free to borrow from KU!

This has been a weird book publishing experience, because I wanted to have some advance copies available for Dragon Con (because a million people go there). But that meant I had to upload it to Amazon early, to get copies (because you can’t order copies without it being live), so it’s actually been up there for awhile. But having copies out that early just made the entire experience weird!

But anyway…

Marketing is not my forte anyway and so I’m sort of flying by the seat of my pants! lol I’ve got a few random things going on this week.

There will be an interview out at Speculative Chic this afternoon at 4pm. If you click the link and get a 404, check the time. It’s probably not 4 yet 🙂

I’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything FB Live on my Author Page on Wednesday around 8pm EDT. So feel free to come over, pop in, and ask me all the burning questions you have about Jivaja or writing or when I’m going to have the sequel done!

I’m sure I’ll do other things this week, but those are the big ones. I’ll also be spamming your feeds all over social media, so there’s that too! Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter for other happenings!

 

 

 

 

Links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Super exciting news about Jivaja! Cover Reveal! Woo!

Book news, Writing

I hope you’re enjoying Free Fiction Friday! A couple weeks ago, I posted about the novel’s name change from Soul Cavern to Jivaja. This came about for two reasons.

First, the novel has been named Soul Cavern since I completed it for my grad program at Seton Hill University many, many years ago (yes, it’s been done for a long time). But as anyone who knows me knows very well, I suck at titles. Like, I really suck at titles. I get one good title idea a year, if I’m lucky. And I was never able to win the lottery on that book’s title.

Several publishing pros, from award-winning authors to senior acquisition editors at well-known publishers, over the years have told me in conversation that the title didn’t pop enough, just wasn’t good enough to catch their attention.

So I knew that it wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t find anything better.

Because I suck at titles.
(Anyone want to be my title generator?)

Secondly, and a bit more simply, the title felt too big for the cover. It took up too much room. I didn’t really realize this was an issue until we did the switch from Soul Cavern to Jivaja. The new title fits the cover perfectly.

And speaking of covers… want to see it?

If you follow me on social media, you got a preview of the cover when the proof copies came in. I was so excited, I posted a pic of me (sans makeup! You know I was excited to post my face au natural! lol) with the book. So you might not be surprised with this reveal. But maybe you will be!

Ready?
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Set!
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Go!!

 

Isn’t she gorgeous?! 😍😍😍

About the artist: My cover artist is an amazing woman named Sophia Fedderson, also known as the Book Brander. She first hit my radar when I was listening to back list editions of The Creative Penn Podcast and she was a guest. I really liked what she had to say about covers and her entire philosophy about them. Also, she’s an author herself, so she understood both sides of the equation, which was also a plus to me. So I bookmarked her site way back then and now, probably 3 or 4 years later, she’s my cover artist!

I think you’ll agree with me that she does incredible work! So if you’re looking for a cover, definitely check her out.

The book will officially be for sale on October 15th, in case you don’t want to wait for each scene to be posted on #FreeFictionFriday!

So tell me… what do you think of the Jivaja cover?

News: #FreeFictionFriday Gets a Little Change!

Book news, Free Fiction Friday

A couple weeks ago, I launched #FreeFictionFriday with my novel Soul Cavern. Go have a peek if you haven’t read it yet! 🙂

Ever since I finished the book a couple years ago, I’ve tried to wrangle a good title. Soul Cavern is fine, as it directly references a metaphysical place in the book. But, as more than one publishing pro has told me in the past, it doesn’t really grab you. (My mentor at SHU wants me to call it Leechers. It will never be called Leechers. 😉 )

Anyway, during my final pass of the book, which I admit, had been sitting for quite awhile, unread, I came across the word that should have been the title all along! The main character’s people have a name. They are called Jivaja (though the main character doesn’t know this and won’t find out herself til book 2). And so, we have a new title!

Jivaja

Over the next week or so, I’ll be changing all the various references to Soul Cavern and bringing everything in line with the new title. Bear with me on that 😉

Also, the cover is just about done! So I’ll be sharing that in a couple weeks too! ALL THE EXCITE!

Thanks for reading along on Fridays! I’m so glad to have you 🙂

Announcement: Free Fiction Friday featuring Soul Cavern!

Book news, Free Fiction Friday, Writing

One thing I’m noticing about this entire Indie Publishing thing is that stuff takes longer than I anticipated. Part of that is me — I’m inherently lazy 😉 Part of that is just the process and learning how long things take.

Anyway, I mentioned in this post that I was planning on starting a Free Fiction Friday segment in April. Well, here it is July and that stuff hasn’t happened yet. It’s mainly because the pen name stuff has taken a lot longer than I was planning and I still haven’t gotten the second book out yet. So I’m putting that on hold for a month or two so I can do things here. Because you guys have been waiting FOREVER! 🙂

Free Fiction Friday, featuring Soul Cavern!

My new feature, Free Fiction Friday, will begin on August 3. Many authors do this and often post short stories. I thought I might try something a little different. I will be posting an entire book. (That gives you a reason to come back each week!)

What’s Soul Cavern about?

Soul Cavern is a vampire story without vampires. At least, in the traditional sense. The Visci, a species that subsists on human blood, are not undead. They’re not human. And they never were.

Close kin to humans, the Visci pass within our society easily, and over millennia, have wedged their way into positions of power. Long-lived, they are also very difficult to kill. However, they have an evolutionary flaw. While they do not die easily, they also do not reproduce easily.

But they can mate with humans — and have, giving rise to a population of human-Visci hybrids, called half-bloods by those of pure Visci lineage. For centuries, they lived and worked together, these half-bloods and pure bloods. But tensions have risen and civil war is looming.

We will discover the Visci alongside Mecca Trenow, a seemingly normal Atlanta college student, who is heir to a family Gift which allows her to manipulate human energy. She hates her gift and has refused to learn anything beyond how to control it so she does no harm. That is, until a rogue pure blood attacks her and she reacts instinctively, draining his life — the life he’s stolen from another — out of him in moments.

When word gets back to the Visci of someone who can kill one of their kind with just a touch, the race is on to acquire Mecca as a weapon in the upcoming war. As she learns about this shadowy underground group, she also discovers her father’s dark past and the secret he has kept from her all of her life. Reeling from this discovery and unable to trust the one person she has always counted on, Mecca is isolated from everything she once knew, all the while being hunted by dangerous creatures bent on using her Gift for their own bloody purposes.

How It Works

Interested?

On August 3, I will post the opening scene from Soul Cavern. To get us ramped up and into the story full-swing, I’ll post another scene (possibly two) each day throughout that weekend. But once Monday rolls around, we’ll be on our regular schedule of one or two scenes (depending on length) each and every Friday, until the book is done!

As we go, I will create a Table of Contents so that you can easily catch up if you fall behind.

What About a Real Book?

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

The plan is to have both an ebook edition and a print edition of Soul Cavern available for sale by the end of August. I really want to have it ready for Dragon Con!

I’d like to offer a book for sale for those who prefer not to wait for the entire story to be posted (some of us are impatient!). And also for those who are interested in supporting the author (me!).

Supporting Authors

Speaking of supporting authors, you know the best way to support your favorite authors, aside from purchasing their books, is to leave reviews on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, right? Even if you choose not to purchase a copy of Soul Cavern when they’re available and just continue to read for free on the site, leaving a review on Amazon especially would be really appreciated.

It’s a great way to give back to the authors who share their stories with you!

Back to work!

All right, now I’ve got a bunch of work to do, so I’m gonna get back to it! Remember to check in on August 3rd for the first installment of Soul Cavern!

In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below telling me what you think about Soul Cavern and/or Free Fiction Friday!

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Diving Into Indie Publishing

Publishing, What I've Learned

So I write smut under a pen name. It’s a loosely guarded secret. But my secret isn’t why I’m telling you, Lovely Reader.

I want to talk this week about indie publishing. The book I’d published under my pen name was originally done by a medium-sized ebook publisher that has recently closed its doors, so the rights reverted back to me. Rather than looking for another company, I decided to self-publish the old book, along with a new short story and a second book in the series once it’s complete (hopefully, by late May).

As of this blog post, I’ve managed to get the ebook up on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I’m now working on the print version, which is more challenging than I expected.

Some interesting struggles I’ve had with indie publishing

I uploaded to Amazon manually, because I knew that’s the best way to go about it. But for the other online ebook retailers, I’d decided to go with Draft2Digital, which I’ve heard good things about for years. I didn’t mind giving up a small percentage of my profits for the convenience of having combined accounting for many retailers and for the ability to upload to all the retailers at once.

I broke D2D.

My pen name is a single name (like Madonna or Cher). And apparently the D2D system cannot handle such an irregularity. After wrangling with their customer service for more than a week and explaining to them that, no, this isn’t an issue with the retailers, but with D2D’s systems, I eventually ended up uploading to B&N and Kobo individually – and the single-name pen name proved to be a non-issue. (I haven’t tackled iBooks yet.) I knew for a fact ahead of time that the retailers could handle a single name author because my books had already been up on them via the original publisher.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing D2D. I did use them for other, smaller and overseas retailers once they got their stuff sorted out. And I will most likely use them when I am indie publishing under my real name (likely also end of May, beginning of June) since it’s a traditional first name/last name. I’m just outlining all of this because I want to document the struggles I’ve had with indie publishing, even though I’m still very committed to it.

Once I got the ebook squared away (except iBooks, which I admit to being kinda scared of 😉 ), it’s time to tackle the print version. There are a LOT of pieces to doing a print version.

  1. I had to take out all the handy links that were in the ebook. I kept the URLs, but leaving the links would have caused them to be underlined on the printed page. And I don’t know about you, but I’m a little judgy when I see that. I don’t know why, but it’s bothersome to me, so I don’t want it in my books.
  2. In order to commission the print flat of the cover, you need a page count for the book. Once the cover artist asked me for the page count, I totally understood why it was needed (along with the book size, it dictates the thickness of the spine), but prior to him asking me that, it hadn’t even occurred to me.
  3. What #2 above means is that the book needs to be formatted before commissioning the print flat. Formatting requires changing margins in Word, making sure the “inside” margins are wider than the outside margins to allow for binding. I have no idea how that all works. I gave it to my husband to figure out! Lol
  4. Once the print flat and the manuscript are ready, I’ll be ordering a proof copy.
  5. If the proof copy is good, then the book can go on sale.

I’m still on step 3 currently, though by the time this post goes live, I will likely be on step 4, perhaps even 5.

Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

Here’s the kicker though. I am going to need to go through those steps twice. I will be using Amazon’s new KDP Print service, which is similar to CreateSpace, but I will only be using that for Amazon. For other distribution, I will be using Ingram Spark. I am not one who likes to have all my eggs in one basket, not to mention that Ingram has more distribution channels, particularly into indie bookstores.

So that is what is going on for me. Once I get through this initial book, later books will be easier because I will streamline the indie publishing process for myself. So once get to Soul Cavern, I should be a veteran!

Do you have experience with indie publishing? How has it been for you?

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Tool Time Tuesday: Calibre e-Book Management Software

Tool Time Tuesday

Once per month, on Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Calibre e-Book Management

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux (+portable version)

Cost: Free!

What calibre does:

Calibre is open source software to manage your e-book collection, in ALL the ways.

As a reader, calibre is a perfect tool for keeping track of all your e-books. It’s not just a bookshelf, though. You can organize your collection in whatever way is most intuitive for you. You can create tags for all your books, download metadata (or create your own metadata), and sort and search by just about anything.

One of my favorite features (and what I originally downloaded it for years ago) is calibre’s ability to convert files from one type to another. Have an e-book in .pdf and want to read it properly on your Kindle? Convert from .pdf -> .mobi. Have a book in Kindle format and want to read it on your non-Kindle device? Convert to ePub. This is also a nifty feature for authors, if you want to see how your manuscript will look as an e-book (and when you’re ready to publish it too!).

Read on your phone? I use calibre Companion on my Android and it’s also available on iTunes for $3.99 in both places. Worth the money 🙂

Where to get calibre: Website

Have you used calibre? What do you think? Leave me a comment!

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

Keep writing!

 

 

 

All calibre images are courtesy ofcalibre ebook management.

My Top 5 Most Useful Books About Fiction Writing

Craft of Writing, Writing

Let’s face it, writing a good story is hard. It’s entirely different from telling your best friend the story about what happened Friday night. Face to face stories are easier, because you have tone of voice and inflections, as well as body language, to help convey your meaning. With a novel or short story, you only have the words.

I am an addict. I admit it. I have more books on the craft of writing than my local library does, I’d bet. I use these books for my writing, of course, but also for when I’m editing or teaching other writers. I learn a lot from reading the stories of authors, but there’s also a place for an educational slant — for having an explanation of why something works.

To that end, I’m listing my Top 5 craft of fiction writing books. These books sit on the shelf right beside my desk. They’re always right there.

Now, these are the top 5, but they’re not in any specific order. You can’t really say that a book about creating character is better (or worse) than a book about writing a synopsis. They’re about different things. So while this is a Top 5 post, it’s not a ranked top 5.

Also, a while back, I wrote a post about my two favorite books on revision. Since I’ve already mentioned those, I’m not going to include them here.

And with all that said, here we go!

Writing the Breakout Novel

by Donald Maass

I got this book relatively early on in my fiction writing journey and it really opened my eyes to the idea that a book can be planned. Not in an outlining sort of way (which it can, of course, and which I was highly resistant to doing at the time), but in a larger-scale sort of way. From a 30,000 foot view, so to speak.

The purpose of the book is to write a novel that pushes past the mid-list and becomes a breakout seller. Think Harry Potter, The Martian, 50 Shades of Grey. A book that captures the minds of millions of people, rather than thousands or hundreds.

Donald Maass, who is a very successful agent who owns his own agency, identifies the things that he observes as pillars of a breakout novel. With section headings like Premise, Stakes, Time and Place, Characters, etc, this is a high-level view of story creation that every author can benefit from.

Beginnings, Middles & Ends

by Nancy Kress

What author hasn’t struggling with slogging through the middle of their novel? We’ve lost the bright, shiny feeling of the beginning and we’re not yet at the exciting, climactic end. There’s a reason many novels are abandoned in the middle. Fiction writing isn’t always easy.

Nancy Kress addresses all these things — the bright, shiny, the exciting, climactic, and the slogging — in her book. She gives authors tools on how to stay on track in their fiction writing, especially in the middle, which is arguably the longest part of a novel.

Each chapter ends with exercises designed to give writers practice in implementing the author’s suggestions. Some of the exercises involve reading and identifying things she’s discussed (such as reader expectations after the beginning), some involve writing, both new and assessment of current writing.

If you have trouble finishing your stories, you might find this book especially helpful.

Writing the Fiction Synopsis: A step by step approach

by Pam McCutcheon

If you’ve ever struggled with creating a synopsis, this book will be your savior! There are actually very few books on writing a good synopsis (compared to other writing topics). Mostly, writers are just expected to figure it out, maybe from talking to other writers, maybe by osmosis. In recent years, there have been a few more books (but only a few), yet this one, written almost twenty years ago and for most of that time the only book on synopsis writing, is still the gold standard.

McCutcheon takes you through the steps of writing a synopsis using three relatively well-known movies as her test subjects. She provides a number of worksheets to help you along, but that are also useful in the writing process, as well. She focuses not just on what should be in the synopsis, but also on tone and voice, as well.

This book also has exercises at the end of each chapter, but the result, if you do them all, is that you’ll have a synopsis by the time you’ve finished the book.

Characters & Viewpoint

by Orson Scott Card

This is probably one of my most recommended books. A lot of newer writers don’t understand the difference between omniscient point of view and 3rd person limited point of view, and so I often see a lot of what is called head-hopping: jumping from different points of view within the same scene, paragraph, or even sentence. This book explains those points of view very clearly, using a camera lens as illustration. I’ve seen more than one writer have an “Ah-ha!” moment after reading the section on viewpoint.


The guidance about character creation is also valuable, especially in conjunction with the character creation advice in the other books on this page. Card gives information about where characters come from and what makes for a good fictional characters. And then goes into more in-depth things, such as how the reader should feel about the character, what the stakes are for the character within the story, and transformations.

This is one of those books that I believe should be on every writer’s shelf!

Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

edited by Michael A. Arnzen & Heidi Ruby Miller

I’m a bit biased about this book, I admit, because I have an article in it called, “Demystifying What Editors Want.” However, even if I didn’t have work in it, I would still have this book by my desk.


It’s a collection of over eighty essays about everything about writing popular fiction, from craft topics to life balance topics to promoting and marketing. Contributors include authors from all over the genre spectrum, from smaller published authors to mid-list authors to heavy hitters like David Morrell (First Blood [Rambo] and others), Tom Monteleone (Borderland Books), Nancy Kress (her name should look familiar 😉 ), and Tess Gerritson (Harvest and others). I’ll sometimes pick it up and just choose an essay to read when I’ve got 5 minutes. There’s always something to learn.

I often joke that this is my MFA program in a $30 book (the Kindle version is only $10!). 🙂 This is a really comprehensive collection of experiences and advice from authors and editors working within the commercial fiction publishing industry.

Okay, so those are my Top 5 books for fiction writing. I’ve tried to choose books that run the gamut of information that authors need to know about, from character creation, to doing the writing, to stuff needed to get published.

What fiction writing books do you find indispensable? Drop a line down in the comments!

Keep writing!