Category Archives: Best selling author

A Space Opera Selection

Who do you listen to when you write?

Dean Wesley Smith has written more than a hundred books over many years along with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch who has written equally as much. Both are Oregon Coast writers who know what they are talking about when it comes to writing and publishing. So it was interesting to read a blog where Dean advocated not having Beta readers or even writing groups.  https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing-beta-readers-help-you/ His point was that in the cacophony of advice, the author ‘s voice may be lost among the mumble of suggestions, and the story damaged or diluted.

I work with both a writers’ group and Beta readers because I find their input helpful in making my story stronger.

But he has a point. A very good point.

Some writers want to polish each word to a literary high gloss, while others encourage a stampede of action and excitement to keep their readers turning the pages. Others drench their characters with emotion much like a teenager in the throes of first love. And you, as the writer, may be pushed and pulled by their suggestions.

In The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon  (mentioned in my last blog) I delighted in brilliant metaphors and similes until it became too much and felt like every third sentence was a finely crafted metaphor to show off how clever the writing was.

I love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Series, but the strong emotions of the characters take center stage, leaving descriptions and action to tag along.

And anyone reading space opera science fiction or a series like The Expanse knows that action is paramount. Authors are told to have the first chapter start bang with strong action that hooks the reader and fill out the characters and setting later.

So a writers should decide what his or her voice is, or it could become a hodgepodge of other people’s suggestions.

Make no mistake, suggestions are helpful and often make for a stronger work, but only after asking the question : Do I know what my voice is and is this suggestion consistent with my voice and how I want my story written?

In my last blog, I mentioned the international aspect of blogs. Writers are blogging with other writers from all over the globe. It’s quite international. But now we have come to a whole new level when Google translate can instantly translate a blog into many different languages. My friend Diana Peach wrote a guest blog today for Christopher Graham. (copy/paste)

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/10/03/world-building-from-imagination-to-reality-guest-post-by-diana-peach/?c=128961#comment-128961

The blog was excellent, but what attracted my attention was the ability to tap the drop down in the upper right hand corner and immediately have Google translate the blog into a bewildering number of languages. Take your pick.

Think about that one.

I return to space opera this week for my science fiction suggestion. David Drake is a prolific writer of science fiction with several series, and I have been meaning to read him for some time now. Written in 1992, Starliner came out in trade paperback this past June with additional content.

Third officer, Lieutenant Ran Colville, receives his staff side position of making sure all goes smoothly on board the newest and largest starship, the Empress of Earth. Even with the efficient help of the attractive lieutenant Wanda Holly, politics, greed, young love and war threaten to disrupt the orderly passage of the luxury ship with its high class passengers. And Ran’s job is to see they are happy and safe. Different chapters describe various landings on interesting worlds, each one presenting a challenge to the ship. All through the story is the threat of pirates or a military fleet from a warring planet that would love to add this majestic ship to its fleet. Jumping through wormhole, exploring exotic world, dealing with dark politics, and fending off panting women all keep Ran hopping.The Spark

Drake writes a fast-paced story but keeps in mind his characters and their various emotions that drive their actions. This book is a stand alone, but I’m certain to try out other of David Drakes stories having read this one.  Maybe this latest one.

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Filed under Political Science Fiction, Alien worlds, Marketing and selling novels, Writing Critique groups, Writing Tips and Lectures, science fiction space opera, Amazon publishing, Best selling author

Comments on Mark Coker’s Smashword Survey

Mark Coker’s Smashwords survey is in. Smashwords is a distribution service for ebooks. You download a Word document and their famous meat grinder formats and distribute your work to a wide variety of vendors. IBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are the bigger names. Smashwords is in competition with Amazon so they distribute very little there. The author gets an 85% royalty. 127,000 authors with 437,200 ebooks comprise the current Smashwords catalog.

Sales of 87.5% make up up the fiction category and of that 45% are romance writers. So, romance dominates Smashword’s sales. Only 3% of the top 200 bestsellers are science fiction while 73% are romance.

Pre-orders appear to be a new marketing tool to use to launch a new book. However, only 12.23% of books released during the survey were born of preorders. In the top 1,000 sellers, 61% used preorders, so this is a marketing tool to consider.

Box sets are also becoming popular. 90% are single author box sets. Multi-author sets are also being used, but I wonder how the royalties are divided out. You can expand your readers through other authors’ promotions, but don’t expect to reap a rich monetary reward. And taxes could be a headache.

When studying pricing, free still gets the most downloads by a wide margin, but $3.99, $9.99 and $4.99 yields the most earnings. It was interesting that $3.99 and $4.99 got more downloads by a slim margin over $.99.

The average word count for the top 70 best selling romance books was 113,803. So the longer book is still popular. That surprised me. This may depend on genre.

Having a series helps sales. Top best sellers show they are likely to come from a series. A series with a free starter book boosts sales of the whole series. In the top 100, a free starter book increased sale of the series by 80%.

Data on title length once again urged authors to keep it fairly short. Twenty-four characters titles are in the top 100 while 37.11 characters were in the wider top 1000 range. So those with less sales had longer titles on average. There are always outliers.

And where did Smashwords sell the most? The United States garnered 69% of the sales, far out-distancing all other countries. Lesser sales were in Great Britain (8%), Canada (11%) and Australia (5%). This jives with my numbers, except that I have a strong Australian contingency.

Hi Ya Mates!

All of this is interesting to me as an author, but I write science fiction. For years, I tried to sell on Smashwords (they call it “going wide”), but I don’t sell there. To be eligible for Amazon Select, you cannot list on Smashwords, or any other platform. This has created tension between Amazon and Smashwords, but I decided to go where I can sell well, and that is Amazon. Amazon helps with innovative marketing and has a bigger pool of readers. The bottomline is that I sell so much better there.

Still, this data gives food for thought on several ways any author can market and provides a good snapshot of one section of the ebook market.

For you data geeks, here’s the link: http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/06/smashwords-survey-2017.html

This week I’m reporting on Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey. While I have been enjoying the Expanse Series, both the books and the television show, I kept waiting for something exciting to happen in this book.

A violent group of Belters called the Free Navy has cobbled together black market spaceships and reigned terror on Earth by throwing rocks that have seriously damaged the planet. In addition, they are attacking colony ships headed out through the gate to the new worlds and plundering their supplies to redistribute to Belter communities. So it is up to James Holden’s crew of the Rocinante to stop them. Politics make former enemies unite (Mars, Earth and others) in order to combat this threat. Be ready for several twists and turns.

In this book, the protomolecule takes a backseat to a Belters and inner system war. It felt like an interlude that cleaned up a problem brought out in the previous book. This was not my favorite book in the series, but still I consider it a good read, considering the dearth of good new science fiction out there. The usual characters appear and a number of other voices are given center stage. Marcos Inarcos, leader of the Free Navy, (and Naomi’s former lover) is seen as one who champions the oppressed Belters, but then turns strident and vicious, not caring who or how many get killed as he grasps for power. Naomi’s son, Carlos, also heads up several chapters. At first, he is his father’s right hand man and believes in the “cause,” but gradually as the losses accumulate, and Marco’s excuses for them sound lame, he begins to wonder if his father really has a plan or the Belter’s welfare at heart.

Orbit has bought three more books for the series, so it should be interesting how Corey (Abraham and Franck) continue the overall plot.

For those readers who want an update on my upcoming book, Somewhat Alien, it is in the works. I’m still waiting on a Beta reader and the delivery of a proof copy. Because of that, my publishing date has been pushed out a week or two. I want to make sure this one is polished and complete as it is one of my favorite stories. Lots of good stuff happens, and I want it to be an exciting adventure for you.

So stay tuned.

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Filed under Best selling author, Best selling science fiction, Beta Readers, ebook marketing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Space opera

A Strategy to Sell Books

 

 

 

 

Why do readers buy certain books? As I get ready to launch my second book in the Terran Trilogy, I’ve become even more interested in this question. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is doing a series of blogs on branding. She talks about how important it is for authors to develop a brand. By developing a clear brand, the reader knows what to expect, and more than likely if they like the first book they read, they’ll come back for more. That’s why writing a series is important.

In her recent blog, she says:

I envisioned this particular blog series after I read Targoz’s Strategic Marketing’s Reading Pulse Survey (courtesy of Randy Ellison). Targoz surveyed over almost 3,000 people—readers and non-readers alike—about their reading and book buying habits. (Most studies target readers or heavy readers only). A lot of the information in the survey confirmed what I already assumed, but I hadn’t seen any statistics that backed up my assumptions.

The survey also found some data that was just the same as every survey of book buyers: The number one reason people buy a book is because the book was written by one of their favorite authors. When book buyers purchase a book, 60% of those buyers do so because the book was written by “a favorite author or an author [they] had read before.”

And I agree with these findings.

Reading my blog, it’s obvious I often select books that way. In fact this week, my book suggestion is by Sharon Shinn whose books I have reviewed before. I selected it as one of the ten to read this year because I know and like Shinn’s writings. The Unquiet Land is only the most recent in her Elemental series. Check my previous blogs for comments on earlier books in the series.

Another factor in the decision to buy a particular book is subject matter. Rusch touches on this in her blog also. No matter how many people like Stephen King, I won’t read him. He writes horror, and I don’t read horror. I like to sleep at night. But fantasy and science fiction are my go-to reads.

I write science fiction, but it’s character driven. Romance readers may also enjoy the stories because human nature being what it is, is often the same on Earth as it is on Alysia. So, there is a bit of crossover. And always romance somewhere.

Rusch also touches on balancing newness and familiarity in an author’s writing. That’s why I decided to start a new series from a different viewpoint, but have it take place in the familiar Alysian Universe. Readers know they will be getting science fiction, maybe with some time travel and genetics, but the viewpoints will be coming from a different angle. Something fresh.

And Rusch’s final point in her current blog is to write the best damn book you can.

Well, duh!

I want brand loyalty. I want readers to return and read my other books because they enjoyed the last one they read. Free and discounted can only go so far. However, that exposes readers to my writing, so hopefully they’ll come back for others.

Therefore, coming soon is Somewhat Alien.

A Quick Summary: The Terrans finally leave space and their ships for life on an alien space station as they prepare for planetfall. Conflict erupts when a group of Alysians don’t want them on their world and do everything they can to disrupt the landing. But Commander Elise Fujeint has an inside track to a powerful Alysian whose name is Richard Steele. And, just maybe, he will help get her people a home.

Stay tuned. Not long now. I’m waiting on one last Beta reader to respond, and then I’ll be launching.

As I mention earlier, this week I’m suggesting The Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn.

Leah Frothen returns home and is immediately called in by spymaster, Darien Serlast. Leah is ready to give up spying and get to better know the daughter she left behind five years ago. But Darien dangles a most promising assignment: open a shop that she can run and he will support. Just report on foreign visitor’s conversations and suspect activities. She is looking for work, so this is an irresistible offer, and soon Leah becomes involved in espionage when visiting dignitaries come to town and visit her shop.

I liked the plot, although this one in the series didn’t have the intensity of some of the others. I find the concept of certain individuals tied to elements of the Earth, and able to control them, intriguing. Shinn has developed quite a complex system within her world. Also she introduces the Karkans who believe they can balance any horrific act with an act of equal benevolence. This creates a compelling series of events. And food for thought.

As I discussed in the beginning, Shinn has set up a brand for her books through this and her other series. I picked this book back in January to review solely because I had read and liked Shinn’s previous books and wanted to read more in her fantasy series.

Write the best book you can, make it part of a series, and establish a clear brand for your books.

Check.

Now let’s see what happens.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling author, fantasy series, first contact, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Space opera, Transhumanism

Saturn’s Run: Hard Science Fiction

Everyone likes a sneak peek.

So, I’m giving my readers of this blog only an advance squint at my new cover. It is so hot off the press that you might burn your fingers.

Oh, no. That’s right, we’re digital. Your fingers are safe.

Anyway, I’m in the throes of birthing my next book in my Terran Trilogy series called Somewhat Alien. I spent the week working with cover designer Toni Boudreault to get the look I want.

There’s a lot to think about when doing a cover. It has to be artistic, the fonts large enough to read in a thumbnail version, and it has to suggest a story that invites the reader in. This time I’m experimenting with two faces on the cover. This is to let the readers know that there is a relationship arc in the story. I include ships, space stations, and time travel for the more hard science readers, but have added cute rodent-like gebbits that stir up all kinds of mischief on the space station. Then, I throw in a recent controversy concerning immigration. After all, the main goal of the story is for the Terran aliens to land on the planet Alysia, and the native Alysians are less than welcoming. There’s a flavor of the recent headline news in the story.

In addition to that, details on the faces like the correct hair and eye color have to be checked. I have an art background and worked in an art gallery for eight years along with painting oil landscapes. You can see my work behind a few of my blog pictures. So, this is one of my favorite parts of this whole author gig. Toni handles the dpi and megabytes, along with a professional designer’s eye, while I make comments on the look and subject matter.

Next, I’m waiting on several Beta readers to report back. Already, Cathy has given me some great suggestions that I plan to implement in the story. I’m at the final tweak stage with  changes still happening.

So stay tuned. Launch will be at the end of June.

This week, I’m presenting Saturn’s Run by John Sandford and Ctein. This is a good story that includes science so hard that you could chip a tooth. So if that’s your flavor, here’s the downlow.

Sanders Heathcock Darlington’s father is filthy rich, and in two years at the age of thirty, Sandy will inherit. Right now, however, thanks to dad, he works at the Caltech Astrophysics Working Group headed by Dr. Edward Fletcher, who is coming to regret the hire, no matter how much money daddy has promised to donate to the school. Surfing is Sandy’s current hobby along with playing guitar with a girl band called the LA Dicks. Often dressed in shorts and t-shirt, his make-work job is to double check one of the telescopes with a human eye and, if anything looks amiss, to pass it on to a Real Scientist who would evaluate the findings. The fact that he constantly scans his environment and flinches at unexpected movement as if expecting a sniper nearby, escapes most people’s notice. Still, he has a dark side to him that smart people sidestep.

Arriving at work late again, he just puts up his feet when the computer pings a critical anomaly. Close inspection reports an object decelerating, emitting hydrogen, with rich uvs approaching orbit around Saturn. A second computer check reports the same findings with a 99% chance of the object being real.

Fifteen hours later another meeting with the same group and a scary, dark-eyed man from Washington confirms the object is an alien ship. Fast forward to the oval office and President Santeros with eight select people, including Fletcher and the thin, dark -eyed man.

From there the story becomes a political race since the Chinese are readying a launch to Mars. Not wanting another country to get their hands on advanced alien tech, the American military and scientists advise President Santeros to convert the current International Space Station to a spaceship in order to beat the Chinese to Saturn. Unfortunately, the Chinese telescopes discover the alien ship and frantically begin to transform their Mars ship to a ship capable of reaching Saturn.

And the race is on.

Here Sandford involves the reader in some heavy science, discussing the ion propulsion engine, the various trajectories, needed space requirements and so forth. A frantic search for crew brings in an interesting cast of characters, and the ticking clock as the Chinese head to Saturn amps up the tension.

President Santeros’s security head, named Crow, knows ultra secret details about Sandy and urges the president to include him in the crew. Sandy is recruited as their cinematographer who works with a beautiful hard-assed reporter determined that this will make her an ultra star as they record every aspect of the journey.

Sandford does a nice job bringing in interesting people, then throwing a mole into the crew. While doing their main job, Sandy and Crow try to work out who is leaking vital information to the Chinese. A section also shows the Chinese crew and their problems as they race toward the aliens in a totally different style of ship. Technical details included.

Without giving away too much, Sandford also offers a reasonable answer to what they both eventually find.

If you can gloss over the extensive science explanations that show up in lumps, you will enjoy this story. If you are a science geek and have passed over my recent offerings of fantasy with werewolves and vampires, then this one is for you.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling author, Beta Readers, Cutting Edge Science ideas, first contact, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction romance, science fiction series, Self publishing a cover, space ship, space travel, Uncategorized

Amazon’s New List

Amazon continues to stretch out and find ways to encourage readers. And I’m usually all for that. So, I was interested in their new venture.

This past week Amazon has started to compile a weekly best seller and best read list to rival the well-known New York Times Best Seller List. The Times leaves out Indie publishers since they do not appear in bookstores. How The Times decides who gets what spot isn’t sure, but Indies are never included and, yet, are now read by an increasingly large segment of the population. For years, The Times has been the sought after benchmark of success for writers of both fiction and non fiction, but self-publishers don’t make the list.

If you want to know what are the top selling books at Amazon in different publishing categories, Amazon has published a wide variety of lists according to genre that are updated almost hourly.

Last Friday, I ran my Freebooksy add campaign for Past the Event Horizon and made number #1 in the Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>science fiction >space exploration and #1 in Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>First Contact on March 15. That rating soon changed as sales go up and down all the time like a turbulent sea. Still, it felt good. Anyone looking for a science fiction in either category might have given me a try, and indeed, sales followed for a number of my other books.

Okay, so now Amazon offers a weekly list of the top twenty books sold and books read across all genres. Only Amazon has the algorithms to determine what books are actually read. As an author, I can follow what books my readers are reading and when.

Here’s the link to the chart: https://www.amazon.com/charts

As a reader, this is interesting, but as a midlist writer I have a few problems with it.

First, I noted the large number of big publishing houses, and almost all of them have an agent attached. Then, there is the Bookbub phenomena. An author must sell a lot and have a lot of reviews to be accepted, but once accepted the author gets an even bigger bump in reviews and sales by being accepted for promotion. You know the story. A writer has to get to a point where doors open, and until they reach that tipping point, sales are a struggle… Each author has to decide how much time, effort, and money they want to spend, and what goal is acceptable for them.

Worldwide fame or merely getting published?

I think I won’t need sunglasses to hide behind any time soon.

This week I have returned to science fiction and my list that I put out at the beginning of the year with Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson (Hugo winning novel Spin).

I picked this book because it had a time travel theme, and I read and liked Spin by the same author. Wilson plays with the idea of multiple dimensions. In the near future, technology is created that can open a gate onto the past. That past is similar, but not exactly like our past. Inhabitants of the past provide almost a theme park of times-gone-by to those who visit from the future. But as the future influences the past, the past changes, and eventually, the gate closes.

A passageway has been open into the 19th century in Ohio for a decade now, and both sides of the gate know it will soon close. This is the last year the gate will be open.

On September 1, Jesse Collumm saves General Grant’s life as the general visits the future side of the gate. Jesse is from the 19th century but has been hired as a guard in the small city that had grown up around the gate. Working crowd control, he notices an illegal gun and dives to save Ulysses’ life. This brings him to the attention of the higher-ups who run the gate. Jesse is delegated to an attractive woman for various assignments. Unfortunately, he falls in love with her and decides to do anything to follow her through time back to her future.

This was an interesting novel, but not riveting. However, I was intrigued with the time concepts. How would we react if we could visit the past and see how it really was? Would the history books and actual events match? What might happen to influence our future? How big or little need that influence be?

I write about time travel, and it was interesting to see another author’s handling of the subject. If you are intrigued by time travel, you might enjoy this one.

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Filed under Alternate Universe Stories, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, ebook marketing, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, New York Times Best Sellers, Portal fiction, science fiction

An Indie Author’s Update

Readers of my blog are science fiction and fantasy fans who also are interested in book marketing and writing. On the science fiction side, I often throw in current, relevant science news.

To that end, I want to offer a link to a blog that talks about the discovery of time crystals. This intrigues me because alien crystals play an important role in influencing my characters in the Alysian Universe Series, particularly in the book Touching Crystal. To discover that my made up time crystals actually exist, blew me away.

(We have been having large windstorms lately).

Nevertheless, they are not the same as the crystals in my stories influence certain humans and heighten their Talent abilities. My crystals are also alien and no mention of that had cropped up with these real crystals… as yet

Still the blog is worth a look and if you are interested in actual time crystals take a peek at:

https://futurism.com/the-first-quantum-computer-you-own-could-be-powered-by-a-time-crystal/

On the marketing side, my Books Barbarian ad outdid the Freebooksy ad. This may be due to the book advertised. Caught in Time always sells better as it is the first in the series and is a time travel romance–always popular.

Cosmic Entanglement doesn’t sell as well (maybe the title is too hard science) and actually has a more Ender’s Game YA flavor. Romance still plays a part in the story, however, with a bet that the current Sunpointe Academy’s Lothario can’t get the Ching T’Karre princess to acknowledge him or even speak to him. He takes on the challenge and falls in love. Young men in love with a bet on the line are known to do crazy things. It’s a fast-paced book that contains an attempted murder and a dramatic martial arts competition finale.

Spring into summer is usually my best selling time, so I’m looking forward to warmer weather and increasing sales. Let me know what works for you in the marketing and sales department, so we can exchange ideas.

Last week, I enjoyed the light-hearted fantasy Tinker by Wen Spencer. Therefore, when fellow Powell’s reader, Lea Day, suggested Anne Bishop’s Others series, I jumped in with Written in Blood, the first in the series. Lea has read an enormous amount of speculative fiction and knows her stuff. Having once been the personal assistant to the late Anne McCaffrey, she has also been a valued Beta Reader of mine. When she speaks, I listen, even when she whispers the werewolf word.

Written in Blood takes place on an alien world discovered by humans. Immediately, they try to take over, only to find the indigenous species is the stuff of nightmares. The planet is populated by deadly werewolves, vampires, elementals, crows and others who can shapeshift from human to monster at will. They consider humans “meat.”

Like native Americans, the humans are restricted to certain areas of the planet in return for an exchange of their technology and trade goods. Often at the edge of these human reservations are compounds inhabited by the others who watch the humans, and sometimes interact with them.

Into one of these compounds, on a cold winter night, comes Meg Corbyn who is fleeing from some terrible secret and begs for a job and sanctuary.

The vampire leader calls her “sweet blood” and marks her off limits. The managing werewolf of the Lakeside compound, Simon Wolfgard, smells her and receives the scent of “not prey.” He offers her the job of human liaison and puts her to work in the post office. Surrounded by deadly creatures whose touch, look, or bite could kill, she charms them all.

Simon discovers that Meg is a cassandra sangue who has been held with similar girls against their will. When a cassandra sangue is cut, their blood produces prophecies for wealthy patrons who willingly pay large sums to get a glimpse of the future. Covered with scars, Meg hides from her human tormentor, known as the Controller, who plans to recapture his “property.”

Anne Bishop nicely weaves this impossible story with believable characters. Deadly creatures tiptoe around the innocent girl, attempting to protect her from harm as she, in turn, saves them from danger using her own unique abilities.

Enthusiastic about the story and wanting to read more about what happens, I immediately read the next book, A Murder of Crows. In this second of the series, Meg’s secret is out. Lieutenant Montgomery, a local human detective, realizes the problems and the escalating conflict between human and indigene. Arrogant humans do not realize what they stir up when they use the blood of the cassandra sangue to create a drug that incites the indigene and humans into a frenzy so that they will attack each other. These uncontrolled behaviors are meant to start a war between the species. When Meg is attacked, the elemental, Winter, exacts revenge by sending a devastating storm, which almost wipes out the nearby human town.

Meg cuts herself to cause prophecy in hopes of saving her fellow protectors. She reveals a series of strange images that warns of the drug baited in meat left for the indigenes to eat. Her actions attract the notice of the Controller who sends out several hunters to recapture her.

The second book is just as good as the first and is the reason that I just got back from the library with the third one called, Vision in Silver.

I wanted to find out what happens next to characters I have come to care about. The idea of deadly creatures doing everything they can to protect a particularly vulnerable young girl because she treats them well, makes a touching story. I also wonder how the other human who respects the terra indigenes will fare, the divorced detective Lieutenant Montgomery for example.  And then there is the werewolf, Simon, who is half in love with Meg and struggles with that fact. I want to plunge myself back into this fascinating world. The fifth in the series, Etched in Bone, just came out and is now available.

Thus the power of writing a series…if it is good enough.

And I found this one was.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling author, Cutting Edge Science ideas, fantasy series, hard science, Marketing and selling novels, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, YA science ficiton

Author: Juggler in disguise

As an author, I often feel like a juggler, tossing a multitude of balls around, trying to get everything accomplished.

First ball that gets thrown into the air is the time needed for the actual act of writing. Many experts suggest delegating specific segments of time each day to write.

Doesn’t work in my life.

Sometimes my creative juices are flowing and the words pour out. At other times, I stare at the wall wondering what is going to happen next, or I have other events that demand my attention. Yesterday, I was at the dentist.

That’s when Larry Brook’s outline suggestions help me move to the next chapter. When I start a book, I spend time laying out an outline that encompasses his plot points and pinch points. I have an idea of the overall scheme of the book. The devil is in the details as to how it is all going to happen.

But how do I know to do this?

Research.

That ball of time is important, but it takes time to learn about the writing game if you’re planning on being good. Hundreds of websites offer helpful advice of how to improve your writing. I have to balance what will make me better against what will confuse me. Not all advice is right for what I write. I have found that science fiction is written differently than, say, fantasy. Readers of science fiction want fast moving action with lots of tech toys and interesting science. The best stories also include relatable characters and an interesting plot. Fantasy leans more toward elaborate descriptions of time and place. Characters often have a mentor who guides an acolyte fighting against evil creatures. Often a magic system is in place. Rarely does it happen in a futuristic society. Romance readers require a still different format. Taking the time to understand your genre is critical.

Then there’s editing that bounces into the picture. I doubt there is any author that gets it right on the first draft. As for me, I have my writing group edit, I edit, and often a professional editor goes through it. I spend hours using the search/find on words such as that, was, looked, and lately some. I love to repeat words and often need to tighten up my sentences. So a lot of time is spent in the editing penalty box… And still I find errors. I also edit over fifty pages a week for my writing group as a reciprocal for their edits. However, I find editing others’ work helpful to understand what makes my stories sing.

The third segment that I have to juggle around is blogging and reading other websites. I love to blog about my favorite books and read what other authors are doing. (hence, this blog) I spent a huge chunk of time on Utube watching Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series. It was helpful. I should interact more on Facebook, Twitter and others, but it takes so much time because I end up going down the garden path. You know what I mean. You start to read one article, and next thing, hours have passed and you’re asking: How did I end up here, and where has the time gone?”

I spend a major part of a day on my blog, but I can’t even begin to blog until I’ve read the book that I want to suggest. Have you seen how long some books are? Actually, it’s my own fault, as I like to submerse myself into a world. But keeping up on the reading is a major commitment.

Then there’s marketing. Gah! Now with this time sphere, you can vary your involvement. A signing or attending a convention takes a huge portion of time and money. Signing up for an ad takes only money and a little bit of time. An author has to weigh the results to his bottomline. Time needs to be spent researching the best avenue for marketing according to the author’s resources and situation. An author with a bestseller and an eager publishing house may spend days traveling and attending conventions or signings while a self-publisher with a modest pocketbook (like moi) may be more limited. Each individual has different options available. I attended a craft show and sold very little, but a fellow fantasy writer in her own hometown where she was well known sold sixty paperbacks at a Christmas open market. Seasonality can be key. And a book about a dog’s journey might sell at a vet’s, or an advice book sell in a small boutique, whereas science fiction might not sell well there.

Side note here is that next Friday (after Easter is over) my book Cosmic Entanglement will be advertised on Freebooksy and be offered free for a limited time only on April 20, 21, and 22. Although this is the third book of the series, it can be read first.

Time travel stories will let you do that.

Last Friday Free Kindle Books and Tips advertised Caught in Time. They just wanted a mention in my blog and here it is. So check them out. In March I advertised with Book Barbarian. They take only science fiction and fantasy, but I sold the whole series to a couple of readers.

You can buy the series and get a special price on Amazon. Amazon provides several ways that help authors sell. Check out my Author’s Central page under Sheron Wood McCartha.

Which brings me to the business part of the juggling act. Yes, if you are serious about the time commitments that you will need to make, then you should take the time to rough out a business plan or at least a business direction. We all know that if you don’t know where you are going, often you’ll get lost or end up in the wrong place. How many books do you plan to write this year? How much do you need to sell to pay for a cover? And, gosh, who’s going to do it? Do you keep track of sales? Do you even control that information? How are you going to publish and distribute? A big publisher? A small publisher? Self publishing? And how are you going to decide?

While you’re pondering that momentous decision and reading blogs about it or talking to colleagues, the laundry is beeping, you’re running out of food, and the house needs a vacuum. Maybe you have delegated some of these chores to a significant other, but life and family still come rolling in and want attention. I have a smallish social life, but Sunday I’ll be attending a family and friends get together. I spent two hours at social security today so my daughter’s married name will be legal on her taxes.

Juggle. Juggle.

And finally, (or maybe not) is that ball with the great big word job. Whether you’re a mom, and your job is raising kids, or a wage earner out in the business world, that ten-ton ball can be hard to juggle around. You’ll have to reshape and be creative with your tosses.

It can be quite an act for anyone wanting to be an author.

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This week I picked an unusual book for me.

I warned you.

I’m not one for fairies and such, but trans-dimensional worlds were involved, and again it was a Powell’s reading selection. I’m trying to keep up in my reading group and writer activities also.

It turns out that Tinker by Wen Spencer was delightful.

Tinker is a feisty, petite orphan who scratches out a living in a junkyard located in near-future Pittsburg, which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. A trans-dimensional gate built by her father is responsible for the situation. When a pack of wargs chases Windward, an Elven noble, into her scrap yard, she saves his life and becomes entangled in the royal elven court, which is full of intrigue. Tinker is one of very few who is able who understands the science involved in building the gate that brought Pittsburgh to the land of the elves. When certain enemies discover that, she becomes vulnerable to kidnapping by those who want to control or destroy the gate.

Possessing genius level mental ability, steel-toed boots, and a “take no prisoners” attitude, she takes on the NBA, the Elven court, technology smugglers, and an amorous, but powerful, elf out to change her life in disturbing ways.

A delightful, fun romp with engaging characters and non-stop action, Tinker takes everything in stride, including her first kiss.

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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universes, Best selling author, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, the fae, Wizards and magic