Category Archives: Self-publishing

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

The Excitement of Self Publishing

Someone once said that the only constant is change itself. Who says? I’m not sure, but it’s true.

Over time my writing group has changed and evolved. We each bring or have brought our own special writing strengths to the table, and everyone has been better for the interaction. Sadly, four of our writers over the years we have been together have gone on because of new jobs, a new husband, new baby or new residence. Others have filled in the vacancies, adding fresh ideas to the writing process.

Our most recent escapee, er, graduate, is D. Wallace Peach. She has shed the constrictions of her publisher to turn to self-publishing. Recognizing the help given by her publisher when she was new and learning, she has embraced self-publishing and revamped her series with exciting new covers, combing through her books, fixing any errors, and generally re-editing everything.

The results are exciting and gives everything a fresh new look.

But then she continued on with a whole new series: The Rose Shield, and Catling’s Bane is the first book.

This is not your usual fantasy or science fiction series but a strange blend of both, which deals with mind control in an exotic world. Oh, here. Let me have her tell you in her own words:

“In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

To the Influencer’s Guild, she’s an aberration, a threat. They order her death and thus the betrayals begin. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?

The Rose Shield Tetralogy – a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to a world of three moons, a sentient landscape, rivers of light, and tier cities that rise from the swamps like otherworld flowers. A planet of waterdragons, where humans are the aliens living among three-fingered natives with spotted skin. Where a half-blood converses with the fog and the goddess plans her final reckoning.

Follow Catling’s journey as she grows from childhood into the deadly force that shapes the future. She is the realm’s shield, an influencer, assassin, healer, mother, and avenger. And all she wants is to go home.

The books of The Rose Shield Tetralogy:
Catling’s Bane
Oathbreakers’ Guild
Farlanders’ Law
Kari’s Reckoning”

The whole series has been released at once so there’s no waiting around one book at a time. (As George R.R. Martin has us doing)

Recently she talked about how important the first chapter was and had a lot of good points for writers at any level. Check out her blog at:

https://mythsofthemirror.com/2017/03/07/28237/

Yes, change is the constant. We are all changing, growing, reaching out for new experiences and hopefully becoming better for it. I wish Diana the best of luck and lots of sales in her new adventure.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

Ten Steps to Select a Publisher

As an Indie author, I chose Amazon’s Createspace for paperbacks and its Kindle Digital Platform for my ebook distribution. Two reasons dictated this choice : initial cost is free, and I maintain total control of my work. To insure this control, I provide my own ISBN. This means I do all the work unless I contact out work such as designing the cover and editing. I have professionals do that. So, there are costs, but those costs I control.

Marketing is another cost. This cost is a balance between the cost of the program and the revenue it most likely will generate in book sales. Again, I have control, and in January, I spent nothing on marketing and banked the revenue, but paid the price in reduced book sales for that month. Since Amazon pays on a three month lag, March revenue will be down. I knew that and budgeted for it.

However, many new writers, for one reason or another, need the help of a publisher. They are lost as to how to get an editor, how to format, how to find a cover designer, and all the things that have to be done to become a successful author. Perhaps, they have a day job or run a household with active kids. They turn to a wide list of publishers and stare at rows of smiling shark’s teeth. A whole industry of “milk the author” has evolved. It’s an author beware publishing world. However, within that mix are good guys who honestly want to help the bewildered writer. How to find the needle in a haystack?

Why am I blathering on about this? Because I know several writers searching for guidance, and I recently stumbled across Jane Friedman article on what to look at when deciding on a publisher. Her blogs are invaluable and you must check them out.

https://janefriedman.com/10-questions-epublishing/

As you will notice, this blog is dated November 2014, but was recently updated. The information is still valuable. It doesn’t cover all the names of publishers currently out there, but it’s a guide for the questions you need to ask. For example: Just being able to control the price of your book is important, particularly if you want to advertise. An overpriced book with no exposure to readers is a lonely book indeed, even if well written. A bad cover often turns away an interested buyer. Make no mistake, with the advent of easy publishing, the book market is flooded and cleverly marketed books are the ones to gain the overwhelmed reader’s purse. Even so, the market is challenging. These ten suggestions may save  you a lot of money and heartache.

I am now working on the last quarter of the second book in the Terran Trilogy called Somewhat Alien. Once again, I want to suggest Larry Brooks and his storyfix blog. He has several books with his ideas, one called Story Engineering. He provides a framework for writing a story while still letting your characters surprise you.

… And they are surprising me with their actions. Right now the immigration of aliens into our country is a hot topic, and this story is exactly about aliens trying to immigrate onto an inhabited planet. I just have to check the headlines for great story ideas.

This week my book selection is Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell. This book was recommended by Peter from Powell’s Bookstore at Cedars Crossing. Peter is an expert in science fiction and fantasy, and this book delighted me.

If you like Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War ) or Joe Abercrombie, (The First Law Trilogy), Traitor’s Blade will suit. It has a bit of swashbuckle in it.

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats, once the elite corps of 144 men and women, who traveled throughout the kingdom, dispensing the king’s justice. That is, until King Paelis ordered them to stand aside, and his head found is way onto a pike atop his castle, put there by conquering feudal lords intent on expanding their land and power.

Now jeered at and called “tattercoats,” Cantor and his small band must follow secret instructions given by the king in order to unite the ragged remnants of the once proud Greatcoats. If they fail in their mission, their kingdom will be destroyed.

Character and bantering dialog make this a stay-up-late story. His aching loyalty to justice puts Cantor into impossible situations as he struggles to rebuild the Empire and clean out the rot.
The book uses the technique of flashback, returning to the story of the king’s final battle, and then jumps forward to Cantor’s present as he struggles to save his world.

Peter recommended this; I recommend this. Soon, you’ll be recommending it too.

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Filed under Best selling author, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing

Military Fantasy

IMG_0174The holidays are almost upon us. I thank all my readers for becoming a part of the Alysian Universe. This yearhas been an adventure, and I was glad so many came along for the ride.

For December, I advertised through Book Barbarian, a science fiction and fantasy adsite. The cost was low, but it has proven the best of sites this year for return on investment. Several readers bought the whole series.

2014-12-17-14-20-22A blog I recently read that writers might like is a blog by Judith Briles. It talks about a check off list of important elements to consider before publishing your book, or even after publication, if sales are lagging and you want to investigate why.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/12/does-your-book-suck-or-soar/

Then another important link is a blog by Katie Force that offers some startling data concerning Indie authors. With a response of 2000 authors, over half Indie, half hybrid, 1543 or 49% averaged 0 to 5 books per day. At the other end of the spectrum, eight or .43% reported selling over 1000 per day on an average day.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Most were women between 41 and 53 years who responded and wrote in the romance genre. Still an interesting blog on the current state (as of October-November 2016) of genre Indie sales.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/12/survey-indicates-indie-publishing-is-pot-of-gold-for-some-work-in-progress-for-many/?

Cursor's furyLast week I wrote about binge reading and offered several series that were my favorites. This week I want to also mention Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. I reviewed the first two books earlier and just finished the third called Cursor’s Fury.

The story of Tavi continues.

King Gaius recognizes a coming war with the power hungry high Lord Kalarewho makes a pact with the Canin, a savage beastlike enemy of the Realm.

Gaius pulls Tavi out of the Academy and sends him under an assumed name to a newly formed Legion with inexperienced soldiers who are poorly equipped. The unit is sent supposedly out of harm’s way. But a surprise invasion of thousand of rabid Canin set Tavi’s ragtag unit square in the forefront as the only means of protecting the Realm.

This is a very military action book with interesting strategies and surprising twists and turns. You discover Tavi ‘s secret origins and get a little romance along with ferocious battles and non stop action.

I liked it a lot, and it made a great escape from some of the holiday madness.20161222_160215

I have two busy snowshoe Siamese cats who delight in holiday decorations and presents. Keeping an eye on them is a full time job, but they are fun to watch as they deal with all the commotion.

Hope your holidays are filled with lots of fun commotion and writing or reading success.

Christmas horn

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Military in Fantasy, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing

Changes in Publishing and Book Sales

Publishing keeps changing and it’s hard to keep up.

First off, I waphotont to offer a link to a recent blog I read by Kristine Katherine Rusch.

http://kriswrites.com/2016/06/22/business-musings-the-midlist-rules/

If you haven’t read it, you should. Kristine is a prolific writer who writes under several names and across genres along with her husband Dean Wesley Smith. She was editor for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction a while back. (1991-1997) They also live in Oregon, not far away from me.

A few points she makes in the blog are fascinating. She is an Indie advocate who has extensive experience in both traditional publishing and self-publishing.

The discussion starts by talking about authors making $100,000 and compares Indie authors to traditionally published authors.

She says that in the past, traditional publishers focused authors on the number of books to be sold rather than the amount of money earned over time. Authors made money on advances that were paid out over several years because they rarely earned out enough to collect royalties…her example used six years.
In the old days, the book’s launch was expected to sell the most copies right out of the gate–usually hardback, then paperback. (if the author was good enough) Rusch states that often during that first month she would sell the most books because of the hype and as time went by, sales would tail off and the book would be pulled from the bookshelves to make room for newer books.

Now, with the advent of ebooks, sales often increase over time. Ebooks stay available and, with marketing, can continue to do well. My sales in 2015 doubled over the previous year, and I’m on track to double that in 2016.

Also, she said selling several series is more profitable. Along those lines, I’m coming out with my next book World Too Far, and it will be the first in the Terran Trilogy. So, I will have two series, but they will relate to each other.Version 2

Ms. Rusch goes on to make some interesting points, comparing what it takes for an Indie author and a traditionally published author to make $100,000.

There’s math involved, but she keeps it simple. What she fails to mention are the expenses that Indie authors must now incur with book covers, hiring editors and ad sites. Traditional publishers used to bear those costs.

However, a 25% royalty for a traditionally published author is really 25% of the 70% royalty a publisher gets from an ebook on Amazon. So, 70% of say a $5.00 ebook equals $3.50, but the royalty for the author is 25% of that or around $.875. The Indie author gets the full $3.50; the traditionally published author gets $.875 per book. Traditional publishers may offer advances (or not), however, but no royalties are received until the advance is covered. And that’s only for the publisher to know when that happens.

Honestly, I’d rather have control over what my work looks like and how it’s marketed. I want to know how each book is selling at every point in time. Also, I want to control the timing of the release of my next book and not be waiting, maybe years, for the publisher’s timetable or be under a stressful deadline I might not be able to meet.

This week I’m going back to old favorites and want to suggest several series in the space opera/military genre.Fortress Earth

A few names I have recently run across are Ryk Brown, B.V. Larson, Michael Hicks, Vaughan
Hefner, Nick Webb,and Jasper Scott. All sell on Amazon. There are others. What are your favorites?.

Specifically I want to highlight Space Carrier Avalon by Glyn Stewart. Again this was offered at a good price from an ad site and bought through Amazon. If you’re one of those readers that like the military and science details included in a good story, you might like this first book in a series.

Space Carrier AvalonThe spaceship Avalon is the highest decorated battleship of the Castle Federation, and the oldest. Because of increased pirate raids and rumblings at the outer planets, it is making one last tour before heading off to theshipyard to be retired. Captain Blair comes on board, but it is CAG Kyle Roberts who is the main character.
The refit and refurbish uncover a number of irregularities. Stuck in a backwater area of space, the previous crew had gotten lax, and certain officers became engaged in black market selling of the more current fighter planes on board. Kyle has to ferret out the culprits and clean up the mess before they head out.

Of course, right away, Kyle and Captain Blair sense that something is wrong, and the “pirates” are more an undercover plot by the Terran Commonwealth, an old enemy, trying to defeat the Castle Federation.

The book has several strong characters and some nice battle action. Romance also blooms among officers, creating problems and touching moments. The reader is drawn in emotionally to the main characters.

The writing is engaging, but I did scan past several in depth descriptions of battle armaments and weaponry.Starship Mage

Ark RoyalI didn’t realize that this was the same author who wrote Starship’s Mage until I was more than halfway through the book. I recently reported on that book and liked it also.

If you liked Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall, this is a similar book, but is only one of a trilogy in the Castle Federation Book Series.

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A final note. Caught in Time. The first in my Alysian Series will again be offered free June 29 through July 1. If you’re registered with Robin Reads, you might see my ad on June 30.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the sales results from Book Barbarian. For the cost of $25, I had a lot of follow-on sales. I’ll let you know how Robin Reads does.

My beautiful daughter claims that she told a number of Australians about my books who were on her cruise around that time. I had quite a number of readers go and buy the whole series package. That was exciting.

Thanks, mates!

After the US, Australia rang up the biggest sales in June. Knowing what a great sales person my daughter is, I believe her, and attribute a number of those sales to her. She interprets for the hard of hearing who evidently like science fiction and read a lot, especially on cruises.

Thanks, again for spreading the word.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship

Science Fiction Apolcalypse: Water, Water, Nowhere

Image 5-5-16 at 1.50 PM (1)I love Spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are returning, and readers are collecting good novels to load onto their tablets for summer vacation.

I’m trying to put together a marketing strategy so I won’t miss this opportunity. Even though Jason Ladd’s website of author experiences with various ad sites was helpful, I’m still trying to sort out my best path. (See previous blog for link)

I applied to Book Butterfly over a week ago and am still waiting for a response. Who knows where things got gummed up? I sent them an e-mailed indicating that I need to move ahead one way or another. They are expensive and didn’t appear to do that well in the survey, so I might be better off somewhere else, anyway. We ‘ll see.Image 1

Meanwhile, Freebooksy is still generating generous sales from a one day promotion. They were a delight to deal with and reasonably priced for the great results. A reader in Australia purchased the whole collection today, most likely from an April 8th promotion. A shout out to them with a warm wish that they enjoy the whole series.

This week I picked up Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (you know what they say about falling knives). I had read and reviewed his Windup Girl and liked it. Also, this title appeared on a lot of reading lists. So I gave it a try.

Water KnifeThere needs to be a warning posted on the cover. The story contains some of the most intense violence and graphic sex that I have ever encountered in a book. If you are a rabid Mad Maxx fan, then, you’ll love this. If you like sweet romantic or intellectual scifi stories, walk away.

America, particularly the Southwest, is falling into the Apocalypse. Bacigalupi provides a cautionary tale of what could happen if America doesn’t pay attention to how it manages water. The focus is the Colorado River. A water knife cuts water from an area by blowing up dams or water-treatment plants, turning surrounding cities into desert wastelands and redirecting the river’s flow.

The story opens with a hired water knife, named Angel Velasquez, destroying a water-treatment plant at Lake Mead near Culver City, Arizona. The operation effectively cuts off its water and puts the city into a slow death. It also affects Phoenix. Hired thugs from California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado are all used by big politicians to keep the water flowing into their cities by means of extortion, murder or intimidation.

A central figure is powerhouse politico Catherine Chase, who deals with the courts, legal issues, and corrupt politicians in order to protect Nevada and keep the water flowing, especially for Las Vegas. She bosses men like Angel who go out and do the dirty work.

Another central figure is Lucky Monroe, journo, who writes about the dead bodies and exposes the political corruption while she dances along the edge of danger with each story she writes. When she uncovers a story about hidden senior water rights that everyone wants to get their hands on, she is targeted and tortured for answers. A trail of dead bodies and shifting alliances follows the search for these elusive rights, turning her into a girl on the run.

The viewpoint of the downtrodden casualties in this battle is Maria. She is a migrant Texan, struggling to survive by whatever means she can,  but she’s trapped by the guns of the border guards who prevent her from crossing the border and leaving Arizona.

Gritty, powerful, thought provoking, Bacigalupi makes you thankful for the water in your tap, the safety and comfort of your home, and the freedom to go where you want, as he instills fear for a future of horror if we don’t pay attention now. It’s Mad Maxx combined with the House of Cards on steroids.

Just fair warning. You won’t forget this one anytime soon. Sweet dreams.

Drowned Cities

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Disaster Fiction, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Self-publishing

Zany Alternate Reality Science Fiction

Image 1Is it me, or are characters are not behaving properly nowadays?

By this I don’t mean loose morals, heavy sex, betrayal and murder. That’s been going on for centuries. I mean jumping out of books or TV shows within a book—not staying put in their storyline .

In 1969 John Fowler wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman and offered up three different endings—reader’s choice. I hated that. For me, what had been a rich believable story got flattened into fiction when the ending became optional.Redshirts

Now John Scalzi’s wins the Hugo for…spoiler alert…Redshirts, a story in which the protagonists discover they are merely characters in a TV show whose lives are manipulated by the writer. A parody on Star Trek, anyone found wearing a redshirt on an away mission should count himself in grave peril.

So the main characters hie off to Hollywood to take back control of their scenes, er, lives. For me, the book got a little silly.

Now this week I read the Eyre Affair and ran into a similar theme—but this time it had a lot of silly in it.

Jane Eyre Affair

Thursday Next is a member of Special Operatives in literary detection known as SpecOps. She’s like FBI for literature. The story takes place in a surreal future in Great Britain where time travel is routine and cloning commonplace, although the big cloning feature are pet Dodoes. Of course, Thursday has one. Naming the main character Thursday Next should have been the first big giveaway.

In the story, literature is taken extremely seriously, and forging Byronic verse is considered a felony. A continuing argument is who really authored the Shakespearean plays, and audiences participate in certain well-known theater productions, such as Hamlet. Thursday’s aunt Polly actually gets lost in Wadsworth I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and the big bad corporate villain searching for the ultimate weapon is named Jack Schitt, no shit.

 Thursday Next is called in when the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewitt is stolen and a character is rewritten throughout every subsequent copy. Archeron Hades is the main villain out to extort money and mayhem by threatening to change famous literature. Thursday confronts him during a robbery, but he gets away.

As you might guess, Jane Eyre becomes a target, and Thursday Next finds herself trapped in the story, trying to track down Hades and his accomplice, Felix. Felix gets killed a lot, but keeps wearing the same old face on new bodies. Meanwhile, there is a side romance that rather parallels pieces of Jane Eyre involving Thursday and her ex-boyfriend.

Okay, so you have a taste of the zany story where characters, such as Mr. Rochester, step out of the story to help Thursday while the narrative is elsewhere in the original manuscript.

There are readers who love this chaos, so I am mentioning the book for them, but I’m more of a traditionalist and want my characters to remain in their stories. I struggled through this one.

Lost in a Good Book

As a writer, I must admit that my characters often take unexpected turns and sometimes grow bigger than called for in my original plot. There is an organic quality to my writing, although I outline ahead of time and know what my ending is going to look like. But everyone stays in the story. No one walks through my office door and demands a rewrite.

Do you control your characters or do they run lose throughout your story?

If you need help, and who doesn’t, Jay Lee, runs the Choosy Bookworm and has forty websites that he recommends. Several I have already mentioned in previous blogs, but they are worth mentioning again.

If you’re new to the game, hbpublications has a comprehensive blog on book launching marketing methods that might offer some helpful ideas.

https://choosybookworm.com/resources-for-writing-marketing-books/

http://hbspublications.blogspot.ca/2014/03/your-book-launch-marketing-methods-and.html?m=1&utm_content=bufferbcd0b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

My new banner is of the deepest image ever in the universe. The Hubble Telescope took a totally dark spot in space and pointed its telescope there for an extended period of time. Thousands of galaxies we had never noticed appeared.

Makes you think.

Enjoy your spring.

daffodils-737979-1




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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, Book within a Book Science Fiction, ebook science fiction, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

An Author’s Outrage

IMG_0193Outrage.

Several Linked-in discussion groups and bloggers are outraged at Amazon for requiring the table of contents be located at the front of all their books.

Holy Mackerel, where else would you put it? The table of contents purpose is to give the reader an overview of the contents of a book.

Hummmm…turns out scammers are putting the table of contents at the back to get a large page count so they will be paid by Kindle at a per page rate through the Kindle reading platform.

Blog rantings and ravings at big bad Amazon are appearing.

What?

It costs nothing to fix if you are self-published, and if you aren’t, you shouldn’t care because you aren’t getting paid–your publisher is. Put it at the front where it belongs or just skip it.

Sounds like the same kind of people who complained when Amazon took down paid and associated reviews that plumped up the ratings. Authors were swapping reviews with each other under promises of five stars whether they read the books or not.

Screams and yells erupted when reviews were pulled. And yes, a large number of honest reviews got axed. Me included. The honest, paying once again because of scammers. Gee thanks.

Save us from those who are trying to scam everyone nowadays. It’s pervasive. I’m tired of receiving annoying phone calls from someone with an Indian accent claiming they are from “windows” and I need to fix the virus in my computer right now…and if I just open my computer, he will help me.

Right.

Not to mention the “IRS” calls, the bogus credit card offers, the email attacks… need I go on?

Now we have scammers stuffing junk, copied material from anywhere, putting on a cover and title and publishing it in order to reap the profits from KNF. And they are reaping large profits out of a set amount that is divided up by other authors. In other words, if the amount is, say fourteen million, that pie is divided out among the Kindle Unlimited qualifying authors who get less per page if the count is big. One blog did a screen shot of over thirty thousand in royalties for one month by a fifteen year old kid.

And authors are yelling at Amazon?

Bottom line is, dear authors, most likely you wouldn’t have a book published if it weren’t for Amazon, or have you forgotten what publishing was like ten years ago?

It’s a shame our free society gets punished by charlatans out to weasel a buck from the unsuspecting public who, in turn, point to the self publishers and accuse them of putting out shoddy books. It gives self-publishers a bad rap.

Then when Amazon tries to fix the problem, authors set up a hue and cry.

Is any one else getting tired of these scammers and ripoff artists? Or tired of ungrateful authors who don’t have a publisher grabbing out a large chunk of their royalties because they can now publish free through CreateSpace? Remember editors turning down tons of good manuscripts because of the flood of submissions they encountered every month in their inbox, never accepting do-agains.

Unfortunately, Amazon is the target because they have revolutionized the publishing industry by providing an alternative and cheap way to publish.

No longer do new writers have to jump through hoops of query letters, finding agents, and a system where only a small percentage of eager writers get to make it through a very subjective process.

All I have to say, as an author with nine books and counting, is thank you, Amazon.Bands of Mourning

I appreciate you trying to fix the problems that deceptive people create so that readers (me) can get a true picture of what they’re buying, and authors (me) receive a fair portion of the Kindle kitty.

See the books at right? Real stories. Most near four hundred pages with honest reviews. Unfortunately, not enough….but I didn’t pay for a one.

Once again, thank you Amazon, for making them possible and providing a way a modest income author can fulfill her dream.

And next week when I catch my breath, I hope to review Brandon Sanderson’s new book, The Bands of Mourning. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Amazon publishing, blog information, Book reviews, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Self-publishing

Weddings: Real life and Fantasy Fiction

IMG_9518When you are writing as an author, often outside life events interrupt a somewhat disciplined schedule. Thankfully this time, the event was a happy one–the marriage of my only daughter.2016-02-06 16.56.48

And what a wonderful wedding it was…filled with longtime friends, treasured family, whirlwind activities, last minute panics, and satisfying solutions. Laughter, dancing, tasty food and toasts filled a church steeped with her new family’s tradition. The church’s hall where we celebrated bore her new husband’s name.

So writing and marketing fell by the wayside. A blog went overdue and edits ran late.
The world didn’t collapse

My latest marketing experiment was to see if discounting my first book in the series, Caught in Time, would be more profitable than offering it free. I used the Amazon Countdown to retain the 70% royalty and listed it on Bargainbooksy. I had previously listed it on Freebooksy to surprising success, and had heard the free path returned more. (Mark Coker blog)

He was right. Although I got paid with a discount, last year the free download generated three times more full retail sales through the sales of follow-on books in the series. This time I had very few follow-on sales from other books in the series.

What does this mean?

There could be many answers. One is that Caught in Time has been offered free several times and interested buyers already have it. Maybe I need to vary the ad site.

Or, January isn’t the hot month for ebook sales I thought it was. Too much getting back into the routine for extracurricular reading. Then, maybe with no outside marketing, people weren’t as aware. With all the wedding plans, I did no Facebook, Twitter, phone chats or any other spread the news stuff, other than a mention on this blog. I was distracted.

Who knows? I’d be interested in your experience as an author as to what has worked best for you, and what fell flat. Maybe we can share a little.

photo1.jpgMeanwhile, I’m commencing my writing and am writing about a spaceship’s encounter with a black hole. Nova is on my Tivo watch list and has been invaluable in helping learn the physics involved. Our understanding of the universe has expanded greatly over the last few decades, and Nova and the Discovery Channel have done a superb job of passing along that knowledge to the public.Jeweled Fire

Last week, I was excited to read the latest book by an old favorite author…Sharon Shinn. She has a series called Elemental Blessings and deals with a place where “Primes” have power over certain elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

Jeweled Fire is the story of tempestuous and fiery Corrine, one of the four princesses of Welce, who thought to be queen. Unfortunately, circumstances change for that path, and to carve out a royal life, she stows away with her bodyguard, Foley, onto a ship bound for the country of Malinqua. There she plans to make a play to marry one of the Empress’s four nephews, maybe rule as a queen.

But her training and expertise in navigating a royal court don’t prepare her enough for the intrigue and danger she finds there. Each nephew has a serious flaw, and soon she finds that she isn’t the only princess hoping to win a crown. Three other young royal women arrive at court, vying for a kingly hand in marriage, only to find themselves hostages rather than guests.

Corrine encounters more than she anticipated, and it is only with the loyal protection of Foley and her new friends that she can hope to survive the deadly game that she must play.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? More for the female romance reader than the serious hard core science geek, but if you fit that mold…enjoy.

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