Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matchbook and Oyster

Two new programs for readers debuted this week. Yesterday, Amazon's Matchbook program went live. If you've ever bought a paper book from Amazon, you may be able to purchase the eBook for a reduced price. The catch is that the publisher has to opt into the program. Out of all the books I've purchased from Amazon over the years, only two are in the Matchbook program, and both of those books were bought as gifts for others. I'm not sure how much I would use this program; it would depend on what books are available. I've bought at least three eBooks that I already own in paper, but those three are favorites of mine. I wouldn't necessarily want eBooks of all my paperbacks.

Smashwords recently partnered with Oyster, a company that allows you to read all the books you want for a flat fee of $9.95/month. As a voracious reader, I might be able to save money with a program like this, though I'm not sure how many books in my To Read collection would be part of this program. However, it's for iPads and iPhones. We do have a couple of iPads in our house, but I don't use them for reading.

As a shameless plug, I will say that Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes are both part of the Matchbook program, and all of my stories will be available through Oyster. (I'm not sure if they're on Oyster yet, since I don't see a search field where you can enter titles. Maybe you have to sign up first before you can do that.) As a writer, I want to disperse my books as widely as possible so readers can find them.

Has anyone tried either of these services as a reader? If so, what do you think of them? Indie writers, are you participating in Matchbook or Oyster? Why or why not? Please let me know in the comments.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh

Today I have a special guest on my blog; you're probably already familiar with him, his blog, and his works. I originally hoped to interview Alex J. Cavanaugh for the Blog Ring of Power, but that format didn't work this time. So here's the full interview with Alex. Enjoy!

 When and why did you begin writing?

 I started when I was a teen and I wrote so I could read stories I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote?

I vaguely recall writing a few short stories, but I remember my first full length manuscript very clearly. It was incomplete and not very good. Sat in a drawer for thirty years before I decided to rewrite it from scratch. It became CassaStar, my first published novel.

When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?

I guess when I signed the contract for my first book. I still don’t feel like a professional though.

What genre do you write?

Science fiction – space opera/adventure

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Rock star! Believe it or not, I don’t think I’d ever want to be a full time author.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

When I’m working on a manuscript, some things just have to go. Usually I play fewer games and watch less television, which is probably a good thing.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

Two to four hours during the week. On the weekends, it’s usually double that.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

Strongest criticism was that I was a child trying to rewrite Star Wars. It just made me chuckle.

My first book makes a lot of women cry, which they tell me is a good thing. (Although I still feel bad.) But the best compliment was from a reader connected perfectly with the characters and said I’d mastered emotion and intimacy.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

This online community! I get so much support from fans and fellow writers here.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

I learn from them. I try to make the next book better.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Most are sparked through movies and music.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t think I’ve ever had it. I outline my stories in so much detail before I begin writing that I never get stuck.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

Extensive outline of the plot and characters – if I didn’t, my stories would wander into the desert and never return.

Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

Both! I have two test readers who get an early read on the manuscript and then several critique partners who go over it after many edits. All of them have helped me so much!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?

I used to think writing from a woman’s point of view (or a kid’s) was difficult, but I’ve since done both. I guess now writing anything dark would be a challenge. My mind just doesn’t go there.

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

CassaStorm is the third book in the trilogy and follows Byron as he deals with galactic war, a possible alien invasion, and a son plagued by nightmares. It came out in September and is available in both print and all eBook formats: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Goodreads.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Writing from the point of view of a ten-year-old. I don’t have kids and it’s been a LONG time since I was that age.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Byron’s son has a surprise encounter with someone in the desert, and I really liked the scene and their exchange.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Acceptance, approval, and love. I tackle racial differences in this novel and the need of every human for approval, plus the love between parent and child.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

My publisher’s illustrator always asks questions before designing the cover art so he can capture the essence of the story. I think he did a really amazing job with the third book.

Tell us about your route to success –how did you land your agent/publisher?

I’d queried a lot of science fiction publishers with no luck. I started turning to small publishers, and that’s when I finally got an offer.

What are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the most important is connecting with the characters, because that can propel the reader through an average story.

What tools are must-haves for writers?

I could provide a long list, but I’ll just say critique partners are critical.

What do you feel is the key to your success?

I write stories driven by characters that appeal to readers outside of my genre. Success has also come because I was persistent in my online activities and involvement.

What are your current / future project(s)?

Right now, I’m not sure. I never imagined more than one book, let alone a trilogy. I’m not sure if I will continue writing or pursue my music instead.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

WebsiteTwitter Goodreads -

CassaStorm, By Alex J Cavanaugh

 From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

 Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019

Science fiction-adventure/space opera

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

$16.95 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

 Find CassaStorm:

Barnes and Noble -

Amazon -

Goodreads -

Book trailer

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fussy Librarian

Here's a relatively new site that offers something for both readers and authors. The Fussy Librarian offers you free personalized book suggestions based on the type of content you prefer. Many sites allow you to specify your favorite genres, but not all of them will filter books according to the levels of sex, violence, and profanity you're willing to tolerate (or enjoy). After you fill in your preferences, you'll receive e-mails whenever the Fussy Librarian finds a possible match for you.

Authors can currently get free promotion of their work by helping spread the word about this site. Eventually the site will start charging for listings, so it's wise to get in now. To find out more, click here.(And in case you're wondering, I do have a promotion for Lyon's Legacy scheduled for Saturday.)

Happy reading and promoting to all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

So, What's New?

Since we currently don't have a Blog Ring of Power scheduled (more will be coming soon), I thought this would be a good time to encourage some discussion.

What books are people currently reading?--I'm reading Bloody Spirits, a Victorian mystery by M. Lousia Locke. This is the third in the series, and I'm enjoying it.

What books are people currently writing/revising?--I'm still revising Season's Beginning, the prequel to my fantasy Season Avatars series. Since the revision is taking longer than I planned, I won't be doing NaNoWriMo next month.

Anything else people want to discuss? Please share in the comments.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lyon's Legacy--A Bestseller!

As I've mentioned before on this blog, Lyon's Legacy is on sale on Amazon for $0.99 this month. If you're going to have a sale, you need to promote it. I therefore bought a couple of ads in BookGorilla, Kindle Books and Tips, and Kindle Nation Daily. The ads aren't cheap, but as my dad pointed out, I can write them off on my taxes as business expenses. This isn't my first time running ads for my books, and while they do move books, so far I haven't made a profit from them. So I wasn't sure what to expect today. When I checked my sales at noon, I'd sold a few books, but my sales rank hadn't changed. However, later on, this is what I saw on Amazon:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#79 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#79 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel

As it was my first time in a paid best seller list, I was excited. "Letters to Psyche" did rank higher in its category (I think it had something to do with Myths and Legends), but that was when it was free through KDP Select.

Of course, since then I've been constantly checking my stats. Although Lyon's Legacy fell off the overall Science Fiction list, it continued to rise on the Time Travel list, climbing to #44. Here's what I saw around 10:00 last night:

Here's a close-up:

This morning, I'm up to #10 in time travel. Who knows what will happen today with the Kindle Nation Daily ad? 

Admittedly, it doesn't always take a lot of sales to make it to a best seller list, especially in a subcategory. I'm sure Lyon's Legacy will fall off the charts again when the promotions are over. But it's still exciting, and hopefully some of these readers will go on to read Twinned Universes and my other stories too. 

Of course, this celebration calls for a Beatles video:

 Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and see you Monday!

Science of the Week, 10/18/13

Here are some of the most interesting science articles I read this week:

Kissing helps us find the right partner--and keep them

Creating a permanent bacteria barrier

Eat more, weigh less: worm study provides clues to better fat-loss therapies for humans

Researchers find that rust can power up artificial photosynthesis

Aging tumor cells may be an effective cancer treatment

Bending world's thinnest glass shows atoms' dance

Scientists identify protein linking exercise to brain health

Outside influence: genes outside influence have disproportionate effect

A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand

Genetically fingerprinting pearls

Study finds Oreos just as addicting as cocaine in lab rats (maybe it's time to stop letting my son have them!)

Method of recording brain activity could lead to mind-reading devices (scary, but could be a useful plot point for me)

From Time: Alive and well in a block of ice (possible evidence that cells can live and repair DNA in space or last hundreds of thousands of years)

A cosmic discovery that would surprise even Einstein

I could post more articles, but I'm a little distracted right now. Tune in in half an hour to see why....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Begininng Bath Bombs

I think it was Talli Roland (I don't have the exact link, sorry) who lamented recently that bloggers were focusing too much on book promotion and not enough on personal details. I confess my blog used to be more personal when I first started it, but now I mostly talk about books, writing, or science. So today instead I'll share with you a few photos of a non-writing project: homemade bath bombs. Instead of paying six bucks for a fancy bath bomb in the mall, I purchased citric acid, some scents, a mold, and a couple other materials from Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies. Then, with the help of an assistant, I tried a very basic recipe, which you can find here. To the left, you can see my son measuring out the citric acid. We also used baking soda, a milk-oatmeal-honey scent, and witch hazel.

Trying to mold the bath bombs--it was hard to get them out of the mold, so I formed them by hand instead.

The bath bombs--or blobs--drying out. I must have moistened the mix too much, since the bath bombs flattened out after I took this picture. We'll give them a try tomorrow.

So, have you tried anything new at home lately? How did that work out?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

At Scene 13--What Scares You?

All this month at the Scene 13 group blog, we're sharing what scares us. To find out what scares me, please click on this link.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blog Ring of Power--Katherine Lampe

Today on the Blog Ring of Power, we're in the middle of an interview with Katherine Lampe. Here's the schedule for the rest of the interview:

Part One (About You)--Theresa--10/10
Part Two (The Writing Life)--Emily--10/11
Part Four (About Your Current Work)--Vicki--10/15
Part Five (Words of Wisdom)--Terri--10/16

For now, let's learn about Katherine's creative process:

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I have a three-step process for dealing with writer’s block. The first step is not to let myself freak out. This can be really hard, because of my tendency to let myself spiral away from the simple fact of not writing (or not writing anything I see as worthwhile) into the morass of, “Oh my god, that’s it, I’m NEVER going to be able to write again! My life as I have come to know it is over! No—my WHOLE life is over! I have nothing!” Blah, Blah, Blah ad infinitum. So the first thing is to disengage from that thought process as much as possible, acknowledge the fear that it comes from and understand that it’s natural to experience it but that it’s only fear, not necessarily truth.

The second part is to back off. I—and I think a lot of other writers—have a tendency when I’m feeling stuck to over-think and pick and let my mind dwell on the problem I’m having, whether it be the lack of any idea, or the lack of motivation to write, or whatever. You see of lists out there, “So-and-so’s ten rules for writing,” and like that, and almost always once of the top entries on the list is “Write EVERY DAY! Whether you feel like it or not!” And I personally feel this is very bad advice, because it encourages a person to operate at a level opposite to his or her true experience. It promotes the idea that you have to prove yourself as a writer by conforming to a particular standard which someone else selected. People who are writers are going to write; even if they’re away from it for a while, they’ll go back, they’ll challenge themselves and seek to improve. They don’t need some rule to tell them to do it. And forcing yourself to go back to your desk or your pen and ink or whatever when the energy just isn’t there is actually damaging. It can make what you love hateful and frustrating, and make a temporary setback last longer than it otherwise would. So my second technique is to let it go, get away, do something else or as long as it takes before the urge comes back and the ideas start to flow again.

The third part is, once you’ve got the necessary detachment, figure out what the block is trying to tell you. For me, writer’s block is almost always a message that I need to change direction (sometimes in my personal life, not just my work, but I’m not going to go into detail about that here). The more I try to muscle through, sticking to an idea or system that doesn’t work for me—and I believe that if creative artists listen to and trust themselves, they always know inside what does and doesn’t work—the worse it gets and the worse I feel. After I wrote A Maid in Bedlam, the third book in my Caitlin Ross series, I tried to launch right into the next book, or what I thought was the next book. And I got about 400 manuscript pages into it, and it stank; it didn’t work. I put it away and didn’t write another word for almost two years. I couldn’t. I kept trying to think how to make this unworkable idea work, and of course I couldn’t come up with a solution. Eighteen months later, after I finished The Parting Glass, I went back to it. I cut 200 pages and started a new plot. It still didn’t work, so I cut everything except the first two chapters and tried again. That didn’t work, either. So I started over, new plot, new characters, everything. I got 400 pages into that, and realized I hated it.

For the next twenty-four hours, I was convinced my career was over. Then I remembered this idea I’d had for the series ever since I’d started it. It happened at a point in the series timeline I was trying to skip over. I’d made a conscious decision not to implement the idea because it involved some personal issues for me, and I didn’t want to cope with them. But I realized I needed to write that book, to deal with that piece of the timeline and not just say, “ten months later…” When I figured that out, my writer’s block vanished. I got what it had been trying to tell me.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Character has always been easy for me. I’m a character and dialog-based author more than anything, although I see facial expression and body language pretty well, too. They might come from some visceral sensation of my own, but for the most part it seems like they just show up and tell me about themselves. It’s like talking to the people who hang around at a party after everyone else has gone home, when you get into deep topics of personality and hopes and fears, but not so much about events. You simultaneously find out everything about who they are and nothing at all about what they’ve done.

Plot is much more difficult. For the longest time, I had no idea of how to build a plot. Or maybe I had an idea, but I didn’t like any of the common ways people go about plot building. The fact that I write fantasy even makes it harder, because I have personal views that don’t jibe with fantasy themes like The Struggle With Ultimate Evil or even Ignoramus Discovers Magic. And I hate the kind of stupidity you often see in characters who pursue courses and make decisions that no person with half a brain would consider, simply to make a dumb mistake to advance the plot. I actually didn’t begin to be able to come up with decent plots of my own until I spent a year reading every Cozy in the library and looking at how they were put together. And though I ultimately didn’t end up writing Cozies—not really—it helped me simplify and define what I do write. Essentially every one of my books has the same basic plot: Main characters solve a magical puzzle in the context of their interpersonal relationships. That premise goes a long way. Aside from that, I don’t stick to a formula. I tried it, when I was struggling with writer’s block for that long time period. I thought, “Okay, all the books have these particular elements, so I’ll shove as many in there as possible.” And it did give me a plot of a sort, but it was ultimately unsatisfying.

I do have one conceit: the title of every book in the series is the title of a song in traditional Irish or Scottish music. It’s in keeping with the main characters being musicians.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

A little bit of both. I don’t write detailed outlines, the way some people do, but I usually have a better than general idea what’s going to happen in a book going in, and I add to and adapt the idea as I go along. Often I make a list plot, a list of single sentences describing significant events. 1. S. shows up and asks for C.’s help; 2. S. vanishes; 3. T. comes looking for S.; he and C. fight about it. That kind of thing. And I almost always know how the book ends right from the beginning, and where the chapter breaks come. But stories have their own lives, and I like to leave room for them to grow. When you’ve planned everything in advance, it’s very difficult to let go of that when the plot takes an unexpected turn.

Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

Critique is invaluable. No matter how many times an author goes back and edits, there are going to be typos, awkward paragraphs, and things that just won’t make sense to a reader who isn’t living with the story and characters day in and day out for months at a time. You need an outside eye to clue you into those things. That being said, getting good critique is like pulling a dragon’s teeth without benefit of anesthesia. I’ve looked for it from writing groups both in “real” life and on line, and probably 95% of the critique I’ve gotten from those sources has been worthless. People don’t know how to give or receive critique, or they’re only really interested in being told their own work is wonderful and not in giving an honest response to anyone else’s, or they insist on telling you what story you “should” have written instead of addressing the story you submitted. And, unfortunately, some people seem invested in just being mean for no apparent reason, as if they believe giving critique is the same as being overwhelmingly negative about everything. Beta readers also have a tendency to disappear (at least in my experience). They get through the first few chapters of your manuscript and then you never hear from them again.

My best critique partner is my husband. He’s a high school English teacher, so he knows his details. He’s familiar with my style and my world, so he isn’t going to suggest changes that don’t fit in with either of those things. He’s smart and creative himself, and he’s probably not going to disappear on me. But he still misses things, simply because he is familiar with the same stuff I am. So I have a couple other faithful Beta readers I can trust to pick up on the details he misses. It makes the writing life a great deal less lonely.

How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?

It’s hard to say how much time I spend on research. I get a lot of ideas from personal experience, and I’ve always studied how people think and act and find ways to live in the world, so in that sense you could say I’m always doing research. Everything goes into a big compost pile in my brain, and when it’s cooked long enough pieces of stories come out. But there are also times when I’m writing, or planning on writing, something, and I need to find out more about it. So I might ask someone who knows, or read a book on the topic, or spend a few hours on the Internet looking into it. I use forums where I can ask authorities on the particular subject wherever possible; it’s just more real to me to get people’s personal stories. I use Google Maps quite a lot when I’ve set a story in a place I’m less familiar with, just to refresh my memory of how things are laid out and put together. Sometimes my husband and I have gone on trips so I can scout things out in person. I’m going to need to take a trip to Scotland somewhere down the line.

About the Author

When she was twelve years old, Katherine Lampe was thrown out of Sunday School class by her minister father for advancing a symbolist interpretation of the story of the expulsion from Eden. This marked the beginning of her career as an Iconoclast, which she pursues on a daily basis by asking difficult questions until people run away in terror. As a writer, she is a staunch proponent of the Independent movement and is outspoken against the sexism, classism, and narcissism often found in traditional publishing. Her Caitlin Ross series of paranormal novels follow the adventures of a witch married to a shaman in Colorado, and explore problems ranging from abuse of power to dysfunctional families. The fifth in the series, The Cruel Mother, was released in September, 2013, and Katherine is currently working on the sixth, to be titled Demon Lover.

THE CRUEL MOTHER: When Caitlin Ross was fifteen, her mother had her committed to a mental institution in hopes of curing her of magic. After a sympathetic psychiatrist helped Caitlin secure her release, she left her family, and ever since she has kept as much distance between herself and them as possible.
But when her sister calls to tell Caitlin her mother is dying, she yearns for some kind of reconciliation and chooses to return to her childhood home. In Detroit, Caitlin runs into her former psychiatrist, who asks for her help with one of his patients, a troubled teenaged girl. Although Caitlin at first refuses to get involved, escalating family tensions drive her to visit the girl as an escape. Discovering the source of the girl’s problems will lead Caitlin into a world she’s only imagined, one that holds a startling revelation about her own origins.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:

Website: is my official website, but I actually am terrible at keeping it up. If anyone wants to take on web design, please contact me!
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?

All my books are available in both print and electronic format.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Just Because....

It's John Lennon's birthday again, so I simply must celebrate with a couple of songs.

"Julia" shows the softer side of John. His mother's name was Julia, and it's no coincidence that there's a character in Twinned Universes who's also named Julia. Julia Kee will get a starring role in the next Catalyst Chronicles story.

And because this one is always fun, let's watch John play the keyboard with his elbows on "I'm Down":

Don't forget to scroll down for Indie Life!

The Indie Life: Celebrating Two Years as an Indie

This weekend, Lyon's Legacy celebrated its second birthday, making it two years since I began my indie journey. If my novella had been traditionally published (which is a big if, since traditional publishers tend not to publish stories at this length as standalone stories), it probably would have been long gone from the bookstores. Thankfully, Amazon can keep eBooks on sale indefinitely, and I can transfer my work into other formats, such as paper and audio. I can also continue to promote my work, and though sales take a while to build, they have gone up each year.

I'm celebrating my second anniversary by putting the Amazon eBook of Lyon's Legacy on sale for $0.99 all month long, so if you haven't read it yet, now is a good time to get it.

Here are some thoughts on indie life after two years:

1. Patience: Even with book promotion (see my thoughts on that below), it takes time to sell books and develop a fanbase. It can be frustrating when you have little time to write but want more time for it and can't get it. It's also frustrating when sales are slow, especially when you're investing your own money in editing, book covers, and book promotion, and you need to earn it back. How do you handle this? I remind myself this is a long game and that every writing session gets me closer to my goal.

2. Goals: I originally planned to publish six stories this year, but I don't think I'll make it. I published two short stories in January and a novel in March, but it's taking me longer than I planned to write the next works in the Catalyst Chronicles series, and one project that I thought would be a novella has turned into a novel. I'd rather take a little longer to get the stories right than to push them through prematurely. However, as my craft improves, I'd like to cut down the number of drafts I need to make a story publishable. Even if I don't make my goal for this year, it helps to have an idea of which projects I want to write and when I want to publish them. This will be especially important once I start juggling two series.

3. Book promotion: I personally haven't seen much response to Goodreads ads/giveaways or blog tours, though they do provide exposure. Ads on sites like BookGorilla have better results, though they're not outstanding. Maybe I need to work on my book descriptions, or maybe it has something to do with the genre. There could be other factors involved too. I think with book promotion, you have to be willing to try lots of things, but you always have to keep writing. According to writers such as Kristine Katherine Rusch, the best book promotion is your next book, and the more works you have available, the more your books can promote each other. (That's why I want to get more shorter works out.)

4. Support: I've been touched by the support I've received from my friends and high school classmates. I also enjoy being part of the indie community and the larger writing community. Whether it's helping out at the BroadUniverse table at a convention or promoting another author on my blog, it's good to give support too.

5. The good stuff: Here are a few things I enjoy about being an indie writer: Picking the editor and cover artist I work with; taking my family out to dinner to celebrate when I publish a work; being able to write what I want, put it out when it's ready, and release it in as many formats as I can manage; and having control over my career.

Here's to many more years of indie writing and many more short stories, novellas, and novels!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Back on the Blog Chain: You Say It's Your Birthday....

This round of the Blog Chain is in honor of Christine, who is celebrating her birthday. (I think it was yesterday, actually.) I hope you had a happy birthday, Christine! Here's her topic:

Today is my Birthday. To celebrate, I want to hear about one of your character's favorite birthday memories.

Wait, we're supposed to give them happy memories? I'm doing this all wrong. And I obviously can't use Paul from Twinned Universes. At his fifth birthday party, Yvonne, daughter of his parents' lab mates, threw vanilla ice cream in his face when he said she had to marry him because there was no one else their age on the spaceship where they lived. Ever since then, poor Paul hates vanilla and is determined to get Yvonne to love him back.

A better example comes from Day of All Seasons, the working title for one of my Season Avatar books. I will probably publish it as Chaos Season once it's ready. This fantasy series focuses on Season Avatars, magicians who serve the Four Gods of the Seasons. Each magician is born on a solstice or equinox, which are also religious festivals. This particular scene is set on the spring equinox, Gwen's birthday. Here she is receiving a present from the other three Season Avatars from her year:

“Wait, Gwen.” Jenna held up a hand, then turned slightly to Ysabel and Kay, raising an eyebrow. They nodded slightly. Jenna turned to look at Gwen with clear, grass-green eyes. “All Seasons isn’t comin’ tomorrow. You have time to celebrate your birthday with us first, don’t you?”
    Gwen laughed ruefully. “I almost forgot about it.”
    “Oh, we wouldn’t let you forget.” A wicked gleam appeared in Jenna’s eyes. “Today’s the day you officially become older than us, after all.”
    “Don’t start anything, Jenna,” Kay said. “Who’s going to give it to her?”
    “Bel can do it,” Jenna answered. She waved Gwen to sit down again. “Close your eyes.”
    Bemused, Gwen did as she was told. She heard Ysabel leave the sitting room, then return to stand behind Gwen. Jenna’s skirts swished as she joined Ysabel. “I’ll hold her hair out of the way.”
    “What are you doing?” Gwen asked.
    They didn’t answer. Instead, Jenna lifted her hair up, and Ysabel reached around her neck. Cold metal fell next to Gwen’s skin. “There,” Ysabel said. “You can look now.”
    Gwen opened her eyes and looked down. She nearly whistled in astonishment. “My family crest! I didn’t think I’d get it back so quickly.”
    “Lathtin says he’s sorry he had to break the old chain, but it was the only way we could think of to take your pendant without making you suspicious.”
    “But why give me something I already had –” Gwen reached up to fondle her family crest and touched what felt like a knot in the chain. She looked down at it. “What’s this?”
    “We had that made for you,” Kay told her, offering her a mirror. “Look.”
    Gwen examined the chain. It wasn’t one long chain, but a series of short ones linked together by gold letters. “Our initials!”
    “It was my idea,” Kay said. “I thought you’d like to have something showing how the four of us are linked.”
    “I thought maybe we should use the symbols of our seasons,” Jenna said, “but it was a little more difficult.”
    “When did you have this made?”
    “The Sola Fall made all the arrangements for us,” Ysabel said.
    “Even so, it comes from the three of you, my three sisters in magic,” Gwen said. “Thank you. Thank all of you so much.” She wanted to thank them for understanding her, for encouraging her good qualities and accepting her in spite of her worst traits — but her voice was too thick to escape her throat. So she hugged all three of them, letting the link convey her feelings.

I'm not sure yet if this scene will appear in the final book. I wrote Day of All Seasons ages ago, when I was first learning to write fiction, so it needs lot of revising before I publish it.

For more birthday celebrations, please start with Kate's post and then visit Christine's blog tomorrow.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Blog Ring of Power--Joshua Legg

Today I have with me Joshua Legg, here on his final stop of his interview with the Blog Ring of Power. You can find the rest of his interview at these links:

About You--Vicki--10/1
The Writing Life--Terri--10/2
The Creative Process--Theresa--10/3
About Your Current Work--Emily--10/4

And now for some words of wisdom:

Tell us about your route to success – were there any bumps and bruises along the way?

“Etched in Soul and Skin” was the first thing I ever tried to get professionally published, and was the first novel I ever wrote, which is apparently quite a feat in itself. However, I did write over 120 query emails, and as you well know in this business, all but one were eventually rejected.

Also, given hindsight, I’m sure some of those rejections came from my near complete lack of web presence. I don’t have a facebook page or a blog, just a twitter that gets updated once in a blue moon. It’s increasingly important to have that kind of social mind in this day and age and I just fell behind spectacularly.

 Why did you decide to go with an indie publisher? Did you use/do you have an agent?

The VAST majority of my query emails were to agents, something like 118 of my 120-ish. While I had some hopeful nibbles every few months, each one eventually turned into rejections. As I’ve said before, I’m sure my near complete lack of web presence was probably somewhat of a killer in their eyes. It also wasn’t a “last ditch” effort to go with a small publisher, but a decision I hope leads to future success. Now that I have proven I have a work worth being picked up by someone, hopefully future query emails to agents will have a bit more luck, especially if I continue keeping my presence small.

What are the most important elements of good writing?
For me, aside from a solid grasp of the language the book is written in, the most important thing in any story is the passion the writer had for it. Sometimes, you can tell when an author is just going through the motions, or describing procedures like a Wikipedia article instead of trying to convey the gut feelings and emotions of a story. I’ve noticed in my critiques of other people’s works that I tend to offer notes about the feelings of words more than technical things. I often find myself glossing over lists of details and names when reading just because I don’t find them important. I’d rather know how a character feels when looking up at an imposing building, rather than what its windows look like. It takes real passion for literary storytelling to have that kind of thinking while writing, in my opinion.

What do you feel is the key to your success?

The story I wrote came from more than just a desire to make a quick buck, following market trends and the ‘hot’ genre of the moment. I NEEDED to tell this story. It came from somewhere deep down in my soul and didn’t let me go until it was in the hands of the reader. Of course I worked extremely hard on it, obsessed over it, really. To me, it’s easy to tell when a writer has real passion for their work and when they’re pushing it out for money. Licensed novels often feel like the latter, while personal works usually ooze with the former.

What are your current / future project(s)?

Of course, “Etched in Soul and Skin” will have a sequel. While it has a satisfactory ending, it doesn’t mean all the sins of the past have been forgiven, or forgotten. There are still troubles in Adanna’s world.

I also desperately want to tell the story of just how Shuran started flying in the first place. It takes some major world-shattering events to send an entire city into the sky and start preying on the survivors below.

Author Bio: Joshua Legg resides in San Antonio, Texas with his dog, Ruby. He studies history and English, as well as about a dozen other subjects. His debut novel “Etched in Soul and Skin” was released this year by Musa Publishing.

Book Blurb: The Sky Demons have hunted Adanna's tribe for centuries, kidnapping people in vicious nighttime raids and disappearing without a trace. Her life has been one of deprivation and loss, always striving to keep one step ahead of relentless attackers.

Erik is the newest soldier in a secret military, one dedicated to keeping his steam-powered city in the air. Only a select few know the dark secret of his flying home. It's not their technology that keeps it aloft, but the magic that flows in the veins of the people who live below them. He has been trained for one purpose: to hunt and retrieve human beings.

Captured and almost turned into a living battery, Adanna is rescued by the very man who imprisoned her. In her, he sees a chance at redemption. In him, she sees a chance to escape. And maybe get a little revenge for the years of terror the 'sky demons' have inflicted on her.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?  E-book, available at all major e-book retailers as well as the publisher’s website.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Next Stop on the Temporary Anne Blog Tour

Day EIGHT of the release tour for Briane Pagel's newest book, Temporary Anne, is up on Jess' Book Blog!  You read part seven here the other day, so go see how the story went on. (Trust me, you want to!)

And while you're at it, you can get Temporary Anne for just $0.99; you can get it by clicking here,  today, and Briane is throwing in a free book:

Just Exactly How Life Looks: rated 5-stars by every reviewer on Amazon, this collection of short stories earns its praise with thoughtful stories about cowboys wandering in the desert, an artist trying to capture the world in a single line, terrorists, single mothers, ridiculous scientists, and more.  You won't forget a single character you meet in this book.  GET IT FREE TODAY BY CLICKING HERE.

I can personally recommend Just Exactly How Life Looks, as I read it earlier this year. It's shaping up to be the best short story collection or anthology I've read in 2013.

See you tomorrow for Science of the Week!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Please Vote in the Sci-Fi Cover Wars!

In addition to October being John Lennon month for all of us fans, it's also Sci-Fi Month over on The Masquerade Crew. All month long they'll be reviewing and promoting science fiction books. Since this is the two-year anniversary of my going indie, I'm celebrating by making Lyon's Legacy just $0.99 on Amazon for the month. (I'll be talking about what I've learned so far next Wednesday.)

Part of The Masquerade Crew's Sci-Fi Month is the Cover Wars, where you get to vote daily for your three favorite covers. Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes are part of this event, so please support them! The Cover Wars is part of a larger scavenger hunt, so voting gets you entered to win a $25 gift card from Amazon. You can also tweet about the contest, like Facebook pages (such as mine), and answer questions about the various books. Enter every day to increase your chances of winning. Come check it out and discover some great science fiction!

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