Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cover Reveal--A Curse of Ash and Iron

I'm participating in a cover reveal for Broad Universe member Christine Norris' book A Curse of Ash and Iron. There's also a giveaway, which you can enter here.

Here's the blurb and other information:

Benjamin Grimm knows the theater is much like real life. In 1876 Philadelphia, people play their parts, hiding behind the illusion of their lives, and never revealing their secrets.

When he reunites with his childhood friend Eleanor Banneker, he is delighted. His delight turns to dismay when he discovers she has been under a spell for the past 7 years, being forced to live as a servant in her own home, and he realizes how sinister some secrets can be. She asks for his help, and he can’t refuse. Even if he doesn't believe in ‘real’ magic, he can’t abandon her.

Ellie has spent the long years since her mother’s death under the watchful eye and unforgiving eye of her stepmother. Bewitched and hidden in plain sight, it seems no one can help Ellie escape. Not even her own father, who is under a spell of his own. When she sees Ben one evening, it seems he is immune to the magic that binds her, and her hope is rekindled along with her friendship.

But time is running short. If they do not find a way to break the spell before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then both Ellie and her father will be bound forever.

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press (www.curiosityquills.com )

Release date: May 21, 2015

Author website: www.christine-norris.com
Author Twitter: @cnorrisauthor
Book Trailer link: http://youtu.be/x1HcaJt2Owg

And here's the cover:


Monday, January 26, 2015

Increasing Visibilty of Women Authors

Well, it's a bit soon to discuss the 2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge, but I've decided to join it this year. I've been thinking more about visibility of authors, particularly women authors and indie authors. For example, this post, which was shared on the Broad Universe Facebook page, discusses the struggles of a traditionally published female SF/fantasy writer and how more difficult it is to gain attention and sales as a woman writer. That said, I don't think the solution is to adopt a male pseudonym. I am who I am, and I write about what moves me. It may not resonate with every single person in the world--not that that's possible--but I write to reach the people, however few or many, who can grok what I have to say. That can't happen if I hide a fundamental part of my identity. And why should women hide who we are? While I don't track author gender, I probably read more women authors than men, and there are some highly skilled women authors out there. Women create great aliens and worlds, come up with witty dialogue, rock their science and action scenes, and evoke emotion.  Some women writers are more well-known than others, but they all deserve an audience.

Accordingly, I will dedicate my blogging during the month of April 2015 to featuring women authors of science fiction and fantasy. I already have my schedule and list of names drawn up, and there's so much awesomeness out there I couldn't limit myself to twenty-six authors. As of now, I have nearly sixty authors on my schedule, though this may change between now and April. I just have to decide on the format for each author before I start preparing my posts.

In an ideal world, writers would be judged on their merits, not their identities. If this world will not come about from the top down, we must build it from the bottom up, author by author, book by book, reader by reader. Let's build it together.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Seasons' Beginnings Now in Extended Distribution

The title pretty much says it all. You can find Seasons' Beginnings on iBooks, Nook, Page Foundry, and Scribd. Kobo is still in process, but it shouldn't take long via Draft2Digital. For some reason, the cover doesn't show up at B&N, but it does everywhere else. I haven't had a chance to publish this yet on Google, but once I do, I'll add more links to my website.

I'm done with the current round of edits for Scattered Seasons (Book Two of the Season Avatars) and am starting to send it out to my beta readers. Once I straighten out a few business-related things, I'll contact the Book Cover Diva to prepare the cover. I'm tentatively planning to publish it in April--perhaps for my birthday. I definitely want it out by WisCon in May.

Even though I haven't finished the outline yet for Chaos Season (Book Three of the Season Avatars) yet, I have started the rough draft. I plan this to be a five-part series, with the remaining books to be titled Fifth Season and Summon the Seasons. So if you don't mind, I'll keep this post short so I can write. Enjoy your day!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kindle Maintenance

I had a mini-crisis last week when my Kindle officially reached overload. My son had eye surgery last Thursday to correct his exotropia. (He seems to be recovering well, but we'll have a better sense of how successful the surgery was at his follow-up appointment.) During post-op recovery, I needed to read his favorite book (Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan) out loud to distract him, but I'd forgotten to bring the paper version along and had to buy the eBook on the spot. However, it got stuck downloading onto my Kindle. Luckily, I was able to download it through the Kindle app on my smartphone, and I ended up reading the entire book to Alex that afternoon/evening. Tonight, after deleting several books off of my Kindle, I finally managed to get the book downloaded onto my Kindle, well after I'd downloaded other books. This particular book is graphic-heavy, so that's not surprising it would be so difficult to download.

Anyway, I had over 1600 items crammed onto my Kindle at one point, but by deleting many of the books I've already read, I'm down to 1340. It feels a little strange deleting them, but most of them are backed up to the Cloud anyway, so I can download them again if necessary. Hopefully reducing the load will make my Kindle more responsive as well. (It can "hang" while I'm trying to access or leave collections.)

The most difficult part of Kindle maintenance is sorting unread samples and books into the appropriate To Read collections. (I have four of these collections broken down by genre.) The current software on my Paperwhite doesn't allow me to see collections and unsorted items simultaneously. (I was able to do that until an upgrade last May, and I'm still annoyed at losing that feature.) I would really love a feature that would allow you to send a sample or book directly to a specific collection, not just a particular device.

As I was going through my collections, I came across several authors I had read but forgotten about. I know it's possible to sign up for notices from Amazon when favorite authors release new books, but it would be helpful to make this process easier, as it doesn't always seem to work. 

If you use a eReader, what features do you wish it had? Are there any quirks about it that you think could be improved?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Going to Google

I was a bit reluctant to publish my books on Google Play because I'd heard it was complicated and that they tend to discount unexpectedly, which can create havoc on Amazon if they price match when you don't want them to. However, I found a great checklist that guides you through the process. It's not that hard, but to me, it's strange how much Google uses ISBNs to identify books. You start the process by entering an ISBN, and you have to use the ISBN as part of the file name(s).

 Lyon's Legacy is live on Google Play, and Twinned Universes went live this morning. Unfortunately, I do have to price my books higher on Google to get around the random discounting. Lyon's Legacy is $0.99 on Google (I don't think they discount this price), and Twinned Universes is $3.49 but discounted to $2.65. EDIT: After raising the Google price to $3.99, they discounted TU to $3.03. That seems reasonably close to Amazon's price of $2.99, and I will say Google was very fast about updating the price.

As for my other books, Seasons' Beginnings will be coming out of Select next week, and I plan to distribute it via Draft 2 Digital and Google Play. The sequel, Scattered Seasons, will also get wide distribution. I might even put my poetry book on Google Play because, hey, why not?

Do you buy books on your phone? If you do, do you use an e-reader app or buy from Google Play?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blog Ring of Power--R.M. Alexander

This is likely to be the final post in the Blog Ring of Power. It has become difficult for all of us to recruit enough interviewees to maintain a regular schedule. I have enjoyed working with Terri, Emily, Dean, Vicki, and T.W. for the past few years and plan to keep promoting other authors on my own.--Sandra

Today on the Blog Ring of Power, R.M Alexander will share her words of wisdom with us. Please visit T.W.'s and Emily's blog for the other parts of the interview.

1. Tell us about your route to success –did you use an agent? How did you land your agent and/or publisher?

I actually did try the traditional route of shopping agents with Veil of Secrecy. They were wise enough to turn me down. Since then, I've self-published three books, including Veil. But not until I had an editor and beta reader review my work and help make it better.

2.  Is there anything you would have done differently during the querying and publishing process?

I wish I wouldn't have rushed into it like I initially did. I did some revising, but I didn't have an editor. And I was too sensitive outside constructive criticism. Those things might have changed my path. Or not. Either way, I know better now.

3.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Thank you for giving my books a chance, and for supporting me during my journey. "Thank you" doesn't begin to portray my gratefulness for you.

4.   What are your current / future project(s)?

I'm working on the last two books of the Shadows Trilogy - Dark Crossings and Revelations. I also have a clean romance series that I'm working on.  I'm hoping they are all completed this spring.

RM Alexander is an author of Sweet / Clean Romances that are sometimes contemporary, sometimes paranormal or suspense, but are always ruled by the heart of true romance. 

With characters who look for love in wrong places and are victims of the worse kind of betrayals while fighting for what they want and believe in, RM's novels promise a good read with unexpected twists and turns.

When she's not writing, RM is spending time with her husband and two small children in Michigan. She loves to travel, especially to Walt Disney World, and can often be found on Twitter or Facebook chatting with other authors and fans.

 Author Links:


Rachel Brackett arrives in Sullivan, Montana with simple goals: relocate, settle an estate, and manage her own antique store. Her parents and friends back home called it running away. That’s just fine with her. 

Rachel’s curiosity leads her into the forest, and she finds creatures who know more about her ominous heritage than she does. The creatures only exist in nightmares – grotesque mutants and shapeshifters. They seek vengeance for hideous crimes in genetic engineering, and Rachel is the prime target for retribution. While Rachel searches for the truth behind the family she never knew, a bounty hunter stalks her every move. Only Leonardo, a figure shrouded in the shadows, offers protection. A were lion with the perfect blend of human and feline features. Terrifying. Impossible. Alluring. 

When Rachel’s home is ripped apart and a friend attacked, it’s clear there is no safe haven. She is no longer running from her past, but trying to survive to make it to her future.

Available on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

IWSG: Introduction and "Jacob's Ladder"

Having recently joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group (both the main group and the Crit Circle) on Facebook, I figure I should post once a month Wednesdays as well.

This month, we're supposed to provide a brief introduction to ourselves. I'm Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, an indie science fiction/fantasy author. I write the SF Catalyst Chronicles series and the fantasy Season Avatars series (and yes, I'm crazy enough to do both at once). I work for an enzyme company, am married with a seven-year-old son, and am a big Beatles fan. If you'd like to know more about my books, please check out the other pages of this blog.

Tuesday night, while I was trying to figure out what to post, my son was so scared by one of his favorite shows that he couldn't fall asleep. This led to an even shorter-than-usual editing session. I have to admit that when I can't work on my stories, I get cranky. However, getting fifteen or thirty minutes to edit the next book in the Season Avatars series makes me feel better, even if I have to stay up late to do it. (I'm the kind of person who is happier getting something done than doing nothing.) So, if you're having a hard time squeezing writing into the rest of your life, or if you can't figure out what to do, just remember that we're all progressing step by step, rung by rung, as we climb Jacob's Ladder. You tell them, Huey:

Monday, January 05, 2015

Women's Visibility in Science Fiction

Yesterday one of my sister Broad Universe members posted a link to this long Tweetversation (Twitter conversation) that had been preserved on Storify. This conversation is about bias in science fiction and fantasy toward women. The triggering incident was an observation that the lists of fantasy works most anticipated for this year are all mostly by white male authors, even though women swept the Nebulas last year. (There are two women on the list--though I haven't seen a link to this list anywhere--who have gender-neutral names.) Some of the women authors in the Tweetversation talk about times when they thought about publishing certain works under a masculine or gender-neutral name. Laura Anne Gilman brings up a good counterpoint on her own blog that it's important for women to be visible in this field, which is why she uses her own name.

One interesting point brought up in the Tweetversation is that the author's gender may be more important to reviewers and bloggers than it is to readers (though I'm sure there are people out there who only read authors from one genre. While I probably do find more female authors to my taste than male ones, as a reader, I focus on the story, not the author.) One of the great things about indie publishing is that the traditional gatekeeper can no longer exclude anyone based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other reason. We have ways to connect directly with our audience and don't have to worry about fitting into a narrow profile defined by someone else to reach them. Hopefully indie publishing will become more common and accepted so all authors have an equal chance of being discovered by their readers.

In the meantime, I'm Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, I write science fiction and fantasy, and I'd rather spend my time writing and editing than worrying what people think of my XX chromosomes. They work just fine, thanks. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a first draft to finish and another story to edit.

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