Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Unique Hell of Writing a Series

I was under the weather yesterday so my post is a bit late for Insecure Writers Support Group, but here it is!



Series. Have you written one? If so I imagine you'll totally feel me on this. There are so many things that are great about writing a series. You know the characters. Hopefully you like some of them, since you created them. Or at least hate them in that good way that our best villains and anti-hero(ines) make us hate them. Worldbuilding should be pretty set. Plot should somewhat be easier - even if you have a different story each book, there should be overall characters arcs and relationships that carry on and deepen with every book. It's sort of like a favorite pair of shoes that you can slip into, well worn and comfortable.

But then you start comparing the books to each other, like picking a favorite child. Shit, book two is way shorter than book one. Is everyone going to notice it's shorter and be annoyed? Book two doesn't have quite the carefree humor of book one. Well, everything got more serious on a very personal level. But I don't want it to be too different. Then my readers will be disappointed. What if book three is the same? What if I get sick of the whole thing and kill off all my characters like George Martin?

I've said before that each first draft process is a little bit to a LOT different than the ones before, but within a series, it gets even more crazypants. It still won't keep me from writing them - I love series. But it's a learning process, that's for sure. 

What about you? Have you written a series, and did you like it more or less than a stand alone?

TTFN, writer friends!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cloaked Release + IWSG

Hello, writing friends! Happy New Year, if I haven't crossed paths with you yet this year! My official New Year's post is here if you're so inclined.

Today I'm celebrating with a friend on the release of her novella on January 4th - Cloaked by T.F. Walsh. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC and it's such a fun book, guys! Werewolves and romance in Romania. Good stuff, super steamy and saucy :) You can read my lengthier review on Goodreads here.

Check it out, only 99 cents!! Amazon B&N | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes

Publisher: Crimson Romance


Blurb: Raised by an overly protective wulfkin pack, Daciana leaps at the chance to venture into the human world for her one-year independence ritual. But after someone steals the endangered bear cubs she’s been assigned to protect, she must locate them or lose her job and return home in disgrace. The sexy inspector on the case isn’t making this any easier. He knows nothing of her kind, and wulfkin rules forbid relationships with humans.

Newly divorced Inspector Connell Lonescu trusts no one but himself. He’s convinced relationships are a waste of time and thinks burying himself in work will ease the pain. Yet he’s attracted to the gorgeous and mysterious Daciana, even if there’s something slightly odd about her. Can Connell learn to trust the sexy but secretive woman? 


Now, on to IWSG! I suppose what's been on my mind most the last month is book marketing. I released my first novelette in August, and I've learned a TON about marketing since then. What to do, and a lot more of what NOT to do (stuff that's a waste of money and time). I'm a bit bummed because things were plugging along pretty well until December, and then my sales dropped off to practically nothing. It was especially disappointing because I had just announced that ALL of my book proceeds from Thanksgiving to Christmas would be donated to Heifer International to fight world hunger. I was looking forward to raising some money for them, and that totally didn't happen. Luckily for them I'll give my usual annual gift anyways, but still, kind of a bummer. 

Early in December I emailed the lovely self-pub rockstar RaShelle Workman, who has sold over a million of her e-books, and asked her for advice. She said that her biggest piece of advice, and probably what my problem is, is that I only have the one novelette out. She said she suggests people have 5-7 books in a series, have at least half of them totally ready to go (edited, covers, etc.) and then release them two weeks apart to keep momentum going and build up a devoted readership. I had already guessed that having just the one was hurting me, though at the moment I can't do anything about that since my agent wants me to wait to release the subsequent novels in that series until we land a deal on my other series. So, I'll need to wait, but in the meantime I'm furiously working on finishing the second novel in the series, which should be done by mid month, and then I'll be on to the third. I'd also like to write another novella for the series, and release the first three novels and the novella later this year.

So, that's the plan, and that's my writing life at the moment! How about you? Oh, and click here to read other IWSG posts for the month.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell 2015, HELLO Sexy 2016!

I always love writing these New Year's posts. It's not because the new year is a fresh start, or I'm wiping the slate clean, or I'm setting new goals, or any of that. I'm a fan of doing those things throughout the year. For me, New Year's is that one point of the year to reflect on a cycle of time and dream of things to come, and where you'll be at this time in one year. It's a fairly arbitrary day, because of course we can do those things any other time of the year (and sometimes I do). But New Year's has that special magic when everyone else is also thinking these same things, and it's just fun to be part of this collective contemplation/dreaming exercise.

So, highlights of 2015 first:

First and foremost, 2015 is the year I became a published author AND the year I got an agent, and those two things happened less than three weeks apart. Talk about a roller coaster of awesome!! August 7th I self-pubbed Black Magic and Mojitos and August 24th I signed with Sandy.

2015 was the year I decided to make it happen, and quit wallowing in where my future as an author was going. I'd been writing seriously for five years and I decided I would get my foot in the door the self-pub route with my Zyan Star series. Sandy then signed me for my Huntress series, so I guess I'm now what they call a hybrid author. Which feels right and good - I like moving forward independently with Zyan, and I have learned a TON about marketing and all that craziness, but I'm also excited to learn about the traditional pub route.

I also went on several awesome trips: took my son to Seattle for his birthday present, then him and I hiked the Olympic Peninsula, just the two of us, which made me feel extremely brave and grownup and my kid and I returned alive (plus!). Also went to Dragon Con for the first time and then Asheville for Thanksgiving. Awesome stuff for sure.

I did a lot of training with my horse, who had not been ridden before, and got him comfortable with being saddled and mounted and we even walked around a bit, and then I recognized I needed professional help and sent him to a trainer for a month of intensive work (for both of us). Now I'm really riding for the first time in years and it's SO awesome.

I won first place in a short story contest for Area of Effect Magazine, which is my first published work in a magazine (and I guess my first indie pub credit). Read it here. Fun and exciting!

Also, I got a big promotion at my day job (educational non-profit director), so that was rad.

Now, plans and dreams for 2016:

Getting a pub offer for my Huntress series. My agent is pretty amazeballs so I'm optimistic this will happen. She's thinking we should hear from all the publishers by springtime. Then I'll be working on whatever edits the publisher wants, and start working on the second book in that series. And learning all about the world of traditional pubbing.

Releasing the first three books in the Zyan Star series. Black Magic and Mojitos, which released in August, is the prequel novelette to that series. Originally, I had planned to release the first novel in October. However, Sandy asked me to wait since we were shopping Huntress to publishers. So, at the moment Zyan's at a standstill, but I am about two weeks away from finishing the first draft of the second Zyan Star novel and then I'm probably going to jump right into book three and do edits for both of them after. I reached out to the self-pub phenom RaShelle Workman, who has sold over a million of her e-books (yeah. a million). She said her best marketing advice was to have 5-7 books in your series and release them all in quick succession, every few weeks. So, I'm writing pretty furiously so I can be ready to do that as soon as Sandy gives me the go ahead.

Traveling. My plans always involve traveling. At the moment, I'm locked in for Colorado in June for my BFF's wedding. I'm taking my son so we can hike the Rockies while we're out there and I'm SO excited for it. My son loved our west coast trip last year and I want to keep nurturing that adventurous streak in him. My mom's also turning 70 and wants to go somewhere tropical. We'll see where that ends up. Dragon Con again hopefully. And something else? That'd be cool, budget allowing.

I'd really like to buy a house in 2016. Not sure if that'll happen since I still own a house with my ex husband we're not having luck selling, but I'm throwing it out there anyways. Make it happen, universe :)

I want to make a significant dent in paying down debt. I was naughty in 2015 so time to behave! But finding a balance, also allowing myself some splurges and putting money into savings. In the past I've gone into overkill on paying off debt and then have no fun and nothing set aside.

My horse: this is a sudden vista of possibility. He did so well in training, so I just want to keep moving forward with that. We're just doing basics now, but in a year I'd like him to know some dressage, and also be doing some jumping. Maybe go to a local horse show or two towards the end of the year.

And an overall summary of what I wish for myself, looking back at 2015 and looking forward at 2016:

I want to get better at remembering to enjoy the journey. In 2015 I achieved publication/agent/trained horse and for a goal oriented person that leaves me with a feeling of "now what??" Well, plenty! But after striving for those things for SO long I need to remember that once I reach the end, the end is really just another beginning, and it's better to savor the ride and not just gun for the destination.

And now, as the last day of 2015 comes to an end, I'm heading to the beach for the night (it's raining, but whatever, that's Florida for ya). How about you?


Friday, December 18, 2015

Taste of Magic! Pomegranate-Jeweled Cheese Ball

Hello, lovelies! I didn't do Taste of Magic last month since I was heading out of town and being a slacker, but I'm back just in time for final holiday parties to give you a delicious appetizer recipe. It's SOOO good, you guys. You'll swoon. Earth will shift on its axis. Ha, so here it is!

White Cheddar Rosemary Pomegranate-Jeweled Cheese Ball!!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary leaves (to taste)
1 1/2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
6 ounces grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup pomegranate arils (you can buy them at Trader Joes in a little container - trying to de-seed a real pomegranate is the biggest pain ever)
Crackers for serving

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet and toss in rosemary. You want the rosemary to let off its oils, but don't let the butter burn or the rosemary get crispy.
  2. In a bowl with a mixer, food processor or fingers, mix the cream cheese and cheddar. This is why cream cheese should be soft, so it doesn't jam up.
  3. Add the butter/rosemary deliciousness and the salt and pepper.
  4. After it's all mixed well, roll it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Pour your pom seeds out on some paper towels and carefully pat off any moisture, but don't squish them.
  6. After your cheese has set for 30 minutes, transfer the pom seeds to a large plate and carefully roll the cheese ball in the seeds until it's covered. You'll probably have to pat some of them into place after you roll it a couple times to fill in gaps.
  7. Serve with crackers and a little cheese spreader. Yum!!!
  8. Be prepared for your guests to worship you. 
I adapted this recipe from here. As you can see, you can use sage or another herb instead of rosemary, and add nuts if you want. 

As for my writing taste for the month, click here to read my short story A Very Zyan Christmas, which won first place in the Geekdom House short story contest!

I hope everyone has a beautiful and glorious holiday. TTFN!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Every WIP is Different

Hello, writer friends! Today I’m posting for IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group). Click here if you want to learn more about this awesome monthly blog hop. Each month we talk about something to do with our writing process.



Last month I talked about being on sub, and this month I’m going to talk about first drafts. Specifically how all of them are different. Even if you think you have a pretty good pattern down. I’ve written five books, and am now drafting the sixth. Usually I write quick and dirty, and have a first draft churned out in 6-12 weeks. Then I edit my ass off until it resembles something decent!

But my current WIP, the second novel in my Zyan Star series, is not coming out with my usual speed. Part of it is that now I’m balancing marketing my Zyan Star prequel novelette that came out in August with writing. It’s tough, I’m not gonna lie. And part of it is that I’m not quite happy with my plot, and I usually have NO issues with plot. All of this simply reminds me that each book is different. Even the great Neil Gaiman has said it. You only think you know how to write a novel… until you start on the next one. It’s all part of the fun of being a writer.

So, what’s up with you this month? How’s your #writerslife?

Oh, and if you want to learn more about my world hunger fundraiser, visit my previous post!! Lots of good stuff happening.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

World Hunger Fundraiser Through Christmas!!

So, those of you that saw my post on 11/11 knew this was coming. I released Black Magic and Mojitos on Smashwords for free for the first two weeks (through TG). Now comes the second phase of my end-of-year shebang - ALL proceeds through Christmas go to support Heifer International in fighting world hunger!


Heifer is a unique sustainable project that teaches people small business skills using animals so that they never go hungry again. They also require families to pass on the livestock their animal has to other families in need, so there's this great ripple effect in the impact of their programs. Visit their website to learn more.

I'm hoping to raise $500 to buy a heifer cow for a family. You can buy "shares" of an animal at much lower costs, and I've donated to this charity each year for about a decade now, but never bought a whole heifer. That'd be pretty rad, so please help me spread the word! Fun books for you + money to fight world hunger + all of us feeling good. A win-win for everyone.

You can buy Black Magic and Mojitos for 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. After Christmas, I'll post an update on how things went!


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I spent the week in Asheville, NC (a few pics below). How was your TG? As usual, I'm SO grateful for this lovely writing community, and very excited for a rockin' holiday season! 

 




 








Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cover Reveal - The Undead Road by David Powers King!

Hello, lovely writer friends! Today I'm helping writer buddy David Powers King kick off his cover reveal with gusto and lots of confetti! Or maybe brain-fetti since this is a zombie book? LOL, I'll quit making lame jokes and let you see it. It's done by Steven Novak, who is also my cover artist, and is totally amazeballs!! Look to the right for mine... BTW it's FREE on Smashwords through the 27th.



And now!






I'm going to....





Do one of those dramatic scrolldowns...







Ahhhh, it's killing you isn't it???








And here it is!!





Nice, eh?? I think it rocks! Here's the blurb and the deets:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.


After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Ebook Release: January 1st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016

Woot! And there's a contest, too:



A while ago, David invited the blogosphere to let him turn one unfortunate lucky contestant into a zombie for The Undead Road. The winner was Ilima Todd, who is now the awesome author of Remake. The next installment of My Zombie Summer is underway, and David wants to do this contest again. Want to be in a zombie book? Not only is this your chance, but it is your choice!

Between now and next Wednesday, send an email to dpowersking [at] gmail [dot] com, with the subject line: Zombify Me! Contest. In your email, David wants you to tell him three things:

1: The name you will be identified as (example: your first name).
2: A description of yourself—the more detailed you are, the better.
3: How would you like the survivors to put you out of your misery?

Four casualties contestants will be chosen on Wednesday, November 25th. The most inventive or interesting entry will be zombified! The other three who are unlucky fortunate enough to survive will be given special honors. Winners will be announced on December 2nd on David’s blog.

Prizes? The winner will be zombified in the pages of My Zombie Summer: Part Two, receive a signed proof of the novel (when it’s ready), and a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. The runner ups will receive a free ebook of The Undead Road for their Kindle (other platforms TBA).


About the Author:

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.







Have fun zombifying yourself!! FYI friends, I'm heading out of town Saturday for a week so I may not be able to respond to comments during that time. But have a lovely Turkey Day everybody!