Sunday, December 18, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 4

Where did the week go?  It slid by with alarming quickness.  So fast, in fact, that despite my intention to write a mid-week entry and go visit the other blogs on the Twelve Days of Christmas list, I sit here today grouchy and out of sorts.  Well, that is one of the reasons.  The other reason is that New Baby has hit a growth spurt, AGAIN, and decided eating is more important than sleep.
Readers, let me tell you, it is amazing how quickly this boy grows.  At 3.5 mths, he has now made his way into the 6-9 mth size clothing.  How is this possible?  His brother was a chunky one, yes, but did not grow out of his clothes nearly so fast!
I have moved past the mourning phase of my character's death.  It still saddens me, and that is a great place to write from, but it no longer has me halted without words.  I'm up to 138,000 words.  I meant to get up to an even 140,000 on Aeris this week, but I've needed a nap every day, and with New Baby's schedule being off, I find that my writing time has become very limited.  It's catch-as-catch-can these days.  Ah well, I knew it would be.
I would just like to thank the reader who sent me the lovely email last week, telling me she was willing to wait, even if the book didn't come out till spring.  Those are good words to hear, because even though I'm almost(yes, almost!) done with Luka's story line, I still have Zyander to tackle and he has been a bit difficult this time around. :)

So, on to my next rule for authors, and this one, IMHO, applies directly to the indies of the world.  Remember that forums count as an online presence.

Now it's certainly true that we all have our own private(ish) online handles that we use when we go forum hopping.  I am a recovered Sims addict, and back in the day I would spend hours online discussing it with other Sims addicts.  But then there is the "author persona" we adopt when we go online as our author selves.  I've been to a few different places online where authors interact, but I'm going to use MY favorite, and the one I've mentioned a few times on this blog: Kindleboards.

Ah, Kindleboards, land of the kindle reader, spicy soup of the hopeful author.  When you go to the Writer's Cafe, which I have frequented, you will find a variety of things, as a reader, that will make you CRINGE.

1) The "Woe is me, I got a bad review, readers suck" post.  Let me just clarify... sometimes these can be hilarious posts, filled with self-deprecating humor and good will.  When that happens, you come off looking great.  But when your post is filled with the whiny complaints of an author who can't STAND to see someone hate their book, you don't look so great.  Not everyone is going to like your book.  If you can't accept that now, then this is SOOOO not the industry for you.  When you put your books in a public forum, you have to accept that they will be praised and reviled publicly.  Instead, focus on reaching YOUR AUDIENCE.  A few good reviews by people who actually like your quirky book on leprechaun love stories will go much farther than a one star review where someone says, "This book is for people who don't like good books."  If I were a reader, I wouldn't take it seriously.  Remember that readers CARE what you say about them.  As a reader, I pay attention to what writers say.  A surefire way to turn me off of you FOREVER is to B-I-T-C-H about another reader.

2)  The "come visit my blog, I'm awesome" post.  Kindleboards have pretty strict rules on where you can advertise your book or blog.  But there is a space where you can toot your own horn, so to speak, and invite people to read your newest post.  I guess if you're an awesome blogger, like Robin Sullivan, you could do something like that and still be awesome.  If you're Joe Schmoe writer who I've never heard of?  You just come off as arrogant.  Instead of making empty posts that really only point back to yourself, make it a point to visit other bloggers and engage with THEM.  It's what I talked about earlier.  Care about others and it will come back to you, I promise.

3)  "I'm posting something I hope people will argue about" post.  I made the mistake of doing this myself, once.  Ooops.  In my case, it was an honest mistake, as I was linking to a Konrath post I thought was interesting.  I forgot that his subject matter can be quite radioactive sometimes and inadvertently started a firestorm of posts.  I posted the link that morning and later that afternoon, came back to about 7 pages of people arguing over it.  I was shocked.  I was also shocked by the vehemence of the arguing.  It was almost as if these people had forgotten that READERS visit the writer's cafe.  Yes, that's right, your sniping and carrying on, your pettiness, all those are being witnessed by potential readers, so let's all try our best to NOT engage in that.  It just doesn't look great, unless you can do it in a way that isn't going to seem negative, which is hard to do when arguing a point.

4) And the fourth and final no-no... posting about sales  (or talking about it too much in someone else's post).  And no, I don't think there is anything wrong with a healthy celebration over good sales or talking about trying out different price points.  We are in a business, after all.  It's actually pretty healthy to view yourself as a business entity, because it helps you to take the sales rise and fall cycles with a grain of salt.  What I'm talking about are the people that post OVER AND OVER (and yes, if I wanted to, I could name names) about their lackluster sales.  "I only sold 2 books this month."  I see the same person say that every time someone talks about sales.  I get that it is disappointing, but first of all, saying you are barely selling doesn't make me want to take a chance on you.  It makes me think there is a REASON you're not selling.  Whether it's because your book sucks or it's just in a niche genre I wouldn't be interested in.  Second of all, when you talk about it ALL THE TIME on EVERY FORUM, it seems like you have your head up your ass.  Sorry.  That is frank talk, but it's the truth as I see it.  And again, I want to reiterate that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH TALKING ABOUT YOUR SALES OR LACK THEREOF.  It's just the obsession that doesn't come off well.

I could go on and on with this, but dinner calls.  There may be another post on this one.  :)  Hope all of you are hitting your goals this close to the final days of ROW, and that you have a Merry Christmas.  (or whatever you celebrate this holiday season!)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Accidental Death

First, a confession... not much written on the book this week.  I've been working overtime on Christmas prep.  I may as well give up, because the rest of December is going to be just as crazy.  Not to mention the fact that I just got the new Kindle Touch for an early Christmas present.  It is much easier for me to use than the regular Kindle (I guess I'm just lazy, hahaha) and I've been squirreling away books using my birthday money.

I had a hard week with writing, I'll admit.  Not just because of the Christmas rush.  I had to kill off a character this week.  I was determined not to do it in this series, because I HATE it when my favorite characters die in books.  Even in George's books.  But despite my resolution, one of my favorite characters died this week.  I was sick to my stomach and as heartbroken as if I had seen it happen in front of me.

My brother scoffed at me when I was relaying my sadness over the loss to my mom (who I talk about ALL my books with).  He couldn't understand how I could "let" that happen.  I'm the author, shouldn't I be in control of what happens?  No.  No, I'm not.  I'm still reeling over it.  When a story takes over, as it does for many writers, I believe, I seem to have no control over some things that happen.  Editing only goes so far and only when I know that a story line gone off on the wrong track.

So, that was hard.  As I said, this was a much loved character for me and I'm sooo sad.  Oh, and sorry if that is too spoilery for anyone.  (Claudia)  So writers, does the story take over for you, or are you in control of everything that happens?  Have you ever had to kill off a character you loved?  Or readers, have you ever lost a character you love?

I meant to write an entry on my favorite cliches, but I don't have the heart today, so maybe I'll write a Wed. entry for a change!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 3

Well, hello all.  I hope you're enjoying this fine Sunday.  I am, as I sit curled on my parent's couch in front of the fire, New Baby slumbering in his chair at my feet.  It is a glorious and sunny day, but freezing, so I'm happy to be inside.  After this, I'll be working on Christmas presents, but I hope to get in some writing today (possibly tonight) so I can bump my sad little word count for Aeris, up past the 134,000 count.  December is a busy month for me, but I'm hoping to finish up Luka's story line at least and then head into Zyander's.  Zyander requires the most rewrites, so I'll have to go back and do some rewriting before I finish out his story, to reflect the changes I talked over with my sister.  And now, on to my entry!

We're switching it up a little this time, any instead of talking about how authors present themselves with their marketing endeavors, let's chat for a minute about how we present ourselves with our writing.  Setting aside the very real need for proofing and proper English, let's instead consider the characters and the stories.  I hadn't intended to talk about this for a while, but it's something that IS on my mind, as a writer and more importantly, a READER.  Then, one of my favorite reviewers, Kat Kennedy, wrote an entry on it, and I just couldn't help myself.

Here is the link:

Essentially, the gist is this:  authors, please consider your overworked stereotypes.  I agree with this premise, but move it to a more blunt statement.  Authors, please don't consider your readers to be stupid.  Sure, we see the "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" moments in the media, where we all start to think that humans have gone backward in development and we all watch TV waaaaaaay too much.  But despite the reading world's love of Twilight, we are still smarter than the average bear.

For instance, one of my LEAST favorite archetypes for women is not the slut or the evil female.  Mine is the Damaged Loner.  We've all seen her in a cop show, usually one that has a woman as its main character.  Here is her story:  Someone was killed in her past, leaving her bruised and grieving.  Swearing revenge, she focuses her entire life on become a part of the system that will bring justice in such situations.  She could be a cop or investigator of some sort, but the outcome is still the same.  She is emotionally stunted, unable to have a single healthy relationship, she works WAY too much and has no life outside of what she does for a living.  There are a string of men, needy and gentle, who fall for her, but she breaks them one by one in her endless need to prove that she has what it takes.

I can name a dozen TV shows and books that feature this character and let me tell you, I am SICK TO DEATH of her.  Gimme a break, writers of the world.  Switch it up, will ya?  Give her a family, a husband that she loves, or make her seem human somehow.  Just stop expecting me to stand by and watch while she destroys her life piece by piece.  Boring.  And let me just say, as a reader, I'm smart enough to get that this is LAZY writing.

Here's another that I can't stand, though it's not a character, but merely a plot point that is so popular in YA fiction: The Love Triangle.  GAG.  I understand that putting some difficulties in the way of the main character's love story helps keep the drama alive for those teenage readers, but really, how fun is it to read about two really likeable characters where one of them gets their heart broken?  Apparently, barrels of fun, since almost every YA book features a deliciously tragic love triangle.

Hmm... this is turning into a reader rant. hahaha  Just consider who your characters are and what they accomplish.  If anything is possible in writing, then why not pretend that there is a world where gender has nothing to do with anything?

I'm not saying you have to go that far, my dear authors, but at least, as Kat says, consider changing them once in a while.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Break...

I'm a December baby, one of those embittered souls whose childhood consisted of birthday/Christmas combos and leftover Christmas wrapping paper (because that was all they had, you see).  Luckily, thanks to my awesome parents and my own general ability to ignore stupid people, I LOVE Christmas.  Or you know, whatever you call this "Holiday Season".  To me, it's Christmas, with Douglas Fir trees, homemade gingerbread cookies with buttery frosting (yes, I make them myself!) and crammed stockings.
My favorite part of Christmas, however, is what my family did every year as I was growing up —pile into the family van (there were 8 kids, so yes, it was a VAN) to drive around and look at the Christmas lights.  I don't know how it got started, I was probably too young to remember, but I do know that as we drove around the city, oohing and ahhing over the fairy colors and pulsing brightness, I wished it would last all night.  Starting at the top, with my Dad, each of us would pick a favorite Christmas Carol to sing as we went along.  It was sort of a game to see how long we could keep going until we couldn't think of any more.
My Dad invariably picked "Joy to the World", my mom "O Little Town of Bethlehem" or "Silent Night".  My favorite song, hands down, was and always will be "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  What isn't there to like?  The song has everything, plus when you get towards the end you can sing it faster and faster until the words spill out of your mouth till you can hardly pronounce the words.
I hope to share that Christmas Tradition with my own boys, someday.  Here's hoping you find your own to share!

Be sure to read all the entries for the Twelve Days of Christmas blog event!  Use the link on the top of my blog.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 2

First, good news!  I am happy to announce to my fellow ROWers, I have finished Nikka's story line in Aeris.  Yay!  I'm at 132,500ish words.  It feels so good to have that chunk of the book done (except for a few things I'll be editing in) and now I'm onto Luka's story line.  I'm kind of avoiding Zyander right now, hahaha.

I still think the final word count will be close to 170,000 words, but I'm hopeful to get the rest of the book done this month, unless my kids keep getting sick and depriving me of sleep, that is.  New Baby had the croup earlier on in the week, which was kind of scary because I've handled BAD asthma before, when I was a nanny, but never croup and all I know about it I read from Anne of Green Gables.  So I had to put in a call to the doc, and I've had two sick children keeping me up all night, basically with no break or naps all week long.  Needless to say, my writing has suffered.  I have higher hopes for next week.

On to the next segment of author etiquette: Author Response.  For this section, I want to talk about reviews.  We live in a small online world.  Because of the ease of access, it is simple to get keep records on everything said or commented in this world.  It's important to remember that as an author, because sometimes our emotions lead us down paths that we don't plan for.  Here are the examples I can think of off the top of my head:
1) Commenting on reviews for your book.
2) Commenting on reviews for other books.
3) Commenting on blogs.

Let's start with number one.  Everyone gets a scathing review at least once.  If you haven't gotten one yet, you will eventually.  It's a no-brainer.  It may not be a one star review, but someone is definitely going to rake you over the coals and make your skin sting.  That being said, no matter WHAT someone may say about your book, it's probably not the best idea to comment on it in a negative way.  First, it makes you look petty and insecure and second, it's just not professional.
There is also the case of commenting on a good review.  I know there are a lot of authors out there who thank readers for their review.  That is certainly an individual's prerogative, but again, I recommend not, simply because again, it looks petty, especially if you only say thanks for the good ones. :)  Not that we're not all tempted, of course!
Imagine it from the reader's perspective for a minute.  If you have something to say about a book, and it's personal opinion, how safe would you feel giving that opinion, if you feel like you can't be honest?  Places like goodreads are supposed to be a safe space for readers to come and talk about what they're reading, whether they like a book or not.  If the dialogue becomes about "shaming" the reader into always being nice, then why are we even there?  Goodreads isn't about everyone having the same opinion about something.  For instance, one of the reviewers I respect the MOST on goodreads has a completely different opinion on the book Evermore than I do.  That is OKAY.  And hopefully, the author of that book realizes that my 5 star review is just as valid as her one star review.  My reasons for liking it are as different as her reasons for hating it.  Again, that is OKAY. :)

This leads me to topic #2, commenting on OTHER author's book reviews.  Recently, I came across some goodreads drama, when another of my favorite reviewers, lambasted a book that to be honest I've never read.  Another author among the goodreads clan (an indie) took it upon herself to take this reviewer to task on her style of reviewing.  Needless to say, this is just as bad as arguing with a review of one of your own books.  This author was openly challenged and derided for trying to stifle free speech on goodreads.  Not the best way to get attention, let me just say.  Respectful debate is always welcomed, but I think that your best bet is to keep a professional tone and not get pulled into making explosive statements which let me assure you WILL come back to bite you.

In the third example, I point you to blogs like JA Konrath, The Sparkle Project, and Drenched in Words, where one author after another says things about readers, reviewers and sites that would make most readers cringe.  Authors, we love your books, but sometimes we don't.  Please don't hate us forever because we can't like everything or make everyone happy.  And certainly don't say something like this: "Goodreads continues to make me miserable almost daily. I can't go a week without checking to see how far my rating has slipped. Then I go and check out the one and two star reviews to see what nasty things people have to say about me. Then I go and try to determine why a person who is supposedly my friend gave me four stars when they should obviously give me five. Are they just pretending to like me? Then I try to hunt down people who gave my book 5 stars and see whether they just do it for everyone. Then I curse people who gave my book a bad rating and yet say they didn't finish it. Then I compare readers' ratings for other books to mine to see what books they liked more than mine. Then I perform scientific experiments to see how long I can remain on Goodreads before the vein on the side of my head starts to turn blue. "

There are many things I could say about the above paragraph, and some of them will be for a later addition, but for now, I will simply say, saying you hate goodreads is like saying you hate readers.  It's a site MADE for readers.  Readers are what keep you in business.  Let's all try to remember that as we go forward.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 1

So, hello all in the internet, reader and writer.  First a quick status update.  As of right now, I'm at 128,000 words for Aeris.  I'm deep in my groove now, and the words are flying out of my fingers whenever I can scrounge up the time to devote to them.  My new method of attack?  I ditched the idea of continuing to write the three stories simultaneously.  The book has become so long that it was mentally debilitating (not an exaggeration) to continue to write on it day after day, word after word, and know in my heart that thousands and thousands of words were left until the end.
Currently, I'm writing Nikka's storyline.  I've had it mapped out for a while now, and the tricky ending has been conquered.  I estimate that I'm about 4-5 chapters from the end of her story line, about 6,000 words for those of you keeping track.  That will bump me up to 134,000ish and she'll be done.  For the rest of Aeris, if I go off of what Nikka's story has cost, word wise, Aeris is going to end up at 170,000 words.  And no, I don't think I'm going to get it done in the fall.  I will be danged lucky if I get it done by the end of December, writing my butt off to do it.  Still, it feels good to be almost done with Nikka.  Next up will be Luka, then Zyander.

On to other topics.  I've been wanting to do a series on things that bug me as a reader that authors do.  How they behave in public, what they do in the internet arena, how they interact with me, Kate The Reader.  This will all be subject to personal opinion, but judging from some of the blogs I've read lately, I'm not the only person who feels this way.

Here is my first rule:  If you want to be my friend on GoodReads, be my FRIEND.  Share reviews, comment on mine, recommend books to me, etc.  Please DO NOT use that as an opportunity to send me spammy mail.
Look, I get it, I'm a indie writer myself.  It's hard to get your name out there and get those books sold!  You're thinking to yourself... how can I let people know that I have a totally awesome new book coming out that they must read IMMEDIATELY??  Well, I can tell you how NOT to do it.
1- Don't send me a hundred thousand emails telling me about your awesome new book that I should buy and read.
2- Don't send me LOTS of invitations to some event that you're "hosting" that is really just you shoving your book in my face.
3- Don't recommend your own book to me using GoodReads new feature.

Nothing will make me unfriend you faster than these three things.  The best thing you can do to get my interest is:
1- Write books in a genre I read.  If you write, say, YA fiction, I can pretty much guarantee you that at some point I will hear about it and be intrigued enough to read the blurb and the reviews.  On my own.  Without prompting.
2- Give me a free copy.  I hadn't really planned on bumping Kait Nolan's new book to the top of my reading list.  I was interested in passing, but when she sent me an email offering me a free copy, with the understanding that I would give an honest review (as she did for SEVERAL other people), it went to the head of my stack.  Then I read it, and MAN, she's got a fan for life now.
3- Interact with me, be my friend, show me you give a crap about me.  It will make me give a crap about you and I will become really interested in seeing what it is you write.

So, that is my rule for the day.  More on spammy emails, HERE.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pinteresting, Very Pinteresting.

Well, my ROW friends, I missed my usual Sunday update, but that's just because I was traveling down, down, down to my parents' house.  My husband is on one of his trips and I hate being in the house alone.  We live in a very nice neighborhood, with good friends as neighbors, but it's just lonely in the house without him and I don't enjoy it.

Now I'm here and since I have nothing like laundry or dishes or dinners to make, I have forced myself to skip naps and have raised my word count for Aeris to: 121,360!  I've got several thousands of words more to go.  I'm guessing my final word count for the book will be about 140-150,000, which is double what the previous book was.

I was airing some of my fears to my sister (who is always one of my beta readers) and she confirmed part of my fears regarding Zyander's story line.  Zyander does some really interesting things in this new book, but unfortunately, because of the way I have my timeline set up, his timeline seems slower than the other two, which takes some of the excitement out of his story.  I'm going to be doing some reordering when I edit, and shorten the first part of his story, so I can get in all of the events I need to.  I can't concentrate on editing right now though, I must must MUST finish this dang book.  :)

I have discovered a new marketing technique that I wanted to share with you all and that is Pinterest.  Pinterest is like a mix between visual bookmarks and Facebook.  Basically, you have a place where you make a bunch of bookmarks for yourself, ordered by whatever labels you give them.  You can follow specific boards, so you don't have to see everything from one person. Your friends follow you and they get broadcasts of anything you pin(bookmark). On top of that, if they see something they like, they can repin it (bookmark it themselves) and their friends see it.  Then, as the final icing on the cake, all of your pins are randomly placed on the pinterest main page.

Let me show you my page, as an example:

On my page, I have a section where to find me online, blog, goodreads profile, my books linked online.  I also have a section for blogs and websites that are reader/writer related.  I'm making lists of my favorite indie books and my favorite books, period.  It's not only lots of fun, but it's a great way to get your name and your work out there.  For instance, I posted one of my stories, The Angel and Her Gun and someone pinned it as a book she wants to read!

If you want an invite, post your email and I will send you one.  :)

Next entry, I'll be talking about internet book reviewing and author reception.  There is an interesting debate going on right now about free speech and what that entails.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fear and Honesty

So my subject today, the big deal on my mind is book length.  To start, I just want to refer to my new word count for Aeris: 112,000.  I've been writing like crazy and I expect to do even better today, since the hubby took my older son to the Reptile Show and the younger is strapped to my chest via my Moby Wrap. :)
I hope to pass 115,000 this week.  We'll see.  It's been pretty tiring, trying to write, get up 3 times a night, and keep up with a 3 year old, but I'm really motivated to try and get this book out by December.  It will be my birthday present to me.
For those of you keeping track, the book is about 350 pages now.  This is about 100 pages longer than Compis.  Oh, and by the way, IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING FINISHED YET.  I know I've aired my fears about having a super long book this time around, but now that my fears are being realized, I can't help but wonder at the quality of the book I'm producing.
Quality is something I tend to obsess over as a writer.  I know I'm no Steinbeck or George R. R. Martin, but still, I try to be the best I can be, providing clean text, original story line, non-cliche characters, and a readable final product.  I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels this way.
But when I sit at my computer, writing word after word after word, and my book gets longer and longer and longer, I have this secret fear.  What if I'm just filling up this book with mush?  What if it's a whole lot of words and not a whole lot of substance?  What if it's a bunch of boring, boring plot points that make no sense to the story and only serve to piss off all the people who said they liked the first book so much?  I was pretty happy with the first part of this second in a series, but part 2 is so much longer than I planned and I just can't see what in the world I would cut out.  Is it possible, my book could end up being *gasp* BORING???
It doesn't help me to think of Paolini, author of Eregon, either.  By the time I got to the third book and the infamous dwarf wedding, I was ready to throw in the towel, send the editor a giant and symbolic red pen, and curse all writers of series.
Usually this blog is addressed to the reader side of me, but today, I must admit to feeling insecure.  I put the question to all of you... how do you feel about your work as you're writing it?  Is it hard to get a great product with a large word count?
I've got to go.  So much to write and so little time.
Happy writing (and reading)!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ROW and Price Point Heaven

I just read a fantastic blog entry by Dean Wesley Smith, linked here:

The New World of Publishing: Cash Flow

I don't always agree with DWS, (for instance, he's against editing your voice and I'm SOOOO for it!), but his experience where I lack it, has been educational for me.  For instance, in this blog, he talks about how the money flows from the publisher to the author in a traditional setting.

Now I know every author has a different reason for publishing (notice I didn't say writing):  fame, money, personal accomplishment.  Probably a mix of all three.  I'll be honest.  I didn't write my first book (or any of those other short stories and failed attempts at novels) because I was thinking about the future.  There was not a thought of money or publishing in my head when I wrote Six Keys.  BUT, when I lost my job last year and found myself pregnant, and pretty much unable to get another job right away, I thought about that lovely passive income that a self published book could bring in.

That's what it is, people, the best income of all, the passive kind.  You know, the kind where you do something and you continue to benefit from it, even in a minor way, financially.  Again, in all honesty, I'm not making a ton of cash, and I never thought I'd be the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke.  Heck, I didn't even know they existed at the time.  It was a whim, really.  "Hey, I'll post this online and see what happens," I thought to myself.

I've never looked back.  And leaving aside the whole debate of which is better... I think that given a very specific set of circumstances, I would probably never go with a Traditional publisher.  For many reasons.  First of all, I don't think it's a great way for a newbie or a midlister to make money.  Dean Wesley Smith's blog, Harlequin, and several other sources have taught me this is true.  If you're not a big boy in the writing world, one of those powerhouses we've all come to know, you're less than dust to most publishers.  And you're consequently going to have a hard time playing hard ball when it comes to contracts, ebook rights, and royalties.  It's just a fact and please don't give me examples of the exceptions.  Of course there will be.

Will you be as famous doing indie publishing?  Probably not.  Will you have to do a crap ton more work?  Probably so.  Again these are the facts and you authors out there will make the decision that is best for you.  Good luck to you, and I hope you have every success.

Smith's article is key to this thought process because it highlights what I never thought about as an author: TIMELINE.  Both ways have them different.  I point you to the blog for a look at the traditional timeline.  In the indie world, it's almost instantaneous.  As soon as you start selling those books on Amazon, you're accruing that 70% royalty.  After 60 days, barring abysmal sales, you're gonna get that remittance in the mail (or direct deposit in my case).  It's like the fast food of writing.

And then there is the biggest topic regarding sales on Kindleboards:  What should I charge?  There are so many different schools of thought on this subject, I wouldn't know where to turn.  Locke says $.99, Konrath says $2.99 (although recently he has started to change his opinion on that.  Say what you will, the man learns and changes with new information.  Most people are never that smart.), Robin Sullivan says, take it higher and use $.99 as a loss leader.

Here is my take, though I don't claim to have discovered price point heaven.  If no one knows your name, you probably won't get a ton of downloads on a high pricepoint (anything above $2.99).  You also have to be pretty confident in your writing abilities, because if your book is crap and you ask a lot of money for it, you will get REAMED in the reviews.  I see a lot of new writers at the $.99 price point.

The reason I set Six Keys higher at $1.99, is that I didn't want to get lost in the 99 cent books.   I also wanted more reviews.  What I've noticed is that for newbies like me, a $.99 book will take a long time to build up reviews.  People buy those books, true, but when you buy anything at $.99 that is in a genre you read, you generally take your time in reading it because there will be quite a stack.  It really didn't take me that much time at all to build up reviews for Six Keys.  And when I put Compis even higher, I got more reviews than that, and in a much shorter amount of time.  People who buy a book above a certain price point make sure to read it and when they read it, they inevitably have an opinion.

Reviews are the key, reviews and readers.  If you're like John Locke and you can pump out your books or if you're like Amanda Hocking and you've got 8 of them available to release, you are going to get a lot of readers.  For the rest of us, we have to do whatever we can to make sure those purchases become read.  I think Kait Nolan is super smart about releasing Red for reviews just for a month.  This will get her those readers and reviewers and from people like ME, word of mouth, because you can bet I'm recommending Red all over the place.

So, experiment.  Find your Price Point Heaven.  But don't just pick a price based on some formula of what everyone TELLS you to do.  Do your research, work hard on your writing, and be an educated author.

Happy Reading!

PS-  So thrilled to say that I'm at 103,000 this week.  I've been ignoring the fatigue and just going for it!  I am determined to get Aeris into the editing phase by November.  Let's see if I make it!  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Parallel Minds...

Through the wonderful world of ROW, I have become acquainted with several new and wonderful authors.  One of these is Claudia Lefeve, whose work I sampled via her goodreads profile page.  BTW- Readers, if you are interested in an author but want to sample their work before you download, I recommend looking at their profile page to see if they have any short stories or chapter samples posted.  This will give you a good idea as to their writing style.  I myself have a couple of chapters of Six Keys posted, as well as my short stories The Angel & Her Gun and Perfect Man Plus.  They are free to read.

In Claudia's case, I read the sample of her book Heir, which later became Parallel, and was intrigued enough to beg to be on her beta reader list.  To my excitement, she accepted, and that is what I'm going to talk about today.

Because I am a beta reader I'm not going to give Parallel a traditional review.  I don't know if that would be considered "ethical", which is why I wouldn't ask MY beta readers to review my book.  Usually betas are people you like and root for, and I'm sure that could be considered a conflict of interest.  However, since I do think Parallel is WORTH talking about, I'm going to at least feature it here on my blog.

It's always nerve wracking, being a beta reader.  There is certainly a lot less pressure, since the product involved is a work in progress and the author generally WANTS feedback.  But it's tough.  I've done it a few times, and there are a couple of times that I've pretty much didn't like the books I read.  I had to put aside my subjective feelings and give constructive feedback without telling the author involved that I thought their work was crap and that I would be surprised if anyone liked it.  I know that seems harsh, but again, we can't always read the books that are intended for us.  I'm sure that some of the books I've read weren't even remotely written for me, as a reader, so I take it all in stride.  As I do when someone else has the same reaction to MY books.  You can't please everyone.

So it was with some trepidation that I received Parallel.  I wanted to like it SOOOO bad, you see.  Thank goodness, I can say with all honesty that I LOVED it.  Sure, there were some inconsistencies and plot issues, because Parallel was a work in progress.  Having read the final version, I can assure you that she addressed all of them and more.  She even added more words, which was my overall comment.  Give me more book, dammit!  :)

Parallel is the story of Etta, orphaned girl and foster home hopper, who finds herself endowed with powers most humans only dream of.  In the course of this story, she will have to hop through dimensions, use her powers to find her real family, and try to discover the true identity of the mysterious, yet sinfully handsome Cooper.

I LOVED the idea of this book.  The world Claudia creates is so fascinating.  I have never read anything like Parallel in YA fiction before.  She manages to describe the differences in worlds perfectly, yet she also leaves enough mystery to leave you clamoring for the next addition in this series.

My other favorite part about Parallel is the romance, which is again, so far from the usual YA fair, that it's a breath of fresh air.  I'm so tired of teeny-bopper love, and this has all the makings of mature, passionate love. The two characters are perfect for each other, but this book gives them the time they need to fall in love, and save the world, all at the same time.

If you don't like cliffhanger endings, you might want to wait for the sequel to Parallel, which is supposed to by out by winter, at the latest.  But the ending to this book is so fabulous, you might want to give it a chance anyway.

In summary, this book is a winner and though it is still too short for my taste, I highly recommend it!  Also, if you want to tag along on her blog tour, stop by Claudia's website for a list of all her appearances!

Happy Reading!

PS- Okay, ROWers, I'm up to 99,036.  Yay me!  I've been taking advantage of New Baby's early rising time to feed him and then write my fingers to the bone.  I will finish this dang book!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feeling the Disconnect...

Well, with a bit more optimism than I feel right now, I signed up for the year's final ROW80.  I hesitate, especially after reading Kait Nolan's goal blog, to name a goal though.
Should I shoot for 1000 words a day?  I know I can write that much, if I sit down and do it, but I also want the freedom to duck out, or hit the snooze button like I did today. New Baby makes me tired.
I could say, like I did last time, that my goal is to finish Aeris.  However, when I did that, my life blew up and now here I am with a book that is 2/3rds finished.
So I guess my goal will be to write when I can, to try and finish Aeris in time for the Christmas rush on ebooks(which there will be, have you SEEN the new Kindle prices???), and to forgive myself for not attaining either of those goals.
New Baby just woke up, so I have to go.  Good luck to all and Happy Reading!

PS- I'm up to 96,243.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts on Moving Forward...

Looking down the long road of my inability to work on Aeris like I want to, I've been considering the feelings of success and failure.  That's what they are, feelings.  Like how you FEEL after you read a book and decide whether to love it or hate it.

As an author, I'm faced with failure every day.  Like I said, Aeris in a state of failure for me, right now, failure to finish.  There is also the failure to achieve... I didn't make the goals I wanted.  I didn't sell the amount of books I'd hoped to.  I didn't get the type of reviews I wanted.

My mom was up to help with New Baby and we discussed a friend of mine who supposedly wants to be a photographer.  She has taken all the classes and bought all the equipment, and yet she has yet to book a shoot or set up her website portfolio.  And when I talk to her about it, she as all these plans, and is enthused, but can't seem to make it past the start of the race.

"She's afraid of failure," said my mom and I couldn't help but agree.

Failure holds us back.  It tells us we're worth nothing, that we'll never make it, that we don't have what it takes to be SUCCESSFUL.  It is that shadowy plague that grips us and keeps us from moving forward.

I have faced down a lot of things that would make a normal person give up, maybe.  My book has been slammed in some reviews.  My very FIRST fan email was not a fan email at ALL, but a letter from an angry reader who felt like I'd insulted the people who lived in the area where the book takes place.  Sad, huh?  :)  As I mentioned in the first story about Six Keys, it was the book that almost WASN'T, as I had a huge data loss right at the beginning of writing it.  And now, during Aeris, I've had death, birth, hardship and loss of sleep interfering in my ability to write it.

But for me, failure is not trying.  That sounds trite and it probably is, but man alive, I would rather have 50 one star reviews than not have a finished book.  If I hadn't had the guts to finish Six Keys, I would never have started Compis, which is part of a series that I'm so passionate about writing (and finishing! hahaha).

I keep referring myself to that motto from "Meet the Robinsons": Keep Moving Forward.  Learn from what you can learn from and use it when you start your next project.  Face those stumbling blocks and use them as stepping stools and you will truly have made a success of yourself.

********Reader Goodies!!!

I just read two great indie books:

Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire -This is the story of Caspia, who is running herself ragged to support herself and her terminally ill brother.  Descriptive, well-written, and much too short for my taste! hahaha  5 stars

Red by Kait Nolan- Told from two perspectives, Elodie's and Sawyer's, and is one of the best werewolf books I've read.  It also made me want to read books with werewolves in them again, which I thought would never happen after I read Shiver.  This got an enthusiastic 5 stars from me as well.  (Read the review for a disclaimer from me, I got this book in a giveaway.)

I have another entry to write soon, about a book I was a beta reader for, Parallel by Claudia Lafeve, but New Baby calls, so I have to go.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dark Skies for Writing By...

It's 3 in the morning and I'm writing a blog post which must mean... New Baby Copeseeley has arrived.  :)  He is as enchanting as his brother and I suspect I'm going to be busy for quite some time.  However, now that I'm up all hours of the night, perhaps I'll have time to finally finish Aeris, which believe me has been on my mind of late.

That's pretty much all the update you'll get from me.  If ROW is still going, I'll post this to let everyone know where I'm off to, and I will, of course, keeping writing blogs.  How can I not?  There is so much great stuff going on in the world of writing and reading.

On a side note:
Started Vicki Keire's book Gifts of the Blood and thus far I am enchanted.  Warning to new moms, though.  Don't read this one unless you want to cry buckets through your hormones. hahaha

Read these great posts on JA Konrath's blog.  Quick aside on Konrath... He is considered by many in MY neck of the woods to be the definitive voice in current happenings for indie writers.  His writing is often volatile, opinionated, and unapologetic, but I have seen this man get it right OVER and OVER again.  If you are an indie writer or just interested in the goings on of the other crowd of writers, I most highly recommend him.  Here are the posts.  I laughed my butt off over that one.  "Four pages!" hahaha Very thought provoking commentary on how the industry of writing is really opening up for authors and giving them more power.  Another interesting post about how the power dynamic is shifting in the writing industry.  Good read, but long.  :)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choices, Choices

Some interesting things in the world of authors and artists today.  I saw this one buzzing around the internet and I was frankly astonished at this one.

I'll summarize and you can look up the links for yourself, if you find it interesting enough.

There is a writer, LK Rigel who wrote a book, called Spiderwork, the second in her Apocalypto series.  When she finished it, she hired an artist, Nathalia Suellen from Brazil, who painted her the most AMAZING cover.  Some time later, Sasha Illingworth of Harper Collins approached Nathalia about her cover.  She wanted to buy it for a book in development for her own house: Bewitched by Alex Flinn.  Let it be here noted that Illingworth did not act on orders by Flinn.  Flinn had no idea.

Nathalia refused the $4000 offer to buy her cover, for the simple reason that the cover had already been purchased by Rigel.  She felt it was selfish and underhanded for someone from such a large publishing house to try and buy a cover that was already being used by another author.

To make matters worse, Illingworth also asked several questions about Rigel —her country of origin and her genre.  Perhaps seeking for their purchase to go unnoticed?

When Alex Flinn revealed the new cover of her work in progress, several people were shocked to see it was a very close replica of the original work that Nathalia had created.  So close, in fact, that she was sure someone had been hired with the sole purpose of copying her original work.

As you can imagine, a firestorm erupted.  Everyone was talking about it.  How could a large publishing house like Harper Collins do something so underhanded?  Nathalia had all the correspondence to prove what their original intent was.  I don't take the same attitude that Big Publishers think they are better than the lowly independent authors, but several others have mentioned it.  I DO think that Sasha Illingworth should be fired, because I have a hard time believing that any of her managers would have approved of what happened.

And now Harper Collins is having to deal with the fallout.  Well, as soon as Alex Flinn heard about what happened, she pulled the cover (or HC did).  But that hasn't stopped the story from getting out.  I feel bad for Flinn.  How mortifying.  She was so excited about her new book and had NO idea the cover was someone else's, essentially.

Here are the links:
Nathalia Suellen's Blog
The Passive Voice
Dear Author
Goodreads commentary from Nathalia

In a quick ROW summary: 94,000 words for Aeris.  I've been sick, so my words have been few.  Hope to make up some ground next week, but there's only 1 week left till my due date, so we'll see.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just another update: writing, ROW, and life.

Things are better in our household than they were a week ago.  Thank you all for the kind words.  We had family staying with us for about two and a half weeks, but now the house is quiet (relatively -I have a 3 year old, after all).  Nothing is normal or will be normal for a while, but at least now I'm not privately freaking out about sending myself into preterm labor from the stress.  So that's good.

Stress relief around my house?  I wish I could say it was writing.  Sorry, ROW, I'm failing miserably here.  I'm at 92,500 for Aeris and no closer to the end of this book.  The good news is, I've been writing again.  The bad news?  I just can't see where this book is going to end.  It's kind of become a joke among my friends and family.  "How many words is it now?  How much closer are you to the end?"  I think I will have some major, major editing to do to get this thing down to a size that people will actually want to read. hahaha

On a happier note, stress or not, the garden keeps growing, and I keep harvesting from it.  Basil, garlic, potatoes, squash, beans, even some sad little tomatoes!  I am also the youngest Suzy Homemaker alive, in that I just put up a dozen jars of apricot jam, another dozen of peach apricot, and some applesauce from an early apple tree.  This week I'm looking at doing a batch of plum jam, YUM.  I love plums, but I've never done plum jam before.

I have to get all of these done now, because pretty soon (2 weeks or so from now, I still can't believe it!) there will be another child around here demanding my attention!  So excited to have my stomach to myself.  I think I'm probably the only person I know that detests being pregnant.  I love being a mom, and all the mommy stuff that comes with it, but pregnancy is just the pits. hahaha

I have done a lot of reading.  There have been a lot of nights of no sleep, so I've put in some hours there.  I won't list everything I've read, because not all of it even got a review from me, but here are a few I enjoyed and wanted to share:
Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (I kid you not, this is the first time I haven't had to look up her name!) 4 stars  (Also picked up a book from her other series to read)
Fire by Kristin Cashore got a rare 5 stars
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly also 5 stars (I didn't even mind that it was first person present tense!)
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card got 4 stars

All worth reading, depending on what genre you're into.

Recently purchased books, that I can't wait to read:
Cross my Heart by Katie Klein
Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire
Days of Sacrifice by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Divergent by Veronica Roth
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Hope to have better news of my word count on Wednesday.  In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quick Update:

For the curious:

No baby yet.  If this baby boy comes before August 24th, I will be extremely disappointed.  :)  And irritated.

Instead, my husband and I have found ourselves embroiled in not one, but two family tragedies.  Because of these, I haven't written in a week, my word count is stuck at 91,000 and we are both emotionally worn out to the point of exhaustion.

I don't want to call it quits on ROW80, but I don't know exactly how this is going to play out, so I may not be on here for a while.

Hope everyone is well.  Check out my newest reviews on Goodreads, I've read some GREAT books of late and it's worth knowing what they are.

Happy Reading!

PS- When the baby does come, I will have someone post an update here for me, so everyone will KNOW why I'm absent for so long.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

ROW and How I Write Reviews...

First, just to get it out of the way, word count for Aeris is now at:  86,786.

A big topic of discussion, one that I've talked about many times, is reviewing.  More specifically, reviewing other authors and how I continue to do it, even though NOW I have my own books, that could be reviewed in return.  
I'm going to address that today and hold on, it will be a LONG entry. 

First, pretty much all my ratings and reviews are on Goodreads, so let's take a look at the Goodreads star key:
1 = Didn't like it
2 = It was okay
3 = I liked it
4 = I really liked it
5 = It was Amazing

I'm a generous reader, probably because I love to read and I'm always up for a good story.  A book has to be pretty bad for me to give it what would be considered a poor rating (2 stars or less).  Thus far, I have given two books a one star rating: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Alice in Wonderland.  There are 7 books on my 2 star list.  This is out of 156 books that I've taken the time to label as read and given a rating to.  (The actual number of books that I'd read before 2008, when I joined Goodreads, is in the thousands.  I've also read FAR more than 156 books since 2008, but I don't put every book I read on there, just books that I thought were worth talking about.)  I also want to point out, that I don't rate or review books I don't finish.

My percentages go like this: 1 star 1%, 2 star 7%, 3 star 17%, 4 star 33%, 5 star 40%.  So as you can see, most of the books I read I really liked or thought were amazing(73%)!  And those are honest ratings.  One of the reasons is because, by the ripe old age of 32, I've figured out what I like.  Which isn't to say I never try anything new, I just tend to read a lot of what I like.  I'm also pretty careful what I pick.  I don't usually pick up just any old book on the street.  I read reviews, I get recommendations, I take my time in getting to a book.  I read the cover blurb, I pick authors I've read before.  All these factors have led me to a mostly successful reading journey.

I think the confusion comes in when I give my reviews.  I give honest reviews.  Just because a book has a 4 star rating, doesn't mean I found it to be perfect.  Heck, even my 5 star reviews come with pros and cons.  That is just who I am.  I'm a reader, and there are always parts of a book I like and dislike.  I just try to give my honest opinion.

That is me, as a reader.  It's how I've always worked, as a reader.  Go back and look at my reviews by date.  I did it before, I do it now, and I will do it again.  So now we come to the nitty gritty.  

In December, I released a debut novel, Six Keys.  In April, I released the first book in a YA fantasy series, Compis (soon to be followed by Aeris, hopefully in Sept, but definitely next fall).  Now I'm an author too, and I'll be lying if I say that it hasn't effected my review style.  This blog is something I use, both as an author and a reader, so I post authory things and readery things on here.  I vent my frustrations about both on here.  I post a few reviews on here.

To answer the questions specifically:  I have yet to give an indie a poor review.  Not because I'm afraid that an author will give me a bad review in return -though several authors I know have that fear- but because thus far I've been fortunate to only read the good books.  But let me be CLEAR: I have not EVER been asked to give a book a review by another author (or publisher for that matter).  I would NEVER give a review to a book (any book) where I felt I had an obligation to an author or a publisher.  That would compromise the integrity of my reviews and my reading experience.

I've seen it both ways, to be frank.  There are book bloggers I've stopped reading because it's obvious they give good reviews to everything because they get free books out of it, from the publishers.  I'm also sad to say that I've seen "review" exchanges on some of the lesser known author boards.  I openly despise this practice and I think it's misleading to the people we share our reviews with.  I think of the people on Goodreads as my reader friends.  I give them reviews that I give my own family and friends.  I wouldn't lie to someone in my family about liking a book I didn't like, what would be the point?  Nor would I do that online.  Period.

On the opposite side of that, I have never and WILL NEVER ask another author to review my work as some kind of publicity or as a deal for both of us.  If someone enjoys my book, and takes the time to tell me, I encourage them to post their feedback online.  I never ASK authors to read my work, either.  Every single author who has read my books has done it because they chose to, without prompting, and generally it was to my pleasant surprise.  I don't expect it and I don't ask for it.  

I don't promote myself around author's pages.  I've never done a guest blog.  I've never asked someone to do a guest blog and I don't think I would.  This blog is about me, not anyone else.  Although, if George R. R. Martin emailed me and was like, "Hey, Kate, you have a seriously cool blog, can I post something on it?" I'd probably faint, squeal, and say "YES!!!" instantly. hahaha

Sometimes it IS uncomfortable for me to review on my blog, or on Goodreads, for that matter.  I have done two recent indie reviews, which were both 4 stars -indicating I really liked their books- where I had the authors comment on my reviews.  Which always make me blink, because I think, who in the heck cares what I have to say??  :)  Both of the authors were super cool -as most indies are- but it makes me dread the inevitable crap book I read.  Argh.  And like I said, I AM frank, probably to a fault, about what works for me and doesn't work for me in a book.  Even when I really like the book.  So I'm not sure how people feel about that.

As for my own reviews... well, I just look at authors who I consider to be far superior to me: George, Orson Scott Card, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Austen... look at their reviews on Amazon. I'm bound to (and have gotten) some interesting commentary in my reviews.  Some of it make me glow with happiness and some makes me wilt.  I'm going to get my fair share of ones, twos, and threes.  Also, I'm a new author, so I have a lot of growing to do in my storymaking.  That can only come with time and experience.  Some of Tamora Pierce's early stuff, while among my favorites, are still pretty raw.  But that's okay.  Hopefully, along my journey as a writer, I will find my audience.  Those are the people I write for.  People like ME, who like strong female protagonists, love stories that take more than a minute to happen, non vampire, non love triangle, non first person present tense.  :)  

Not everyone will like what I write, it's a big world.  Heck, judging by my taste in books compared to others', there are a HELL of  LOT of people who will probably hate what I write.  Thems the breaks, kid.  The people who DO get what I write are the ones who make it worthwhile to me.  Because I think that's all writers really want —the chance to tell a story that other people will enjoy.  :)

And speaking of stories people enjoy, Smashwords is having a HUGE indie sale until the 31st of July.  I just picked up the rest of the Demon books by Penelope Fletcher FOR FREE(Also, quick note, just checked and Demon Girl is still free on Kindle, too.  So you can read the whole series)!!!  I urge you to get over to their site and get yourself some free goodness!!!  I also picked up another Stacey Wallace Benefiel(She calls herself S.W. Benefiel in that one) book, since I liked the last one.  Very exciting, indie readers!!!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Look, I'm useful! ROW Check-in.

Sooo... my car is still limbo and I'm getting a ride back to my house with my sister, who is going to stay for a few days.  Our only other vehicle besides my husband's work car is a GIGANTIC van that we use to haul our trailer around.  As you might imagine, it's a joy to drive.  Anyway, hopefully we can get it fixed soon and I will be saved from the beast. hahaha

Writing was about as successful this week as it was last week, with no respite in sight.  I have busy mornings next week, busy afternoons next week, and busy evenings.  I'm now hoping, hoping, hoping I will have this book finished in the next two weeks.  I mean, I still have editing to do, for heaven's sakes!  At this point in time I basically keep the file open on my computer and write in it whenever I get a free minute to write.  I'm at 80,000 words for Aeris right now, and I've got at LEAST 30,000 to go.  Good luck to me! :)

And now I have to go pack, but being my useful self, I wanted to leave you with a couple of links from around the internet that I found interesting this week.  Nothing too dramatic this time. :)

The first is a link to some videos on formatting for a POD novel (like Createspace) using Open Office.  I'm a big fan of OO, because it's FREE and open source(for you geeks).  I also highly recommend the blog it's linked to, for its usefulness to anyone who is a writer.

So here is the link:

The next link is one I found interesting because it's an honest discussion with traditionally published writers who are making the move to self publishing.  It's one of the better conversations I've seen, since there is no anger or derision toward EITHER option.  The pros and cons of each are discussed with an honesty that I find refreshing.

Link here:

That's all for now.  Sorry it's short, but that's all I've got for now.  Maybe Wed. will be better.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sucky Sunday, ROW Check-in and 5 Favorite Book Blogs

Without going into too much detail, drove down the four hours to my parents' house, my fan on my car broke, my car overheated, and I had to get towed the rest of the way there.  This did not for a good Sunday make, to say the least.  I'm slightly more cooled off now, but for a while there I was hot, cranky, hungry and MAJORLY had to pee. hahaha

To top it all off, the in-laws invaded last week, and while they are delightful people and I highly enjoy spending time with them, they (and my husband) have no clue what proper bedtimes and naptimes are for toddlers (and pregnant women for that matter) consequently, my writing schedule was TOTALLY thrown off and instead of being close to 80,000 words for Aeris, I'm still stuck at 70k.  Unhappy face.  Hopefully, I can get a lot done while I'm here at the folks' and bring myself closer to the 90ish I want to be at.

On to happy things.  I get asked all the time about which book bloggers I like and which I don't.  I don't want to pass out negativity, because I love book bloggers and I value what they do (much like librarians), so I'll refrain from commenting on book blogging practices I do NOT admire and instead give you a short list of the best bloggers I've come across thus far.  I can't pretend you've heard of all of them, but I've read and appreciated their blogs, and follow their reviews on goodreads.

  1. The top of my list is Cuddlebuggery, otherwise known as Kat Kennedy.  The reason I like her so much is that she's like me: not afraid to tell you how she sees it.  She bashes books if she doesn't like them, or if she sees a weakness in them.  It makes me terrified to ever have her read one of MY books, but on the other hand I don't think she does indies, so I'm probably safe! :)  I just get tired of reviewers that ALWAYS have something positive to say about a book.  I like seeing pros and cons.  Kat does pros like a pro and cons with a healthy dose of humor.  She's also an aspiring writer and I hope she finishes her book soon, because I would LOVE to see what comes out of her brain!
  2. Next up is The Well Read Wife, Mandy Boles.  Her reading covers such a wide array of genres that I can't help loving her blog. She is always insightful and honest about her reviews, and I trust them, even if I don't always agree with them.  (We agree to disagree about Jane Austen, for instance. hahaha)
  3. If you're an indie reader like me, then Red Adept Reviews is the place for you to go.  Feeling tired of books that are full of grammar errors, bad characters, holey plots?  The professional reviewers at Red Adept will lay it all out for you, honestly, and without prejudice.  I know that if I'm considering a certain indie, they are the place to go to find a review on it.  Each book is categorized and rated based on: Plot/Storyline, Characters, Writing Style and IF it applies, grammar.  Then they are given an overall rating.  Excellent site, couldn't do without them!
  4. Another blogger who reads both traditional and indie books is one of my favorites: The Book Faery.  WRW is always my first stop, and Kristi is always my second, when I'm looking for new reviews.  Her book blog is more like the others I've seen, with giveaways and questions, and blog hopping, but she manages to do it in a way that is FUN and not tiring.  She'll read anything she is interested in, but mostly YA.  
  5. Finally, I have one last stop, and a new discovery for me: The Modge Podge Bookshelf.  Just discovered her by happenstance on goodreads when I saw that like myself, she is a cover lover.  Not sure if she reads indies or not, yet, but I've read several of her reviews and even though there are some I don't agree with her on, they are all honest and give good and bad things about the books she reads.  She also has many insightful observations about books, covers, and the industry that I found myself nodding along with. Oh, and she's having a one year anniversary giveaway, so sign up for it, if you can.
Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Goals, Getting Myself in Gear...

So, for those of you who commented about the scary sounding Boot Camp, apparently, I was mistaken.  It's not Boot Camp, it's Camp Nanowrimo.  Camp like: canoeing, campfires, crafts, and all those other c words.  :)  I'm never scared of Nano, it's been my friend for several happy years now.  If I ever make it big, they are going to get a huge donation from me, for all the help and support they've given my writing career.  Because of them, I realized I could finish something.  Because of them, I know how much writing I can get done in an hour, when I sit down and just WRITE.
So anyway, I might join up for the next round of ROW, just to be able to get that verbal encouragement, since none of my writing friends are doing Camp N, but that one will give me a harder goal to follow, with a cool little arrow and bulls-eye graphic, so it will keep me on my toes.
I've been away away AWAY from the computer and "sleeping in" this past week, enjoying my time off.  Creativity is hard work to achieve, but now I'm ready to get back in the game and finish up the rest of Aeris.  All my betas have gotten back to me with some really helpful feedback.  Thank goodness for beta readers!  They always seem to see things that you don't.  I will be careful with my edits of the first half and I have food for thought as I write the second half.
It's so funny to see myself from this time last year.  I know how far I've come from Six Keys.  Which, you know, may not be a perfect book, but it's all mine and honest work.  Edit after edit, rewrite and data loss in the middle.  I hope to be a better writer each time I put my fingers to the keyboard.
I care about books.  They are my passion.  I care about being better and making stories that are fun to read.  I'm no Steinbeck, and I don't hope to be, pretty much ever.  But I care about the finished product, because as a reader, I know what it's like to feel disappointment.  I know how much it sucks to read a book and feel like no thought or editing went into its creation.  That is pretty much a betrayal to me and I will always try my hardest not to make my readers feel that way.
Sorry, got a little serious there, but I've been thinking about my commitment to writing and it all kind of came out.  See you in the next few days, as I start up Camp N.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goodbye ROW, hello Boot Camp!!

I made it by the skin of my teeth.  Somehow I slept through my alarm yesterday (pregnancy fatigue anyone?) and to top it off, my son woke up early, so I only wrote about 700 words yesterday.  But today I made it!  Final count on Demon and His Lover: 7,600 words.  Final count Aeris(for ROW, not for the whole book): 62,694.  Like I said, made 70,000 by the skin of my teeth.  But I made it!  Yay!!!
I assume bootcamp is like Nanowrimo, where you write 50,000 words.  I may not make that goal, simply because I'm not sure how big this book will end up being, but I really can't imagine that it's going to go over 120,000.  At least, I hope not. hahaha
I'm giving myself a break from writing after I finish the next chapter.  Then I'll save it all up for July 1st.  In the meantime, I'm picking up Six Keys again.  Now that I know MUCH more about formatting, it needs complete reworking, so that it looks prettier on those kindle/nook pages.  It's so fun to do these things myself.  :)  No really, I could hire someone (like I do for editing), but I just won't do it.  I'd rather do it myself and save my money, since I can. :)

So I bid all my new ROW friends adieu, rest assured  I will still be haunting your blogs for updates and wishing you all the best of luck in your new goals.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Knock my socks off...

Hey look, a post!  Wed. didn't happen, obviously.  Too much on the platter.  Actually, I'm surprised I'm posting anything at all today, but kidlet is still sleeping and the husband has decided that his father's day gift to himself is building a chicken coop.

"Honey," I said, "We can do anything you want.  Go for a hike, go see a movie, go play at the pool."  
Oh no.  A chicken coop is the order of the day.  So he's off doing that somewhere while I recover from having a three year old birthday party at my house yesterday.  It was fine, we invited a small number of kids so it would stay low-key.  The kidlet had a great time.  There were chocolate cupcakes involved. :)

All in all, it's amazing I got any writing done at all, but somehow, I DID!  In fact, ROW friends, I hit the midpoint of Aeris, FINALLY!!!  It took me 58,000 words to get there, but it happened, and now I'm so relieved.  As for my original goal, I believe it was 70,000 words.  I wrote 7,600 for The Demon and His Lover (sequel to my other Samora short story)  So that puts me at 65,600.  Which is almost there.  I have 4,600 words left until the last check-in, Wednesday, and if I put some effort into it, I'll just make it. :)  

More exciting for me right now, is that I sent off the first half of Aeris to my lovely beta readers and I've already gotten some GREAT feedback, so yay for that, too.  All in all, feeling good about my progress for this  ROW 80 and I'm so glad I decided to join, because I really needed a kick in the pants to motivate me to get that next book started.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do about releasing books, but I'm okay with what is my process right now.  They have a summer bootcamp for Nano coming up that I might join.  I think it's in July.  Anything to get this book finished and off my plate. :)

Onto other things, my reader friends.  11 years ago, just in time for its movie debut, I read Waking the Dead by Scott Spencer.  I'd never read anything by him before, and I had no idea that when he wrote the book in question in 1986, I was eight.  I believe I saw the movie cover with Jennifer Connelly on the front and assumed it was a new book.  And nothing ever clued me in that it was otherwise.  In other words, it turned out to be timeless, and truly one of the best/hardest books I've ever read.

I don't know what made it pop into my head this week, but it was enough for me to try and figure out what it was called, because I don't own a copy and never re-read it.  These are the books that make me want to read.  Yes, yes, a blockbuster by your favorite author is GREAT.  George's soon to be released book or the final Harry Potter —as a fan, I'm big on those.  But there is something about the unexpected pleasure of picking up a book, on a whim, and being totally transformed by it.  

There are a few of these, in my life.  Maybe they aren't classics or best sellers.  Maybe you'll read them and hate them yourself.  I don't know.  I wanted to share some of them with you.  Meanwhile, I'm off to find my library's copy of Waking the Dead, to see if it's all that I remember.

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes.  This book is probably her least recognized and least popular, and that is a shame, because it is arguably her BEST.  It follows the first person account of Rachel, stuck in rehab against her will, for a drug problem that isn't a problem.  If you knew her crazy family, you'd understand how, in a fit of paranoia and panic, they insisted she get some help.  And she proceeds to spend the entire book describing the circumstances on how she actually landed in rehab.  This book is hilarious, heartwarming, and knocked me on my butt halfway through when I realized how staggeringly GOOD Marian Keyes is as an author.  I honestly never took her seriously until that moment, and if you've read any of her other books you'd understand why.  (Not that they're bad, to clarify, they're just so light and fluffy.)

The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine is one I hesitate to nominate, simply because I've recommended her before, to my friends' dismay.  I've been told that this book is slow, that it's hard to get into, and not funny.  But I find it delightful!  It's like that last cup of iced tea, just as the sun is going down on a hot summer day.  The main character is bookstore owner and I find her perspective on life and books delicious.  

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  If you do not know and love this woman by now, PLEASE for the love of all that's holy, go and find a copy of one of her books.  I didn't list my favorite by her (Prodigal Summer) because by the time I read that book, I already loved her.  I hate, hate, hate that this book is an Oprah book.  Not because I have a thing against Oprah, but because it gives a certain perception of what the book will be like.  It's an amazing book, and I loved the prose so much when I read it that I went back immediately and read it again.  I consumed, devoured and savored each word and the characters of this book... wow.  

Drop City by T. C. Boyle.  This book was a fascinating journey back into the 1970's, during the peak of the commune, free love movement.  Somehow it also intertwines with Alaskan pioneer life and mail order brides. Fantastic, riveting, and one of the most interesting premises for a book that I've read.  I don't know if you could say it has a PLOT, but it definitely has a journey.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.  I hated this book the first time I read it.  I hated it the second time, too, but it was an assigned English assignment and required about four readings to get through all my papers and homework and by the time I read it the third time, I was in love.  This was the first book I read that didn't have a typical chronological storyline.  It was also the first book I ever read that didn't have the traditional "happy ending".  That is the reason, IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.  But because of this book, I was able to read quite a few literary fiction books without fear or hesitation.  I don't think I would have read Virgin Suicides if I hadn't read this book, first.  There is a section on the different types of desert winds that is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've ever read.  That being said, I've never read another book by this author since.  :)

That is the end of my interesting list.  There are many many more I could add, but this is a good starting place.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, Sunny, ROW

First, I cracked 50,000!  Aeris is now at 52,570.  Didn't write this morning, though.  Day of Rest and all that. :)  I'm really happy with where Aeris is at this point in time.  I've got about 2 character sections left before part one of the book is finally finished. (Barring Edits, of course!)  Then I'm sending that section off to my beta readers for notes, critiques, and general hardcore bashing.  After which I'll save the notes for later.
While that is progressing, I'll keep writing on the second part.  I still can't believe how long this book is ending up.  I feel like I truly understand the several authors who ended up telling a longer story than they planned.  My only worry is adding stuff that doesn't have to be there.  I'd rather be like Rowling and Goblet of Fire than Paolini and Brisingr.  (Sorry, I know, but I STILL can't get over the Dwarf wedding.)
So, one of my readers over at goodreads pretty much told me, in so many nicer words, that I'm a whiny ranter who should edit books rather than read them, as I'm so very picky. hahaha  This was in regards to my last entry, where I basically talk about how upsetting I found The Strange Case of Finley Jayne.
It's hard not to get defensive, because even though there are some things that really bother me as a reader, I'm a pretty generous reader over all.  The vast majority of my ratings are 4 or 5 stars and a paltry 8% of them have been two stars or less.  And even though there were some factors about the story I didn't agree with, I still gave it a 3 star, which is what I consider average on the "I loved it!" scale.
I did think about being an editor once upon a time.  Back when I was a naive reader in college, taking English classes, and creative writing and loving every second of it.  I thought, "I could be one of those editors and then move on to writing later."  I was going to be an English major and maybe even go on to get my masters.  Then I ran into the English teacher from hell.  As college students, we've all run into the teacher who is writing her own book/textbook haven't we?  The teacher who knows everything, is hypercritical and has a proven "method" that every single student in the class must follow.
No, this is not the C or D student making excuses for herself.  I'm an A student, baby.  I committed myself to every class, determined to learn all that I could and be the best I could be.  My previous English class had been tough, but I had made it out with an A and a teacher who I'd come to appreciate deeply, even though I didn't appreciate most of the books she'd chosen.  This new teacher, however, made me hate English, even though she chose a bunch of books that I loved.
The saddest part of it was, I ended up with the highest grade in the class, (barely an A) and because of her, I left English behind forever.  Instead, I chose the objectivity and order of computer science.  A big switch I realize, but this is all to say, I decided that editing (and writing) were not for me.  I never looked back.  I didn't write for years.  I don't blame her for that, I think I just got too busy with coding to think about writing stories.  It wasn't until I was almost graduated that I thought about writing stories again.
Maybe I am too nitpicky in some ways about writing.  It's true that I probably hold traditionally published books to a higher standard than indies.  Why?  Because they cost more, first of all.  I think that's supposed to be the point: they cost more because they put in all the extra stuff that indies don't usually.  They have artists, editors, proof readers, marketers, etc.  and indies are lucky if they have a good editor and cover.  But indies are cheap, and if carefully vetted, usually a good read.  Traditionally published books also have a better reputation, so I tend to expect them to uphold it.  So when they disappoint me, they do it big time.
As I mentioned before, I still have yet to read The Girl in the Steel Corset, so I could end up having some great things to say.  I certainly have lower expectations at this point in time! :)

Also, I posted a review of Leviathan over at goodreads.  LOVED IT!!!  One of my favorite YA books of the year.  Worth reading, if you like YA fiction.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Buzzing Brain... Oh, yeah, a word count.

Word count first, for all of those visitors who come here because I'm on that linky thing:

Aeris: 39,024.  I estimate that tomorrow or Friday I will hit 40,000.  I don't know which, however, because I'm headed down for a quick stop to my parents' house, then sprinting back either tomorrow night or Friday morning.  As I've mentioned before, my early morning wakeup is at 5:30.  That is when I write.  If I'm driving at either of those times (or getting ready to go to my parents' house) then I'm not going to be writing.  But no matter what, I see myself hitting 40,000, my goal for this week, by Sunday.

As I mentioned last week, my word count for this book is going to be greater than the last book.  One of my readers commented that what I should do is focus on finishing this book up and releasing it after new baby is born, instead of trying to do two books and have neither ONE of them be finished.  Good point, really.  However, my fear is that it will be another year before I have time to write again.  All of you nice readers keep pointing out that I will find the time somewhere.  Writers write.  Maybe.

But see there's little little book called Six Keys that I wrote a while ago.  It actually has a prequel and a sequel that I have planned. The Doorman's Collection has been planned for several years.  Yes, seriously.  I even wrote a few chapters of it.  But it is set in the late 60's, and then 70's, so it is requiring a lot more research than even Six Keys did.  This has meant a significant delay in publishing, because I just don't have the time to write, and take care of kidlet, and research.  I don't.  I get people asking me all the time when the prequel is coming out, but gosh dang it, I have no idea.  And I'm sorry about that.

My fear is that Compis will be out, and maybe Aeris, then any fans of the series will be left hanging while I get my baby raising act together.  So the truth is, it's time for another serious look at my goals for the next 2 years.  I did this back in January, before releasing Compis and back in August, before my final edit of Six Keys.  It's one of those things that continues on, I guess.

In other news, interesting things are happening in the publishing world.  I can say publishing, and not indie publishing this time, because of:

Amazon getting into the Publishing Business
Another Conversation between Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler (VERY LONG, but worth it)
A Conversation between Jennifer Crusie and Barbara O'Neal (Also very long, but worth it)

I feel like I'm caught in the middle of a typhoon, with all that has happened in the publishing world in the past few weeks.

As a reader though, I will benefit tremendously, so to all,
Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sale Fail and Word Count

Let's see 33,766, is the word count currently, but I hope to add another thousand to that before the day (and naptime) is over.  The word count went pretty good, but I totally failed on Wednesday and Thursday.  I was up until very late (for me) Tuesday and just could NOT face the idea of waking up at 5:30.  Of course, my kid woke up at 6:30, but at least I got that extra hour.  And a nap.  And slept in again on Thursday, when he slept in until the unheard hour of 7:15.  Holy cow!  How did that happen?
Kicked butt on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, though.  Hoping to reach 40,000 this week.  Oh, and guess what... I think this book is going to be longer than 70,000 words.  I have been suspecting as much, as it was being written, and I'm now fairly certain that Aeris will be at LEAST 80,000 words, but I'm thinking it may get to 90,000.  I don't know.  But this is going to blow my plans for having two books written by the end of August, dammit.  It might end up being 1.5 books.
In other news, there has been quite the firestorm in the Amazon author world this week.  It all started with Gaga and her servers crashing because of that Gaga album for 99 cents.  Literally no one had sales on Tuesday and Thursday, and if they had ANY sales, it was like 18 instead of 100.  Seriously.  And people were freaking the heck out.  I mean, I don't sell 100 books a day.  EVER.  But can you imagine selling 10% of what you normally do?  Holy cow.  And this went on FOR DAYS.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.... And people were flying through the forums questioning the book selling gods.  "Where did all the people go?  Did the rapture happen and only the Saints bought my books before???"
To top off Gaga, several other things went all weird.  Tags disappeared.  Also viewed percentages went missing. Also bought bars disappeared. Listmania stopped letting you vote if the list was helpful.  It also stopped telling you how many people had viewed the list previously.  Then there was the free book phenomenon.  People who downloaded tons of free books (like me) were much less likely to need anything else for a while.
And no one could tell if it was the server mess or Amazon being itself and changing things up. And because so many many things happened at the same time no one could tell what it was that threw their sales off.  It was all so confusing.
Today it is still a mess.  Half the people have sales that are back up to normal.  Half the people have not recovered one iota.  Tags have appeared and disappeared several times.  Also boughts have been flashing in and out.
I love it when the voice of reason comes out to try and help.  It's like, people are watching stuff fall from the sky and there's a person standing out in the middle of the street saying, "They aren't bombs, I swear.  It's just paper balls."  But they're so high up, that no one can tell, and they believe the worst, in their total confusion.
Anyway, that was my interesting end to the week.
Happy Reading!