Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Dark Cloud

Everyone has a bad day. The kind that makes you want to sing loud, aggressive music in the car at the top of your lungs. The kind that makes you question yourself - and that makes you even angrier. Then i circle back to where I am now in my life.

I work. One job I go to 8-5 (sometimes longer) and I get paid for it. The other I do at a keyboard when I get home and on weekends. I don't get paid much for it - that is entirely up to the reader and how much more they want of my stories now that I've unleashed Sterling into the world. I want nothing more than the reader to be just as excited about my characters as I am, and want to know where I plan to take them next. I've spent a lot of time building this world, and I have several series lined up. So far, "Sterling" is doing very well. It remains in the top 300 (sometimes top 100) in its category and that is such a cool thing to see.

Honestly, I forgot how much I loved writing. I found an old notebook that I kept from the 3rd or 4th grade with stories. One about a kid whose hair is accidentally died purple, another written from the perspective of a rock who is thrown at someones eye and tumbles down a hill. I remember writing stories on the old floppy disks (let that phrase take you back) and I have no idea where those went - probably lost. I kept to traditional paper for writing poetry but every so often a story ended up in there. It took me a while before I finally found my voice. Now I can't get the voices in my head to be quiet. ;-)

The real trouble lies in being at my first job, sitting at a keyboard when my mind is exploding with ideas. All I want to do when I'm there is go home and start writing or designing art.

If I won the lottery, I wouldn't buy expensive cars, go on extravagant trips, or purchase caviar just for the hell of it. I would be free to do the things that I love to do and that has always been important to me. It's the driving force of why I am always busy doing *something*. Not just writing - but every creative outlet I've had an interest in pursuing. The only things holding me back in life are time and budget.

I hope someday to overcome both of them.

And I take it back, I would like a new car. Its over 10 years old, the window doesn't roll down, my stereo was stolen and the transmission is questionable. Destiny - throw me a bone, will ya?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Edit

With Sterling, 3 things got me through the late nights editing:
1. Hard work.
2. A passion to do my characters justice.
3. Taco effing Bell.

I'm not sure exactly what happens during the editing process. When I am writing a novel, I'm energized. I walk 5 miles a day and make notes obsessively.

But somewhere during the editing process, I completely self destruct. It's a lot of sitting and eating. Not a whole lot of cooking, but that has to do with the fact my nose is pressed against the screen. When I write, I enjoy time away from the computer so I can work things out in my head.



During the writing process I learned a few things.

LOVE YOUR CHARACTERS. If you don't, no one else will. Even if they're despicable, love to hate them. There were 2 books I began but wasn't 'feeling it' with the characters and so they are unfinished.

TAKE PAPER EVERYWHERE. You will get ideas in the car, at work, in the bathroom, shopping, and eating. You will not remember it.

BACK UP YOUR WORK. Back your work up. Back your work up. Do it as you go, every single time you shut down the computer. Dropbox is something I will look into, but I put my files on a flash drive and copy to another computer. I want to have it in a safe account, you never know if you'll have a fire.

WRITE EVERYTHING - editing comes later.


During editing I learned a few things:

DON'T GET TOO ATTACHED I had a very tough time editing Sterling. It was 130,000 words and i shaved it down to below 95,000. I had to let a lot go. Scenes that were more relationship building, or hell - four pages of table conversation. If it truly didn't serve the story or the characters, then it had to go. For my genre and series, I set a goal. While some may write a book with 130,000 words and publish - more power to them - but I wanted to keep mine at a fast pace. I don't think anyone wants an Urban Fantasy book that is big enough to be used as a weapon.

I CAN FORMAT FOR KINDLE, AND SO CAN YOU. It took a while, and it was a huge learning curve, but I've got it down pat and I made notes. There are a lot of sources out there so just Google.

I still wanted to throw my laptop out of the window and scream at the top of my lungs, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

(Network reference, because I'm a movie geek)

BOOK TITLE ARE NOT EASY. I can name characters without trouble, a name always comes to me either in the beginning or at the end of the story that completely fits the character. But a book title took a lot of thought. I don't know how much weight a book title has other than piquing the interest of a browser to read your blurb. I'm dreading the naming of book 2, but I have been throwing some ideas around.


I've titled this post THE FIRST EDIT, because I have completed the first round of editing for Book 2 of the Mageri series. I did some hard edits and major rewrites. It was my first visit back to this book since writing it so it's going to require more work since I now have a firm grasp of how I want the direction of the story to go. I will go through this a few more times before it's ready for publishing. It was awesome to write THE END on the last page (Even though i do not put this in my actual book it gives me a visual cheer)


Why can't Taco Bell bring back the taco bell grande?
Sigh.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Favorite Series

Books that inspire me to read - oh so many. But there are a few that remain on my top shelf.

One of my favorite series is the Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill. It's an urban fantasy centered around a young woman named Merit who is made into a Vampire and taken in by the Cadogan house (yes, in this world - Vampires have organized houses). She is given a position under her Leige, Ethan (Hot, sexy, serious and...did I mention sexy?) and there is a love/hate thing going on between them.

Gods yes, I love books with tension. But what I really love about the series is that it's unpredictable. Merit is strong, yet vulnerable, and many of the sub characters are superbly written! (I'm a huge fan of Catcher Bell)

I'm looking forward to Drink Deep this year, and the cover was just released for next year's book. I think it's amazing! Lots of thought provoking images--the ring, the crossroads...and I think the covers have gotten progressively better than the first. Another thing I like about the paperback copy is the size of the book. It doesn't come in the standard paperback size. It's more expensive, but it feels and looks better.

If you haven't read this series, check it out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Everyone needs time off

There has been progress in the first edit of Book 2 of the Mageri series. I'm truly excited about this book and right now it is at 80% completion of the first hard edit. Unfortunately word count went from 95,000 up to 99,000. It has been a struggle to keep it under 100K During round two I'll heavily consider cuts, but if I can't live without the scene then it stays. Nuff said.

I'm sitting here sucking on a bottle of vitamin water, saddened that it's the last day of my vacation before I have to go back to work. I relaxed, bonded with my loveseat, had a gluttonous affair with Taco bell, started reading, did some gambling and shopping - so all in all it wasn't a waste. Especially with the editing I said I wouldn't do.

In book 1 we visited clubs named High Jinx and The Red Door. I liked Red Door - red is a dangerous color. Signifies to stop. Red is also a seductive color - luring.

In Book 2, there's another club we visit and this one is nothing like the ones we have seen before. This one takes us into a much darker realm of Breed.

Book 2 also introduces one of my favorite Breed. I can't wait for you to meet them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Understanding your Character

One of the challenges I found when creating a story was how to get inside a characters head. It's more than just the visual of what they look like and attitude - but it's details that will never, ever make it into your story. It's fabricating who they are, where they came from, what events occurred in their life to make them who they are. I had no intention of dreaming someone up, nor mirroring anyone I know. There are a lot of details that did make it into the book about some, and others not so much. But everyone has a reason for who they are, why they are, and that helped me most of all in getting inside their head because sometimes I don't understand them. This helped tremendously for the ones I didn't easily relate to. Even with that said, they still do things that make me raise an eyebrow.

Strangely enough, it also was a factor in where the series is headed. Because I now know my characters in more personal detail than even the reader, it developed the storyline in ways that I didn't expect and ultimately the direction of each path.

HOW'S THE BOOK DOING?
Well, as far as sales, pretty good! Considering I've had zero exposure to the world with any reviews on book review sites or otherwise, I'm still surprised when I check each day and see that I've sold copies. Yesterday was a crap day however, and I didn't sell a single book. But exactly who do I think I am, Stephen King? lol My only hope is that those who do read the book and enjoy it help spread the love by word of mouth or social networking, twitter, goodreads, whatever. Indie authors have a rough go because we lack the marketing that authors get who go through traditional publishers. But, it is what it is. I wrote a story, created a world of characters and decided to share them.

The great thing is with book 1 behind me, now I have time to READ! Sometimes at night I could hear the whispers coming from my TBR (To be read) bookshelf - they were all completely disgusted with me--neglected. Now we're becoming BFF's once again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Justus has a sense of humor

During the editing process - sacrifices are made. One of which involved removing music lyrics because of obtaining permissions to reprint copyrighted material.

As written in the description - Zoe meets Justus and learns she is like him, a Mage. During a car ride he says that he selected a few songs for the trip especially for her. When he flips on the CD it starts on a specific set of lyrics to this song. This is just after she learns what she is.

Listen Here

Now what?

True Blood has ended for the season, what else is on? I've tuned in to the BBC version of "Being Human", although I'm a whole season behind on that show so I guess I do that have. But there really aren't shows of that caliber and genre worth watching.

Before, I always had to get my fix from movies. I was a huge horror movie and sci-fi fantasy junkie. I think the horror genre has gone downhill but I have hopes for the sci-fi fantasy. Here are a few random movies in my DVD collection:

NIGHTBREED - Totally cheesy but in a good way. The concept is really interesting where a group of subhumans that are "Nightbreed" dwell underground and hidden from humans. They are dangerous, but they are their own culture and race that have fought against human fear their whole life that they went into hiding. Craig Sheffer is turned, and through a series of events they are discovered and singled out for extermination.





SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER - Say what you will, but I love this movie. Partly due to the genius of Ray Harryhausen. Everything has gone CGI but I truly appreciate the hard work that went behind Dynamation (Also liked Mystery Island). Here you have a prince turned into a baboon, a giant walrus battle, sabre tooth tiger, the evil witch and her creepy companion, Trogladyte (love Trog!) and plenty of adventures.



DRAGONSLAYER - Yep, for me this was the best dragon movie ever made. Truly scary depiction of what life could have been like if they had existed. Villagers have a lottery where names are drawn every so many years for the young virgins to offer as a sacrifice to keep the dragon from destroying the village. A young apprentice in the village seeks out a powerful sorcerer to help them slay the dragon. Great effects, and probably for today's age a slower pace than the movies we're used to but still entertaining.





Of course I also want to point out "Village of the damned" (1995) Remake with Christopher Reeve. I normally don't warm up to remakes because I own the originals. But there were good moments and perfomances in this that make it worthy of a watch. When a town blacks out, they awaken to find that some of the women of child bearing age are pregnant. When the children are born, they all look alike, are highly intelligent and scary as hell.

I once suggested a movie to a friend and she said, "But it's in black and white!". I still don't know what that means. You may have a better chance at good script and suspense in older films because they did not have CGI to heavily lean on so they had to brush up those aspects of their movie--as where in today's films we go to an expensive film and feel cheated. Sure the FX are great but everything else is blah. I was lucky that growing up overseas we had exposure to a lot of old movies, b-movies and very rarely the current stuff since it took a while for movies to hit theaters where we were and we did not go often. Now, I am a fan of all kinds of genres from b-movies (Yes, the Mighty peking man is a hysterical laugh if you have the tolerance) to foriegn films.

Thus ends a fairly long post, but I have always been enthusiastic about films my entire life. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never a Vacation

I shouldn't be spending any of my vacation days writing, but here I sit-skimming over Book 2. I want to outline all the key points for each book in the series before I begin the editing. Book 1 is about Zoe's struggle to become what she is and accept it, despite the obstacles and marks against her. I never wanted to write a book about immortal characters that was an easy one, it's a process of self discovery and learning who you have the potential to become.

Book 2 delves more into--the heart of the matter as she learns to open herself up to the possibility of letting someone in. Someone who is very persistent. The series unravels some interesting facts, uncovering secrets no one imagined. I guess that's why I'm anxious to get it going.

Villains: There always has to be someone or something to struggle against. It's easy when you write fantasy to develop villains--each having a different reason for their motives. There is never just one, and I think that it often wears down on the reader when you have that one good vs. evil. I like a battle, and I like the introduction of new characters from all angles. I enjoy the pursuit of ones beliefs, and how far some are willing to go to sacrifice for those beliefs.

So, my goal is to have Book 2 out by years end. I think that is a reasonable goal and now that I am familiar with the process of formatting and Kindle, that part will be a cinch. It's just the rewrite and editing that will require some effort. In my own opinion, I think this is one series that progressively gets stronger (vs some series which start out with a bang and go down the slope) because I begin to introduce new Breeds - one which I'm very much in love with and wrote another series which included them.

And yeah, they're hot

I'm also thankful to those who have made a purchase and given Zoe a chance. I have steadily been selling copies in the U.S. and U.K. each day since the book was released 6 days ago. I hope it finds an audience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So here's where I stand

It's about as addictive as watching the stock market, watching your sales. According to kindle there are roughly 750,000 book titles out there. Here's how I rank:

US STORE:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,253 Paid in Kindle Store

 UK STORE:
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,935 Paid in Kindle Store
 #48 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary

I don't have any grand expectations, but it is pretty cool to log on and see those numbers.

In addition, I've been receiving several compliments on the cover from Kindle authors. I think the cover pique's the readers interest, and I'm always curious why some Kindle authors do not bother with one.

Published

I've done it.

My book was sent to Kindle on the evening of the 5th in Review status. That meant no one could purchase it until it was finished publishing. When I logged on the morning of the 6th, I saw it was still in the "publishing status" and not completed.

So I was a little confused when I saw that I had already sold 5 copies. There are over 800,000 books on Kindle, and mine ranks (currently)22,000. If it will stay there remains to be seen, but it was pretty exciting. I decided to give it a day to digest, and now I've sold over 10+ copies. To be honest, I've read some Kindle authors stating they have sold that in a year (if at all) --it's a tough market out there.

I had to republish it to update the description, so that version is not yet published, but the book is still available. I won't be able to turn on the "Search inside" feature until I get an author page set up. (Groan, the things they don't tell you) But if you want to read the excerpt (Make sure you are reading this from my blog account) then click on the MAGERI link at the top and it's written out.

I peeked at book 2 of the series again and was pretty excited about it since my favorite character is introduced, but I decided to take some R&R for awhile .I have a vacation coming up this afternoon and I did not want to spend the whole 10 days doing a rewrite.

They say half the battle is writing it and the other half is promoting. At this point, I'm utterly exhausted. I'm still sticking to my guns in that I wanted to publish and let the chips fall where they may. I'm just a girl who decided to write a book. The fact I've sold 10 copies to 10 strangers, since I haven't announced it to anyone until this posting, is pretty damn cool. Never let anything in life deter you--even if your bad at it. Life is too damn short to live with doubt and regret. The worst that can happen is that everyone hates it.


But it won't stop me from loving my characters; they all have a special place in my heart and I will always stick up for them. My writing I hope to continually improve at, but I am a little attached to my stories. :-) Now, off to enjoy my vacation! Should you choose to purchase the book, thank you for taking a walk in my little world. If not, then feel free to stick around and watch this journey and read my ramblings. I thought readers would be interested to see what happens from the get-go when self publishing. (Nothing is as easy as it sounds).


Sterling on Amazon

Some of you may wonder why I changed the title from "LightWalker" To "Sterling". I batted it around for a while and LightWalker sounded too sci-fi for me. (Skywalker..I know, i know). She's not a Jedi..lol

It's not that it's a bad title, but for *me*, it didn't feel like the right one to describe this book, so it came down to a personal decision. Those who read it will understand where the title came from. But no one ever buys a book for its title.

I'd like to dedicate this book to my good friends who never lived beyond 22. You'll always be forever young in my heart, and I would have loved to see what you would have done in your life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Perceptions

How you see yourself will never be as important as how others see you. As much as we'd like to believe it doesn't matter, it does. How much of it do you take seriously, and how much with a grain of salt?

While cleaning my email folder, I found this picture my dad sent me years ago. It was a letter i sent to my grandparents when i was 6. I seriously hope that they didn't take offense that i saw them as chimney smoking fools.

A small part of me wishes they had looked twice at themselves and how I saw them. My grandpa died 4 years later from lung cancer.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Music that Inspires me

I wanted to post this song because I think that we gain inspiration from different places; whether it's people, a movie, an experience, or a song. Writing "Sterling" was the beginning of a new journey for me, and this is the specific song that put me right into the mind of Zoe. I don't listen to music while I write (too distracting), but i listened to this during my walks where a lot of ideas got hashed out in my head. Everyone needs a mood setter.


Return of the Dot Dot DOT!

Editing is finally over. Probably worth hiring an editor - although be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars. Might be worth it. I found a line about a "loaf floating by" that should have been leaf.

Gee, that really changes the context, doesn't it? Never do this yourself. Unless your poor, intend to keep your day job, and don't really give a flip. Well, I do...but the first two apply.


I did another pre-Kindle test upload and found all these blank pages before my Chapters. Gah! What?! After all that scrubbing? So I wasted 15 minutes attempting to retype the chapter headings and remove page breaks and reinserting them, hoping that would clear up any erroneous formatting behind the scenes on the HTML dimension that I'm not able to see.

No luck. (But you already figured that out when i used the word wasted, didn't you?)

Then, I take another glance at the last paragraph of the chapter preceeding where the issue is.

DOH! There's an extra space at the end of the sentence represented as a dot. You see it? Those little minions will ruin you, they will be your damnation.

So I picked up an oozie (otherwise known as my backspace key) and obliterated them.




(Damn, now isn't that a sentence taken out of context?)

That one lone dot, hanging at the end of my sentence--that's it. Who knew something so small could do so much damage. There's a "That's what she said" trying to get out, but I'm not going to say it.

Will this resolve formatting issues? Probably not. It's inevitable, I refuse to code HTML. Period. So if there's a blank page in there, all i can say is--maybe you can draw a picture on your kindle to fill in the space. I'm very close to the final upload. Now that i've gone through this learning curve, the other books shouldn't be so bad. LOL!!! (sorry i just had a mental collapse)

For those curious about what the hell this book is about? It's an Urban Fantasy; if you want gobs and gobs of ooey gooey sex scenes, you can stop now. (please start speaking in a British accent at any time)

I don't exclude them from some of the books I've written, including this series (just not gobs and gobs), but this is not a paranormal romance, as I've had a couple of people inquire. I have written a paranormal romance series, but honestly? I hate even categorizing what I write. Really, to have a label slapped on something you do.

Imagine if that applied in real life? You would see people walking around with "Doesn't flush the toilet" or "Can't commit". But does that one little sentence define who they are?

Well, maybe for some it does.

What I love about Zoe Merrick is that she is just like any other woman. Doesn't lead an extraordinary life, she's just thrust into an extraordinary situation. She has to learn to toughen up and that is evident as the series progresses, but her vulnerability remains in tact because that is still part of her humanity. Her first book is her struggle to come to terms with what she is and the tough world that she's entering, the next books delve into subjects a little different. I didn't want to go over the top by making her into a badass warrior--it seems that there are a lot of those type of books out and I wanted a character who a person could relate to. She's not always sure of herself or the decisions she makes.

Now that I've spent my entire labor day weekend...laboring...I'm going to pet my neglected cat. I'm also going to enjoy my time off next week from work and do some gambling,