Thursday, May 31, 2012

Friday

Happy hunting this weekend. Hope it turns out to be a good one.


Ding Ding!

Round two of drafting book three is almost over. I'm happy, I'm sad, and I'm excited to start all over again. That's simply the process - until I feel it's right.

I'm also a little nervous. You create this wonderful story with characters and a world you fall into so heavily that everything is visualized in your mind. Will the reader embrace the tragedies, the love story, the relationship dynamics, the plot?  Trust the author. I write 1-2 books ahead, so when I'm on the current book, I have a strong sense of where it's going, so there are reasons behind what I do.

Unlike real life, where I found myself sitting on Pinterest for way too long staring at things, but not pinning them to my wall. Then I started thinking, "Why am I looking at pictures of doors?"

Why? For the love of God, why?

I was in one of those introspective moods today, and wondering why we give up our imaginations when we grow up. Remember as a child when you played "pretend"? You were an explorer and your backyard was a dangerous and mysterious terrain, filled with treasures and enemies. You had imaginary pets, or you could shift into an animal. But somehow, that piece of childhood is vital. Why don't we continue to do that as adults? I would seriously love pretend hour at work, so I could watch my coworkers running around like loons pretending they're a fairy princess. It might actually reduce stress in the workplace.

Whether it's in writing, painting, photography, crafting of some kind, cooking - there are so many outlets that we can feed the imaginary monster. I fundamentally think that it's part of who we are. When we find remains of prehistoric man or ancient cultures, we're fascinated by their art, jewelry, or wall paintings. Not so much how many bison they killed each day and if they were able to pay the cave tax. That's not who we are, that's how we live.

Someone bought me a small canvass and oil paints. I always said I wanted to paint something, and now I have this kit just waiting for my hideous reveal to the world. I promise you, no matter how atrocious it is, I'm going to post it on this blog.

Be afraid.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Weekend

Draft #2 is reaching 77% completion. How many drafts does it take to get to the center of a storyline? The world may never know. In away, I love this process, because each time around I see things from a fresh perspective. I can fine tune some of the scenes and dialogue and recognize the clutter. Of course, I'm still sitting at 122,000 words.

I would be honored to know that this book is included with the previous two in the re-read pile for anyone.

I've always said I don't have any actors or models in my head for my characters, as I didn't base them off of anyone. But this guy popped up on my TV last night and I thought, "Wait a second, Justus?" He could be a contender, should the Mageri series ever hit the big or small screen, I would have absolutely no complaints. I think he needs 5 more years and a few extra pounds and he might could fit the bill. In the meantime, I'll still retain my mental image I have of Justus tucked safely inside of my head.

I think those blue eyes and shaved head just grabbed my attention, along with the cut of his features.




Meanwhile, I'm kicking back and enjoying my holiday weekend. I did a little shopping but don't feel like hitting the crowds too much. My patio is a great hangout, although it's almost too damn hot to enjoy anything. I can't complain, it hasn't hit 100F yet, so anything else feels like a spring breeze.

I'm starting to feel itchy about the cover for book three. I've been scouring for models when I have free time, but haven't considered a concept. I still have a few covers that weren't right for book two that I can work with, but I'm going to carve out a couple of days after I finish this draft to work on a few designs. Then I'll send them to my friends to a couple of friends to shoot them down, and I'm sure they love that job ;-)  So when the cover is finally released, be kind to the cover artist. She works hard at her job, is obsessive about the right image, and hopes that the readers can appreciate the creativity she poured into her work.

PS: For those who don't follow me on Facebook, I made #1 in France this week. Oui!

 Pretty awesome!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simon Says

Thoughts about Ebooks

This is something I wanted to bring up to make someone think twice before they went to a website for an illegal download of a book in order to get it for free. This was a big issue years ago with music, but what differs between writers and musicians is that writers do not make as much money. If CD sales slow down, recording artists have a multitude of other avenues to earn money: iTunes, concerts, appearances, endorsements, royalties, public performances, rings, etc. You'd be surprised at how many avenues there are to earning money for a recording artist. For a writer, it's book sales. We are not rock stars.

With the increasing popularity of ebooks comes the increase in theft. You wouldn't walk into your bookstore and tuck a book into your purse, so why would you do it on the internet? (Not to mention many of those sites will put viruses on your computer) The problem is, it's not "just one person". Each person adds to the total, and those reduce sales for the author. If one person stops, it makes a difference, because odds are others have also stopped. Why is that such a big deal? Well, I'm not one of those authors who charges $35 per book. Even then, their percentages from that book are slim. I've heard people say they can't afford to buy all the books; but often they are accumulating more books than they'll ever read. I've always saved my money for things I really wanted, added items to my wishlist, and budgeted myself.

Reducing sales reduces funds that are needed by authors for editing services, proofing, marketing, cover art, and other expenses entailed in the process of making a book. You're essentially stealing from the "book fund jar". If the jar becomes low or empty, exactly how is that author going to continue to publish more books? How will you tell that aspiring 9 year old writer when they grow up they'll have people steal their work and won't get paid for it?

I think for indies, it's particularly pocket pinching. It may take us anywhere from 3 months to 2 years to write a book, and they're available for extremely reasonable prices compared to traditionally published books. So when 99 cent or $2.99 books start appearing on free download sites, exactly how much of a pinch in the consumers pocket is that 99 cents for a book that took 2 years to write? You can't even buy a hamburger for that money.

Each time you purchase a book, you are supporting the artist in not only the work they have done, but helping to secure future book releases.

And remember, there are a ton of books you actually can download for free on Amazon, not to mention your local library! Check 'em out. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Characters & Facebook Fun

I have selected the betas I'll be working with this time around. My secret special forces team. For those who submitted an inquiry - thank you! Showing interest is a huge compliment, but should something fall through with any of my betas, I may be looking for back-ups. So everyone is still on standby.

With everything going on this month, how the heck did I get any editing in? I'm on Chapter 25 of the second draft, and it's looking good. I still can't manage to cut back anything, so we'll see what the feedback from the betas will be.

This morning I was working on a little photo editing - although doing this on a sofa while lying on your side doesn't produce the best results. This is a collection of images, all of them layered and altered. Thanks to insomnia stock for the model (Deviantart)



I also have my fun crew over at Facebook who lets me indulge in making collages of characters. I received my first fanart via email, and thought it was fantastic, although I didn't share it as I don't know if they wanted me to. Feel free to not only share your fanart on my Facebook page, but also any actors/models that you see in *your* head as the characters. We all see someone different, and I'm very open to those things because it's all for fun.

This was my rendition of Logan. Now, the eyes are a bit yellow and not quite as I imagine them. He has a mixture of a gold/amber color - think of Tiger's eye. I have a few of these gemstones and there are often swirls of honey, amber, and gold.
Here's a link to an example: https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRM--7a65iVRl5K_DrBQPgAKq83kZPY8MS0Xrbq2Oo2muJF8uP3

I don't have any particular actors or models who make me think of Logan, but collectively some of the images below - whether it's the body type, pose, or hairstyle, make me think of him.

I'm still finding it awesome that readers are admitting they are reading the series (or Twist) more than once. I'm also thrilled that you guys have warmed up to some new character Breeds. It's always iffy when you create a new Breed that hasn't been written about, give it a name, and hope that people are intrigued by them.

Thank you to those who warmed up to Logan Cross. I love the Chitah character enough that I have included them in two of my other series (perhaps not the primary focus of the series, but leading roles)

I'm also remembering how much fun it was to name my characters. Logan's name came really easily, although I spent a lot of time finding out what his last name was. I usually keep a list of names anytime I run across one that I like. Sometimes I can work from those to assemble a name, and other times I research the internet for hours, days, weeks, until I find the right name for a character.

I will shamefully admit that I have read books where three fourths into the book, I could not remember the name of the leading male or female characters. Often it's because they just don't fit the character, or because they're too odd to remember, and other times it's simply because there's another character with the same sounding name or begins with the same letter, and I get them mixed up. I also struggle when I read a book with such a common book character name that is prevalent in about 20 other books with a leading character. Some books stand out, and from Chapter one, that characters name is burned in my head. I hope that this is the case with my books, but it's hard to say as I'm so partial to my characters that are alive in my head, that I know them by heart.

All right kiddos, live long and prosper. This girl needs to get some editing done before it gets too late.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blame the Internet

There is truth to this.

During time off from work, I've been working on the drafts for book three. However, each time I get on the internet to Google something, I end up looking up something else, and something else, and before I know it - I'm sitting on Youtube watching videos about dogs.

I refuse to have a late book release and readers asking "Why?"

"Um, I was Googling pictures of the Avengers?"

Milestone

Milestones are great things because they give one a sense of achievement. As of this week, the Mageri series has collectively sold 50,000 copies since the first publication in September of 2011. That is a huge accomplishment for an indie author, and I can only give credit to open-minded readers who are embracing indies more and more. "Sterling" is and has remained 99 cents, but the price alone cannot take credit for sales because there are thousands of 99 cent books that never sell. What can I attribute to the success? Word of mouth. Simply for the fact that I've done zero marketing.

Obviously we see names like Amanda Hocking and E.L James thrown about, but they are exceptions to the rule and not the norm. When I began this endeavor, it was with a realistic mindset that my sales would likely be 10 books a month.  Given the average sales of many indies, that's what I was expecting.

So, I feel it's cause to celebrate. They're not Stephen King numbers, but this has been a long process with a lot that I've learned along the way. Part of that is being humbled by the responses I've received on the series. The reviews, the e-mails, the messages on my Facebook wall and blog - amazing. The Mageri series establishes a tough world, one that doesn't glamorize immortality. It's more than just selling a book, it's the feedback of: "I cannot wait until the next book!".

So where am I going from here? Still working on Book three with an ETA around September. The date is not set in stone because it could be moved depending on how things develop and if my editor has an earlier opening. It seems so far away, I knowwwwww! But time flies, and no one wants a rushed book.

Last night I was going through a couple of my other series and trying to determine which one I wanted to publish next. I'm so ahead of myself as I still have at least 2 more books in the Mageri series to go, but it's always good to be prepared so I can jump right into it. I'm thinking that the Paranormal Romances that I've written are not ready, so I'm likely going to publish another Urban Fantasy Romance. The question is: which one?

Will I close out the Mageri series with 4-5 books? We'll see. I won't move to the next series until I feel it's at a good stopping point. But I think the door is always open if there is still unfinished business that could be told.

Oh, and I finally have a newsletter you can sign up for on my blog (top left). I don't send out e-mail regularly so you won't be spammed. This is only when there are major updates to the books (new cover, release date, or the date I publish so you can jump on and grab it).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sterling: The first cover

I dug this one out of my file earlier. This is the first cover I did for "Sterling". I believe archetype stock holds rights to the model. I liked it, but the concept didn't seem to be a right fit. The HALO book is not that prominant, although it does symbolize her entrance into a new life. But on the other hand, it also looks too...wizardy. Is that a word? Probably not. I didn't want that association of spells and traditional magic to be associated with my book since I changed what a Mage was.

For those who haven't read my earlier posts, "Lightwalker" was a working title at the time.

It didn't work.

Scattered

Right now, I have been dealing with some personal life challenges. It has taken me away from writing, work, and life. Not entirely, but enough that others are noticing. Once I get through this (and I will get through this) I will have a nice little story to tell with a lesson that might actually help others. It's a wait and see thing right now, so I'm waiting...and seeing. I'm still writing, just not as laborious as I usually do. The July release would have never been a reality, and this is obviously a sign it was meant to be.

We all have struggles in life, and they teach us something invaluable. Perhaps that's why many can relate to the Mageri series; life isn't perfect in this world. The tough things each character has endured in their life shaped who they've become.

I'm feeling that "Network" moment of "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" on pretty much a daily basis. But there's only so much you can do when things are not within your control. I wanted a sofa, but instead I'm staring at EOB's. Thank god for insurance; I know everyone dogs it, but it's far better to have it than not when something happens. Yes, this is a medical issue, but it's nothing serious so no need to worry. I've had about every organ lit up with radioactive iodine and stuck in machines that should have teleported me to the future. Doctor's sure love to be thorough. At a price.

So for now, the sofa is on hold. The loveseat has treated me kindly, although I usually kick my lamp over a few times when I happen to fall asleep on it. I'm a girl who lives modestly and appreciates what I do have.

Breath. Life. Feeling the sun shining on my shoulders at the end of a summer day. Watching lightning bugs, smelling a thunderstorm an hour before it arrives, the smell of barbeque when you roll down the windows of your car driving through a neighborhood, the excitement of opening credits in a packed theater, and laughing with someone you love so hard that tears stream down your face - these are the things that matter the most. It's the moments, the small joys that we take for granted. Everyone has these things that are peppered in our day and get us through it. Savor them. A joke from a friend online, or even playing with your dog. I feel a certain Julie Andrews song coming on, and I wonder where I'm going with this.

Honestly, one of the greatest joys for me has been writing and developing these characters that mean a lot to me. Sharing them with everyone has been a privilege, and receiving messages from those who fell in love with them also is an honor.

Believe it or not, my eyes are on the future. I've been talking with a photographer about a certain photograph that I want and he may sell to me privately for a future book cover. It's a series I haven't published, but the image is powerful and I know exactly what I'll do with it.

And here's another crazy collage I posted on my Facebook page of images that remind me of Novis.

Ignore the mannequin hands on the bottom right. Novis is young - perhaps Finn's age, but ancient. Every character in my series fascinates me in a different way, and I wish I could dedicate a book to each of them to tell their story. We'll see more of Novis through the series.

My 14" laptop is running on 16 minutes before shutdown. Batteries just aren't what they used to be.

Ultimately, characters are who the reader imagines them to be. If you want to share who you think reminds you of a character, I'm very open, so never hesitate. I think it's fun.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Twist is Back

As of this morning, Twist is now available for purchase again and went offline for an estimated 10 hours. That's always a concerning moment for any author when your book suddenly vanishes. Show your love and please post a review. Like the page. Recommend to a friend. Twist needs some serious pampering after that traumatic event. http://www.amazon.com/Twist-Mageri-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B007E50SJC/ref=zg_bs_158579011_15

And I need a drink.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Twist is temporarily unavailable

Thanks to gremlins, "Twist" is not available for purchase on the Amazon US site. Believe it or not, this actually happens. If you're trying to make a purchase, please check again at a later time. I'm so sorry. I've reached out to customer service to expedite a resolution.

In the meantime, I'll be editing book three and pretending like I'm not losing sales and disappointing customers.
:-/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Top Indie Author

I've been listed as a top 50 Indie author, and that is a pretty cool deal. http://ireaderreview.com/2012/05/03/top-100-indie-authors-for-may-28-authors-to-watch/

This image is why you need to scramble over to my Facebook page to follow my inherent silliness. I was actually trying to capture the fashion styles of Justus: His workout gear, the fine suits, the casual look, and his expensive watches.

As I have no one making my fan art, I've set myself to task of making my own. This is just a collage of models, but the image a few postings below of Justus and Silver are purchased stock and something I spent time on.

I actually think it's interesting to hear what actors or models that fans see in their head as the characters, because we all see our books differently.



At the moment, I'm suffering from "I need to move" syndrome. My downstairs neighbors are at it every night fighting, and on weekends they enjoy watching movies on surround sound. It took me forever to find this place, and I like it. I hate moving because of the expense and the pain of boxing up all your stuff and going to God knows what kind of mess next. So let's just see if I can outlast them.

What would Justus do?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Character Secret

There is a character in the Mageri series (you've either met them already, or you will meet them in future books) who has a separate stand-alone book written about them. It was intended to be a series, and while this person is not the lead character, they are the co-character. I haven't decided if I'll develop it into a series as I'll have to re-read the book to review the potential. I liked the characters, the story, and what was there, but I specifically remember finding a stuck point. Sometimes the best thing for that is time, and a revisit to that book might help me work things out as it's only draft one. I'd love for it to become a series.

That happened with another book I wrote about a Gemini. I wrote book one, and I felt all right about it, but it didn't feel like a series book. It was written more as a PNR, but doesn't have the usual element in place to have a series of books about different characters. I just really wanted to explore the life of a Gemini.

I keep mulling over what the next published series will be, but I hate jumping ahead of myself. I'm still in the midst of the Mageri series, with at least one additional book yet to be written.

The PNR books I wrote in third person because it's an entirely different approach and more challenging than first person. I think there are more opportunities to engage the readers with certain characters and emotions, but on the other hand, there's an appeal to first person. That's why my first person books have scenes written in third person. I'm the reader who sometimes wants to know what's going on with other characters if I feel that it adds to the story. I'm very curious what readers will think of my third person only books....which I'm VERY excited about.

There are species in Cognito that you haven't met, and others you know little about. So many stories to be told. Lots of political drama, secret organizations, love and friendship.

You probably want to visit my Facebook author page because lately, I've gone bananas on there with some of my self made fan art of models/images that remind me of Justus or Simon.

Choices

Life altering experiences. When tragedy befalls us, how do we choose to let that impact the person we become? Which path do we take?

This is a question that is raised in my book with several characters through the series, whether the event happened a long time ago, or is a current event. We have a choice in how we let that tragedy change us, because it will change us. This is why I think it's interesting to learn about the past of some of the characters, because it gives us insight as to why they become the person they are today. Was it the right choice? Maybe not.

But perhaps even bad decisions lead us to our fate, and yet force us once again to make a decision on the kind of life we will live. Struggle is sometimes a necessary evil. But with one of my characters in "Twist", it also shows that a person is capable of change, and had they not lived that life, they would not be in the place they are now. I put a lot of thought into each of my characters lives and where they are meant to go. The struggles, the pain, the scars - these are the things that shape the characters in my books.

Fate leads us to decision points, but I think that we choose our own fate.

Choose wisely.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Plug

So, you follow the Mageri series, do you? Feel free to recommend it to a friend, tweet it, post it on a group or blog, or write a review! Heck, read it again. I love hearing that readers are discovering new things about the series with each read.

PURCHASE STERLING HERE

Sterling is a full length novel, and book 1 of the Mageri Series. So, you thought you knew what a Mage was? Well, humans always have it wrong. We go by myth and stories, but some of that is created out of fear, or not understanding the truth.

One woman finds out the truth after she is turned against her will, and becomes immortal. But there is nothing romantic about immortality in this series. The societies within this world have laws that are built to create structure, but not always to protect the people. She struggles to accept who she is, but is not accepting of the world she's expected to live in. Why does age not bring wisdom among many?

Sterling is only 99 cents!



PURCHASE TWIST HERE

"Twist" is book 2 in the continuing story of the Mageri series. Silver is finding human habits are hard to break, and new rules difficult to accept. She never thought of herself as a rebel, but it's evident that some things need to change. Not just personally, but with the laws.

She crosses paths with a man who is as dangerous as he appears, and finds that she must trust him in order to get to the one man who she has been afraid of since becoming a Mage. Not her Creator, but the powerful Mage who stole her light, and holds a powerful enough position that she fears he might find her once more and take her away. There's a lot of tension, action, unexpected romance, and we learn more about this world and the characters with each book.

Twist is $2.99


Both book are available in US, UK, DE, IT, SP, and FR Amazon sister sites.

A fair bit of warning: These books are not a fairy tale read. They are also not YA. They depict what a possible immortal race could become. What happens to men who can create their own progeny and who date back hundreds or thousands of years? They might create strong men to follow them, not always forward thinking or intelligent men. Wisdom comes with time, but so does prejudice with other species and sexism for many. It's a tough world, and this is from the perspective of a human with modern day thinking thrown into it and how she struggles with not only what she is, but how she is expected to adapt and readily accept this new life. What power does she possibly have to change it?

There are villains, and there are heroes. And most of all, I like the way the characters lives intersect and impact one another. Ultimately, we are all affected by those we meet, and whether we realize it or not, we change ourselves and our fates. This book focuses on those relationships.

Sometimes small ripples make big waves.

Happy reading, and happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Busy Bee

While I've been fairly active on Facebook during the time I took off from work, I haven't posted much about that on my blog. I was very ill, had surgery, and racked up some pretty hefty medical bills. I'm recovering, and have gone back to work as of this week. I've been taking time to acclimate to the whole "Getting up early, commuting to work, and walking 900 steps to my office." I'm not feeling 100%, but I feel like throwing myself back into the mix is going to help, because I'm not the sort of person who enjoys sitting around being useless. I'm not going to lie, I had some scary moments over the past few weeks and it was a lot more serious than I could have predicted. I learned a few valuable lessons:

1. Emergency rooms are of little value unless you need pain medication. They basically keep an eye on you to make sure you aren't going to die, but don't seem to do much else because most patients probably require specialists.
2. The next time someone suggests that they are going to inject you with something "Harmless", don't believe them. A seemingly harmless injection of contrast for a CT scan turned out to be something quite frightening.
3. I still have a tiny crush on my anesthesiologist, so before they put you under, be sure to collect phone numbers. ;-)
4. If your doctor is an ass, drop him. I was going to someone I thought was qualified, but he blew me off more than once. I switched my PCP and found out that I absolutely love my new doc, and facility.
5. Medical bills will not go away. They're like fleas. You think you fumigated and killed them all, but then a few more slip in and cause you more grief.


Of course, during the time I was hoping and wasn't in pain or under meds, I was working on book three of the Mageri series. So all is not lost.



Everyone continues to ask about the ETA of book three, and I would love to tell you it's going to soon, but I only have two bookings with my editor. One for June and one for September. I do not think this book is going to be ready for June, because the beta readers have still not received it. Therefore, "Sterling" is going to get the full treatment in June (I'm happy to say). Which means book three is slated for September. Time flies really fast, so I'm not overly concerned. My editor will also let me know if something comes up sooner.

If I happen to finish everything early and have to sit on it for the editor, I'm going to start working on book four. This is great news, because it's going to put me ahead, and the time wait between book three and four may not be as long.

Overall, it's not a bad deal. As mentioned before, most traditionally published books that are part of a series are spanned out a year. If I can push out three in a year, I think that's pretty great. I also love that some of my readers have admitted to re-reading the Mageri series multiple times during the wait. So glad that you've enjoyed it, and I can only encourage you to post your reviews, and recommend to those who might enjoy it.

I honor Kindlegraphs, however give me a week. I'm fairly quick to sign them, but sometimes I have a lot going on so it takes me time to get to them all. I'm not on Twitter as much, although I never did really get the whole Twitter thing, and I think my Goodreads is in neglect outside of what I'm reading. I'm really trying to focus on writing at this time, and recovering, but will always take the time to hang out with my Facebook buds. I love you guys, and your support of not just the series but all my recent miseries I thank you for. I love talking books, sharing new music, and getting to know you guys.

So as far as the book release date: Don't hold me to September. I just want to give everyone a heads-up that this is what it's looking like at the moment. Things could change (for the better), and I will keep everyone updated.