Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Impulse is on the loose

In case you haven't heard, IMPULSE (MAGERI SERIES: BOOK 3) is now live on Amazon.

This morning, I almost fell over when I saw that the rank was #179 paid in the Kindle store. That was kissing the toes of the Top 100 Amazon books. Very cool.

IMPULSE has also managed to slide into the #1 spot (currently) for the MOVERS & SHAKERS list.


Other cool factors include the ranks in different countries:

US
  • #3 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • #6 in Books > Romance > Fantasy & Futuristic 
UK
  • #6 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • #7 in Books > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • #9 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Paranormal 
DE
  • Nr. 1 in Englische Bücher > Fantasy & Science Fiction > Fantasy > Zeitgenössisch
  • Nr. 5 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Fantasy & Science Fiction > Fantasy
  • Nr. 11 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Liebesromane & -erzählungen

While that's all icing on the cake for a book release, what really matters to me are the reader's reviews. This book was written over two years ago, and through the drafting process, I've stayed true to my original vision. It's a continuing story, and it's always been relationship centered. I've taken a few chances with the plots and characters, paced it differently, stretched out the saga so that each book holds hands with one another, if that makes sense. So the feedback thus far has been really phenomenal. As well as the support; my readers are truly the bomb with their overwhelming enthusiasm and love for the characters.

I've got a novella scheduled for a December release, and I'll begin working on book four within the month. I have a date locked with my editor in 2013 and need to get on the ball. LOTS of fun things planned, especially if you follow me on Facebook you know how I keep things lively. A 30 day blog tour, an Impulse Spoilers group on Facebook where you can talk to others who have read the book and dish it all out, and I'll be posting other fun things between these book releases. 

Thank you for taking a chance on an Indie, and I hope that you give more indies an opportunity to show you their stuff. I hope that you enjoy IMPULSE, support the series with reviews and recommends, and look forward the continuing journey. There's SO much more to come!

And PS: The paperbacks are kicking ass. Which reminds me, I need to get back with my formatter. With everything going on this week, my emails piled up to ridiculous proportions.

xoxo

Monday, October 29, 2012

IMPULSE is Here!

Impulse has been published.

The price is set to a modest $3.99, and Impulse is 40,000 words longer than the previous two books and is part of a continuing story. Book four is next.

The Barnes & Noble edition will be going up this week.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU all for supporting the Mageri Series and helping to spread the word. I simply can't express my gratitude enough to every single one of you.

PURCHASE HERE




Please help to support the Mageri Series:
  • Post your review(s) on Amazon. Readers are the heart of Indie, and you are the ones who help spread the word on our books, and reviews help people discover a new series.
  • Visit the product page on Amazon and click that LIKE button :-)
  • Scroll down to the bottom and add relevant tags.
  • Recommend the series
  • Help promote the series on your blog, webpage, facebook wall, Goodreads, groups, etc.

Just a reminder to those who visit my Facebook page: Please avoid posting spoilers for those who have not read it!! There will be a spoilers forum created for those who have completed reading the book and want to discuss. :-)


I love you guys, and if only you knew the journey I went through in order to make this happen. I hope that you enjoy the read.

Dannika Dark
Author at large


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Closer Release date Announcement

"CLOSER", a novella, will published on December 7, 2012.
A countdown clock has been added to the left side of this blog!

As we are on the heels of the much anticipated release of "Impulse" (Mageri Series: Book 3), I wanted to allow readers enough time to either catch up on the series, or read the third installment. Not everyone has the opportunity to read a release immediately, and we're fast approaching a very hectic time of year with shopping, family, and crazy winter weather.

"Closer" will be a great little novella to look forward to near the holiday season, something to snuggle up to on a chilly night. Something to get you through the stretch between now and Mageri series: Book 4. Prior to that release, the paperbacks will be out!

A blog tour is also running for IMPULSE (Check out my Blog Tour link above). Be sure to follow it as it goes Nov 12 - Dec 11. We have a lot of blogs participating, and there will be fun posts, interviews, as well as a giveaway. Lots of opportunities to continue entering the giveaway as you follow the tour, so keep checking in and I will begin adding the tour dates once they are finalized.




Taking Chances

There are a number of different approaches you can take to writing. There's the structured formula, following a basic outline of a story. Then there is following a popular trend. Then there is doing the first, but adding your own spin to it.

And then there is chaos.

Hi. I'm Chaos.
I even thought about naming book three, "Chaos".

I will be the first to admit that when I begin writing a book, I have no idea where it's going. I think one step ahead and every so often, I get a glimpse of the bigger picture. The further into the story I go, the clearer it becomes. That's how I work creatively. The story drifts down like tiny snowflakes, and I'm busy packing them together to make a snowman. I'm not sure when it will stop snowing, how much I'll have to work with, if it's wet or dry snow to see if it sticks, or what that snowman will look like when I'm done, let alone how big he'll be.

Oh, I have a general idea. Round bottom, round head, some coal for eyes. But somewhere along the way, he gets a little lopsided. His head turns out to be more square-shaped, and since his mouth won't hold the buttons, I have to use candy. Then, on a whim, I decide to make him evil Holiday snowman and grab a Halloween pitchfork from an old box and stuff it in his side.

My writing process is comparable.

I sometimes wonder if when you write a book that has you shaking in your boots, that you've got it right. I haven't published enough books to test this theory out. "Sterling" was a big risk because of the flip I did on what a Mage is, and I was afraid I'd have Mage readers lighting torches and showing up at my apt. It was also paced differently than most Urban Fantasies that start out with a bang and they're off and running. It was a slow climb up Mt. Everest, but this was actually key in transitioning from the human world to the immortal world, as well as subtly building that relationship with the reader without them realizing it until later books.

Then came "Twist", and I thought "Holy shit, readers are going to hate me."

I truly did.

Nobody throws in a twist in the second book; they get introduced in the first and we see it coming. And who just invents their own unique Breed of paranormal? Gulp.

I didn't realize until I began reading reviews that readers of "Sterling" had a very definite way of how they saw the series going. Last minute, I came up with the title "Twist". It was the most appropriate title. So, I sat back and waited for the backlash.

Much to my surprise, Twist became even more popular than Sterling. Twist launched the series from the lower end of the bestseller list and I actually was just three or so ranks away from hitting the Amazon top 100 paid books. I made the top of my genre, but the success was astounding.

I don't think I'll ever be able to predict a book's success or failure.

Ever.

Then there's that elusive AMAZON TOP 100 list. Not the top 100 in each genre (which I've managed to slide to the top on at one point or another), but the Top Paid. The crem della crem. The most purchased books on all of Amazon, in all genres.

So today, I glanced at the list. What are the chances I could ever end up there?
Answer: Slim to Dream On.
Especially given what books are currently on the list. So, I scrolled down, page after page.

Crime Thriller
Huge author who could write on a napkin and people will buy it regardless
Crime Thriller
Erotica
Erotica
Erotica
Erotica (holy f*ck)
Crime Thriller
Adult Romance
Adult Romance
Epic Fantasy
YA

Sigh.

No Urban Fantasy. 
No Paranormal Fantasy. 
No Paranormal Romance.




The Indie authors I've seen who hit the list previously wrote Urban Fantasy or YA. Then they wrote an erotica/adult romance, and ended up on the list. Seems easy enough, right?

And this is why I'll never end up on "The list".

I have a contemporary romance on the back burner, but I put it aside. I kept asking myself why I reached a "stuck point". I have a great concept for a story, but I realized that the paranormal world truly excites me in a way that few books can. I love reading other genres, but writing is a whole other animal. This may explain why I put "Book Yellow" aside and started on "Book White", which began with the intentions of being a straight romance and derailed into a paranormal ride. I decided to let the train go off the track and now I'm SO excited about writing "Book White". (Check out my WIP page for why I'm color coding these)

There is a cool factor to being on the Top 100, not to mention getting put under a huge spotlight, but that also comes with a lot of attention, and I kind of like being the Dark horse, coming up from the rear. Maybe I'll just lurk in the shadows for a while.Shadows are cool. Spotlights require sunglasses, and I never looked cool in shades.

I'd love to see these genres really take off with the general public. Now and again we have our Twilight Books, but that falls more under YA (which is on "The List"). So if you have any friends who strictly read romance and crime thrillers, please send them an Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance for Christmas on their Kindle.

Let's work together to convert the masses, and show them what a truly engaging experience the world of the paranormal is.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Impulse Description

Without further adieu, here is the blurb for IMPULSE (Mageri Series: Book 3):



Almost one year ago, a Mage attacked Silver and changed the course of her destiny.
Immortals exist, and now she is one of them.

Within the dark and supernatural city of Cognito, Silver is living under the watchful eye of her Ghuardian and dating her mortal enemy. Neither man can protect her from a dark secret, one buried within the contents of a box. As rival factions struggle to gain control, she finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old feud that threatens to drive a wedge between her and Logan Cross, the man who intends to seduce her.

In an explosive turn of events, one life is saved and another is forever altered. Can Silver trust those around her, or are they hiding a dark secret of their own? 





Update

We're nearing the finish line, so I'm keeping everyone constantly updated.

My editor sent me "Part 1" of her completed edits for IMPULSE, figuring it would actually help me get through my piece a lot faster if I got a jump start vs waiting for the finished document. This has helped tremendously as I have now completed 1/3 of editing the book just this morning.

In my experience working with editors, they are very professional and nose to the grind outside of the friendly emails. But sometimes the comments that are left on my documents have me giggling, and thinking they probably wish they had one of these stamps.

In fact, I think *I* need one of these stamps for work.



I've had a ton of people sign up this morning for the newsletter, which is a great alternative method of me getting in touch with readers when there is news. Just be sure that you periodically check your SPAM folders, just in case.

THE BLURB
The blurb is the most difficult thing to write. I seem to have no problem writing a 130,000 page novel, but ask me to summarize my book in a paragraph and watch my eyes glaze over. Is it possible to captivate someone with a blurb? Apparently, it is. I've had reviews where people didn't like my blurb for Sterling, but bought it anyhow. Thank God. I need a blurbologist to help me with these things. I'm tempted to write something short and sweet:

"This book will grab you by the balls and make you say WTF!?"

Too vulgar?

So I've finalized what I'll be putting up on Amazon and decided to release the blurb early. It will go up sometime this afternoon/evening. Don't expect spoilers. ;-)


What's really nuts is a novella I wrote on a whim a couple of months ago is ready to go before I book I wrote over 2 years ago. I hope it finds its audience because I really love the characters in "Closer". It's a unique read and is very much the kind book for those who enjoy the relationship building that occurs between characters, and put your paranormal hats on because there's a twist to the story.

Just a reminder that we're still organizing the blog tour (Check out the link on my webpage) and it's going to be bigger than the last time.

Stay tuned....






Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday!

Well, today was my Friday. I left work early, came home, and completed the last edits on "Closer". Thanks to LifeIsBetterWithBooks. No publication date has been set at this time. I want to wait for "Impulse" to get on everyone's Kindle first, and then when you're starting to feel the itch for more of the Mageri World, Closer will be there for you. :-)  I'm looking at Nov-Dec.

I have a different editor working on Impulse, and she's working tirelessly into the weekend and will be providing me with the book in segments so that I can get started on editing right away.

Happy Dance!

I think I did pretty good with guestimating a release date. The 26th didn't happen, but we're pretty close, and sometimes delays happen, even with big publishing houses.

I'd just like to say a little word about why driving can be a dangerous thing for me. I've heard writers talk about how their inspirations come while showering, taking a moonlit walk at night, or gazing out a window at a scenic view.

Anyone who follows me on Facebook or my blogs knows that I get a lot of ideas while driving in my beat up car. I probably should use those recording devices, except I hate the sound of my voice. When I'm at work, I  think about smaller details in a story, but I always get the big bang "Ah-ha's" in the car.

While driving.

Usually over 40mph in a construction zone, scribbling away on a pocket spiral notebook. So there's Dannika Dark, flying down a busy street in her champagne colored car, clipping innocent squirrels and damaging her tires knocking into the curb, all for the sake of getting the story down.

Well, I'm exaggerating on the squirrels.

I'm the most productive with working out plot details in the morning because my brain is all fresh (don't tell the Zombies) and the creative juices are flowing. I got up at 4:30 this morning and was writing for two hours before I went to work. Then in the car...guess what?

Yeah, you got it.

"Book White" has temporarily hijacked my brain, and it gives me a break from the Mageri series. I'm excited about the characters and story, and would like to try to keep this one on the side for those off moments when I have nothing to work on. I'm not sure at this time when I'll gear up to start working on Mageri Series Book 4. I need a short break.I have a ton of notes to wade through. Lots of crazy things are planned.

Just keep in mind when you read Sterling, Twist, and eventually Impulse, that there's more. Twist had some answers to Sterling, and Impulse will have some additional answers. There's another book in the wings, and probably a fifth. It's a journey. So keep speculating. Keep imagining.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Three: The Saga

Just to keep everyone in the loop, the release date of Oct. 26 for IMPULSE (which I threw out there for fun) doesn't look possible. I do not have the book back from my editor yet and final revisions still have to be done, which take time. Please, no tears.

Everyone has been so patient thus far, and it's not as if I'm delaying it by months..lol It should still be in a week, but right now I have NO clue since I don't have the book in my hands yet. I'm not going to be bummed about it, because the date was always tentative. I may have learned a hard lesson that it's better to be vague with my release dates, because people will hold you to them, and stuff happens. I thought there was a really good chance of having it out early based on conversations I had, but it just didn't happen.



BLOG TOUR

I do have a book tour in the works, so please check out the BLOG TOUR link on the menu bar of my blog! More information will follow, including the crazy fun we're going to have.

If you are a book blogger/reviewer, there is a contact email for inquiries. Appearances are booking up, so I'd love to hear from you if you would like to be part of this!









WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?
"Book white" (see my WIP page) has really grabbed my attention. Slow and steady wins the race on this one, and I'm fine tuning each chapter repeatedly in segments prior to moving on. This is helping me develop the characters and work out the story arc. I've got a real good idea of where it's going (and all my trips in the car going to work help me to brainstorm). I'm having a ton of fun writing this (as where book yellow was writing itself, but I just wasn't as in love) and plan to keep it on the side. The two books are unique: Book Yellow has a story concept I love, while Book White, I fell in love with the characters. I'm a very character driven person, and I suppose that's why I've become so attached to it.

Once I start editing Mageri series: Book 4, this book will go to the side so that I have no distractions. That's why I'm working on it now, trying to get down as much info as I can. The direction of the book has also taken a surprising turn, and while I haven't written out this revelation, it's already bubbling in my head and I have that evil Vincent Price laugh going on.

Aside from that, I've been working with my event planner for the blog, my formatter for the prints, and my editor for "Closer". It's been a crazy month.

EM...CHECK PLEASE!
I'm not sure why on God's green earth my boss has decided to make me the editor, but every document that my team creates (be it a tip sheet, proposal, guide, etc.), she has directed them to me for a full grammar check. Now over the years, I've created a ton of documents at work, including procedures and manuals. But damn, I HATE EDITING. Drafting is okay, writing is the bomb, but editing? I am not an editor. I have been doing this with my books and growling through the process, and now I'm having to spend my days at work checking other people's grammar and punctuation? Seriously.

Of course, I may have brought this on myself when I was looking over a legal document and spotted a typo and missing Oxford comma. I should probably just keep my mouth shut and let other people look ignorant. But on a side note, I'm a writer, not an editor. I can do a basic check, but anything in depth, please consult a professional.

I need a T-shirt that says: "This is not in my job description."

So, hold onto your knickers (ha, I almost typed "knockers", so thank God I spell-checked that one!), Impulse is coming soon. I will post information on my Blog, Facebook Page (which feeds to Twitter), and newsletter. The newsletter will be sent as soon as I hit the publish button, and another once the book is actually "live". So if you want to sign up, it's on my blog on the lefthand menu bar. Just be sure to periodically check your SPAM folder.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home Stretch

Going in the final week(s) feels a bit like living in the middle of a tornado. I've got two book releases, two editors, four easy installments (lol), a formatter working on paperbacks which I'm finalizing at the same time, an upcoming blog tour, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On a side note, I had a giant avocado burger and fries about two hours ago, so I'm feeling too stuffed to even care at the moment. I received a few proofs of the paperback formatting and decided that buying a printer would be cheaper than buying the ink. That's not how I normally solve life's problems, but my old printer was about the size of a Buick. Plus, the new one is snazzy and wi-fi, so I can use it with my laptop.

Win.

But the printouts looked great and the people I'm working with have been excellent with providing me what I need, no questions, and no "Lady, if you send me one more modification, I'm going to snap."

That's always a plus.

A little word about blog tours: They are a lot of work. I know this, because I did the last one by myself. It required me reaching out, going back and forth between a number of websites, then having to maintain the schedules and keep track of all of the things I had an agreement to provide to them. The email correspondence in itself was enough, because my emails can get heavy at times and keeping track of all of that was a challenge. Not to mention finding which sites would be interested, and coordinating dates. So, I have a wonderful lady who is going to be organizing my next blog tour. She's been very professional, detailed, and has provided me with a number of options which will take a lot of the workload off of me and allow me to focus on writing and editing. Yay Viviana http://vivianaenchantressofbooks.blogspot.com/
So go stalk her on Facebook and her website and show some love, and "like".


I also had a great idea for a great giveaway next year when Book 4 is released. It'll be a lot of fun to put this together, so I'm keeping the details under wraps. Nobody is going to win a trip to Disney World, so stop jumping up and down in the back, you two. :-p  But organizing swag hasn't been on my high priority list with everything going on, so this will allow me some time to put some things together for multiple gift packages, and personalize them in a Unique way.




Stop overanalyzing what I just typed. You know who you are. ;-)


This is really crunch time and I have a lot going on at once. I'm going to check in with my editor on the day the book is due back to me and see what we're looking at. I need ample time to make the adjustments, and Friday's date is starting to look scary close to me. I would think at the latest it would be next week, but keep your fingers crossed.

"Closer" should be coming back to me this week and that's exciting. I'll be able to schedule a release date and maybe look into the option of paperbacks. I have a lot of expenses all at once and then there's that Christmas thing looming around the corner. Do you buy novellas in paperback? We'll see how the book does first.

A big thanks to all of you loyal readers who keep hanging around for more.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Perspective

Going in the paperback version. I did some slight modifications to it and it will be in B&W. Wish I could get it on the inside cover, but that's not an option. Added a little fog for effect. We'll see how it turns out.


My goal this weekend is to finish the blurb for Impulse. I have more leeway with "Closer", but no time with Impulse. I'm not sure why it's easier to write 130,000 words than it is to write 100.


When you purchase books, do you even look to see who is an Indie anymore? If not, then that's pretty awesome. But be sure when you finish the read that you do; we need reader support to spread the word. For those of you who have written me fanmail that contains something like: "I've never written an author before," - I <3 you guys.


I'm not doing so well with the "not writing/editing" piece. The one I'm supposed to adhere to for the next two weeks as part of my mandatory break. I keep cheating and working on Book Yellow, which is now skating in the 25K word range. It's the bare bones draft one (not even the rough draft, but the ugly draft). I'm not sure where it's going because my contemporary romance has thriller undertones, and that wasn't planned.


The above was the result of me working on a blurb for two hours. It's how I de-stress. I look forward to those who highlight lines in IMPULSE, because those popular highlights show up on Amazon and on Kindle and I'm curious to know which parts you enjoyed. The funny thing is, sometimes I hear someone say something that makes me think of Impulse. Either a line in the book or a scene. I guess that's how attached I've grown to it because it's been my project for the past eight months.

And what a long journey it's been. In the midst of editing Twist, a very close family member suddenly died and I found myself at a funeral. With Impulse, I became very ill for several months unexpectedly and endured months of constant pain. Thankfully, I bounced back and put my focus back on Impulse. Maybe with a new perspective. Sometimes these life altering things ground us; sometimes they change us. But I hope that channeling those experiences into my writing has made the stories better. I see the books like I do life. Full of joy, sorrow, tragedy, humor, passion, and everything that makes us human. So anyone who does not like that the book may contain any of these, then I challenge you to exclude that from your life. Life tempers us to make us stronger, to shape us, and to change our destiny.

I want to quote someone from "Impulse", but I'll wait and let you read those lines yourself for the first time when the book is out. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Create

I have come to the conclusion that I must create. It's in my blood, and maybe that's why over the years I've acquired a number of hobbies. One of these hobbies is creating digital art. I actually have more images than you can imagine on my computer which I've created. However, I'm trying to develop some of that focus towards my books.

It's not to say on the rare occasion I haven't posted something outside of that, but stock art isn't cheap and I'd rather not waste it toiling on images that won't be put to use. I'm not selling my other stuff, so that's another reason I'm not putting it out there. I've been approached by authors to do covers, and even recommended to companies to do their campaign art. No lie.

But that would be stretching myself very thin. Having completed all of my edits for "Impulse" and "Closer", I found myself with nothing to do.

Crickets chirping.

So this was a great time to start reading - which I did! I read two books this week. But yesterday, I ended up spending the entire day writing Book Yellow and reached Chapter 5 (see my WIP page for more info). I forced myself to put it away last night and the next thing I knew, I was on GIMP working with stock images to create the piece above. I had fun with it, and that's all that counts. But there's a constant creative itch going on, and aside from writing, digital art is my other passion.

If I didn't have writing in my life, I might be developing that into a viable career. The only problem with creating cover designs for authors is that I'm the sort of person who has to read the book and get a sense of how to interpret that book to an image. Most (if not all) cover artists do not work that way. They're given the storyline and the author's ideas for imagery and run with it.




This is one example I can give of an image I did for someone. I thought it would be fun to take their pretty kickass image and make it even more kickass. So if you compare the two, you can see what type of work goes into the before and after shots. All of the careful touchups, creating tattoo's and ensuring they not only look real (I hate spotting fake-looking ones on covers), but that it wraps around and follows the contour of the skin. The background was inserted, the blood was added to the knife and I created a pool on the ground which was actually more difficult than I'd expected. I added a shine to the bracelet, darkened and colored the shoes and skirt and of course, had to remove all of the original background. The end result was something I could totally see on a book cover.


Deviantart stock.
Then there is the side of me that likes doing fantasy stuff.I love it, I have a TON of art on my computer, but the really exciting thing is being able to use that to my advantage. I love that I can create my own covers, and my own designs revolving around my books.

Of course I appreciate and enjoy fanart and I'd welcome anyone who wanted to do their own interpretation of the series. It's an expressive form of creativity. Sometimes I see the most amazing artists render spectacular images, and I wonder why they can't make some real bucks on it. They might sell print copies of it on the net, or get approached by authors to do cover art, but sometimes they simply do it because it is their passion. Wouldn't it be great if we could all make a living from our passions?

I've never had any issues sharing the publication process with readers. Creating cover art is part of that, and if you look back at previous posts I've done, you'll see just how much work was put into the Mageri Series covers. Layers upon layers of images, backgrounds, and effects.

The cover for "Closer" is pretty close to the original stock. However, if you download the image below and look at it at 100%, you'll see what's different. Subtle differences that maybe no one else will pick up, but *I* know. I do what I can to make the models look as close to how I see the characters as possible. Plus I love profile shots and so forth because the reader can use their imagination. I didn't do that with "Impulse" because damn, that girl just IS Silver.

STOCK                                                             ACTUAL COVER



1. Darkened his tan slightly, especially on face
2. Removed his earring
3. Extended his arms and back
4. Adding more hair to the woman. Altering her hair color.
5. Altering his hair color.
6. Removing the texture from her blouse. Coloring her blouse. Removing the strap from her blouse. Lifting her blouse higher, lightening her blouse so you could see it (lol) I spent more time on that woman's clothes than anything.
7. Changing his eye color
8. Adding a mark to her cheek and freckles to her shoulders.
9. Adding subtle light to the background immediately behind models
10. Altering the coloring of the bedding.
11. Removing weird dimples or marks.
12. Removing dandruff. Don't ask, but I zoomed in at 100% and found myself removing flecks of dander. Seriously? LOL

The thing is, here I am, in the midst of publishing Impulse, and along comes an unexpected novella! I didn't have time to spend a month toiling over a cover (which is the usual length of time it takes for me to render multiple images together and make it unique) because I still have to publish Impulse and work on edits for Closer. Too much was going on. In the end, I think the cover is a perfect interpretation, and once you read the story I think you'll appreciate it more. Will it turn up on someone else's book? God, I really hope not, but yeah, it happens. When you purchase stock art, that's the risk. Believe it or not, I've seen many traditional publishers use common stock art based on who they go to for a covert artist, and NY bestselling authors have images I've seen elsewhere. Which came as a surprise, because I always thought they secured rights through a photographer with unique photo sessions for that specific book. Many probably do, but not all.

That is the one reason I didn't publish an alternate model for "Impulse". I was down to three images, and one of them I started seeing on a bunch of book covers, including erotica. Because they were already out there, I didn't want my book associated with porn. Erotica. I could have, because they're not popular titles I'd seen before. What you don't want to do is use an image that's sitting on a book on the Amazon top 100, a book that EVERYONE and their momma has seen. People will be immediately turned off by that, thinking you're copying that book. I actually try to hunt down stock images that are not popular on those websites, and have very few to zero downloads. I can work with that.

There are some authors who will simply slap cover art on their books "as is". Not for me. It's actually more common now that a lot of titles are using objects instead of models (and I think you all know to which book covers I'm referring to).

So, maybe now when you see something as simple as the image to the left that is on the "Sterling" book cover, you'll have a better understanding of the process involved. The photo to the left has 15 layers of images. All modified, enhanced, with different filters.

I could have probably gone somewhere and found some smokey fog effect, but it wouldn't have been unique and original.

It wouldn't have been Sterling.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What's in a name?

Selecting a name for a character in a story can be one of the most challenging things; something I've touched on before. Sometimes I call them one thing and halfway through the story, flip it to try out something else. It's important for me to come across a name that fits their personality, but also may have some meaning behind it. I do as much research as I can and have a few sites bookmarked, not to mention I have perused the census lists for different centuries.

There's no magic in the process. Sometimes a name just clicks, while other times you continue to test out new names during the story to see what fits. The one thing I try not to do is come up with obscure made-up names. I may select uncommon names, but you won't see anyone going by Zhishvulraut in my books. First, no one will know how to pronounce it. Secondly, weird names do not stick in people's heads. At least, they don't stick in mine. Not unless they're short, and even then, you risk your readers pronouncing it incorrectly from your version.

Here's a few tidbits about the character names in the Mageri Series.

ZOE WINTER MERRICK:  Zoe means life. Winter represents the end, and Merrick has a number of meanings, including: power & fame. The name was only to be temporary, so I decided to have fun creating a name that had a little meaning behind it.

SILVER: It was about an impulsive moment where Samil takes the last bit of who she is away from her and gives her a new name, based on a single observation of her eyes. I didn't give much thought to finding a cool kickass Urban Fantasy name. This was supposed to be about an innocent human who lost every scrap of her identity and previous life. There is no special meaning behind her name which only adds insult to injury. But she's been told to own her name and make it hers. I think she's doing a good job.

ADAM RAZOR - Adam means man. Ain't he, though? Adam feels like a solid name for a guy, and the last name I didn't select for any special meaning. I liked the idea of something tough, unique, and that his military buddies could call him.

JUSTUS DE GRADI: (Almost called Dominic or Nigel). Lots of research involved, and his name was the one above all that I toiled with the MOST. His name had to mean something as well as fit within his age. Also had to come up with an Italian last name, but was careful at selecting names that existed in specific time periods. I actually wrote down his qualities, and that helped me come up with his first name. Latin origin, name means "Just".

LOGAN CROSS - Logan was always Logan. It just fit his character. Cross was a bit more difficult. It had to be one-syllable and also a name that had an alternate meaning, or represented something. (ie: Black, Wood, etc). Don't ask me why; I get stuff like this in my head and the search begins. Logan's brothers were actually more difficult, because based on the Chitah tradition, they all had to start with an L. The eldest brother was immediate, because Leo means lion and that's a strong name. The eldest brother usually holds the most power among siblings in regards to strength and position within their culture.

SIMON HUNT: Also required research to ensure the name existed during his birth, and the surname just a bit prior. A Mage takes on the surname of their Creator, so it doesn't have to originate from their nationality. It wasn't about giving him a masculine, cool-guy first name, because it was more important to look at the names popular during that time period. And OMG there were a LOT of Charles, John's, etc that were so plain. I think in his own right, Simon has earned his name and made it sexy.

SUNSHINE/SUNNY - Chosen for her bright personality and always being a ray of hope in Silver's life. Yes, I chose it for that reason.

KNOX - What readers may not know is that Knox is his surname. Often in the military, men are referred to by rank or last name basis. I've even seen this among sports teams - I guess it's a guy thing. Will we ever find out what is first name is? Who knows. There's no special meaning surrounding his name; I just thought that it sounded perfect for his personality. His name had to have one-syllable.

NERO - Nero, ancient Roman emperor. Fabled to have "fiddled" while Rome burned.

SAMIL - Wanted an exotic, uncommon name. This is Arabic in origin.

FINNEGAN - I actually like this name. My sister-in-law's sister named her little boy Finn and it's just a great name that feels innocent and youthful.

NOVIS - I love this name as well. Novis is old, and I wanted to pick a name that had a little mystery behind it, one that you wouldn't easily place the origin or date on. It's an existing surname, but not a common one. However, this is his first name, so it's something I could imagine an ancient being called. It may not necessarily be his true name, either. That's what's so intriguing about a Mage- their Creator's retain the right to give them a new name if they desire to.

MAX: The cat. My best friend's cat is named Max. Nuff said. I don't dwell on pet names. :-)

Some names I choose for their meaning, and maybe you can look them up to see if they fit the characters.

But sometimes the characters just name themselves.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Character Spotlight: Finnegan

Thought it might be fun to do something a little different on the blog today. Finn is one of the sub characters of The Mageri Series and one I haven't done any fan art or put any attention on. I love all of my characters, and Finn has a special place in my heart. So just giving him a little attention; the boy deserves it.


FINNEGAN
Nickname: Finn, or "Little Wolf" (By Logan)

Breed: Shifter

Animal: Wolf

Hair: Shaggy brown, just covering his ears. Not straight, but with a bit of a wave at the ends.

Eyes: Hazel

Body: Lean, sloped shoulders with an elfin smile.

Age: Unknown, but he thinks he's around 22

Tats/Marks: Branded with the letter "N" by Nero, who previously owned him.

Personality: Easy going, likes to talk a lot and is inquisitive with a sense of humor. He eagerly wants to make friends and connect with others, yet he's not very good with social skills and physical interaction; almost like someone who is autistic, but it has to do with his physical treatment after his father sold him as a boy. Doesn't always look people in the eye during conversations.

Hobbies: Wood carving and is very skilled

Habits: Tries to cover his ears with his hair- he's very self conscious because they stick out a little.

Bio: Formerly a slave to Nero and passed around during his childhood in a form of illegal trading. Owning a Shifter is against the law, but his knowledge of such things is only limited to what he's learned in captivity. He's a smart young man even though he's never been to school and has a desire to learn. Almost lost his life and was freed by Silver. Logan Cross, a Chitah, has taken him in to become part of his family. How will Finn adjust to a normal life living among a Breed that is not his own?



When you belong to someone for that many years, you forget how to belong to yourself. While my chains were physical, Finn’s were psychological, and this was something I knew a little about.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mageri Goodness

I'm having a steaming hot cup of the Mageri series this morning. :-)  This was actually sent to me by one of my loyal readers (made with permission) who also created some other awesome stuff. I'd like to think that some swag might be on the horizon in 2013.  As it stands, I have a lot of plates spinning at the moment and going into the busiest season in my day job, it's hard to swing yet another task. The paperbacks are in the works and will be professionally formatted, so it's not going to look cheaply put together. Not unless I botch up my own cover, which I also have to design (front and back). Let's keep our fingers crossed that I can show some skills in that department.
Or else I'll have to fire myself.

Remember that The Mageri Series is available on the Nook! Amazon is the giant when it comes to sales, and as it stands, my sales on Barnes & Noble has been "meh". I wonder if I can talk my local bookstore into just paying me with Godiva chocolate instead. I always have issues with their impulse candy stand right by the register. Damn them for tempting me with chocolate.

I always thought it would be funny if a bookstore had reading rooms (kind of like dressing rooms) where you could go and lay down and read your own books for a small fee. I know there's probably a lot of people with kids and chaos going on at home, and maybe the only time you can read is late at night or sitting in the parking lot in a car. You could rent it by the half hour and they might give you complimentary coffee or cocoa.

Although my date for having "Closer" edited is actually more flexible than my series books, I'm working diligently to get them completed by Oct. 15th. It's great weather for that too, heavy clouds and cool temperatures. I'm bundled up on my sofa, smothered in a fur blanket, sipping a cup of Mageri goodness and pounding away at the keyboard.

Btw, go look at that countdown clock again for Impulse. Excited yet?


Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Characters

One of the most interesting parts of writing a book is discovering which characters that readers have taken a shine to. In my world, I create a number of sub characters. Some have walk-in parts, some have a more committed relationship to the story, while others won't have any reoccurring role. Just like life. Not everyone you meet is there for the long haul. Is it disappointing? Perhaps to some readers who grow attached. As a writer, I would love to be able to focus more on each of my characters, but the books simply cannot hold that much story. It doesn't exclude a possible novella or spin-off series someday, but I hope that you enjoy each of the characters for whatever small or large role that they play.

There's a new character in Impulse, although he's not the only one. I will say that I didn't expect that my beta readers would have warmed up so quickly to him. Here were some of the comments, and I'll call him "Mr. X" just for the sake of keeping things under wraps.Keep in mind I never asked my betas about "Mr. X" in my questionnaire, so it was really fun to see him brought up.



"I am intrigued by Mr. X."

"Mr. X was a pleasant surprise coming completely from left field; he drew me in with his direct and even blunt approach, someone who obviously does not suffer fools." 

"Mr. X was a wonderful new addition to “the crew” and I enjoyed having him on board, too!

"I grew to like him, he has a nice dry wit about him like a cold version of Simon."




So meet the cold version of Simon...lol






Did you check out that countdown clock? That's pretty exciting! Days, not months. It's exciting and a little sad all at once. Kind of like New years Eve when the anticipation builds up and then in that moment when the ball drops, there's nothing left but confetti on the floor. The series has been over two years in the making and I've put a lot of work into developing the story. Readers have been re-reading the books two, three, twelve times. I love that! I've also been a little sneaky with clue dropping. Never think that you necessarily know what's going to happen, but it's the retrospect thing once you finish a book and go back and look at the others that you say, "Ah". There's actually one line mentioned in "Sterling" that you probably won't have that "ah-ha" moment until book five. It's possible that some may grab it with Impulse, but that remains to be seen. I love the reader not knowing what lies ahead, but I like to also get their wheels spinning, because that's exactly the kind of book that I personally enjoy reading.

There's a non paranormal/urban fantasy book that I've been wanting to write for a few weeks now. The idea has been percolating and it would be tragic to tuck it away into a drawer and try to recapture that feeling of the story years later and attempt to write it. The problem is finding TIME. Oh, if I could only elaborate. There are so many projects on the fire that it's become a challenge. I feel like I'm slowly being led to a fork in the road. My current job has a position that I'm aligned for which is a lead position, one with even more responsibilities and demand of my time. It's a great opportunity, and will pay more, but I feel torn because if it takes time away from what I love doing, I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm an independent creature who is self-reliant and is in charge of paying all of her own bills, so just quitting the job to take up writing at this point is not a sound decision. But I think about it each and every day, weighing the options and working out the expenses. Perhaps one of these days it will be a reality.

Maybe soon. Maybe never. But you can count on my books, because I'll never stop writing.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Big news!

It's been a long time coming, but I went ahead and spent time formatting my book so it could be available on Barnes & Noble. I received quite a few inquiries from Nook users, and had to direct them to the Kindle apps which you can download on your computer, phone, etc.

The truth of the matter is: most authors do not achieve substantial sales at B&N. Some get lucky and do decent of business, but the trouble of having to go through yet another process of formatting and opening separate accounts didn't seem worth the trouble. I don't know how search friendly the site is, or how books are ranked. I can tell you right since the book went up (which was sometime today) I have had 0 2 sales! I'm not holding my breath on taking B&N by storm, but now those of you who have wanted to read the series will have the option to do so.

I've since decided that I will make my books available at Amazon and B&N exclusively. Right now, "STERLING" is available for it's regular price of $1.99. It is currently on sale at Amazon. I don't know the B&N turnaround time for changing a price, but I'm going to guess based on how long it took to publish my book, it's not quick.

In any case, there it is! Hoorah for Nook users! I don't have one, so I'm crossing my fingers that the formatting is okay. I put a lot of faith in the previewer option and my basic knowledge of formatting for this retailer. If any Nook users purchase this book, I'd love to hear your feedback on how it looks on your eReader.

I'll be putting Twist up soon, but right now I have so much on my plate. Heck, I have multiple plates spinning at the moment. So, if you have friends who are Nookaholics, point them in that direction, and I hope that someone leaves that lonely page a review!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sterling-dannika-dark/1113121444?ean=2940015547481 






Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blog Stop & Giveaway

I've paid a visit to a new book blogger, so be sure to stop by and show some love. I was asked to be part of the launch party which was super exciting.

There is a "Justus in Profile", as well as a snippet from Impulse and some really awesome Mageri series keychains! You know you want Silver in your pocket and to take Justus wherever you go. :)

http://vivianaenchantressofbooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/dannika-darks-mageri-series.html


I'll also have some news within the next few days on something else I've been meaning to do. I have to wait until I get a confirmation and I'll share it on the blog and Facebook page. It should make some people out there pretty happy.

Impulse is still with the editor and I'm starting to miss my baby. The slow-building anticipation up to the release is kind of fun, I have to admit. I'm sure there will be a lot of chatter going on and part of me wants to slink into Logan's cave and hide out for a few weeks. I need a long nap as it's been a long journey to get this book published. You have no idea.

Closer is still in the final editing stages. The release date is not scheduled as I need to have a breather after Impulse. I'm thinking that November will likely be the month vs December, but we'll see. The cover is finalized which is really great, and it's placed on Goodreads and all the social sites that I'm on, along with a brief blurb. It always seems as if every book I write I'm taking chances - a leap of faith that there is an audience out there for this story. The Mageri series found it's family, and my hope is that Closer will too.

Paperbacks are in the works. I'm having them professionally formatted and will be tasked with doing the full cover design myself. If they don't come out late this year, it will be in the first quarter of next year. That's a great filler until you get the fourth book of the Mageri series.

And please don't ask me when that's coming out. ;-)

Now hope on over to the link above and enter for your keychains!