Last Day for Kindle Free Day!

Wanted to say a huge thank-you to those who already downloaded a free copy of Wolf of the Tesseract from Amazon. I’m currently running a free promotion that ends today. If you want to download a free copy of it to read on your Kindle, tablet/ereader, or smartphone (kindle app) just click here to get a copy! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01JGOEKK6

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You might be wondering why authors give away books? Amazon, Facebook, and other online companies use fancy algorithms (basically, a math based AI) to determine who gets showed the most often and gets best placement in sales rankings, etc.) The more activity (even free downloads) that a book gets, the more interest Amazon has in presenting the book to others.

King among these metrics is good reviews. (BTW, a 3 star review is a “bad” review for amazon, most people think that’s the baseline, but only 4 or 5 is positive.) What writers really need are reviews, and the best way is to get people to read the book and then hope someone leaves positive comments (a little less than 1% or people leave reviews).

If you’d leave me a high review after downloading for free, I’d be as happy as Mabel with some Smile Dip!

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Thinking About Genre distinctions EARLY

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Not everyone realizes that there is more to writing in a genre than just the content of the book. Fantasy stories have elves and dwarves and vampire fiction obviously has vampires in it. Romance should, likewise focus primarily on the relationships within the story.

Some of those nuances include voicing in your characters—the way they speak, the way they see the world, and what motivates them. This goes far beyond “typin die-log like dis if you was writtin a no good southern hornswaggler as your heel.” In fact, don’t do that outside of a few rare exceptions. It makes reading terribly difficult for a reader if an entire character reads like that and interrupts the flow. Here’s what I mean, when you are writing fantasy you may make up words or write mythopoeicly (world-building) which means you might pepper descriptions in or drop nuances through the story so that certain terms can be intuitively gleaned by context. For my Spec Fic YA novel, Wolf of the Tesseract I studied a few lists of things to keep in mind for my writers.

The primary YA audience is more narcissistic by nature (it’s not an insult, growing teens always go through a psychological stage where their thought process asks “what does this mean to me?”) For the novel, I intentionally funneled as much through the character’s POV as possible and lingered more on emotion than normal. I used more personal pronouns than I often might and was intentional about using accessible language and limiting “silver dollar” words without obvious context.

Genre is about much more than just the thematic tropes. It is something that should be given a little forethought as you begin and edit the story. Always ask yourself how a reader will see your treatment of the text—for example, you may have written a romance novel meant for the Christian female market… if you are overly explicit or use profanity you can expect to turn off a huge segment of the readers (and expect bad reviews). Likewise, if you write a middle grade adventure but dwell too heavily on high prose as the child protagonist ponders psychological themes and motivations of the antagonists and world which intersects his own you will lose the reader.

Literary fiction usually references “high concept” writing. It may have elements of genre stories. Think of the movie Gravity, for example (which was a script stolen by legal loopholes from novelist Tess Gerritsen). It involved astronauts and action in space, but the main point of the story was not the space-walk or an adventure—it was the theme of an invisible force calling us to overcome adversity and cling to life. That’s a high-concept example making it literary.

Outside of “literary fiction” many individual thematic genres exist. Each one will have its own set of rules (expected word count, appropriate styles and language, etc.) and should be researched. These include labels such as paranormal, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, western, nonfiction, commercial, crime, and so many more.)

Age genres will sometimes stack with thematic tags but help specify the type of target audience. YA novels are typically for teenagers while MG (middle grade) feature stories written from 8-12 year olds. NA (new adult) is target readers around college age and is a fairly new bullseye recognized by the market; NA is primarily meant for 18-24 year olds.

Like all things, do your research so you can write the best book possible, and write to the rules rather than the exception for true success!

Review: The Two Swords

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I finally finished the Two Swords, the third book in the Hunter’s Blades trilogy, one of the Drizzt books by RA Salvatore. It took me about 2 years to read the trilogy, for a variety of reasons. In truth, I spread it out for enjoyment, reading seasons, vacation time, and to keep on pace with my own novel writing. One of the primary I began reading Salvatore was because of the similarities between his writing style and mine—and then I received some of his D&D books as gifts and so I just kept reading. Continue reading Review: The Two Swords

The Dreaded Holiday Special

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It’s Christmas! So you’re probably not reading this anyways, but I still feel compelled to write a holiday greeting while my family recovers from all of the sudden togetherness that the season demands. 🙂

If you happen to be reading this, it might be good to know that my birthday is also coming up. I know it can be pretty hard to play second fiddle to Jesus the Christ, savior of the souls of mankind, so I don’t try to make a big deal out of mine…instead I practice Hobbit Birthdays (Hobbits give gifts instead of receiving them.) In working with my publisher we set a three day book giveaway for Wolf of the Tesseract beginning on my birthday (Dec 28). I’d love if readers hopped onto my mailing list so I can send an alert and remind you about it (Click here to get onto that list.)

Since this is normally my “State of Writing” Monday, I’ll drop a brief update. I decided to hold off on the fine tuning for Rings of Myrddin until Feb (taking a few classes on YA/MG fiction and want to do it as best as possible). I did begin a short novel in the meanwhile–a comedy/crime/mystery that I’m having fun with. I’ll give you more as it unfolds more clearly.

Panic-Mode: I have a new cover, but Goodreads doesn’t allow changes… EVER.

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So if you’ve seen an older version of your Indie book on Goodreads with a dreaded early edition cover that you wisely changed at some point (maybe you had an error on the cover, upgraded a sub-par cover with a better version, or just plain wanted a change,) you will have likely realized that Goodreads does not allow cover art changes. It’s probably the biggest fly in the ointment as far as author tools go. When you put your book into the Goodreads library it has a warning about that restriction. You might not have ever seen it though—someone else may have put your book into the library (perhaps a reader or fan who really wanted to shelve your book and show it off to his or her friends.)

Never fear, there is a way around it! You can use what’s called an alternate cover edition. The above reasons are exactly what Goodreads’ help file describes. They also talk briefly about Advanced Review Copy books and note that some users might upload the cover from an ARC. The process for correcting is different for both instances (cover revisions and ARC entries.)

If you are updating your cover for any reason other than the current entry being an ARC cover you should manually enter the book into the Goodreads system (https://www.goodreads.com/book/new) and leave the ISBN fields on your new edition blank in the Description field; an ISBN can only be used once in the database. Llist the ISBN of the original cover edition and state that this new entry is an alternate cover edition. (You can also use the Librarian Note feature found near the top of the book edit page to attach a note to the book. This helps prevent the book from accidentally being deleted by a librarian who thinks it is an invalid entry. Do not use the edition field for information about alternate cover editions.) The publication date for an alternate-cover edition should be the date the book was released with the new cover, not the date the book with that ISBN or ASIN was originally published

If you need to alter an ARC or galley copy, delete the ISBN number from the ARC edition. Then add a Librarian Note stating that this is the ARC cover and the ISBN number is being moved to the published edition. You can then add the ISBN number to the published edition when manually adding the new version. Please note that this is the only case where an ISBN or ASIN should be removed from a published edition.

There’s usually a work-around for even the stiffest regulation. I would also recommend getting involved in a couple boards on Goodreads. It can often prove helpful to know a few folks who have Librarian status—sometimes it’s the only way to fix the issues that we Indies often make before we’re proficient with a system.

Review: Panther Across the Sky

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I started Panther across the sky by Lon Brett Coon with pretty high hopes. The story itself is pretty well written and there is a lot going for it. There were also a few things that didn’t work for me, too. To begin with, I’ll focus on some of the positives. Ever since graduating college nearly two decades ago I’ve worked with teens and nearly always worked with/near Native American youth. The opening scene with Makya felt very believable (kind of, more below) as he raged and acted out the anger welling up within him. Basically, he goes out and gets drunk with some total strangers who tell him a tale (the central story of the book) which makes the novel 1 part Everyman story, 1 part morality tale, and 1 part Native American Princess Bride… which is cool, but can rub many people the wrong way unless the story is well-wrapped in genre fiction (within religious tales and morality stories, however, the story-in-a-story motif can be common.) Continue reading Review: Panther Across the Sky

Stat of Writing

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I didn’t even open my laptop all weekend and my week was absolute chaos. I did lots of thinking about writing, but did none all week! (I did read a lot, however.) I barely even got to my blog and only just now turned on my computer (capped off all the business with my grandmother’s funeral after a bunch of travel and family time.)

Hopefully I can get to some writing this week. I still want to rework my rough notes and outlines for the stories I have scheduled to write in 2018 and I’ve got some writing-related business stuff to take care of this week. Also, I’m still rooting for myself to write a short story this week as a matter of principle.

10 Reasons Why Should You Attend a Writers Conference

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I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t have any hopes or dreams of becoming a 1%er. I don’t want to fritter my money away, but I don’t want to horde it like some kind of miser either. I try to invest smartly. As someone with high ambitions in my writing endeavors I am intentional about investing in myself. To that end, I try to attend at least one writers convention every twelve to eighteen months. I try to limit my travel expenses (I usually bank up free airline miles in order to reduce prices) but I do believe I get a great value in them.

Usually I come home from a conference with a journal full of notes—things I’ve learned, plans I’ve made, and people I’ve met. I don’t honestly think that I can digest all of that immediately… not really even in a year. I try to find one to three things that I can learn and implement over the next year in my writing, platform building, networking, marketing, and beyond. Dropping a couple hundred dollars is a strategic investment. It becomes easier to spend that on yourself when you believe in your future as a writer… understand this is not a quick fix or magic pill, but if you learn a few things at a convention or workshop and work to get better those dollars will pay off dividends in the future.

Here are 10 things you might gain or take home from a writers conference:

  1. Networking with other writers
  2. Meeting literary agents or publishing professionals
  3. You will get energized and inspired
  4. It can be a tax write off
  5. You may get opportunities to pitch agents and publishers
  6. Your expectations will become grounded in reality (for better or worse)
  7. You will gain resources (notes, handouts, books, etc.) to use forever
  8. You are likely to find something that was never on your radar (an underground community, a newly launching service or agency, a new outlook on some topic)
  9. It transitions you from a hobbyist to a professional
  10. Get updates on trends and how the publishing world is changing