Tag Archives: Reading

Coming Up for Air

I always do NaNoWriMo, but I rarely win.  Actually, I’ve won once (2011) – the first year I tried it.  November is just a bad month (for me) to do this, and I’m just not that fast a writer.  So I’m at 3000 words on day 11.  Not too impressive.

November always seems to fill up with stuff:

  • I attended the World Fantasy Convention (more to come on that).
  • My website is being revised.
  • I took my books off KDP Select and am getting them set up on other channels (They’re popping up all over the place right now).
  • I’m finishing the book files for my new novel – Death-Bringer (Definitely more to come on this).
    • Finished final edits.
    • Setting up ARC giveaways
    • Getting it on pre-order for Amazon.
    • Getting the paperback ready.
    • Putting together my marketing strategy.
  • Getting together with family on my Birthday.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Normal writing group activities.

November is always too busy.  I also joined a few group giveaways on Prolific Works (now that I’m off KDP Select).  Check out this giveaway starting today:

Christmas-Holiday Gifts – Science Fiction & Fantasy For Everyone.

There are lots of free Science Fiction and Fantasy books in this giveaway including book 1 of my Kingdom of Haven series – The Order of the Wolf.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Hey, I’m Revising Here!

I always feel bad when I’ve let too much time pass between blog posts.  Trust me, I have plenty of excuses.  Unfortunately, I was raised on a diet of “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” and “I don’t want to hear your excuses.”  So even on a blog, where you can’t see my face, I just can’t bring myself to make up lies give excuses.

What have I been doing besides blogging, you ask?

  • Working — Yep, I still have a day job and it takes up at least 40 hours a week.  I’m currently leading a department reorganization, so it’s been busy (Of course, busy is a multifunctional word that can mean doing anything besides what you’re supposed to be doing).
  • Reading —  I read in spurts.  In the last week or so I finished reading The Warded Man by Peter Brett.  This is a great fantasy novel–best one I’ve read this year.  It is one of those books I wish I had written.  I also read The Great Santini by Pat Conroy.  If you grew up a military brat like me, this book will probably bring back some memories.
  • Watching — I’m watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix.  The show is set in post WW I Germany and features the different factions from the Russian revolution fighting it out in the back alleys of Berlin. (I must admit I got lost on YouTube a few times as well, but I’m trying to pretend like that didn’t happen.)
  • Writing — Besides my standard critique group meetings (two in recent weeks), I’m working on the final revision of my latest novel.  I would tell you the title if I had one, so instead, I’ll give you a little snippet:

The sword hung on the rough-hewn wall. It was a rare blade, a hand-and-a-half sword sheathed in black leather. The sword had been famous once—some stories said the blade was cursed, while others insisted its power saved the Norwood. Many seasons had passed since the last curious neighbor had stopped by for a look. Now it collected dust instead of eager eyes.

Edmond was the exception. The sword fascinated Edmond. He longed to pull it down from the wall and expose the blade, but his father had decreed the weapon remain untouched.  

I will be doing some fast and furious revision in the next few weeks to get this thing ready for the editor next month.  I’ll be announcing the title in the near future, and hopefully, reveal the book cover by the end of August.

So now when someone asks me what I’ve been doing, I have a good answer:

Hey, I’m revising here!

Oh yeah, I also spent some time sitting on the back porch and staring at my yard (What can I say? I’m easily entertained).  Here’s my favorite hibiscus bush:

Hibiscus

 

 

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Filed under Blog, Books, Humor, Writing

Here’s a Treat

 

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Check out my new strawberry pot!  There’s nothing better than a freshly picked strawberry.  We’ve harvested about 10 berries so far.  Most of them didn’t make it into the house, but that’s the point.  You gotta have something to snack on while you’re out in the yard.

If you’re not into strawberries, check out my Amazon promotion going on right now for the Kingdom of Haven Series. . . Delicious.

Kingdom of Haven

 

 

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Check out my Stuff!

I will be running an Amazon promotion on the Kingdom of Haven series for the next 5 days.  The Order of the Wolf is free, Stenson Blues is $.99, and The Eastern Factor is $1.99.

I tend to write towards the dark and gritty.  If you’re not quite sure if they’re your cup of tea, check out my quick book descriptions:

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Having a mid-life crisis, shit happens, and people die.

 

 

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Coming of age, more shit happens, and more people die.

 

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Life’s a bitch, then you marry one, and then you die.

 

If you like gritty mercenaries, strong women, and dirty politics give them a read.

What was I thinking?  That sounds pretty light and cheery.

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Marketing, Reading

It Takes a Village?

I’ve heard the expression: “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This isn’t entirely correct.  Children are raised every day by single parents or a set of parents with no external support.  Some of those children turn out fine, and some children who grow up with a huge support network have major issues.  While the adage isn’t totally correct in all instances, I believe it is a good concept.  Basically, we all need help at some point or another to succeed.

But when should we ask for help?

For me, the “It takes a Village” concept is hard to put into practice because it appears to be in direct opposition to another important concept: the Work Ethic.

Work Ethic:  a belief in work as a moral good: a set of values centered on the importance of doing work and reflected especially in a desire or determination to work hard.

While the definition of Work Ethic does not say “do it alone,” it does imply a person should work hard as a moral obligation.  The way many of us interpret the idea of Work Ethic is that if only I work harder, I can attain my goal.  I do believe this can be the case in many instances, but there are times when hard work alone will not get you there.  Sometimes you need help.  Unfortunately, a person with a strong work ethic equates asking for help as weakness.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I’ve seen this expression thrown around by people who advocate for the “It takes a Village” concept.  It doesn’t quite ring true for me.  In order to ask for help, you must first recognize your weakness, acknowledge it, and then seek help to overcome it.  Because of this, I prefer the following quote:

Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.

I have a hard time asking for help, because of that Work Ethic thing (Yes, I will drive around the block as many times as it takes before I’ll ask for directions, but that’s a different issue).  I do normally recognize when I need help, but I get stuck in that “if I only work harder” line of thinking.

Writing is one of those areas where you can’t do it alone.  Of course, you can sit alone at your desk or in a coffee shop to write, but you cannot learn to write a great novel alone.  It takes the help of fellow writers either through critique partners or some similar means.

I’ve recently come to realize that I cannot promote my books alone either.  Yes, I can hire someone to run a blog tour, and give away free books, but that only goes so far.  In order to truly promote my writing, It Takes a Village.

So this is my request.  If I am to reach my goal and make writing a full-time adventure, I need your help.

Friends, neighbors, and (dare I hope) fans, if you haven’t yet purchased any of my books you can find them here.

Hey, I’m a bit on the frugal side. If you’re anything like me, you probably wait for the sale before you buy.  Well, it just so happens that I have a 5-day promotion on Amazon starting on April 15th.  The Order of the Wolf will be Free, Stenson Blues on sale for .99, and The Eastern Factor for 1.99.

 

Kingdom of Haven

If you are one of the few who has bought a book of mine or the not so few who have received a free copy, please leave me a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (or anywhere else where I can find it)  Reviews are worth more than gold in the writing world.

If you are looking to join a village, you can join my newsletter mailing list here.

Also, my next book, Half-hand will be published in time for Christmas and I am currently seeking Beta Readers.  You can sign up here.

Writing is my passion, if reading is yours, give my books a try.

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Filed under Books, Marketing, Reading, Writing

Free Book Marketing?

Deciding how to spend your marketing dollars on your indie book is tough.  After paying for an editor and book cover, now you have to decide how much to spend on marketing.  You’re already in the hole, and you wonder if your book will ever earn enough to recoup what you already have in it.  So how much more money do you spend on marketing, and will it make a difference in sales?

Well then, it’s time for some free marketing, right?

Unfortunately, nothing in life is free (Somebody famous said that I’m sure).  The majority of the free marketing sites I’ve run across require you to give your book away for free to join.  Most of them want you to have your book free on Amazon.  Basically, you have to be in KDP Select to really take advantage of these opportunities.  So it’s more like: If you want something for free, don’t write a book.  Yes, these sites are free for the reader but lost revenue for you.

The philosophy is that you need to get your name out there in order to build a following and eventually sell books.  Another philosophy I’ve heard is to price your book higher so that readers feel it has value and will buy it.  So like every other aspect of writing, there is no one path to success in marketing.

I’ve had my books on Amazon and Kobo and recently entered a few giveaways on Goodreads and Instafreebie (I also did an Amazon ad campaign).  I’ve been giving away book one of my series for several months to build readership.  I’ve given away about 600 copies of The Order of the Wolf.  I’ve also sponsored a Blog tour for my series and a book blitz for my new book release.

The net result of my efforts is three new book ratings/reviews on Goodreads, one on Amazon, and one on a review website.  I have sold a few copies of The Eastern Factor that just released, but not enough to get excited about.

My take away from all this is that people are more than willing to download a free book.  In fact, I think a lot of people are grabbing all the free e-books they can get their hands on.  Whether they read them is another matter.  I’ve actually heard people brag about how many books they have on their e-reader—more than they’ll read in their lifetime. If they read your book, they have to like it in order to rate it or buy the next book.  Finding readers to take your book isn’t so hard when you’re giving it away, but finding the right readers that will want to read more is the key.

Takeaway number two: I need to do more with ARC reviews and pre-order sales.  Much of the marketing is targeted for this period vs. after the release.

Another takeaway is that I need to have my giveaways on Amazon to harness the power of, well, Amazon.  I’ve resisted KDP Select for awhile, but I recognize that it is the best marketing platform to use when you’re trying to get established.  So this week I’m taking my books down from other sites and switching my series over to KDP Select and I am going to use their marketing features going forward.  Well, at least for the next 90 days.

I’ll admit, I’m a slow processor.  I have to mull over a problem for a while before deciding which way to go.  My wife says I’m hard-headed and will argue with a wall (I am not!), but I do eventually work out a path forward.  Let’s see where this one leads.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to get your copy of The Eastern Factor.    You’ll find it on Amazon.  And you can buy the complete Kingdom of Haven series there as well if you’re so inclined.

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Filed under Books, Marketing, Writing, Writing Process

Emotions Matter

We writers all have our philosophies about what makes a good story.  For me, it is all about the characters and the emotional content.  Characters matter because how interesting would a story be about a chair?

Not only do characters matter, but the reader has to feel something about the character for the story to work.  Love, Hate, disgust, sympathy—getting your reader to feel these is what makes your story enjoyable to read.  In order for the reader to feel them, your characters must show them.

In The Eastern Factor, the protagonist has issues.  He hasn’t had the best childhood, and if you read Stenson Blues, he made a mess of his first chance at love.  He’s damaged goods, and he has a hard time trusting—especially women.  So of course, one of the biggest hurdles he faces is learning to trust Neasa, the woman that becomes his strongest ally.  Here is the scene where they begin to bond (sort of):

 

Traveling in a litter makes you feel like a king. It was a heady feeling—lounging on cushions while strong men hoisted you down the street—or maybe I was light-headed from being enclosed with Neasa after our bath.

I was still a bit warm, and she smelled of some exotic spice that reminded me of the spearmint that grew wild in the woods outside Kartoba. Neasa seemed to revel in the experience, stretching on the cushions next to me like a cat and giving me a look that I preferred to ignore. Instead, I peered out through a gap in the curtains and watched the scenery go by. The fresh air on my face helped clear my mind.

There weren’t many people walking the street, and the houses we passed were more lavish than the one I had borrowed from Factor Einhardt. It seemed like a different town than the one we’d marched through earlier.

“Close the curtain, Olaf,” Neasa said. “They’ll think you’re an oaf from the west.”

“They who?” I replied as I pulled the curtain shut. “The streets are empty.” The minty smell became stronger with the curtain shut. It made my eyes water.

Neasa reached out and patted my arm. “They are watching, believe me.”

I fought the urge to pull away. The litter was wide enough for us to recline side-by-side, but with little room to move otherwise. Besides, I didn’t want her to realize how frightened I was of her.

It was hard to admit, but I finally had to:  Neasa terrified me. She was pretty and powerful and deadly—and, worst of all, she had decided that we were destined to be together. I hoped that she saw us as allies and nothing more, but I was afraid to ask. My body lay stiffly on the cushions and I stared at the curtain in front of me, waiting for her to pull her hand away.

Instead, she ran her finger down my arm. “Why are you so tense, Olaf?”

When I didn’t respond, she finally pulled her hand away and let out a sigh. “I just want to talk.”

I peeked at her from the corner of my eye. She looked back at me with a serious expression. I wasn’t sure if that was better than her teasing.

“Olaf, we are allies in this. I know that I might have …” She paused as if choosing her words carefully. “I know I startled you during the New Year celebration.” She looked contrite, almost sorrowful, with a little frown on her face and a tearful gleam in her eye. “I keep forgetting how spooked you Uplanders get when there is talk of the gods, but I’d had a vivid vision, and I could not keep it to myself.”

I didn’t want to hear about her vision again. I could feel my chest tighten as soon as she mentioned the gods. Anyone from the Seven Kingdoms would have had the same reaction.

“I’m sorry for springing this on you, but you have had plenty of time to think about it since.” She moved to reach for my arm again, but I shied away. Her hand paused, just out of reach. “Know this, Olaf. I will not try to trick you or force you to do anything. We are allies and our destinies are intertwined.” Then she lowered her hand to rest it on my arm. “Your enemies are my enemies.”

Even through my coat sleeve, her touch sent a thrill through me. It was nothing carnal, but more like a shiver of fear. I suddenly felt as though the gods were watching our every move.

The litter came to an abrupt halt and she pulled her hand free again. “We have arrived.”

 

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