Had a strong finish for Camp NaNo:
4/27 1013 words
4/29 3615 words
I passed my word count goal, and finished the draft of Book 3 of Daughter of the Wildings! There were some very interesting developments in this book, lots to play off of for Book 4. Not sure when I'll start writing that one; I may wait for Camp NaNo in July, so I can spend May and June concentrating on getting Chosen of Azara out and doing the next round of work on The Lost Book of Anggird.
In other news, I'm very excited to have been chosen as this week's Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers group featured author! I'll have the opportunity to get some more reviews for Urdaisunia, and to be featured on other authors' blogs as well as being mentioned on Facebook pages and Twitters. Every week, those who help out the week's featured author are placed into a drawing, and the next week's featured author is chosen. It's been fun getting to know and help out some fellow independent authors, and I'm so excited to be getting a turn. Watch my blog and the front page of my site for news about where I'm being featured! For starters, W.H. Cann has been kind enough to feature my book and bio on his blog. Go check it out, and while you're at it, take a look at his "Guardians" series.
Good writing days yesterday and today. Here's the numbers:
4/25 1568 words
4/26 2010 words
So close! Will meet my word count goal tomorrow; may or may not finish the story. I thought It was finished a couple thousand words ago and I was just winding down (with three thousand words still to go! yikes!) but so far I've added two serious life complications for Silas and Lainie and a Wait, what? Keeping things interesting!
The revision of Chosen of Azara continues, with major surgery to give one of the primary supporting characters a personality transplant. Probably looking at a June release for that one. The next stage of revision of The Lost Book of Anggird will begin as soon as I'm done writing my Camp NaNo novel. Projected release date for that is probably Octoberish. And Sarya and Adan from Sarya's Song (seriously need to think of a better title for that) have started knocking on my brain, asking if it's their turn yet. As soon as Chosen of Azara is out, major revision on the (very rough) first draft of Sarya's Song will begin. I'd love a 2013 release for that one, but it might not happen until early 2014.
One of the short-short stories I wrote in March is now edited and posted. Paint It Black is about an artist who is paralyzed by her fear of the dark. It's maybe a little strange. And yes, I know that's the title of a Rolling Stones song. You can't copyright titles, and it's also the name of a band and a novel. This story originally had a different title that came from the prompt I used to write it, but as I wrote and edited, I kept thinking that Paint It Black would be the perfect title. So I changed it. Also, that song would make great background music while you read the story. It's free to read on the site until I have enough other stories for another collection (with these short-shorts, I'll probably put five in a collection), at which time it'll come down and go up for sale on Amazon in the KDP Select program.
Today my Camp NaNo Cabin held a word war, so I did extra writing, 2,532 words, to bring my total to 25,879/30,000. Poor Silas is having a very very bad day, but it might start to get better soon.
(Once again, not a book review blog, I only review books for my GoodReads group and other books I happen to feel like reviewing.)
The Healing Heart, by Jennifer Howard
Kyra's star ratings:
Story: * * * *
Characters: * * * * *
Writing mechanics: * * * *
Emotional engagement: * * *
"The Healing Heart" is a sweet, cheerful (almost too cheerful for me, angst-and-gloom-loving curmudgeon that I am, but hey, sometimes you've got to lighten up a little) contemporary romance that follows the story of Jamie Hansen, a widow with a teenage daughter, who after losing the love of her life is afraid to let herself love again, and Conley Michaels, the man who finally convinces her to. It's escapist and fun, the main conflict coming from Jamie learning to let go of her fears and insecurities and accept that life has offered up something wonderful for her again.
The book is fast-moving, written in a breezy, casual style that takes you right inside Jamie's head. The style is clear and enjoyable and paints a vivid picture of Jamie, her teenage daughter Gretchen, and their world. I also enjoyed reading about Jamie's close relationship with her daughter. Sometimes I felt that the story barely touched on the surface of Jamie's emotions, especially the more difficult ones, and would have liked to dig in a little deeper (but again, that might just be Angsty Me speaking).
There are some fun extras at the end of the book: an extensive playlist, a list of music, movies, and TV shows referred to, and Jamie and Conley's meeting from Conley's point of view. This delightful novel is Ms. Howard's debut, and I look forward to seeing more from her.
According to my online banking stuff, my first payout from Amazon, for February sales, is pending. It isn't a lot - we're talking a large (not extra-large) pizza with pepperoni, green peppers, and extra cheese. Maybe black olives. (Although everything I make for the time being is going straight into the cover art fund for the Daughter of the Wildings series, not for pizza.) But it's money that I earned with my writing! Which is seriously cool. It's something that for a long time I thought would never happen. I knew that conventional publishing just wasn't something I wanted to deal with, so I figured I would just never be a professional writer. But now, thanks to Amazon and Kindle and ebooks and print-on-demand and serious (not vanity) self-publishing, I am a pro :-D
I won't be getting another payout for a few months, at least - you have to accumulate a minimum amount in your account both at Amazon and at Smashwords. But that's ok. I know I'm just a little baby self-pubbing author just starting out, and I'm in it for the long term, with a two-year starter plan.
But I'm still getting a real kick out of this first payday :-D
Camp NaNo report, Day 23:
My word counter was being wonky, and I'm taking my total from the Camp NaNo Official Word Counter today, so I'm not sure exactly how many words I wrote yesterday and today. But right now I'm at 23,347/30,000 words.
Finally, here's a shoutout to this week's featured author at the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers group, Jennifer Howard!
Blood Bound (Gallows, #1), by Sharon Stevenson
Characters: * * * * *
Story: * * *
Writing: * * * *
World-building: * * * *
Fast-paced urban fantasy with twin demon-hunters Sarah and Shaun Gallows. I enjoyed the characters, especially the squeamish-yet-curmudgeonly Shaun. For me, this is a winning combination in male main characters, and Shaun alone made the book for me. The other characters are also well-drawn and engaging. The book is set in an alternate-universe Scotland, and I enjoyed the Scottish slang used throughout. This isn't just a generic could-be-anywhere story.
The story involves Sarah and Shaun's attempts to figure out what the vicious Melissa is up to, whether she needs to be stopped, and how to stop her. There are also subplots involving Sarah and Shaun's complicated love lives (Shaun appears to be soul-mated to Melissa, and Sarah has two guys who are best buddies both wanting her, and an eye for a much younger guy as well). Also vampires. Lots of vampires. (Reason #573 why you might want to have a locked cage in your basement: to keep the vampire in.) I did feel like the story could have used more of a sense of urgency or rising stakes (no pun intended; if you've read it, you know what I mean!) as it progressed to the end; the problem to be solved was the same as it had been since about the middle of the book, with no greater or rising threats to the main characters as the end drew closer, until the very very end. There were also times when the action seemed to skip ahead or to a different setting without transition, and I couldn't quite figure out what was going on.
One other thing, the protagonists are 19 years old, but this is definitely not a YA book. The protagonists act as adults in their world, have adult lives and adult interests and concerns, and the book deals with adult themes in an adult manner. Which for me is a plus, but someone looking for a less-intense YA read might get more than they bargained for here.
A fun read, and I'm looking forward to more adventures with Shaun and Sarah.
Gemini of Emreiana, by Kristen DaRay
Kyra's star ratings:
Story: * * * *
Characters: * * * *
Writing mechanics: * *
Emotional engagement: * * *
(For starters, I have to say that I'm not the target audience for this novel. I prefer novels written for adults, with adult characters in an adult voice, and Gemini of Emreiana is definitely a Young Adult novel, aimed at teens and at fans of that voice and style. So I've tried to adjust my reactions and opinions in this review to account for this.)
Gemini of Emreiana is a sweet, engaging novel that grows more powerful towards the end. Carson has always thought she was a normal girl, and has the normal teenage concerns about friends, romance, and what life will hold after high school. Then she learns that nothing about herself or her life is what she thought it was, and finally is forced to make some difficult, heartbreaking decisions to protect the people she loves and the planet she has always called home.
I found the characters engaging, and the romance between Carson and her childhood sweetheart Kyle was sweet. I also found the growing tension between Carson's love for Kyle and her mixed and confusing feelings for Aaronmon, her Emreianan guardian, intriguing. And, not to give away any spoilers, but more than one thing at the end nearly moved me to tears.
There are a couple of issues that, I feel, hold Gemini of Emreiana back from being the book it could be. The first is that while the writing style is clear and pleasant, there are places where I felt the story would have benefitted from a more in-depth, sophisticated treatment of emotions, backstory, and other issues. (I'll admit that this impression might be because I'm more used to novels written in an adult voice, while this lighter, "younger" voice may be more typical for YA writing, especially considering that the story is told in first person from Carson's point of view.)
The other thing is that the mechanics of the writing are not quite up to a professional standard. There are numerous problems with grammar, punctuation, misused words, and other similar issues. As an independent author, even if an editor is used, the author is ultimately responsible for the quality of the book and therefore needs to do whatever is necessary to make sure the book is as mistake-free as possible.
Overall, Gemini of Emreiana is an enjoyable book. Ms. DaRay has great potential as an author, and I look foward to watching her continued development.
Rating note: I changed my rating from 3 to 4 stars because I decided it was unfair of me to rate down a YA book for not sounding like an adult book.
The CFS (another post for another time) has really been dragging me down the last few days, so it's been slow and painful. But progress is still happening.
4/17 1016 words
4/18 tough day, lost cause
4/19 1533 words
4/20 1411 words
total: 20,789/30,000 words
The revision of Chosen of Azara is coming right along too. It's been tough this week, then I finally realized what was messing everything up: the main secondary character in the Lucie story arc needs a complete personality transplant. The tense relationships between this character and the two main characters is one of the primary conflicts in that section of the book, and it just wasn't happening. I've had a hard time pinning down this character, but I think I've finally got it figured out. I'm also rearranging some of the major scenes at the very end of the book, so once that's done I'll print out the Lucie section and go to work on fixing up that character. I don't want to rush things; I want to get it right, so this most likely isn't going to be a May release; I'm hoping for June, if all goes well once this major surgery is done.
Finally, I want to announce that a friend of mine who's a very talented artist has opened an etsy shop: Motley Apricot Paintworks. Check it out for fabulous artwork, home decor, hand-painted wooden jewelry, and other wonderfully decorative and useful items.
(Note: Once again, this isn't a book review blog. Please don't send me requests to review your book. I review books on my own whim and discretion, mostly for my Goodreads group but also other books that happen to catch my interest.)
Dream Student, by J.J. DiBenedetto
Kyra's Star Ratings:
Story: * * * *
Characters: * * * *
Writing: * * * *
Suspense: * * *
(I was provided with a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)
Dream Student is the story of a pre-med student who is an unwilling witness to other people's dreams. The novel is balanced between Sara's progess through her junior year of college as a pre-med student, a romance that is literally a dream come true, and a paranormal suspense novel where Sara finds herself inside a serial killer's dreams. The novel pulled me in from the beginning with the first few dream sequences. The prose is smooth and well-crafted with a sly sense of humor, and the author, a man, does an excellent job of getting inside the head of a female college student and telling her story in first-person voice. The dreams are written in third-person, an effective way to convey the kind of creepy, out-of-body experience that this feels like to Sara.
For my own preference, I would have liked it if the three plotlines were more focused so that the serial-killer plotline was the main plot, with the romance as a major subplot and the college-life parts as background or a supplementary subplot, in order to maintain the momentum and suspense. But Sara, her boyfriend Brian, and her best friend Beth are engaging enough characters that I still enjoyed reading about their romantic and academic escapades. And the ending, where Sara, Brian, and Beth race to stop the killer before he strikes again, kept me reading non-stop.
Dream Student is a well-written, engaging book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series, to find out what lies ahead for Sara, Brian - and her ability to see other people's dreams.
Yesterday at The Passive Voice blog, Passive Guy posted a question from a reader who wants to start writing and self-publishing but is overwhelmed by all the information and has no idea where to start or how to go about this. Passive Guy invited commenters to leave their own tips and advice, and here's what I posted. Since I've toyed with the idea of doing a post on the very same subject, I decided to recycle this very fine (if I do say so myself :D) run-down on how to go about becoming an independent author.
* * *
I just took the leap in February, and even though I’m still just a little baby self-publisher, I love it and feel confident that this is something that will give me a lot of satisfaction in life.
Here’s my list:
1. Write a book. Write what you love, what makes you happy, what you feel driven to write. Don’t worry about writing what will sell, because no one knows that. Also, if you want to make a career of this, you can’t do it with just one book, so be working on ideas for more books.
2. Make the book as good as you can get it. Work on your own revising/editing skills. (Many resources online.) Have some acquaintances who are avid readers read it, or join a critique group (can also be found online). If you have the money, or can arrange a barter or something, find a *good* professional editor. Do what you have to do to make the book as error-free as possible.
3. If you’re broke, have some html know-how or don’t mind learning, and don’t mind doing things yourself, get a guide on how to do the ebook formatting yourself. You can find suggestions on Lindsay Buroker’s and David Gaughran’s blogs. [Specifically, The eBook Design and Development Guide by Paul Salvette and Guido Henckel's blog post series Take Pride In Your eBook Formatting] If you aren’t quite so broke, or don’t want to do it yourself, research ebook formatters. There are a number of them, many with reasonable rates. You can find links on the Kindle boards.
4. For a low-cost cover, license some stock art from a site like Dreamstime, and learn how to do the lettering in an image-editing program. See The Book Designer for good and less-good examples. If you can spend a little more, use a cover designer. You can also find links to this on the Kindle boards.
5. Set up your accounts at the different outlets – Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo are the big ones (Apple too, but you have to have a Mac computer to go to them directly). Check out their individual submission/upload requirements, and follow these carefully. I go direct through Amazon, and use Smashwords for all the others, just to keep it simple.
6. Be VERY VERY CAREFUL ***NOT*** to pay for expensive packages containing services you don’t need or could do yourself. You should be able to pick and choose what services you want/need on an individual basis without getting locked in to a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Also be careful if any service you want to use asks you to sign agreements involving percentages or copyright or exclusivity (KDP Select asks you to make books you enroll in that program exclusive for 90 days, which is as far as any author should be willing to go exclusive, and not everyone even feels comfortable with that). In short, be careful not to get ripped off or trapped in a bad deal.
*I did the complete do-it-yourself route, and published my first book for under $100, including $35 to register the copyright in the U.S., expanded distribution fee and proof copy from CreateSpace, licensed stock art, and small gifts for my test readers.
7. Once your book is up for sale, be patient – it will not take off overnight, or even over a few months – and get going on the next book.
Might not work for everyone, but that’s how I’m doing it.
* * *
There's lots of other good advice in the post at The Passive Voice, so go check it out if publishing your writing is something you're thinking of doing.
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