Archive for May, 2009
Sunday, May 31st, 2009 by Sasha White
Congratulations to Lynn Viehl. Foreign rights for the first three Darkyn novels (If Angels Burn, Private Demon and Dark Need) have just been sold to a German publisher. World Domination is getting closer. 😀
It’s the last day for Brenda Novak’s Auction. Which means get in there and bid for something, the money all goes to charity. If you can’t think of anything to bid, on, then look at this!
Current bid is only $155 for over 30 books and some artwork, (and you know there’ll be a surprise or two in there from us)
GENREALITY AUTHORS Auction Package
The complete SG 5 series from Alison Kent – signed
Signed copies of Riverwitch and Heretic from Joseph Nassise
Signed copies of Kitty and the Dead Mans Hand, and Kitty Raises Hell, along with cd’s of the Playlists for each book from Carrie Vaughn.
Complete set of Sasha White’s Berkley contemporary novels, including the out-of-print Bound – signed.
The Complete Darkyn Series and a nice piece of art from Lynn Viehl – signed
The first three Henry Parker novels, from Jason Pinter – signed.
The Artwork:The piece is titled “Fantasy” by Cindy Gillick, a distressed mixed media piece of paper, paint, stamps and Swarovski crystals on a mini gallery-wrapped canvas. It is also signed and dated 2008 by the artist.
Thats 30 books, a couple of rock’n playlists, and a nice piece of art work.
BID ON ME
Saturday, May 30th, 2009 by Jason Pinter
Note: This post is written in jest. I love everybody in the bookstore (they’re in a bookstore, what’s not to love?). But there are always a few people, you know who they are, occasionally, make you want to hit them with a copy of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.
1) The sweaty guy standing at the New Paperbacks table blocking the one book you want, who appears to be reading the entire section in one sitting and eyeballs you as though you’re invading his personal space.
2) The couple with six children, including two in strollers, whose children run around the bookstore screaming like their hair is on fire and swatting themselves over the head with 700 page books like SHANTARAM.
3) The teenagers who sit down three deep in the aisle reading Manga and graphic novels, thereby preventing anyone from passing through or fleeing in the event of a fire or giant lobster attack.
4) The girls who pick up every chick lit novel on the table and talk about how much the characters remind them of their own lives.
5) The guy in the magazine section reading Maxim (or FHM or Stuff or Playboy) who flips to every pictorial, openly ogles the girly photos for ten minutes, then puts it back on the shelf and moves on.
6) The store clerk with the weird wheezy breathing who’s only restocking, but seems to be following you around the store like Darth Vader.
7) The book snobs who watch you browse, waiting to see what you pick up so they can scoff and shake their head as though you’re an idiot to even think about reading it.
8) The people who sit in the coffee bar hogging an entire table even though they finished their latté half an hour ago and show no interest in that single copy of Architectural Digest.
9) People who tenderly rub the jacket of every single book on the shelf, either because the embossing makes them tingle or they simply must leave traces of their DNA on every conceivable surface.
10) The smarmy college kid in the Classic Literature section giving anyone within earshot a lecture about what Walden really meant to Thoreau (which he cribbed from SparkNotes).
11) The woman on the checkout line who picks up the little “Bonzai Tree in a Box” impulse gifts, considers them for half an hour (without letting you cut in line), then adds four of them to her basket.
12) The checkout people who whisper “next customer in line” at a frequency lower than dog whistles, then glare at customers who can’t hear them.
13) The guy who knocks over a huge stack of books then scoots away before anyone notices (or so he thinks).
14) The elderly couple that picks up new hardcovers and voices their disbelief at how expensive books have gotten since THE GRAPES OF WRATH was first published.
15) The guy chewing gum loudly who takes a book off the shelf, flips through it, then puts it back in the wrong place.
16) Old ladies who appear to be leaving the store, but just stand motionless in the doorway and prevent anybody else from coming in or leaving and look like they might faint (or hit you with an umbrella) if you ask them to move.
17) The beret-wearing guy in the music section who seems to be having some sort of seizure as he listens to the Black Eyed Peas on those gigantic headphones plugged into the wall.
18) People who ask the clerk, “Do you have that book by that guy that just came out?”
19) People who stand in the humor section and read the books to each other while giggling like they just farted in a crowded movie theater.
20) People who sit in the comfy leather chairs in the history section and look like they haven’t moved since before the 19th Century European History shelf was built.
Friday, May 29th, 2009 by LViehl
It’s estimated that in 2008 electronic books netted $1.1 billion dollars, up 68.4% from $67.2 million netted in 2007; and that’s almost double the $54.4 million sold in 2006.* Reports are already being compiled about e-book sales in the first quarter of 2009, and they’re looking very good.
It’s not difficult to guess why this format is growing in popularity; e-books are all about convenience. You don’t have to drive to the bookstore to buy one. You don’t have to wait for your order to ship from an online bookseller. When you buy an e-book, you download it immediately. In a world that practically demands instant gratification, that’s probably as fast as Publishing will ever get. It’s also convenient to store e-books on all the popular gadgets we all seem to be plagued with these days; no shelving required. For the reader with limited living space, the e-book is an ideal alternative to the traditional print book collection.
Now that it’s become a trend, authors are jumping on the free e-book bandwagon in droves. Not a week goes by that I don’t see someone’s publisher putting a free read online, and there are even some blogs popping up that track and link to these free reads.
I know a little about the power of the free read, as I’ve been creating e-books and giving them away on the internet for the last nine years. During that time I built a virtual library of free reads which anyone on the planet can read online, download, print out and redistribute to friends or other readers. The difference between me and most other authors who have done this is that all of my free reads are original and exclusive to the internet. Instead of handing out electronic copies of my print novels, I provide fresh, new fiction in full versions (no teasers, partials or sneak peeks. I give them the real deal.)
I did sell one Darkyn series e-book, (Master of Shadows), as an experiment last year. It was a novella that I wrote as a parallel story to my January ’09 print release (Stay the Night). I’ve just received some preliminary sales numbers on the e-book:
Total: 1,062 (sold from December ’08 – March ’09)
These are pretty good numbers for an e-book, but I simultaneously published a free Darkyn e-book at the same time (Incarnatio) which has gotten 6,197 views and 1,840 downloads to date (December ’08 – May ’09.)
The primary difference between the two e-books (other that you have to pay for one and you can have the other for free) is that my free read is accessible to any reader in the world. At present my publisher is only selling MoS to readers in the U.S. and Canada. Since I have a strong overseas following, being able to self-publish and distribute a free e-book allows me to reach a global readership without having to wait for red tape and foreign rights to be worked out.
Other writers who think I’m being foolish have said to me, “You can sell all those stories you give away on the internet.” Actually I can’t; my publisher generally isn’t interested in purchasing anything but my novel-length fiction, and I have a non-competition clause in my contract that prohibits me from selling fiction related to contracted work to anyone else. However, I can give away as much as I like, with the bonus of being able to publish whatever I like (versus trying to sell the idea to an editor.) This gives me enormous creative room to work, and allows me to do fun things, like ask my readers to vote on which story they’d like next to read as a free e-book.
Whether it’s a 1500 word short story or a 60K novella, giving your readers a free original read serves two purposes: first, you’re providing your readership with new content that they don’t have to pay for and they can’t get anywhere else, which they always appreciate. It’s a gift you can give to any reader on the planet, and the exchange doesn’t cost you or them a dime. Second, you’re advertising your work with the absolute best promotion in the business: your work.
At the back of my free e-books I always put a bibliography/backlist page, which details all of my series, the names I write under, the order in which the books should be read, listings for upcoming releases as well as a complete updated index of my other free reads. This gives interested readers more online reads to check out as well as a shopping list if they want to try my print work.
If I had mailed out a promo letter to every reader who took a look at my last free Darkyn novel, it would have cost me $2602.74 (this is assuming they all lived in the U.S. The postal rate for overseas mail starts at about double that.) Promotional materials only advertise a product, however, and the majority of those are thrown away and wasted because, let’s face it, it’s junk mail and has no value to readers. No one throws away a free e-book; there’s nothing to throw away. The only reason a reader looks at or downloads an e-book is because they choose to – obviously, because they’re interested. If they like what they read, they’re going to want more.
If you’d like to try publishing a free e-book, I suggest you start with a modest project, like a short story or novelette that relates to your print work (this can be a storyline that is parallel to your print novel, or a spin-off, or provides backstory or futurestory for one or more characters.) I’ve done alternative POV stories (Illumination was StarDoc book one but from Duncan Reever’s POV), merging storylines (Deimos brought together a young Cherijo Grey Veil from StarDoc with Holly Noriko, my lunar marshall) and origin stories (Near Dawn is a collection of some of the short stories that eventually became the Darkyn novels.
I frequently try out ideas on readers via free reads as well, and the feedback I receive helps me decide whether or not to pursue a new series or genre. I can also stretch my writing wings and play in a genre I haven’t yet explored in print (as I did with my fantasy short story collection, Ravelin.) Because you’re in charge, you can be as creative as you like and really have fun with it.
You can also ask your publisher to use your free online read as promotion for your current or next print release. Not all of them will take you up on it, but if they are amenable and you can get a link on a publisher or bookseller web site, that will increase your exposure exponentially.
Some links for those of you who are looking for e-book software:
Adobe Acrobat Pro: the original Cadillac of PDF creation programs. It pretty much does everything. Free full-functioning 30-day trail; $449.00 US to buy.
E-Book Compiler: Free to try, if you would like to sell the e-books you create with it you pay a one-time fee of $49.95 U.S. The feature I like about this one is how you can set your e-books to expire: “Set your E-Books to expire after a set number of days or uses, unless the password is entered.” If you wanted to put out an e-book for a limited time, this would be the way to go.
Nitro PDF Professional: 14 day free trial, $99 U.S. to buy. According to the designers, you can edit the e-books you create with this program.
Help Desk Geek has a good article here comparing seven popular .pdf writer and printer programs.
Hosting: If you don’t have a web site or FTP you can use to park your free reads on, you might consider using a free file hosting service. I’ve tried a number of them, and I think Scribd.com is the best on the internet.
*Stats source: Simba Information BPR April 2009
Thursday, May 28th, 2009 by Sasha White
The key to putting magik into your work is to feel the magik around you. It’s so easy when you’ve got a deadline, or a goal in mind, to get wrapped up in it to the exclusion of all else. It’s not just writers who do this, students do it, cops do it, even real estate agents do it. You forget to live, to experience life and the world that surrounds you. When this happens, our spirit, and our creativity, dries up, slowly but surely.
Lynn’s talked about the joy of quilting, Charli’s talked about paying attention to what makes you happy, Alison does web design and spends a lot of time with her family. Me, I like to dabble in photography. The point is, we all have something other that our work that makes our work better.
Having other outlets, other things besides the story or the work, to occupy your mind and show you the joy in life is probably the least talked about aspect of being a writer…and one of the most important. How often do you hear writers say that the best ideas come to them when they’re doing something else? Or that if they writers block or trouble with a scene, they go for a walk, or watch a movie with a friend, and it helps clear their mind?
Yes, in order to continuously grow and get better at our chosen craft we need to work on it regularly, but it’s wrong to think we should concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else. So my advice to the world on this fine day in May…stop and smell the flowers, go shopping or make wild spontaneous love with your partner. Do something that will make you feel the blood rushing through your veins and remind you that you can’t write about life if you don’t live it – and do it often.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 by Carrie Vaughn
(This article originally appeared at Divas of the Dark as “How Do You Write a Kick-Ass Series?”)
When I realized Kitty was turning into a series, I thought long and hard about this question. I had some examples of good series to study — and I had some examples of series that had gone horribly, horribly wrong. I also had my own anti-series bias to contend with: I prefer a good stand-alone story to a series pretty much any day.
One exception to this is the Miles Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, and that’s what I’ve used as my ur-model of series writing. Bujold has written something like a dozen books covering about 15 years of military genius Miles Vorkosigan’s life. I’ve read them all, and I’ll follow him anywhere. So how did Bujold hook me in like that? What could I do to hook people in like that and make them follow me anywhere? Here’s what I’ve come up with.
1. Make each book a stand-alone story in its own right. The goal here is to have someone be able to pick up any book in the series and still get hooked. Don’t make it harder for readers to get into the series by forcing them to figure out what order it goes in, or confusing them if they get it wrong. The first Miles book I read was Mirror Dance, which is not only in the middle of the series, but in the middle of a three-book story arc. I still loved it enough to rush out and read everything else — completely out of order. But I never felt lost. (It did result in a lot of “oh, that’s why that happened!” moments, but that’s okay.)
2. The main character has to grow and change. Writers are taught that a novel should have a character arc, that through the story the main character should learn something, should be changed somehow. That the main character is the one most affected by the story. This shouldn’t change just because it’s a series and the character continues across many books. The character still needs to be invested in the story, each and every time.
3. There’s a corollary to this: The main character needs to be the kind of person that lots of life-changing stuff happens to. Let’s face it, for one person to face a dozen life-changing character arcs over the course of a series might be pretty unbelievable. But not if that person is naturally that kind of person. Over the course of his series, Miles flunks out of the military academy physical exam, gets into the academy anyway, graduates, starts a military career, accidentally becomes admiral of a mercenary fleet, becomes a pan-galactic super spy, screws up so badly he destroys his career, has to find a way to pick up the pieces of his life and find a new career, and he does, as an investigator which takes him on all sorts of new adventures, and then he meets the love of his life, and then — you get the idea. Miles is the kind of person who will never run out of adventures.
So, the short version of this: don’t be afraid to have your characters grow up. Don’t be afraid to throw vast, life-changing problems at them. That will make the series more interesting, more realistic, more vivid, and will make your reader that much more invested in it.
4. The corollary to that is: Don’t write the same book every time. Readers are following the characters, not the story formula. If they love your characters, you can do just about anything — mystery, horror, romance, thriller, all of the above. Challenge yourself, try new things, don’t fall into a rut.
5. Stay true to the characters. Don’t bend and twist your character to fit an interesting plot. If you want to try a weird plot, consider: what would the character you’ve already established do with that kind of plot? Make the stories organic, and know what the character would do in every situation. If you want to do something crazy, think about what it would take to push the character into doing something out of character. But always remember: you’ll have to sell it to the reader, make them buy it, and then deal with the consequences realistically.
6. Supporting cast. A good supporting cast can do wonders for a series. Miles wouldn’t be Miles without Ivan, Mark, Gregor, Aral and Cordelia, Elli Quinn and the rest. Don’t make them stereotypes, make them great in their own rights. Think of it this way: they’re your main character’s team, and they’re all in it together. They’re not little satellites there to orbit the main character.
7. Goals, and a series arc. While each book should stand alone, that doesn’t mean some part of the story can’t continue on from book to book. Give the main character a goal, or a problem that never gets solved, that continually develops complications. This gives the entire series an arc, and will help hold it together as a series. It’s part of defining the character: what drives this person to keep going even while all this crazy stuff is happening?
This also gives you a way to end the series with a bang, if you decide to end the series. The character accomplishes that big goal, the big problem is finally solved, the ongoing villain is finally overcome. In Miles’s case, his ongoing problems were finding a place in his world, reconciling his sense of adventure with his sense of duty, and finding a woman he could settle down with (who would put with him) and start a family. At many points, he despaired that any of this would happen. Then he met Ekaterin. The last Miles book (although rumor has it Bujold is working on a new one) ends with the birth of their children. It’s a beautiful, perfect ending.
I know what the last Kitty book looks like. I know what happens. I know what her goals and problems are, and I know what we’re heading toward. I don’t know exactly when that last book is going to happen — I’ve got a bunch more ideas up my sleeve before I get to that point. But I love having that structure, that big arc, to work with.
And no, I’m not going to tell you what happens in the last Kitty book. 😉
Monday, May 25th, 2009 by Alison Kent
From The Memorial Day Order:
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude—the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
What gorgeous, gorgeous words. Oh the power of being a writer.
Memorial Day photo courtesy of Sister72
Sunday, May 24th, 2009 by Sasha White
Carrie Vaughn will be signing books and chatting with readers at on Tuesday May 26, at the Boulder Book Store.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Title of Event: LYNDA HILBURN, CARRIE VAUGHN & ESRI ROSE
NEW RELEASE from Alison Kent!
The Heat is On . . .
Simon Baptiste’s latest SG-5 mission just went south in a major way. With his career on ice for awhile, it seems like a good time to take care of some business back home in Louisiana. Simon knows it ain’t going to be pretty. He’s got some old enemies in Bayou Allain who won’t exactly roll out the red carpet. But Simon’s first night back is more than he bargained for. Not only has the homestead gone to hell in a hand basket, but there’s a half-naked woman hiding inside it—a woman whose face Simon knows all too well. It’s Michelina Ferrer, the sultry spokesmodel for her family’s Ferrer fragrance empire—and Simon’s been staring at her picture on a billboard outside his Manhattan apartment for weeks…
And It’s Only Getting Hotter . . .
Micky Ferrer came down to Bayou Allain looking for her old college friend, only to discover that Lisa Landry has been missing for days. As soon as Micky starts asking questions around town, someone runs her car off the road. She’s hiding out in the old Baptiste place when Simon shows up—and he’s the hottest thing she’s laid eyes on since she got to town. Simon agrees that something strange is going on and that Lisa’s disappearance may be tied to it. As he and Micky search for answers, the sweltering heat makes it hard to keep their heads straight or their hands off each other…even as they unravel the small-town secrets that some people are willing to kill for…
READ AN EXCERPT
Buy on Amazon.com
* * * * *
Cover art for EYES TO SEE – Book One in Joe Nassie’s new series, the Hunt Chronicles, has been released by his German publisher.
Marketing blurbs and information are still be ironed out, so he’s not sharing much just yet, but here’s the opening line for the book:
“I gave up my eyes in order to see more clearly.”