2016 was a busy year that included a number of positive events in my life.
Most importantly, a serious health condition that has dogged me for much of my adult life has been resolved. I’m getting healthier by the day and that spark (which had been fading the last few years) has returned. I’m grateful to be alive.
My new lease on life motivated me to take a trip this past summer to a magical place featured in many of my favorite stories – ROMANIA. Even better, the trip was hosted by Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Dracula author Bram Stoker.
As my husband and I visited Romanian villages and hiked the Carpathian Mountains, I realized our trip was not only to another place, but another time. I absorbed as many sights, sounds, and smells as I could, and hopefully I’ll be able to reproduce some of those experiences in my next novel.
Another significant life event was a change in my day job, which now brings me more satisfaction and will allow me more time – and energy – for writing. In addition, for the first time I can truly see retirement on the not-too-distant horizon.
My dream of writing full-time is now a little closer.
As for my writing itself . . .
* “Saving Magic”, a young adult fantasy from my Forbidden Doorways series, will be released this spring. “Magic” was originally written for the Fresno Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Woadsbury anthology. Unfortunately, the anthology never saw publication.
* “The Games Monsters Play”, a novelette of The Chosen, was published September 2016 and is now available on Amazon in both print and ebook formats.
“Games” is an expanded version of the story that first appeared in 2013’s “High Stakes: A Vampire Anthology”, edited by Gabrielle Faust and published by Evil Jester Press. The story follows a minor character from Watcher and introduces a major character from Runner.
* “Runner: Book II of The Chosen”, after more revisions than I can count, is finally with my editor. I will not promise a publishing date (because that seems to be a promise I’ve been unable to keep so far), but I’m going to do everything I can to get it published this year.
* “Seeker: Book III of The Chosen” is in development. All I can say about it is that my trip to Romania last summer has provided me wonderful backdrop material for Sunny’s continuing journey.
That’s it for now. It’s great to be back in the game.
I’m in the midst of a major revision to the first part of Runner. I know – I thought it was done. But after consulting with an expert on an important part of the storyline, I needed to make some changes. I thought it was going to be the simple addition of a scene and maybe some minor corrections surrounding it. But that’s not the case. It’s amazing how one little change creates a ripple effect, and the tiny blip that was on the edge of your radar is now dead center and staring you down through sights aimed right at your face!
So, yeah. Gonna be a little longer. But I’m halfway through it – finishing it depends on just how much time real life demands of me.
I am also working on another project, one a little more personal and something totally different for me. When my mother was a child, she was given the Civil War diaries of her great-grandfather. He was a well-known war correspondent who regularly wrote articles for the National Tribune, a weekly newspaper based in Washington, D.C.
It’s been her lifelong dream to publish those diaries in the form of a book, and she has been transcribing them – first on a typewriter, then on a computer – for much of her life. She recently started prepping the finished book for publication through Amazon/Create Space and was having trouble with the formatting. I volunteered to help her, and am slowly straightening out the many kinks that Word can throw into a document. And no, not interested in using Scrivener or InDesign – I’m pretty good at beating Word into submission and just don’t have time to learn to use new software at this point.
So anyhow, my latest foray into publishing is now in the realm of non-fiction. I love this business – there’s always something new to learn and new territory to explore.
And for those who are Civil War buffs, I’ll let you know when this book is out. It’s pretty interesting – my great-great grandfather was certainly in the thick of things. I’m enjoying getting to know him, too. It’s kinda cool to think I might’ve inherited some of his talent.
The biggest, of course, is the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. I won’t go into it here, but do want acknowledge the impact of that event ten years ago on the entire world.
For me, this past week had several. A couple were personal, one affected a small segment of society, and one had ramifications for a larger segment, and in fact, affects society as a whole.
Milestone #1~ I’ll start with the smallest one, the one that is mine.
I uploaded my very first book to CreateSpace – and they accepted all of the formatting!
Now those of you who have yet to attempt self-publishing may not realize how hard this is.
Uploading is the easy part. Just fill in a few fields in the online form, click a few times, and voila! Your book is uploaded and in the queue to be vetted for formatting errors.
The hard part?
Holy crap. I’m not going into details (I’ll save that for another post), but trust me when I say there is more that goes into putting together a professional-looking book than you’d ever realize.
Then there’s the cover.
Now, I’m no artist, not by a longshot. I do have someone working on the cover (I should say ‘covers – because this book is the first in a trilogy). But the artwork isn’t done yet, and I need to get review copies out.
So this is the cover I’ve come up with (for now) for my Advanced Reading Copy (or ARC):
It’s not great, but I felt it was better than a plain white one.
So yeah, in a few days, I’ll be cradling my first book in print and probably crying when I think of the journey that brought me this far.
Milestone #2 – Two year anniversary of the final Nine Inch Nails show (which I was lucky enough to attend)
Although this is a very personal one for me, it’s also a milestone for NIN fans. Rather, it’s the anniversary of a milestone.
NIN and Trent’s music played an important role in my writing of Watcher. His quieter, introspective stuff really helped set the mood for many of the scenes in the book. And so this anniversary, so close to the release of Watcher, is one I needed to acknowledge.
Here’s one of my favorite songs that form part of the backdrop for Watcher:
I feel fortunate that I was able to be part of NIN’s final farewell.
Milestone #3 – Another final farewell…to Borders
Yep. Our local Borders shut its doors this past Monday. Finis. Done.
Borders was more than a bookstore in this community. It was a gathering spot, a bit of literary culture in an area that distinctly lacks much culture of any kind. People would hang out and read, or visit, or share info in the Seattle’s Best cafe at the back of the store.
Our writer’s group, the Fresno Sci-fi & Fantasy Writers, held monthly Open Mic nights there. Other events surrounding book releases drew fans of all types, from Potterheads to Twilight Moms.
It was a happening place, and on our rare nights out, my reading friends and I would eat dinner and go hang out at Borders. Not a bar, but Borders. Because, after all, it was our love of stories that drew us together in the first place.
Now how cool of a bookstore is that?
Over the past month or so, I’ve been stopping in there weekly and buying books at ever-decreasing discounted prices. It’s been a bit of a trip down memory lane, as my close circle of reading friends have moved away one-by-one, and the last time we were all together was over a year-and-a-half ago.
So my weekly visits have been with great sadness as I mourn the loss of those evenings spent sharing excitement over the latest books, as well as the loss of the gathering spot that allowed us to do so.
I’ve felt like a bit of a vulture picking at a carcass that wasn’t quite dead, and it got worse with each visit.
My last trip there was the day before they closed their doors permanently. Books were discounted down to 90% of their marked price, and then they announced all books were 10 for $9.99.
A buck apiece.
The feeding frenzy increased, and by the time I left with my armful of books, the bones were almost picked clean.
I felt ill.
Not only was it the closing of a community icon and gathering point, it was also representative of the changing industry and the lightspeed transition to e-books.
As much as I as an author will be benefitting from these changes, I still mourn the loss of the bookstores. I know that our Borders is only one of the thousands of bookstores that have closed up shop over the last few years as they crumpled beneath the heavy tread of Amazon. The e-book revolution is only hastening their demise.
I made one last visit to say goodbye to an old friend. I don’t know why I was drawn to the body, its paper flesh stripped from the bones of its shelving beneath its concrete skin.
But I had to see it. I had to see that it was dead, once and for all.
I have my memories, and several shelves full of books I may never get around to reading. And morbidly, I also have a few bones, and will always think of Borders whenever I look at the two used bookcases in the spare bedroom that still have Borders tags on them.
More evidence of the ongoing changes: there is a new digital distributor on the block, and folks, I think this is going to be BIG. The name of the company is Enthrill Entertainment Inc. and they’ve come up with a hell of a new distribution model for e-books.
I watched the Enthrill e-book Distribution video on this yesterday and immediately emailed it to my marketing team. Snoeren mentions it in his article as well – I encourage my readers to take the time to check this out, because I believe it will be an integral component in the future of publishing.
The Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) recently featured Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. An article covering the event, written by Joel Friedlander, focuses on indie and e-publishing. It’s appropriately subtitled Indie Revolution in Full Swing.
Considering the tumultuous times the publishing industry is in right now, writers need to be very careful about their next moves.
Personally, I’ve reached a point where I’d rather fall on my face self-publishing than risk signing a contract that will lock me into an antiquated royalty system and a brick-and-mortar distribution model that may completely implode before my book can even reach print.
On that note, I’m starting a new series that will be featured as part of the e-Watch. I’m calling it Writers Beware. Here’s a few articles to start it out:
Today is the inaugural edition of Wednesday’s e-Watch and it’s packed with info for anyone interested in the status of indie and e-publishing.
In fact, you might feel a little overwhelmed with everything listed here. I do, because, with the exception of the final item at the bottom of this post, everything below happened in the space of ONE WEEK.
So far this week:
Joe Konrath’s post yesterday was another eye-opener in a long string of eye-openers. The first part included a guest post by indie author Scott Sigler. Scott shared his story of how he became a top-selling indie author and the marketing methods he used to build a devoted fan base.
Joe wrapped up Scott’s post with some astonishing sales facts: currently, the Number 1 e-book in Amazon’s horror category is Scott Sigler’s newly-released Blood is Red. Positions 2 and 3 are Run by Blake Crouch and Trapped by Jack Kilborn, both indie authors. In fact, Joe said that the top eight horror bestsellers are indie – and are outselling King, Koontz, and Harris.
Now that’s something.
Another well-known indie author made news of her own. Most of you have heard by now about indie author Amanda Hocking’s phenomenal success with her self-published books (900,000 books sold in ten months). She made the headlines again when she inked a four-book deal for a new series with St. Martins Press for $2 million dollars.
Well, last week she did it yet again. Amanda made a three-book deal with St. Martins Press for her Trylle Trilogy, a series she already published herself.
Big publisher buys previously self-published series. Thought they didn’t do that.
Looks like the rules of the game are a’changing.
Last week’s news:
Wednesday was a big day for announcements in the publishing world.
From Smashwords.com: Smashwords books are coming to an app store near you.Today we announced an agreement withScrollMotionthat will transform over 33,000Smashwords Premium Catalogebooks into individual mobile apps for distribution to the largest app marketplaces for smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
The relationship will gain Smashwords authors and publishers free entry into the app marketplaces for Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and WebOS.
Is Amazon moving in the direction of becoming a publishing house?
The question becomes more interesting. Read on.
Friday’s news contained an announcement about Bookish.com, a new book recommendation service backed by Hachette, Penguin (USA), and Simon & Schuster.
As in, Three out of the Big Six publishing houses have formed an alliance.
This alliance includes partnering with AOL Huffington Post Media Group. According to PR Newswire, Bookish will feature exclusive content, sell physical and digital books, and provide social networking.
Sounds like Amazon meets Facebook, right?
Is this an attempt to pool resources to better position themselves against the other Three? Against Amazon?
You can read more about this here and here, and draw your own conclusions.
I was introduced to science fiction and fantasy by my dad. He signed me up for the Science Fiction Book Club when I was about twelve, which pretty much changed my life, as I’m sure it did for a lot of other readers and writers of the genre. I haven’t thought or heard about book clubs in years (other than Oprah’s), so when I saw an article on subscription e-books from The Shatzkin Files, I thought I’d pass it along.
Phew! It’s hard to believe that (except for the last item), all of the above events happened in ONE WEEK!
And I only included the major stuff.
If I missed anything, or you’d like to add to the list, let me know. Include it in your comments and I’ll cover it in a subsequent post.
Remember, even though writing is a solitary art, getting published takes a team. Be part of the team. Help us stay current on the latest events so that we as writers can not only survive these topsy-turvy times, but actually thrive and maybe even come out on top.
As those of you watching the digital book revolution know, the world of e-books is changing faster than any of us can comprehend.
I’ve been following the developments for several months now, and want to share the groundbreaking news that’s occurring daily within the publishing industry.
To help keep my friends up to date with all of the changes, I’m introducing a new feature to my blog. I’m calling it Wednesday’s e-Watch(and no, this has nothing to do with my soon-to-be-published novel, Watcher ).
In the e-Watch, I’ll recap the latest news in e-publishing, including self-publishing, e-book technologies, and the digital marketplace.
One of the sources I use is Publisher’s Marketplace. I subscribe to the daily Publisher’s Lunch newsletter and pay to have full access to the Publisher’s Marketplace website. That access gives me links to the headlines mentioned in the Lunch newsletter, and I’m constantly amazed at the information I find there. The speed with which the publishing industry is embracing digital is incredible–and lately, there have been major announcements nearly every day. Being able to keep up with at least some of the developments is well worth my subscription fee.
Another source of good information, as you all well know, is blogs.
But I’m also reading industry blogs like one I just found through Publisher’s Marketplace called FUTUReBOOK. This European blog on publishing has some eye-opening posts today that give a great snapshot of where the industry is racing at lightning speed.
My blog will be getting a facelift within the next couple weeks, and I’ll be refreshing my blogroll to make it easier for you to check them out.
I hope you all enjoy e-Watch and that it helps you to weather the publishing whirlwind that is upon us. Those writers who pay attention to what’s happening and do their own research will have the best chance of finding a safe harbor for their writing futures.
The storm isn’t coming…it’s here NOW.
Here’s a couple posts from FUTUReBOOK that take a two-sided look at the state of the industry as it stands today:
In tomorrow’s inauguration of Wednesday’s e-Watch, I’ll recap some of the monumental events in e-publishing that have taken place in recent weeks.
And one last note:
The thing I love about blogging, both reading and writing, is the sharing of information. My research in e-publishing at this point has barely begun, and I’m sure some of you out there who’ve been at it a little longer have your own awesome resources.
PLEASE – for all of us struggling writers – SHARE them. Help us stay informed. Let me know about your favorite blogs and websites that cover e-pub happenings and I’ll be happy to pass the info along to my readers.
The only way any of us will ever be published, whether it’s self or traditional, is by educating ourselves and forging ahead with our eyes wide open.
Here we are, nearing the end of the fourth month of 2011…
I can’t believe the year is already a third over. Time flies when one is buried in both work and writing.
For those of you who occasionally check my blog, I apologize for my long absence and appreciate your loyalty.
The last several months have been a wake-up call for me. It all started at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where the predominate message on how to get published was nearly 180-degrees from that of last year’s conference.
In 2010, the traditional route to becoming a published writer (i.e. via agent, publisher, etc.) was still being promoted at the conference as the smart and secure way to go. Those who were venturing into self-publishing were viewed with shaking heads and whispers of doom. But at the same time, some folks were watching the risk takers–and taking notes.
Several major events in 2010 and early 2011 indicated the wind was beginning to shift in the other direction.
The number of e-book purchases sailed past hard copy numbers in several categories, firing a warning shot across the publishing bow that the whole world felt. The bankruptcy of Borders was a direct hit, the first of many salvos that are continuing to rock the publishing industry.
The February 2011 Conference was aflame with the recent Borders news, yet highly optimistic about the changing publishing climate. And sessions on self-publishing, or indie publishing as it’s now being called, had an equal presence with those following the traditional, or legacy model.
In March, a new storm hit the publishing world as established author Barry Eisler walked away from signing a two-book, $500,000 contract with St. Martins Press to publish the books himself. And a week later, self-publishing darling Amanda Hocking signed a four-book $2,000,000 contract with the same St. Martins Press.
Needless to say, these two events left many folks scratching their heads.
But when it comes down to the dollars, both decisions make perfect sense. Barry retains control over his story and his release schedule (it can take up to two years for a book to hit the stores after signing with a publisher). What’s more important, and the deciding factor in his decision, is that he can earn more in the long term by publishing the books himself than he could using the traditional model.
Amanda Hocking, on the other hand, gained a legitimacy and recognition that is difficult for self-published writers to attain. She also now has a team behind her to take care of much of the publishing details, freeing her up to do more of what she loves–writing. To read about her decision, I encourage you to visit Amanda’s blog.
As for Amanda’s accounting, some would argue she could have made more by publishing those four books herself. But I don’t think she’s going to be hurting for money, because she still has her self-published titles that are selling well. And as print readers discover her books and visit her website, her self-pubbed works will keep selling.
Ultimately, these two authors did what they felt was in their best interests, and no one should question their decisions.
But we can watch the results of those decisions unfold, and learn from them.
I know I am, and I know which direction I’m heading.
I realize the self-pub route is difficult and requires a lot of work. But so does the traditional, and if I go that route, I have an uphill battle (see December’s ~biases in publishing).
My posts will be infrequent over the next several months as I re-position myself to publish on my own. I have a number of changes to make, both to blog and website, and a lot of preparation to get Watcher ready to hit the market by my target date.
So continue to check back once in awhile for news about the paradigm shift that is shaking up the publishing world. It’s a revolution that’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
The opportunity to express oneself in print is one of the founding tenets of this country. It’s called “Freedom of Speech.”
Yet the biases out there in the publishing world could lead one to think that those controlling the printed word believe differently.
Now, before you think I’m about to go off on some political/gender/racial tangent, what I’m talking about is nothing that you’ll read in the headlines.
In fact, some of you may even laugh! And that’s okay, because there are definitely humorous aspects to the subject of my rant.
And what is the subject? Who are the victims of this publishing bias?
Why, none other than some of our oldest and darkest villians:
And those who write about them.
What!? Is she serious? Come on. We’ve got Twilight and its sequels, we’ve got True Blood, The Vampire Diaries – the list of vampire series in the most popular medium, that of television, seems to be one bloody show after another, and the shelves in the bookstores nearly drip red.
But I am serious. Very serious. Just try pitching something about vampires that you’ve written.
Agents. Publishers. Periodicals.
They all say the same thing in their submission guidelines.
“We love paranormal/supernatural, but don’t send us anything about vampires (or werewolves).” Some of them will include the caveat “unless it is really new and fresh” – but come on. Really now?
How new and fresh is a story of a mousy/shy/outsider girl in high school and the hot guy/Mr. Popular/top jock? I mean, girl meets boy, things get complicated, girl and boy end up together. How frickin’ new and fresh is that?
Or what about the story of someone whose friends/family/life are/is in danger from someone else who wants to expose/ruin/kill them? Or the story of one or more someones who are on a mission/lost/kidnapped that wind up in a foreign culture/land and have to fight bad guys to achieve their goal/get back home?
Get my drift? Not only do popular stories boil down to recurring themes, they are printed and sold by the millions. Why?
Because people love them. People need to step outside their own lives, even if it’s only a paragraph at a time. And they like to step into something a little familiar, and will read the same type of stories over and over. Sometimes they’ll venture from their standard reading fare and try something new, but they usually go back.
And that is just as true for readers of vampire, werewolf, and other paranormal tales. These are readers who need to move a little further away from reality than the average Joe or Joann Blow. They like the edge – a little fear, a little violence, a little blood – encased in a strong dose of the unknown or the supernatural. And for them, all those common themes, like the ones I mentioned above, take on an eerie glow when populated by the paranormal.
The other interesting fact about readers of the supernatural, ESPECIALLY vampire stories, is that they number in the millions. And millions. Worldwide. Just look at the fanbases, old and new, of classics like Dracula, or series like Ann Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire) and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
And what do they want when they’ve read the entire Vampire: The Masquerade series (based on the popular role-playing game) or devoured Twilight and its sequels dozens of times?
Vampire popularity in this country (and many others) ebbs and flows like the tides, but it never ebbs much. Hit movies appear every 4-6 years in an unending cycle of fangs and blood.
You think the current craze for vampires will burn out? That people will tire of these mysterious, fanged beings once the Twilight movies are all done and True Blood/The Vampire Diaries are cancelled and relegated to rerun hell?
Think again. Vampires do not die natural deaths. They are eternal, which is one of the sources of our fascination with them.
The next hot property on the horizon for vampire filmdom?
Dark Shadows, a feature film based on the wildly-popular gothic soap opera that ran from 1966 to 1971.
And if you haven’t heard, you’ll never guess who is not only producing this project (he’s a huge fan of the series), but is also starring as Barnabas Collins, the resident vampire.
And if you think Depp and this movie won’t infuse vampire popularity with new blood, you’ve been in the tomb too long.
Get ready for the next vampire wave.
Dark Shadows is scheduled to begin filming in April 2011, with a projected release date of sometime in 2012.
Agents? Publishers? I doubt any of you will read this blog, but if you were smart, you’d start looking at vampire tales again.
The craving for blood never ends, and neither will demand for stories of those who must drink it.