Monthly Archives: December 2014

…And Now For The Fun Bits

Not those fun bits. Get your mind out of the gutter.

No, this is the annual post where I make big, ridiculous plans and you can all laugh at me next December. Hooray! We’ll make it a huge event: The Chastisement of the Over-Ambitious and Obviously Deluded Author.

Tickets available now. Get ’em while they’re hot!

Let’s make it good.

*drumroll*

There’s a short story coming as soon as e-book distribution thingies are back from the holiday break. That is, if anyone’s interested in something set almost 20 years before Bound… nothing important happened back then, right? Nah.

We’re going to have a novel that one or two of you have been waiting for. Some kind of a sequel… thing. Torn something something? Yeah, that one.

That’s going to be coming in March. My priority is always going to be quality over speed, but I feel like we can at least have the e-book out by then. I’ll keep you posted.

I will be a giant ball of nerves and stress. You might not see much of me through February.

Then there will be a cover reveal, a first chapter reveal, pre-orders, a launch party on Facebook, giveaways, guest posts, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff.*

So that’ll take us through March.

After Torn is out, it’s back to work for me. Book 3 is drafted, but I’ve just had a bunch of ideas on how to improve it, and this means minor-to-major rewrites. And then there’s everything else that comes after that: beta readers, revisions, editing, etc.

But I’m going to go out on another limb here and say that it’s going to be out before the end of 2015. November. Early. Possibly sooner, but October seems like a terrible month to release a book. We’ll see how it goes.

Does that seem like a long way off to you? Trust me, it doesn’t from where I’m standing. It seems like a huge, crazy goal that’s going to require me to somehow break my distraction addiction.

And in the times when that one is resting or with readers or in editing, I’ll be working on a completely different project. I want four novellas starring a certain vampire that you’ve met before ready to go (or at least ready for editing) by the end of the year. I’m planning a big release of the whole shebang in 2016. But more on that later next year.

I’d tell you what I’ll be working on while those are being published, but it’s too nebulous, too uncertain, and quite frankly too exciting to share right now.

This post is, after all, about 2015.

So, to recap:

  • short story
  • publish Torn
  • party party party party
  • publish ______ (almost said it!)
  • party party party party
  • write a handful of novellas in another genre
  • more partying and/or anxiety

And of course we’ll continue to have fun here. There’s a 95% chance I’ll be moving in the spring, and even if it’s hell for me, I’ll share whatever adventures we encounter along the way in the most amusing way possible. In the summer we’ll take some more trips (Fogo Island was fun, right? Guys?), and along the way we’ll have more promotions and cover reveals for Authors Who Are Not Me.

And the mini aquarium! So fun.

And the mini aquarium! Remember? So fun.

On a serious note… I can’t even begin to tell you guys how thankful I am to have had you all in my life this past year. Those of you who have been around for a while gave me the encouragement and kind words I needed to actually push my little project out the door. Some of you went ahead of me and weren’t afraid to talk about your writing and publishing journeys, and I thank you for that. Those of you who have come more recently are the readers I’m doing this for, and your messages, comments, and enthusiasm mean everything to me.

I’m going to stop before I get sniffly. Somebody must be cutting onions over here.

So there we go. Maybe my goals don’t sound like a lot. Maybe they sound insane. But this is what they are.

There are other things in the works… top secret things. But we’ll discuss those another time.

*evil laugh*

*more evil laugh*

*coughing fit*

 

—-

*If you have a blog and would like to help host the cover reveal, release news, an interview, or just about anything else that relates to the book and does not involve embarrassing photos or videos of me**, please let me know! kate.sparkes (at) live (dot) ca

**We can totally post them of you, though.

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Trusting My Instincts (And Where They Took Me This Year)

Some people choose a word at the beginning of the year to be their theme, keep their goals on-track, and direct their work. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I might even try it for 2015.

Again.

See, I have a hard time remembering my word, which makes it somewhat ineffective. But one thing I can do right now is look back at 2014 and spot the One Thing. The lesson I learned. The progress in my personal character arc that this section of my story pulled out of me.

2014 was the year I learned to trust my instincts.

(This is going to be a writing/publishing/sales post. You’re excused if this topic bores you. No hard feelings. We’ll talk about future projects next time, which should be more exciting for most of us. WHEE, FUN!)

See, independent publishing is a wonderful thing, or at least it can be under the right circumstances. But it is a business as much as it is a creative endeavour, and it requires a LOT of decision-making.

And me? I suck at decisions.

Publishing

I find it hard to believe how much happened this year. As of early 2014 I was firmly prepared to get Bound out to the world by publishing it myself. I had considered the options and decided not to seek out an agent and publishing contract for this project. I’d booked an editor, paid my deposit, and was… actually, I was still tearing my hair out over the decision. I knew I had the right editor, I’d picked an amazing cover designer, and I felt confident that I had a solid story even if I knew it still needed work.

But I had doubts. I read success stories, but I read more about people who were excited to be earning coffee money from their books. This is not to say that that’s not an achievement. Reaching even one reader and giving them a story they fall in love with is the goal. To change one person, to have an impact on her… it’s mind-blowing. It’s why I do this.

But when you’re paying several thousand dollars for production costs and want to maintain the same standards on book two, you want to make that back ASAP. And there are no guarantees. None. Amazing books do poorly and crap rises to the top as often as it goes the other way.

And on top of that, there are the well-meaning friends who have gone ahead with publishing their work who tell you, “Yeah, have fun with your book getting ignored. You can’t do it without an agent and a publisher. Trust me.”

It can become difficult to have confidence in your plans, you know? But my instincts told me this was the way to go (emphasis on me–this is not for everyone). My gut said I could do it myself, but I couldn’t go it alone. I couldn’t do my own editing and cover design. But I was starting a business, and those things were the expenses I’d have to handle if I wanted it to have a chance at success. I made the decision, and it felt right.

And yet I still hesitated.

For a real example of how uncertain I was, look no further than the fact that I didn’t officially announce Bound’s upcoming release until after I got edits back and realized that though the manuscript bled red from every page, I could handle the changes.

It’s like not really committing to a relationship until you’re walking down the aisle.

But I digress.

 

The Other Stuff

It wasn’t all about the method of publication, though that was absolutely the biggest decision I had to trust my gut on in 2014.

There were the decisions I had to make about which developmental suggestions to take from my editor. All were good suggestions; not all fit my vision for the story and the direction I wanted to take the series. I stuck to my guns on one huge aspect of the love story, the end of the book, and… actually, I took almost every other suggestion, including re-working the back-story for the entire world.

And it worked. It’s not a perfect book (I don’t believe such a thing exists), but it’s the one I wanted to write.

There was the cover art, and on this I had to trust someone else’s experience and instincts. I wanted something symbolic, but nothing we came up with had the impact a book needs to sell. We talked about a cover with a character on it–an idea I instinctively balked at, but that turned into a cover that has gained a lot of attention from readers. Ravven knows book covers. I don’t. Even when I wasn’t 100% sure on the finished product, I trusted the part of me that said to trust her.

And it worked.

There was the question of going with Amazon’s KDP Select and gaining extra promo opportunities, or distributing more widely. That’s its own post, and we’ve talked about it before. I stayed out of Select, and have only occasionally and temporarily regretted that decision. Have I missed some opportunities to promote? Yes. Has Amazon punished me for it? Absolutely not. I sell over 90% of my books there. They’ve been amazing.

So yeah, that seems to be working for me. Whew!

I had to decide whether to heavily promote Bound when it was my only book, or put that time and energy into working on the next one. I chose the latter.

No regrets there.

There were lovely e-mails from people at companies I won’t name here asking about audio rights or publication opportunities. I accepted one offer and regretfully declined discussion on another that I’d have jumped at a year ago, but that didn’t fit my plan for this series at this time.

That was a tough one. I do hope to work with those people on another project some day. But I followed my instincts again, and I feel good about my decision.

There was the pricing issue. There’s some pressure to release a first novel at 99 cents to try to get more impulse purchases, or to make it free just on the off chance that people might read it if it’s in their Kindles. I struggled with this for a long time. I had invested a lot into this book, both in time and money. I had an eye-catching cover, a blurb that I thought worked, and a sample that I trusted to draw readers in. My gut told me to let those things to do their job and let the sales come as they may.

There’s nothing wrong with 99 cent sales, or 99 cent releases, or perma-free first books in series. You have to do what works for you, and I’ll do occasional sales in the future. But I knew that three bucks was a hell of a deal for this book. Heck, $4.99 is a bargain. Amazon says I should price it higher, but I don’t.**

I’m doing what feels right for me when it comes to pricing, price changes, and sales. I’m not dropping the price just to chase Amazon ranking. I’m gathering honest review. I’m trying to really connect with people through social media instead of spamming.

Everything is about long-term strategy, and so far, it’s working.

 

The results of trusting my instincts

How well is it working?

Ugh. I hate to talk about it, but I do find it helpful when other authors share results, so here goes.

Thanks to a combination of factors***, Bound stayed in the top 10 of several sub-category Best Seller lists all summer, and sat at #1 on two of them for quite a while. It’s still in two top 50’s, and in the top 100 of a third six months after release.

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^Back in June. Aah, memories!

 

At its best day, it was in the top 500 overall on Amazon.com. At its lowest, it’s hovered around 10,000. I expect this to keep dropping, and that’s fine. Really. Juuuust fine.

*anxiety explosion*

As of the six month mark (Christmas Eve), it had sold over 15,000 copies in e-book.

It’s not NYT Bestseller stuff by any stretch, but not at all bad for a debut from an unknown indie author with no massive social media following, no industry connections, no money for promotion, no offering the book for free (except as advance review copies) and thus far no 99 cent sales.

I put the number here simply to add another entry to the “Yeah, this is possible” column. You hear a lot about how “the wild west land of indie publishing opportunity is over,” but it’s still possible for readers to discover your book. There is hope. Always.

Have I made mistakes and missed opportunities? Absolutely. And I will continue to make them, and miss them. But I will also continue to read as much as I can on the industry, on what people are doing that works, and what doesn’t. I find that my instincts only work if I feed them with information.

That’s why I’m posting this for you to read. I don’t care to talk about money. I hesitated to even post sales numbers. But it’s time for me to give back to the author community that has supported me, and as I’m not comfortable offering advice, I’ll share experience. I hope my experiences will help feed your instincts.

This isn’t a road map, though.

There’s no one right way to do this, and I mistrust anyone who says there is. For me, the key is being informed, staying flexible, making decisions I’m comfortable with, never taking advantage of others for my own gain, being grateful for everything, and above all maintaining my commitment to producing quality work.

Your mileage may, of course, vary.

You know what? I’m calling my word for next year. It’s going to be Flexibility.

There’s an 80% chance that this is the same word I chose last year, but that’s fine. It’s working. It means learning, it means shaking off the negative and steering for the positive. It means trying new things that might not work out, but that I also might learn from.

Next post, we’ll set some goals and talk about upcoming releases. YAY!

 

So tell me: What did you learn this year, either in your personal or professional life? Anything that might help the rest of us out?

 

**Mostly because I almost never pay more than $5 for an e-book myself, unless it’s a box set, something that I’m desperate to have, or occasionally to support author friends. I like e-books, but their limitations mean I won’t pay paperback prices for them. $5 for something I’m only licensing for personal use seems reasonable to me.^

^That said, never say never. As the industry changes, so will my opinions and tactics. This is a faintly-drawn line in the sand, not a stone wall. Flexibility!

***We can talk about this in another post, if anyone cares to. I have theories. But this post is already way too long.

 


ROW80 Recap Post (or: Most Boring Post Title Ever)

Yeah… no WIPpet Wednesday this week. Sorry, guys.

But I will give you this teaser snippet. I’ve got a short story almost ready for you. Some of you saw a pre-edit draft here a while back. Others will find it completely new. Either way, it’ll be my gift to you (at least until it eventually goes Amazon exclusive and I have to charge a whole 99 cents for it).

Coming soon.

bindingteaser1

 

Okay, on to the looking back bit.

Goal #1: Finish drafting Bound Trilogy Book Three

COMPLETED. I flew through that one faster than anything I’ve drafted before, thanks to better outlining than I usually do. I was pleased to find that there was plenty of room for surprises… maybe a little too much, as the draft currently sits at 130,000 words. Good words, but still.

I’m exactly half-way through revisions now.

 

Goal #2: Self-edit Torn one more time before it goes for professional edits.

COMPLETED. My beta readers had wonderful suggestions for me, and I incorporated most of them. Editor J.E. took the book a week ago, and last I heard is making good progress. It’s kind of a crazy time of year, and I hope he’s taking Christmas off, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting this thing back in early January and getting back to work on it.

And then we might just get a release date. And plan pre-orders. And, and, and…

 

Goal #3: Short Story

Okay, I’d hoped to have it out for Christmas, but a) it’s not exactly a feel-good Christmas cheer thing, and b) distribution is pretty much shut down most places for the holidays, so it can wait a little longer. But it’s edited, I made a cover (sorry guys–can’t do my regular artist for a free story!), it’s formatted, and it’s ready to go. I’m calling this COMPLETED.

 

Other Goals:

Listen to two podcasts a week – not even close.

Beta reading – COMPLETED

Other reading – I read several books. Besides the beta reading, I finished Behind the Scenes (Dahlia Adler), The Virgin Cure (Ami McKay), Blink (Malcolm Gladwell), Moon Bound (Sylvia Frost), Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell), Here Be Dragons: Strange Creatures of Newfoundland and Labrador (Bruce Hynes), and am making my way through UnSouled (Neil Schusterman). All great books.

I should really do a review of The Virgin Cure on here, or a more complete one on Goodreads, but I haven’t recovered yet. Seriously, so good.

Didn’t read a writing-related book (still can’t get into Writing 21st Century Fiction a year after I bought it), but I asked for Save the Cat for Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Audiobook release – we did a giveaway, it was fun. I still haven’t managed to listen to the whole thing yet, myself. It’s nothing against the production or the actors, I just can’t do audiobooks. They sound so different from how I read in my head. That said, I still have a few copies for people who love them… we’ll have to have that as a party prize at the Torn release party. 😀

Use Duolingo to learn French – I actually forgot about this. The boys lost the iPad for a few weeks, and I got off track. Better get back to it.

 

So there we have it. Not all complete successes, but I hit all of the big ones and won NaNoWriMo.

We’ll see what comes next round. 🙂

Link back below to your wrap-up posts if you’ve been participating! I want to come say hi.

 

 

 


Torn Asunder by Alana Terry~A Chance to Give a Bit Back


A Gift from Jack Frost

Anyone remember that scene in Bound when Rowan described Aren’s scar?

“Fainter scars branched out from it, spreading across his shoulder and ribs, silver in the dim moonlight that filtered through the curtains. They reminded me of the patterns that show on a window after a frost, or vines climbing a wall.”

This morning, we found these beautiful ice designs on our front porch. Kind of cool, right?

Thanks, winter!

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Cover Reveal: Flames of Redemption by Fallon Brown

That’s right, time for another cover reveal! This one’s from Fallon Brown, who many of you know from WIPpet Wednesdays.

Without further ado… Flames of Redemption (Release date: January 2015)

FlamesofRedemptionSmallerWebUse

Cover Design: Marianne Nowicki @ Premadeebookcovershop.com

 

 

Kayla Brooke has firefighting in her blood. She followed her father’s footsteps into the Crystal Glen Fire Department, but when she shows an interest in the whys, she moves into her uncle’s path; fire investigation. Fighting the flames has cost her: a man she thought she’d loved and friends taken by the flames that call to her. After her fiance walked out on her because he could handle what she was, she never expected another man to light a different kind of fire in her blood. Until Adrian Riley ran into her life.

Adrian Riley came from a family of cops, but he decided to start over in a town where no one knows his family. Now, on the fast track to promotion, he thinks this new case could be the key to proving himself. Then, he butts heads with a hotheaded firefighter on the scene, and his whole world turns upside down. She could be the key to everything, or the one weakness that could take him down.

They fight the sparks that threaten to burn them both. But, once they light, there’s no stopping the blaze. Kayla’s been burned before, but this time the flames may consume her. When more fires start, they know it’s more than a simple case. But, when the arsonist seems to have turned his attention to Kayla, Adrian will do everything within his power to keep her safe, even stand between her and the fire.

Add to your TBR on Goodreads here

 

EXCERPT:

Yet he found he wanted to take care of her. Not like she would allow it. Still, he reached out and brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. She looked shocked by the gesture. “How much sleep have you gotten?” he asked.

She stepped back from him, bringing her own fingers to touch the lock of hair. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I can still do the job.”

“I never said you couldn’t.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Look, I don’t really know what your problem is with me. The only thing I’ve tried to do so far is my job. Are you really going to hold that against me?”

“Your job sucks, then. Coming to question us when we’re grieving for our friend. Crashing his funeral. We should be able to have those moments.”

“I didn’t question any of you. I was only there observing. Watching for some suspicious behavior. Anything that might give me a clue to who did this.”

“You think that’s so much better? What, do you think one of us did it?”

He kept silent at that accusation, not quite sure what to say to her. She apparently took it as confirmation. “You do, damn it.” She held her hands out in front of her. “Well, why don’t you arrest me now, Detective, if you think I’m guilty.”

“I never said you were guilty, or that I even thought that.” His voice was low, the calmness not matching the turmoil he felt. No, the anger boiled in his veins.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Fallon Brown was born and raised in a tiny town in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. At one time, she dreamed of having a cabin in the woods or mountains where she could be left alone to write. Instead she spent three years studying psychology before realizing that wasn’t for her. She now lives outside of a slightly larger small town in the same corner of her home state with her husband, two children, dog, and cat.

She spends her days interfering in the lives of fictional characters while trying to keep a semblance of a clean house. Often the clean house bit fails. She published her first novel, Duty to Protect, in April of 2014, and with all the characters crowding in her head, there is more to come.

 

You can find her around the online world at:

 

Blog: https://fallonbrownwrites.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frbrown906

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fallon-Brown/110648795680839?ref=bookmarks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8137139.Fallon_Brown

 


Fall Into Fantasy: The Meratis Trilogy by Krista Walsh

Note from Kate: HOLY CARP. This is the last week! And we’re ending things with a fantastic trilogy. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Evensong (as in pre-release, so I get to be a hipster fan) and adored it. The series is still going strong, and I highly recommend picking up book one and/or entering the giveaway at the bottom of the post. -K

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 17: Meratis Trilogy

Book One: Evensong

By Krista Walsh


Author Jeff Powell wakes up to find the impossible has happened. He is within his own novel—summoned into the fictional world of Feldall’s Keep by a spell he didn’t write. One the House enchantress hasn’t figured out how to reverse.

When the villain he’s been struggling to write reveals himself, unleashing waves of terror and chaos, Jeff must use more than his imagination to save the characters he created—and the woman he loves.
Trapped within a world of his own creation, he must step outside the bounds of his narrative to help his characters defeat an evil no one anticipated, even if he must sacrifice his greatest gift. In the end, he has to ask: are novels really fiction, or windows into other worlds?

Buy it from: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iTunes

Or add it to Goodreads

ABOUT KRISTA WALSH

Known for witty, vivid characters, Krista Walsh never has more fun than getting them into trouble and taking her time getting them out. After publishing a few short stories and novellas in various anthologies, she has now released her own anthology, the serial collection Greylands. When not writing, or working at her day job, she can be found reading, gaming, or watching a film – anything to get lost in a good story. She currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Find Krista online: Website  Facebook  Twitter






Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
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