Book Six of my Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures series will be out on June 20th. Just into the final formatting, writing of a blurb and those last few bits of tidy up before it can get out into the world
Underworld Climbers might even be my personal favorite of the series, so far, but then, usually the most recent thing I’ve written is my favorite.
The cover is by the amazing Luca Oleastri, whose images appear on several of the other Captain Arlon Stoddard books.
Blurb and links and more details coming soon. Meanwhile, this is the wonderful cover. Thanks Luca.
Right now I’m busily preparing three books for publication. I’d like to have them all out by the end of May.
The first, my new novel, continues to trip me up. First, the title was not my working title, but that title doesn’t work. Titles trouble me (sometimes, more on that below). It seems the best one here is the name of the alien species (following Jack Vance’s novels The Dirdir and The Pnume, and doubtless many others.
Also the tag line (another thing that always trips me). “Earth on the verge of annihilation”. Sheesh, really. Well, that’s kind of what it’s about. Kind of.
And then, putting “Aurealis Award Finalist” on the cover by my name. Hmmm. It’s true, I have been a finalist for the award (lost out to Garth Nix there, so that’s okay). But is it okay to put it there when it wasn’t for this story? I guess I’ve kept it by my name, rather than by the title. And many authors do have all sorts all over their covers. Am I bragging too much there? Or in the right way? Should it say “Aurealis Award Finalist Author”? But then I’ve got “Author of Gretel” right underneath and doesn’t “author” twice in tags look silly?
Despite doing this for a few years now, I’m still second-guessing and learning and trying new things. I do like the cover – courtesy of Luca Oleastri/Innovari.
The other two books are stories, one a small collection and one a big collection. The first is titled “Celeste Without Gravity” and the other “Listen, You!”. I do like Celeste’s title (following on from above), not sure about the other.
Anyway, The Cly will be out by the end of this week, Celeste sometime next week and, all going to plan, Listen, You! the following week.
All in time and out of the way to get the next novel Athena Setting (my darling, see previous posts) out in early June.
I’ve been self-publishing/indie publishing for about four years now. Learning as I go. Kind of like a busker or a street performer. Out in public practising. Getting better as I go, I hope. Taking courses and reading books and learning all the time, too.
On occasion, some kind reader buys one or other of my stories, like tossing money into a buskers cap. It’s encouraging. I hope they enjoy the stories they purchase as I practise in public.
With the learning, as soon as I feel I’ve got a handle on the writing, I seem to discover some new technique or approach. Often things that seem obvious. Right away I incorporate that into my writing, with various degrees of success. When I look back over my stories, some I’m very proud of, others seem to have been written by a different person.
The other key thing I’m learning is business. That’s a much tougher road for me. I don’t think I’m a natural entrepreneur, so I have to concentrate. I have to make an effort to take those risks, invest some cash, and push into those realms that are a whole lot more uncomfortable.
One of the things I’m beginning to look at are some of those older stories, with bad covers and terrible blurbs. Case in point: Stone Goddess. It was a fun little story I wrote some years back. It got published in an anthology titled Horror Through the Ages from Lame Goat Press. No monetary payment (at the time I was fine with that: I was happy to be in print). It also got a podcast at Cast Macabre (and seems to be still available, for free). Again no monetary payment.
At some point along the way I realized that giving stories away was not a path to making a livelihood (slow to catch on, I know).
I started putting my stories up on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, Nook and so on. Even putting some of the longer ones in print. I did my own covers. I wrote my own blurbs. Learning all the time.
Now, I’m going back and gradually updating some of those older works with some of the things I’ve learned more recently. So “Stone Goddess” has a new cover. To my embarassment, I’m putting the old cover next to the new. I like the new one better.
I’ve redone the interior too, and added a couple of other stories to fill it up a bit (“Stone Goddess” is kind of short) for some value for money. A new blurb too:
Top Mars researcher Ben James loves getting out into the field. Under the stars. Into the dust and stone. But today something’s amiss. Something’s out there. Calling to him. Something he’s got to find. Even if it means breaking every protocol. A short story from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival. Includes three bonus Mars stories.
I think it could still use some work, but I dare not show the old blurb (omigosh amateur ramblings).
The story is pretty much available at your favorite ebook retailer. I’m thinking about making a print version (though it’ll be slim). If you’ve read this far (thanks) here’s a coupon for a free copy from Smashwords. Click here and enter the following code:
Promotional price: $0.00 Coupon Code: XH22Q Expires: April 26, 2021
Five years was the longest I could set the coupon for. I think you have to create a Smashwords login – if you’d like a copy without all that palaver, just let me know here.
All that said about going back, I am continuing to go forward. Trying to write better stories. Working on having consistent covers. And writing sensible, engaging blurbs.
Back in mid-April I commented on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post about choices. I realized that actually my comment fitted with my own blog and, in fact, could stand expanding.
When I was a teenager and wanting to be a writer and writing lots, I also drew covers for novels I would write someday.
It was kind of self-encouragement: in those days I had no idea how to write a novel. But it was cool to have a pretend cover with my name on it. In the intervening years I might have learned a couple of things about how to write a novel and I’ve practised plenty by writing a fair number of them.
So in January of this year, wondering what to write next, I remembered about that teenage dream. You know what? I sat down and wrote one of those novels. Now I have a book for my cover. Athena Setting. About a space mission gone wrong, a trapped crew about to plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere while the would-be rescuers struggle to come up with a workable plan.
I will, of course, write a more attractive blurb for the release.
Naturally, I also have a new cover for my book (that pencil scratching would look out of place, and it seems is in fact long gone). A wonderful image by Mik3812345 sourced from Dreamstime.com. I’ve tinkered with that a little. I think it helps tell the story. I do think I’ll update that tagline too – maybe “One hundred hours till rescue, ninety hours till impact” which kind of sums it up a little better.
The novel should be out around the end of May (maybe early June) as both an ebook and in print.
But after saying all that, let me tell you, I had such a fun time with the writing of the story. I got to be that kid again. It might not be my best novel, but I hope my sense of fun and adventure comes through. The kid in me can’t wait to hold the book in his hand. And try out writing another one.
Currently I do the illustrations for all of my book covers. I have a little bit of an art background (in fact have even had some exhibitions), so while I’m no professional I like to think that I have a reasonable idea of how to make a reasonable picture. Sometimes my covers work and sometimes not so much. Case in point here is my cover for my story Stone Goddess. I had the idea – to suit the story – of a pile of rocks that kind of looks like a statue. I attempted a blend of the rocks with the image of the statue (all rendered in Bryce). There are some elements that work, but I’m not convinced that this cover is going to sell many copies of the story (I think the story is one of my best, but so far has sold zero copies on Smashwords).
I was following Jeff Ambrose (another writer who’s inspired me on writing goals) and found his post about working on his covers. Now I though his covers were pretty good to start with, but some of his new ones are just leaving me in the dust. Look at the one here (used with his permission for illustrative purposes) for his story The Stone Goddess. Wow (and yikes, practically the same title). That illustration is so professional that it ought to help him sell an awful lot of copies of the story. (I’m terrified to read his story for fear that not only is the cover better, but so is the story).
That said, he is using dreamstime (an online resource where artists sell the rights for the use of their illustrations), so the covers are going to be pretty professional. Maybe I should take a lesson from Jeff and start investing a little money, rather than time – especially when a cover isn’t working out so well.
Maybe I’ll buy one of Jesse-lee Lang’s illustrations (she did the picture on the cover of Jeff’s story), and go head-to-head with Jeff.