Tag Archives: ebooks

Sci-Fi July Redux out now

I mentioned earlier that my little novel Raven Rising is in an awesome bundle with some amazing books from some extraodinary writers. I feel so honored to be dragged along in their wake here.

$7.99 has got to be a bargain.

Available from Bundlerabbit, also Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks

 

“And we’re back! Different authors, different books, but still here to entertain you through the summer and beyond with some neat space opera!

What you will find in this bundle: clones, FTL drive, mystery, bodyguards, conspiracies, romance, nanotechnology, space colonies, seeders, mercenaries and bounty hunters, alien empires, starship battles, space pirates, skymining operations, robots, generation ships, breeding experiments, starships, adventures and other space trouble with aliens and humanoids alike!

Ten novels, some longer, some shorter, of space opera and adventure.”

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Fifty-six submissions

fcrop2I’ve made fifty-six story submissions to various magazines this year. This is the first year I’ve actually kept track and I’m kind of surprised. I knew I kept my stories out there, but I didn’t realize I was sending that many.

A few weeks back, when I’d made about forty submissions, I thought I’d post here when I hit fifty. Except that over the last few days I got a bunch of rejections and the number leapt. Some markets respond very quickly.

I didn’t write fifty-six stories. In fact I’ve only added four new stories to the mix this year. But anytime a story comes back, I send it off again to another market. I think this is fairly standard practice. I’ve heard of writers who make changes and edit on the basis of feedback, but I avoid that. Best to keep it moving to find the editor to which the story is most suited.

In that mix of statistics, I’ve had seven acceptances, and still have twenty-five stories under consideration.

Slowly I’m filtering stories out of the cycle as they age. I throw them to the wolves of Apple and Amazon and other retailers. On occasion readers find them. Even after all that time, I’m honored they find an audience.

I don’t know how the picture relates, but I kind of like it. Bugs crawling around fungi out at Totara Reserve (photo taken by me).

2015: The year that was

japan 1drt6gAs far as writing years go, 2015 was pretty good. I’ve acheived my goals, realized some dreams, and learned a few lessons.

I had numerous publications over the course of the year, and was pleased to be in the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction and Landfall once again. My second stories in each of those magazines, over consecutive years, and that suggests to me that the first wasn’t a fluke. I may actually be doing some things right.

I also had stories in Perihelion, Capricious, Takahe, SQMag and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. A good mix of literary and science fiction.

Good news on the competition front too. I was first equal in the Gernsback Amazing Stories innaugural competition this year for my story “Penny of Tharsis Montes”. That should be out in the first issue in February.

I self-published numerous short stories, and five novels. Sales of these have been unspectacular. Included in the plans for 2016 is more learning about marketing, discoverability and the like. I’m confident I have a good product: I lack the skills to get it noticed.

I’ve also taken more courses and read more books about writing and business. I’ll continue that next year.

As Shadows on the Snow, Kendall and I had a lot of music come out. Kendall’s brilliant at getting the stuff out into the world. Thanks Kendall!

I managed to fit in a jaunt to Japan (hence the photo), which was fabulous. Almost a month there visiting Hiroshima, Kyoto and Naoshima Island among other places, sampling okonomiyaki (yum) and green tea ice cream (not so yum).

For the fourth year running I wrote every day (including on the trip, albeit slower). Also for the fourth year in a row, I wrote over a half a million words. Funny thing; the goal is 500,000, but I hit that on November 19th. With forty-one days left, I wondered what to do. Why not write another novel? So I ran with that. Athena Setting will came in at around 57,000 words and I’ve just finished it tonight, New Year’s Eve (squeaked in at 11.59). These days, it’s not often I’m up at midnight for new year, but there you go. I celebrated finishing the novel (as I usually do) by starting the next piece. Might even be a new novel.

For the first year since starting that word count, I also published over a half million (about 100,000 over that – not bad). I have more words (should say complete stories/novels) written this year and last, that haven’t made it out yet. Next year.

Next year’s goals remain the same, with clear additions. Write every  day, write a half million words, and publish ten novels. Also; learn a whole lot more around business and marketing and so on.

Happy New Year everyone.

 

Unboxing Dashkova

rev magicMy friend Thomas Carpenter is a prolific writer, with several series available. I recently read Revolutionary Magic, book 1 of The Dashkova Memoirs. A wonderful, compelling journey into a sort of steampunk, sort of magical, period Philadelphia. With well-developed characters, complex plotting and a headlong rush to the end, the book is definitely worth a read.

I went ahead and bought the next four books in the series. It was pretty fun unboxing them – the presentation of the series is immaculate. Fabulous covers by Ravven. I can’t wait to get started reading them.
unboxing dashkova 1

The value of a good cover

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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.

NB: Cover Art Copyright © by Jesse-lee-Lang, Dreamstime.com

Above the noise

I’ve been experimenting (if that’s the right word, since I lack a control run) with indie publishing some of my previously published stories that I hold the rights to, as well as some new stories. To begin with I’m putting the stories up with Smashwords since their system is fairly straightforward, and it pushes the items out to other books stores.

Yesterday I uploaded a new story, under a pen name. By today there have already been another 200 or so items uploaded to smashwords (their site loads chronologically, so the latest uploaded item comes to the top – it’s easy to see how quickly you get bumped down the list). How do I, as many writers are saying, rise above all that noise?

Here’s how I see it, with my limited experience. Most of those items aren’t competing with mine – there are self-help books, music scores, young adult novels, romances, free how-to guides and so on. Lots of the rest have lousy covers (sorry to those enthusiastic writers, but seriously, the cover can make a difference). My covers do feel a little rough, but I think I’m doing an okay job with them (especially Lizard Brain). Of the rest, there’s often a dreadful description – something like “Gwilliam the forest gnome makes posies for the fairy picnic, but he’s lost his hat and the kettle’s on the boil so he has to hurry home”. I’m still learning about writing a good blurb, but I want to write something that gets a reader’s interest, not just glosses over the story.

I’m learning and practising, and I think that’s part of the rising above – keep striving, keep writing better, keep thinking. I don’t know why, but an odd story I put up last week, with a very rough cover (low resolution and lumpy), and a quick description is my second-most downloaded (samples only, sales are slim, as in zero) item: more than some items that have been up for more than a month. There might be some things to learn there, I think.

Disclosure – 3am Persledt Eight = 14 sample views since December 13th, Suitcase Nuke = 13 sample views since November 10th. I think Suitcase Nuke is a better title, but who knows. I take another look at the blurb. Maybe that pen name works better than my real name. This is all experimenting anyway.