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Archive for the ‘A writer’s life’ Category

I really should blog more. That way I don’t cram up important posts with all the things I’ve been up to.

I’m currently marking for Uni so that’s something I have to do. It’s going okay and I’ll finish in time. Yesterday was a fasting day so not a good time to be reading lots of stories that I have to grade without the aid of chocolate and chips. However, I have survived so far.

My partner and I just finished a film making workshop with Dan Sanguineti from Sanguineti Media. We had three nights 6-9pm, to plan a two to three minute movie, including brainstorming ideas, come up with a script, actors (Dan supplied those), storyboard and plan the shots and lighting and so on. Then we filmed the movie on Saturday night 6- to 11.30pm with cold temperatures etc. Then on Sunday, we edited the film and did the sound. High five to Shauna O’Meara and Craig Cooper and to Josh and Dan. Just under two minutes! The Key now exists. Later on in the year I’ll share it. Right now it will be doing festival rounds etc.

Doing the workshop was amazing. It is a really hard thing to come up with a story that has a beginning, middle and end in two and a half pages of script. Writing a script was on my bucket list– so tick. I want to thank my partner, Matthew, who basically found the workshop, paid the fees and encouraged others to come along. I did not think I’d have a short film to my credit until now. I didn’t have much idea of how the workshop would pan out but it was great. I learned so much. I have heaps more to learn obviously and more scripts to write.

That brings me to now. Last year I drafted a novella in the Silverlands Series while I was in Perth. Recently, I polished it up and had it proofread and found an amazing cover. Vorn and the First Comers is available now in most large eretailers and it’s free. Yes, that’s right…free!

The novella is a few things. It’s part of a larger collections of stories from Argenterra. One of the characters in Argenterra is Kushlan Silvertongue and he’s a storyteller. If you are familiar with Argenterra, the first book, you know that tales from the past are very important to the narrative and important to the people of Argenterra. I had the idea that Kushlan would be tasked with writing these down. Vorn and the First Comers is the first of these. There will be others…such as Goslien of the Valley, Faruni’s Triplets, Shabra’s Curse and so on.

I’ll be releasing each of these tales before combining them into a collection.

This then is part of a gift to my readers. You get Vorn and the First Comers for free.

The other function of the novella is for readers to get a taste of Argenterra and then get the rest of the series if it interests them.

Here is the Amazon link.

Here is the Apple Books link.

Here is the Kobo link

Here is the Barnes and Noble link

Here is the Googleplay link.

My next task is to get this novella in My Books section.

Blurb and cover (from Patty Jansen)

A choice between life or death…

Kushlan Silvertongue has been commissioned to write the Tales of the First Comers, Tales of Argenterra.

This novella is the story of Vorn and the First Comers and their journey from violence and death to the beautiful magical land of Argenterra, the Silverland.

Mighty warrior, Vorn, leads the survivors to a new land and sets in motion a civilisation that lasts for over one thousand years.

Discover the origins of the given magic and how the first comers made the oaths that secured that magic forever.

 

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Currently I am living with my partner and his father.

I am pretty much an on the go person, except when I’m not. Recently I have been on the go. Baking bread, trying to weave (both fixed heddle and four shaft), write, bake, teach, study…

I fear I probably need a sedative as I am interesting to watch apparently. Maybe I don’t know how to relax.

Meanwhile, I am finding it hard to focus on the PhD novel. This post is probably an example.

It is just that there is so much to do and life is so short and I know I’ll never get to do all the things…and it makes me anxious!

Maybe I should just take a pill or meditate on what is important and reasonable.

Here is a picture of my 100 per cent Rye bread, first time ever. It’s all gone too. So yummy.

IMG_4680 2

I’ll be posting about my new novella next.

 

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It’s been a long time between posts and I really don’t have an excuse. Life if just hectic at times. I’ve also decided that my daughter and her new baby will come first this year. That decision requires refoccusing. And I’ve been baking bread, particularly sour dough. It’s therapeutic!

Still on the writing front things have been plodding on. At times, I do not understand this industry. I love writing and making up stories but at times it is hard to be positive about the longer term. Selling a book a day is not sustainable. I will try though to keep positive!

Emerald Fire, Cry Havoc Book Two was free on Amazon for five days and people downloaded a lot of it (635). I was shocked. Ruby Heart , Cry Havoc Book One, hardly had any downloads in comparison and that was the book one (about 120). I umed and ahed about putting a book 2 on for free but I did and I’m not sure what it all means. I think my newsletter subscribers are waiting for Ruby Heart to be discounted again so they can have the set. I love writing this series so much. So much fun and research. I will be discounting Ruby Heart in May, which Emerald Fire goes wide.

Meanwhile, Argenterra, Silverlands Book one, has been 99 cents on all platforms for the whole of April. The sale ends on April 30. I even had a paid promotion and I’ve only shifted like 25 copies all up. That’s with newsletter shares and so on. The weird thing is the sell through on Argenterra appears pretty good. People do buy the next books in the series. I love the new covers. I’ll put links below in case you are tempted to sample.

I love the Silverlands series. Argenterra was the first fantasy I tried to write. My second novel ever, rewritten many times before it was ever published. I love the Argenterra world and the characters and the stories of the history.

You have until April 30 to get your 99 cent copy.

Buy links

amazon ibooks Kobo Google Nook

I have a collection of stories from Argenterra planned, ostensibly told from Kushlan Silvertongue’s point of view as commissioned by King Oakheart. A bit of a literary conceit there, having a story teller tell the story.

I’ll be releasing the stories one by one, at first, to introduce readers to the world of Argenterra and an extra for fans of the series. When they are done I will release them as a collection in one volume. They will be free or 99 cents.

The first one of these will be released in a couple of weeks as it is with the proofreader right now. That tale is Vorn and the First Comers, an appropriate place to start. I have thought about writing Vorn’s story as a prequel novel so the novella doesn’t cover the war, just the trip to Argenterra and early settlement. Here is the cover below. It’s from Patty Jansen’s premade cover store and I’ve been eyeing it off for ages.

It is stunning. It is a generic fantasy cover, I know, but evocative and beautiful.

Over the Easter break I did some writing, well technically revision as this novel was drafted years ago and I’m still working on it. I had feedback that meant I needed to change the title and confirmation of my thoughts on this SF romance of mine.

It’s a story that wants to be just SF without the romance, or it’s an SF romance that wants to be romance. In the end, I’ve decided to make it SF with romance on the side. You might think there is no difference, but there is.

Anyway I spied this cover on Patty’s site and I had been eyeing it off. My partner, Matthew, thinks Deleen’s pose is too sexy, but I think the cover is deliciously retro looking and reminds me some 80s’ covers of books say from Lois McMaster Bujold.

My great author buddy, Nicole Murphy, asked for the draft and she read it in one day. I’m gobsmacked! She gave me some great feedback and came up with the new title. The old one was ‘Cold Soldier’.

Patty was really good about retitling this cover many times. I haven’t got a blurb for this yet. They usually come last. I’m still working on the story too. This book having an identity crisis borked me from getting very far into the rewrites over the years. Now, I’m two thirds in and I’ll need to revise it again, but I feel I have better direction. It is also part of a planned series but not a trilogy. The stories should work on their own. Awakening should come out later this year. After I’ve done a few things like this blog post, I will return to it today.

No blurb as I said, but a bit of a teaser.

On peaceful Colony Five there is a coup in progress. The administrator is mysteriously replaced and security advisor, Deleen is sent on forced leave.  Previously unknown cryo soldiers are being taken out of people’s basements and burned in the city parks. People hiding the cold soldiers are being taken away and charged with treason. Disturbing as this is for Deleen, she senses danger as a kind of martial law is being enforced in the city. Then she starts having dreams of a man asleep in a glass case-a suppressed memory that is forcing its way out. She escapes the city her abandoned homestead to confront the past and save the present.

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For a while now I have had this thing that I thought was old age creeping up on me. Tiredness, fatigue, headaches on waking and feeling generally slow. Feeling like I couldn’t drive for more than half and hour. Really struggling with everything. I was tested for mysterious diseases and as I have Hashimoto’s disease, my thyroid (which is mostly good on its own atm) and zero. Nothing in the blood work to explain it.

We had suspected sleep apnoea as I snore and it’s been getting worse. My partner noticed choking in the night and I had too.  I was put on the waitlist at the Canberra Hospital to see the sleep clinic people. I was told by the hospital that I had been triaged to a six month appointment. It’s been 14 months and I still haven’t got an appointment date.

So there is a wait list for the wait list for a sleep study. I guess the ACT government doesn’t advertise the first wait list just the one when you get on the waitlist.

I get insomnia and restlessness and I had been sleeping less and less.  I put this down to getting older.

Anyway, the chemist had a 50 per cent off deal on sleep studies. You take a machine home and wear it for the night. It measures your oxygen levels, your breathing etc. I had the worst night’s sleep that night and had some insights into my sleep besides the suspected apnoea. I was staying up later and later watching Netflix. I played with my phone and if I woke up I’d pick up my phone until I felt tired again and I was drinking caffeine before bed. I realised that these were bad habits that were affecting what little sleep I was allowing myself.

Then I got the results back. I thought there would be none due to the appalling sleep but there were. I had sleep apnoea. Moderate but considering how badly I had the machine on, I was surprised that there were any readings at all. My oxygen lows were into the 80 per cent and I had around 20 obstructions and narrowing of airways per hour. Now wonder I was feeling mentally and physically low.

I’m still waiting for my appointment at the hospital as I have a range of sleep issues and the chemist tests don’t pick up the neural issues-when your brain forgets to tell you to breathe.

I decided to trial the ACAP machine. This is a new generation machine apparently as it doesn’t blow constant air, but ramps up the pressure when it feels a narrowing or stop breathing thing.  I am trialling this machine. I don’t find it obtrusive. It’s not noisy at all. I have a nose only mask and it’s a soft silicone so no hard bits. At times I think I forgot to put it on but when I touch my face it is there. Sometimes I think it’s not working and lift the mask off and air blows all over me. Anyway, I manage to wear it for 7.5 hours on average. Apparently that’s good. My obstructions have dropped to 4 to 5 per hour.

Before I started the trial I changed a few habits that I had developed. Only decaf tea after about six in the evening or a milo/hot chocolate. I turn Netflix/DVD watching off before 10.30. I don’t look at my phone in bed and I try to read a paper based book for half an hour before I sleep. This has worked for me too, mostly. I still get some insomnia and go for a walk around the house. I suspect the waking up is me choking at night and the machine has woken me when it is blasting me with air to open a blockage or to make me breathe. I’m hoping the sleep specialist if I ever get to see one will know more about that.

But best of all, I feel great. I am so energetic and mentally alert. It’s like I’ve dropped ten years in a week. I feel so much better I feel that I can cope better with the bad knees (also wait listed for an appointment for them!) and the other dramas life throws at us. Just getting more air at night has made such a difference.

I really, really can’t believe how good I feel.

I’m so happy with the result. Now if I could tackle the insomnia (which has improved) and the restlessness (mmm) my sleep would be great.

Now I just have to find the money to buy the machine when the trial is up.

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I know it’s only October but…

Things speed up this time of year.

I was going to China for two weeks at the beginning of November and then to Perth for the last week of November but that’s changed. My son has to go to the USA so we cancelled my China trip. I’m kind of sad about that because I miss my son and it’s hard knowing that the rhythm of his life is so different to mine. However, I am extremely lucky my two daughters live close by and all my grandchildren have been living close too.

Now that I will be around for most of November, I can do NaNoWriMo! Happy dance.

I have finished editing up Ruby Heart, which I got back from my agent. It didn’t sell obviously. But after cutting out some superfluous sex and violence, I think the fault is mostly mine and maybe some of it is the industry. I know so much more about the market when I wrote it and when it got taken up by the agent. It was sort of YA and then leaped into adult and back to YA. After the slashing it is now YA/cosy level I think. There’s still a bit of action and violence but nothing like before. Ruby Heart is a steampunk/paranormal romance, with gothic horror and cosy mystery tropes. It features Jemima Hardcastle who is way too clever for her own good.

I commissioned covers for Ruby Heart and the sequel Emerald Fire. As Emerald Fire is only half written, so guess what my NaNoWriMo project is. I have to believe I can get this done around my other commitments. I’ve done my tax return and that usually frees up my mind. And I will certainly do a cover reveal when I get the covers.

I also commissioned new covers for the Silverlands series and we will see how that goes. I’m going to rework the blurbs for that series too.

Anyway, I must return to the grindstone. I’m meant to be focussing on uni and the PhD today.

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but as I’ve just put in my tax return  the timing seems right.

First up, self publishing/indie publishing has been great for me on many levels. I’ve never felt so good about my writing. It’s liberating, hard work and fun. I’m not rich. I’ve not made it big. But I’m happy!

I also scored a short listing for Beneath the Floating City, my collection of SF stories. That was a lovely surprise.

My sales figures are not to hand but I’ll try to give an indicative account.

My Bookbub last year allowed me to give away 27,000 copies of Shatterwing. I was also book of the week on ibooks Australia

I also used Instafreebie (now called Prolific Works) to give out free copies and to build my newsletter subscribers. That’s a bit harder to count but it is in the thousands as well. I also give away Argenterra and Beneath the Floating City. If you are looking for freebies then the newsletter sign up below will give you access to those.

Earnings from royalties from books and direct cash sales is $4500 approximately.

My expenses were $6300 approximately. Most of that was on editing, proofreading, a new laptop, toner and other product related things. So I made a loss. I thought I made a profit because I still had money in my book account, but then I realised I had invested more money in my books before the end of the financial year.

I had a international Bookbub for Dragon Wine Volume One-a box set of the first two books for 99 cents in July this year (so not included in the figures above). That wasn’t huge but the investment by readers in the series has been great. I’ve had the best response in people buying the rest of the series, particularly in the UK. I sold 327 books in July. In the UK that was 160 of my box set. I didn’t get a USA Bookbub so did some newsletter swaps and had sales of Dragon Wine in the USA too, but without the hefty price tag. In the following month I sold 360 books on Amazon. In the USA that was 142 sales, UK 173 and in September sales were around 63 units across the Amazon stores.

The upshot is I have money in the bank and I’m thinking of using it to put new covers on the Silverlands series. Argenterra doesn’t sell as well as it should and I think that’s because the cover I asked for was trying to depict what was going on in the novels, rather that speaking to the genre. They are epic fantasy and I need covers that call out to epic fantasy readers. An expensive newbie mistake.

These earnings amounts are small. Yes. That’s true. But they are also a damn sight more money than I saw through traditional publishing.

I haven’t invested in a big way with advertising. I might try that next year. I have done Bookbub, Bargain Booksy and newsletter swaps this year. All have been worth it to find new readers.

For the quarter July, August and September I earned $1500. I had a book launch so that accounted for quite a bit of that, but there were expenses of the launch too.

Right now I’m thinking about my strategy and tasks for 2019. I hope to build on what I have done this year.

I have these books out

Traditional published with Harlequin

Spiritbound by Dani Kristoff

Bespelled  by Dani Kristoff

Invoked by Dani Kristoff

Rayessa and the Space Pirates under my name

Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures under my name

Self/indie published under my name

Opi Battles the Space Pirates

Shatterwing

Skywatcher

Deathwings

Bloodstorm

Skyfire

Moonfall

Argenterra

Oathbound

Ungiven Land

Beneath the Floating City (short story collection SF)

Through These Eyes (short story collection Magic realism)

Under Dani Kristoff

A Sorcerer’s Spell

I have also put out

Dragon Wine Volume One, Two and Three, which are box sets of two dragon wine books. I’ll be putting out a complete set but like the Silverlands Series that will only be available on Ibooks and Kobo.

That’s 13 books put out by me and 5 with traditional publishers. But a lot more when you include box sets by way of products.

I’m hoping to put out 2-4 books out next year. Stay tuned.

Here is the amazing cover art for the complete series of Dragon Wine.

 

For free books and good deals and news from me sign up to my newsletter.

 

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This last weekend (29 September to 1 October) was Conflux, Canberra SF convention. I love these conventions. They are cosy and intimate and surprisingly new faces appear among the old friends. For the first time in my life I had a very busy schedule at an SF convention. I also had a table selling books and a book launch, with some fund raising for GUFF thrown in.

In the week prior to Conflux, I went to Bourke on a creative and cultural trip through the university. More about that in another post. That meant I had to have everything prepared for Conflux and the launch prior to leaving. I was crazy busy doing that. Without my wonderful partner, Matthew, who collected books for me from the post office while I was a way I would have been insane before the convention started.

First up, I was on a panel about Kick arse (ass) heroines in SF on TV. Principally, we were talking about Star Trek Discovery, The Expanse and Lost in Space. I managed to convince Keri Arthur to join the panel as there was just me and Andrew Old. For some reason I thought Andrew was chairing this panel and, unfortunately, I was totally wrong about that. It seems that I was meant to be leading the discussion. We got through that panel all right. I have convinced Andrew Old that Toby Stephens is sexy in Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Now he’s tagging me on Facebook with pictures of Toby Stephens in a singlet and so on. Haha. That’s funny. We all loved these three shows. Keri said Naomi in the Expanse reminded her of Zoe in Firefly.  Firefly was ahead of its time. Or the rest of the universe is catching up. I think Lost in Space is a real, sit up and watch with regards to feminising SF or the feministisation of SF. Love it.

Then it was a short break while I set up for my book launch. As I was away in Bourke, I couldn’t bake so I paid for someone to bake some cupcakes for me. I asked Leife Shallcross who she had do her cupcakes for her launch because they were amazing. There was only a week so not much time to do something too fancy. Listya made vanilla cupcakes with lemon butter filling and butter icing swirls in red and yellow to give the impression of flames, you know dragon flames. They were stunning to look at and drop dead yummy. I ate two of them. I also had bubbly, dips and nibbles and quiches. As it was the last two books in the Dragon Wine series, I was celebrating as well as launching. Many of the people in the audience were people who helped me along the way. I was touched by their support and with friends coming from outside the convention to be at the launch.

Nicole Murphy did my launch speech and it was amazing. She spoke so well (and now I have to learn to improve my public speaking) and I was moved to tears. Not only did she talk about the series and the underlying themes, she also recited the first lines from Shatterwing. She delivered these lines so well.

Here is what she recited.

In the velvet dark of space hovers Shatterwing, the fragments of a broken moon. Vestiges of decaying power crackle and twist in among the debris orbiting Margra, sending rock and dust to rebound off the atmosphere, sometimes piercing its envelope to plummet to the planet’s surface. Yet something approaches, something disturbs the precarious balance. Another piece of dead moon breaks away, larger and more deadly as it plunges to the world below…

What touched me was the words she said about hope and how hope is important for survival and that it was threaded through the work. Thank you awesome Nicole Murphy.

 

I have to say a special thank you to Matthew too. He did the sales for me and he was great. Well done!

 

Launch cupcakes a bit blurred. Sorry!

I was down to give a paper on SF romance and consent. A repeat of my paper I gave at IASPR. Funny thing I was so hyper I spoke very fast. I wasn’t nervous as such, just very revved. I have been for weeks and weeks.

After that, I also attended book launches. Kaaron Warren had her two books launched at Verity in town. Then I snuck off with Keri Arthur and we ate Chinese food at Sammy’s. After that we popped into Koko Black because it was too damn early to go home.

Here are some photos from the club where the launch was held. The first one is the crowd, with Robert Hood talking there. Then Keri Arthur and Leife Shallcross, then Lee Murray doing the launch speech with Kaaron Warren looking on and the last one is a picture of the crowd looking on.

I shared a table with Catherine M Walker and I am so grateful to her and my partner Matthew as they covered the table most of the time while I was off being on panels, going to launches or just saying hello to people.

Sunday I had a panel at 9.30  about Unconventional Publishing, with David Henley, Dion Perry and with chair Ion Newcombe. This was tapped for a radio program and it was interesting and fun too. Dion kept coming up with some really key points and David and I talked about our experiences. I think overall it covered a lot of ground. I was interviewed for a radio show by Elizabeth Newman about writing, publishing and the Dragon Wine series. She was easy to talk to and we went over time, of course!

Then it was a talk about my GUFF trip and the upcoming race to send a fan or fans to Dublin. Except well no one showed at first. There was some competition with other panels and tiredness.  I think the panel should have been called- How to get to Worldcon in Dublin?

Here is a picture of some of the highlights from the GUFF auction. I made the tote bags and some of the stuff was donated by Cat Sparks and Robert Hood and I bought the NZ chocolate in New Zealand.

I managed to get John Morris to come in and Garry Dalrymple was there too. It was kind of weird because John was in Helsinki and had met the people in some of the photos. After that we had the fan fund auction. Again not a lot of interest from people. It was probably due to no Finnish sweets! They sell really well. But we did have people who were wonderful and supportive. That’s to Simon, Keri, John, Graham, Garry and then Nicole and Kat who popped in. Gillian Polack was also on the GUFF panel and auction and she bought a few things. We did have NZ chocolates! We sold them. A lot of stuff we put away for Continuum next year. We made a reasonable sum. We also sold things from the table. All up not too shabby.

Then there was the amazing Hand of Knaves book launch. Hand of Knaves is the latest anthology from the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and some of the author read from their stories. The readings were top class. I had to get me a copy. There was the banquet after that. It was nice and the company on the table was great. The food was a bit weird, which is strange because Vibe do great food. There was chicken (yum) and a vegetarian meal as the alternate. I got the vegetarian and beside from the sweet potato mash, it was a bit blah. You know, normally, it’s the beef or chicken.

Some pictures from the launch. The first one is Leife Shallcross one of the editors and David Versace, blue t-shirt one of the authors. Robert Porteous is the pirate and he has a story in there too.

Next up two of the readers. I’ll have to come back to put their names in.

Then a shot with Chris Large, the other editor with Leife doing the launch.

 

Next up some shots from my table at the banquet. First up, Keri Arthur, Catherine Walker and Alex.

To my left was Jane Virgo, Graham Cheers, Carton (X) and Amanda Dalziel.

Monday morning it was me, Keri and Dione talking about the 10 things that we wished we knew about self-publishing before we did it. Feedback was that panel was great. We went overtime by accident. We talked about how liberating it was, about how hard it is to market and the amount of admin. We had preplanned all this so it was just go and we had thoughts about ISBNs and Vellum and basically we didn’t get through the ten things and we had 14 of them.

Dawn Meredith launched her book, with the launch speech by Gillan Polack. The cake looked great and was yummy too.

After that, Keri and I were both attending Aiki Flinthart’s Writing Fighting Scenes for Women workshop. It was fantastic. Great stuff Aiki! While we were at the dead dog party, we were convincing Catherine M Walker to do a workshop on police procedural for writers…she’s a cop. Then we sort of had her down for doing workshops at other conventions and so on. I really hope she knows we are serious.

I really like the food at the Vibe Hotel at the airport where Conflux took place, so we went to have dinner there after the convention. It was so good. There was six of us. Good conversation. Great laughs. Delicious food.

Here are some selfies of Keri and me. They are kind of a tradition when we are at the same events.

Now I’m back in the real world, teaching and marking at Uni.

 

The books are launched. Life goes on.

If you are interested in checking out my the Dragon Wine series, then check out this page.

Also, if you are interested I have a newsletter where I share updates, news about cheapies and freebies and I am thinking of doing a contest for a prize soon. I just have to slow down for five seconds. Here is the landing page to sign up for my Newsletter Wing Dust .

I’m all fired up though to write more. Also, I found out that my trip to China in November for two weeks is cancelled. I’m sad not to see my son Taamati in Shanghai, but after I got over it, I realised that I can do NaNoWriMo!

I’ll be heading to Perth at the end of November.

Now I really must get on and focus on this PhD!

Here is my serious, post-Conflux, studious PhD student face, stripped of glam and looking tired.

 

 

 

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