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Posts Tagged ‘epic fantasy’

I have an exciting blog interview planned but it’s not ready yet. I am waiting for some answers to come in. In the meantime, I thought I’d post something about what is happening with me.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress lately due to an external issue. This has been hard on me. I’ve had to take sick leave from my PhD and I’ve had awful stress and anxiety symptoms and I find it hard to concentrate. High stress and anxiety increase my overall pain levels so it can be rather debilitating. I haven’t been able to read much at all, or invest in watching a movie or write fiction. I do walk a lot and I’m losing weight.

We live in an ableist society and so we are brought up thinking that we should be able to do everything and when we are not we get over critical of ourselves and also stress about how people view us. For me, I hate labels. I was sent to a psychiatrist last year to assess my stress and anxiety after a panic attack at work. I wasn’t sent to the psychiatrist until about four or five months after the attack. By then I’d been on meds and had two different lots of counselling and was feeling much better. I didn’t want to have a label and so was pleased that the psychiatrist said I wasn’t suffering from any psychiatric disorder. Even though this attack was brought on by an injury at work that I was having trouble adjusting to and workplace shenanigans. But shrug.

I believe my inherent ableism affects my outlook on my physical disabilities as well. The RSI and arthritic conditions limit me. I hate to be limited. I am a doer. I am an ablelist. It is part of who I am. There is so much I can’t do now and I hate it. I try not to think about it. No wonder I’m stressed. So I hate to acknowledge that these things make me less than I want to be. I know I should just suck it up right. I’m getting older. Well I’m 56 not 76!

But here I am again. Sigh. Having symptoms and it sucks.

My approach to Indie publishing has been to publish books that have been previously published and that I have the rights back to and books that I’ve already written that made it to acquisitions but weren’t bought by publishers. (This doesn’t include the book that is/was with my agent as we still have hopes). Last November, I wrote the short novel, Opi Battles the Space Pirates because that was just fun. However, while I’m not actively writing new stories, there is a bit of work in getting the books back out there and the new ones published.

The rights to Shatterwing and Skywatcher have been returned to me. This meeans they are no longer available. Before they can be relaunched they need to be proofread. Shatterwing is done and I’m just waiting on the map and the new cover. Skywatcher is still in progress in proofreading. My approach to this was work from hard copy that way I can use my tilt board and make it as ergonomic as possible. However, it’s still hard work! Concentration people!

My apologies to Dion who bought Shatterwing and then found he couldn’t buy Skywatcher as Pan Mac took it down. He wrote to me to say : Wing dust! It ended in a cliffhanger. In my defence, I had asked for the books to come down in May 2017 so I could have time to prepare but something went missing in the communication and I had no notice of when they would or did come down. They just disappeared from the Internet.

As per above, concentrating has been hard. Deathwings copy edit is done. I was a good way into it before the external stress causing business came back and overwhelmed me. But as I was nearly done, I managed a few more hours. Deathwings is now with the proofreader.

The new covers are in progress too. And I have Russell K looking at the maps. I’ve outsourced as much as I can. I have three weeks to finish revising Bloodstorm before it’s due at the editor. I think that’s doable, even if I only do an hour per day. However, if I don’t make the deadline, it will take longer to get Bloodstorm out.  No great dramas, except for readers because a lot happens in Bloodstorm.

For more of the Dragon Wine series, you guys will have to wait. I have a PhD to do. Although if this external stress thing doesn’t resolve I will probably go part time on the PhD for a little while.

The Silverlands series. Argenterra and Oathbound are published. I have to do a little bit of stuff to get the print file of Oathbound ready. I also need to pay someone to do the formatting for the Smashwords edition of Oathbound. I can do it, but it’s a bit difficult on the physical side of things. (Oh I hate admitting that–it’s the ableist in me!).

The edit of Ungiven Land is in progress. I may have a bit of work to do when it comes back to me later in the month. I had a chat to the copy editor this afternoon. Apparently I’ve developed new bad writing habits and may have my work cut out for me. My editor wanted to know if it was okay if she picked me up on things, suggested new scenes etc. I said go for it.

That’s what I want. That’s what an edit is for. Make me sweat. I want a better book.

This week I heard that I have the rights to The Sorcerer’s Spell back. That’s a sexy paranormal novel that is published under the Dani Kristoff name. That needs the same treatment. New cover, proofreading, new ISBNs etc. I have a half started sequel somewhere. If I’m to work on that then it will be dictation software! If I can concentrate. A lot depends on what happens over the next few weeks and months. However, finally I might get a male torso on the cover! A first for me.

There is administrative stuff that is done and heaps not done. Just registering ISBNs and Catalogue in Print stuff takes time and energy. I wished I earned enough to pay an assistant! Hahahahahaha!

Fun is over. Back to work.

And just for fun I’ll put a cover image of Argenterra here. It’s new low price is USD 2.99. I also revamped the blurb for this.

Sophy is not looking for a talisman: she is the talisman!

Sophy is snatched from our world during a ghost tour. Landing in the lush world of Argenterra, she’s the odd one out. She can’t use the land’s native magic, the given, even though her friend Aria, and everyone else, can.
Worse still, she’s a faded version of herself and doesn’t fit it at all.

Abandoned by Aria who marries a handsome prince, Sophy travels the land with Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, to explore the mystery of why there is a crystal leaf growing inside her.

Then the accidents start to happen and she realises a dark force wants her: alive or maybe just dead…Argenterra with subtitle

For more information on The Silverlands Series and buy links, click here. Have you got your copy of Argenterra yet?

Also if you are interested in signing up for my Newsletter. Click here.

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Some people may think writing a book is easy. Maybe writing a trilogy isn’t too hard. And that fantasy stuff? Why it’s all made up so what’s the problem? Anyone can make stuff up.

Ahhh…I’ve finished a trilogy and it was a challenge. I thought they were easy before I finished one. Now I know it’s damn hard work. Also, I started The Silverlands more than fifteen years ago. I know so much more now than I did then but it’s hard to go back and change things so you have to be happy with what you have and what you can achieve within the limitations of your original vision.

But the map? I always had a drawing of Argenterra but a wise person once said to me back in 2003-That’s not a map! And proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with it-scale, place names, the size of a lake etc.

Through the years I worked on the Silverlands series and on Argenterra, the imagined land. I thought about the landscape and what is going on with the magic in that land. How did it get there? What does it do? What does it all mean?

To cut a long story short, with the excellent assistance of Russell Kirkpatrick, (@insanemapboy), I have a map. It was hard work. I think I drove Russell to the brink of madness. I’m sure he wanted to throttle me. Yet, he dragged me kicking and screaming into a better understanding of maps and I listened. So now there is the map of Argenterra, taken from my scribble and drawn into perfection. (as perfect as it is going to get). The ebook is not going to show the map well. The print book maybe. So I’m putting it here for you all to see. You won’t see the tears, the sweat, the anguish, the retro fitting. I mean I literally moved mountains and changed the course of rivers to bring you this. Something I envisaged so long ago and now here looking awesome.

Final Map Argenterra

And, yes, it was Russell Kirkpatrick that told me my map wasn’t a map way back in 2003, when I was a babe in the woods. He sent me on a path to better understanding. Thanks Russell.

I have put the map with the series description under MyBooks! Link is here.

 

 

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I mentioned yesterday  it’s been hectic here at Dweebenhiem!

First thing first, Oathbound, Silverlands Book Two is up for pre-order on Amazon. Finally!

Oathbound

You can pre order by clicking HERE!

I haven’t organised other retailers yet but I will soon and let you know.

I hope to have the proofreading changes in this week and a map! Yes, I finally did the map and it’s with a professional to make it look gorgeous. I’m not really good at drawing.

Ungiven Land, Silverlands Book Three, has been sent to the editor so it’s not too far behind. I hope to have it out by June.

To those of you who haven’t got your copy of Argenterra, it is up for grabs on Instafreebie. It will be up for grabs for free a short time.

Argenterra with subtitle

Here is the Instafreebie the link.

Argenterra is also available in print. Here is the Bookdepository Link.

And if you want to know more about the series check out the series page here.

And there is a preview of Argenterra here.

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Yesterday, just by happenstance, the ability to lose myself in a story and the loss of my university access cards, I finished drafting Book Three of the Silverlands, Ungiven Land. 8,000 words yesterday. I was knackered. I haven’t pulled one of those in ages. (A massage, hot pack,  hot shower, more hot pack was required to recuperate).

It’s not finished per se. I have to tidy the draft up a bit before sending to beta readers. There is probably a few talking heads and some scenes that need to be moved around plus other tweaking. I was fairly pumping out the words and the scenes unraveled in my head. I get all excited near the end and I plough through. I think I read in the same way. Also, I lost track of time. Didn’t eat dinner. Didn’t prepare dinner. Looked up and Matthew was home.

But damn. I got the story out. I did it. I finished my first trilogy. (picture me hands in the air, dancing on the spot) I have written in series format before say for the Love and Space Pirates series (I want to write another one) and under Dani Kristoff I’ve finished the third book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. But a trilogy is a whole new ball game. You start out thinking what’s going into those three books that make up the ONE story and time and lack of note taking can seriously derail that.

As an aspiring writer, I had lots of advice about whether to write the whole series or just the first book. The prevailing advice was don’t invest in a series you haven’t sold. So I devoted myself to a number of first books in series hoping to sell them. Lucky for me I also did writers’ retreats where I could devote myself to writing for two weeks. And in the past I had drafted second books or parts of books. I have 153,000 words of the second book (or second two books) in the Dragon Wine series btw.

That may be good advice, on the other hand, if you haven’t got notes and it’s a big complex story and you do sell the first book, the pressure would be immense. I’m not a fan of working on one book for ten years. I’d rather work on ten books over ten years. It’s all learning and I love ideas and exploring story and genre. If I had my time again, maybe I would have at least drafted the remainder of the trilogies I worked on while it was all fresh in my head and concentrated on selling the first one. It would have made this year easier.

You may recall that The Silverlands Trilogy is my self-publishing/indie publishing investment. Argenterra came out in late April. That book had been revised and edited etc many times over many years. Basically, the crafting of a load of crap into something worth reading over 15 years. I hope so!

Book Two was drafted but probably only ever a tidied draft. It was a much better draft than Argenterra was originally as I had progressed as a writer. No one had read it except me. I’m about to do a final revision, tweak and polish before sending it for an edit. You might ask why I haven’t already done this. Well, I was working on book three. I had thought I had 50,000 words of the third book written. Gah! I did but the words were shit. They had to be rewritten and most of it chucked out. I was in despair. Somewhere around 70,000 words the draft felt like it was coming together. Now at 121,000 words I’m pretty pleased. It’s done. The story works…well for now .Beta readers may bash me in the head.

This probably doesn’t answer the question. Why work on book three when two was waiting for a revision? Because finishing book three allowed me to work out all the kinks and to see if it was going to work before I went back to book two. I could still change things in book two before I set them in concrete by publishing it. Rescue a character who had sunk beyond redemption, for example. Set up things in book two that I had brought to a head in book three. I guess it’s a form of cheating. But hey, it worked. This is probably why I’m advocating writing the whole series in one go. Why I wish I had. But my best advice is just write what you want, how you want. I figure this book three is better than any I envisaged say ten years ago. Totally much better. I’m a better writer than I was. Ideas just smashed together well this time.

This week and maybe part of the next I’ll be tidying it up ready for beta readers. Then I’ll be back on book two, Oathbound.Now I’m ready to push forward. I believe the next two books will come out pretty close together. I have the covers. I just need the edit. I do my own laying out and book packaging. The cover layout I get help with. Technically I could do that I just have to buy Photoshop!

Then I guess I’ll get serious about marketing. My main goal so far has been to get reviews of Argenterra while I’m working on the other books. Reviews will help me if I want to do some paid promotion, such as Book Bub. If you read Argenterra and liked it please leave a review somewhere. It helps!

What have I learnt so far? I already knew writing well is hard work. Self-publishing/indie publishing is hard work if you want to do it well, but it has bells on. I’ve been stressed. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve invested my capital in my indie publishing gig. I have not spent time in promoting or whatever magic these successful indie writers do. My hat goes off to them. But I will when I get these books out.

The other thing successful indie writers do is they keep writing and keep producing. It sounds exhausting. I mean I do that too, but it’s driven by what stories interest me and my own creative practice. Maybe I should be more business like in my approach.

three-books

 

Buy link for Argenterra, Book One-Silverlands

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Print elsewhere. Available from Createspace and Ingram Sparks.

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So Argenterra, my YA/adult crossover fantasy is out there in the world. Fly baby, fly.

I have paid for some advertising,  and stuff, but essentially the only copies that have sold so far were friends buying the pre order. I’m very grateful to them! Thanks guys.

I have sent out a couple of review copies. All reviews help! I am waiting to see what the reviewers think. If you want to review it, please let me know.

It’s early days so I’m not going to stress about sales. From past experiences it goes in ups and downs. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with ebooks or small press or Indie publishing. The book is not sitting on a shelf in a book store waving hello to you as you walk in. (As an aside the print book is discounted to book stores at 40% and can be ordered via Ingrams.) For buy links click  here or see My Books Tab.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

What I did want to say is that Argenterra is first in a series and I’m committed to putting the three books out. There should be a cliff hanger warning too! For that reason I’ve included the first chapter of book two at the end of book one.

As a self/Indie publisher I can make the commitment to publish the whole series. I may not put them all out in hard copy print, but we’ll see what demand is like. I’m currently revising/polishing book 2, The Crystal Gate. It’s written but I haven’t looked at the draft since 2009. My writing has changed a bit since then. I need to have it beta read, edited before I can layout etc. The proofing and stuff can take a couple of weeks too. I’m hoping to finish the revision by the end of May.

Book Three is partially drafted at 50,000 words. At the time I was writing it, I figured it wasn’t worth finishing a trilogy that hadn’t sold. Now the publishing world is completely different. Now it’s my trilogy and I’m in control so I will get it done and out there.Drafting book three to 135,000 words may take until much later in the year.

Control is so underrated.

As Dragon Wine was put out by Momentum, I had no say in the book being split in two, which people complained about. And as the books didn’t sell sufficiently well, they declined to publish the next book in the series.  A nice blow after working on it for ten years! Thousands were downloaded for free, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to sales. However, the next book is drafted and I will try to get it out later in the year. It’s a bit hard when I don’t have the rights to the first book and given it’s lack lustre performance and it’s very dark nature I can’t quite make up my mind what to do. It’s hard not to get disheartened and lose faith in your work. Alas, Momentum is no more, but Pan Mac have the rights. The Dragon Wine series is quite complex and dark. I may have to lighten it a bit before I publish the next installment. If I publish it.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

My previous post may have sounded a bit down on traditional publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just that the crisis in publishing is affecting everyone in the industry and it makes life difficult, particularly here in Australia. I have an agent trying sell a book to traditional publishers.It’s a good book-hasn’t sold but I’m not giving up yet on that. I’ve only half written the sequel to that.  I have more books written that I’d like to see get traditional publishing deals. It’s just tough out there and it takes a lot of time. With 15 years worth of writing behind me, I have a little bit of a back list of unpublished novels. I’m also working on new ones. I may be hyper active. Here’s hoping the PhD will keep me busy, too busy to write anything else but the PhD novel.

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People say it’s easy self-publishing a book, or Indie Publishing as they say these days. It’s not all sunshine a roses and I’m not talking about sales here. I’m talking about getting the files ready and loaded etc.

The proofreading, file formatting and instruction reading and following are very left brain that leave me without a right brain cell to aspire to creativity. I’ve been caught in that vortex for weeks it seems. The difficulty is not in the amount of advice out there or the assistance other Indie publishers provide because that’s so fab. It’s just the tediousness of it. It’s like doing ten tax returns in a row. It’s killing me with my left brain. I can now understand why people pay others to do all that crap for them. They may end up making no money out of their publication (most, I think) but at least they have held onto their creative soul.

I have to go back to the reason why I’m doing this. Argenterra got to acquisitions in Australia but then it didn’t fit the young adult niche here. (just one part of the story) The Australian market is a small.Even the digital publishers are getting thin on the ground. I’ve submitted Argenterra over the years and well I run foul over arguments about whether it is young adult etc.  I always thought it wasn’t, but then on reading it maybe it’s young adult or young adult cross over. Last year I was chatting to Keri Arthur and she recommend I Indie publish. I’ve had titles epublished with traditional publishers and why not try hybrid. I talked to her about the Silverlands Trilogy of which Argenterra is the first. I could get two books up quickly and then polish off the third book. I’m not expecting to do anything earth shattering here, but it is certainly an eye opener. The amount of control you have as an Indie publisher is like a drug. You get to make all the decisions but you have to do the work.

There are various ways to get your book out there these days. When I had a small press it wasn’t so easy. There was no Amazon.com.au and people without US bank accounts couldn’t list their books on Amazon.com. Ebooks were not a thing. It was PDF and maybe just the beginning of ebooks in the world. Having that small press experience has been good, but not having the tools I used to have was pretty ordinary. I used to own Creative Suite now I’m reduced to Word.

It’s hard. I whinge a lot you may have noticed.

I’m not even talking about the stigma of self-publishing here or the difficulties in promoting a book.

The process for formatting an ebook is pretty straightforward. But anything that requires discipline and attention to detail can be tedious for me. I can do it but I don’t/can’t do creative stuff round the same time.I had a author friend proofread for me after I laid out the book. In Word this entails formatting with titles so that you can do a table of contents. For an ebook you don’t have to worry about page numbers or headers or footers. I used Calibre to covert my epub. But for Amazon, you only need to the Word file. Most of the other places do the conversion from Word for you too.

It was formatting the print version that life became more complicated. Headers and footers and page numbers. I did a proofread and found a few little things which I changed in the ebook too. Unfortunately, using preorder on Amazon meant I couldn’t change the file. Eep! Lesson number one. Do your own proof before uploading the file. I was able to do it after it became live. Second is don’t underestimate how long it can take to proofread your book properly. (I printed the book out to do my proofs) Then research, ask around what is the best way forward. I chose Createspace for US Amazon.com and Ingram Sparks for rest of the world. (I’ll put a link below as to why). Then I got into problems with the paging. I was either missing a page or having two blanks when trying to get the odd number pages to fall on the right hand side. That took a whole night to fix. Needless to say that I have matured emotionally over the last two weeks. (I you believe that then you’ll believe anything.)

The cover was another issue. I had a pro cover done but it was not the wrap required for a print version and the file sent to me was a PDF and you need specialist software to put the cover together. Having exhausted my $ I had to beg help from the lovely Rebekah Turner. We had to do two covers-one for Createspace and one for Ingram Sparks. But I’ve been told you can use the Createspace one for Ingrams. If I had brains I could have used Publisher I suppose.

Today everything is loaded. Because I wanted Createspace to do the Amazon.com I loaded the book there first and then did Ingrams once it was showing on the Amazon listing. This is because Ingram will list it on Amazon if it’s not there already. (See blog link below to understand why.)

Listing the ebook. I could have used Smashwords, but I wanted to some control over key accounts; Amazon, ibooks, Kobo. Amazon was the easiest even with the tax declarations. Kobo was pretty simple and ibooks was complicated. First thing to know about ibooks is that you need a Mac to upload your content. That information would have been useful and would have saved me three nights of wrangling. I’ve used Ingram to distribute the ebook elsewhere.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for answering near hysterical emails with aplomb. Also thanks to Ainslie Paton for help with book blurb (a whole day back and forth), Rebekah Turner for cover wrangling and Aiki Flinthart for proofreading, moral support and information.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I forget about this book or this series?

The publishing industry is in a state of flux, particularly here in Australia. I don’t believe we can rely on the book industry to be the gate keepers they once were. Publishers are not loyal to their authors anymore. If you’re not a best seller then you’re out. Heaps of mid-listers have lost their publishers, not because they aren’t good writers with great books, but because they aren’t making the big $$$. Being a new author is even harder. Your book doesn’t sell the expected number your chance is gone. If you don’t have the sales then it’s darn hard to get another publisher.

Why Argenterra? I love this story. I’ve almost written a trilogy and what a waste it if never sees the light of day. I’ve revised and rewritten this story many times because I believed in it. Now it’s time for me to see if others like it too. I love the characters in this book. Sophy and Oakheart are my personal faves but there’s Lillia too.

After 15 years, I’m going to give self-publishing a try.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

Here is the link I mentioned above. Here

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I feel naughty! I’ve put a book up on Amazon for pre-order (other retailers to come). I feel nervous, excited and liberated too.

It’s been an interesting experience, one of commitment and camaraderie. I had to commit to working on the whole series this year. I had to pay for an edit and a cover. Anything to do with spending money when I’m now retired is a BIG commitment. Then there has been the camaraderie, the network of writer friends who have or who are embarking on Indie publishing. So much assistance and advice freely given. It’s been wonderful. Thank you all.

Cover by Les Petersen

Cover by Les Petersen (lespetersen.com.au)

The cover does have a YA feel but that’s deliberate because it does have YA leanings for sure. Fish out of water, coming of age etc. It’s also about romance, though I’m told it’s not fantasy romance. This is mainly because there are three different relationships. I can’t spoil it though! After fifteen years, it’s amazing to see it out there. Only me and maybe a couple of old friends knew the early version– the rank beginner Donna. It wasn’t my first novel ever. I’ve not had that much commitment to Relic (SF romance, Feminist SF) my first novel attempt, which I haven’t given up on completely. (I was just advised to wait until I was a better writer as it was a worthy project). Argenterra was my first fantasy ever. My first Indie published book.

Now for the outtakes….Sophy and Aria. Their names used to be Sapphire and Misty. However, while on a Writers’ Retreat, my very first, Russell Kirkpatrick and Paul Ewins said those names sounded like unicorn names. It was funny at the time but I did change the name. I always had trouble with Sapphire as a name. People found it odd. I couldn’t understand that because I knew a Sapphire. So Sophy and Aria it is.

Here is the pre-order link.

 

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