Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Gamble and the Grave, Veronica book 4, is available for Pre-Order!

It's coming out on July 19! I will have at least one giveaway of the other three novels in the series before then... stay tuned (as they say) for the announcement(s) here. I'd like to thank Rick and Kathryn for their help, by the way. You two. You're the best.

It has been a challenge, getting any writing done, what with the two pipsqueaks in the mix now. But it's so exciting to have another book coming out. If you want, you can see it here on Amazon, and even go ahead and order it. :)

I have ideas for books 5 and 6 already, and even a vague one for book 7, so with some luck (and the continued support of my husband, family, and friends) the series is going to keep chugging along.

Right now I'm working on the second draft of The City Smolders, the second book in the Raud Grima series. I'm enjoying that. I'd forgotten how much I liked Ginna. I didn't get much done today (though it's next on the list after this blog post), as I've been focused on promoting the Veronica series in anticipation of Gamble coming out.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Cover Design FTW!

I've been working on my own covers for a couple of months now. I recently finished the new cover for The City Darkens, pictured to the left. It took a while, but I'm pretty satisfied with it. I need to update the Kindle file associated to it, though, because when you open the file on Amazon for the preview, it still has the old cover in it. No big deal; the old cover wasn't bad, it just didn't quite capture what I wanted. Plus, since the time when the old cover was designed, I've caved as to the content of the blurb that goes with the book. For a long time I wanted to hide the fact that Myadar becomes Raud Grima--I originally intended that to be a very big surprise. But I struggled over that blurb and consulted a lot of people, and they eventually convinced me that I should include that as part of the description. I may revisit it.  

TCD has not been selling much. I haven't tried free promotions for it on Amazon yet. I enrolled it and all the Veronica books save Veronica in Paris in Kindle Select, but I decided to try countdown promotions with TCD and free promos with the Veronica books, to compare results. Well, clearly you shouldn't bother with countdown deals until your books are already selling regularly, because nada with TCD. The free promotions have been very successful with the Veronica books, though. My only complaint there is that I wish that of the 800 or so people who've "bought" the free Veronica books, more than one would post a review (and do it on Amazon, not just Goodreads). I'm not unrealistic. I'd be happy with a 1% return. Eight new reviews. But I'm still waiting.

Anyway, all this to say that I have to wait for the first 90 day period to end in mid July, and then I plan to offer TCD for free five times over the next 90 days, and I hope that'll get it noticed. I also need to go back to editing The City Smoulders and actually publish it.

I'm nervous about designing a cover for TCS, honestly, because while it's the same city, it's very changed. I'm not sure how to go about designing it--ruined by bombs, etc. But the only way to figure it out is to start working on it, so maybe that needs to be my next design project.

Going back to the issue of cover design, I also stumbled across, which sells covers to authors and is fairly easy to submit designs to as an artist. You can see the two I've gotten approved here. I don't know if they'll still be there once they're sold, though. I guess we'll find out.

SelfPubBookCovers rejected this design:

Because of the way the woman sort of blends in to the skyline. I'm going to tweak it a bit and put it on a page here with any other covers I decide not to submit to SPBC, or that they reject but I still think are good. If someone reading is interested in buying one, let me know. I am also more than happy to do a custom design, so if you know someone looking for a cover artist, point them this way.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

New Covers! I'm learning to use GIMP.

Well, after years of being only partly satisfied with most of my book covers, I finally got tired of talking about learning to use a design program like GIMP, and actually started watching youtube videos and teaching myself. In case you don't know, GIMP is a a free downloadable program a bit like Photoshop. The main cover I fret over is for The City Darkens, as I have yet to be really satisfied with any of the covers I've had. But I also had issues with my Veronica Barry covers. This mainly had to do with the titling, which has always been hard to read. Using Paint to make these covers was just short of adequate, in that I got the general look I wanted, but there just wasn't much I could do to really make the fonts stand out the way I wanted them to. So now that I am using GIMP, I've redone them all, and I'm still working on The City Darkens. Here's the original version of The River and the Roses:

And here's the new version:

Here's the old one for The Fire and the Veil:

And the new:

The Plane and the Parade:

And the new:

Veronica in Paris:

And the new:


And here's what I've got so far for The City Darkens:

There's still a lot to be done for it--I don't want the dress to actually look white, for one thing (I was going for light gray, and I'll probably add blue to it) and then I have ideas for other elements in a kind of montage.

The main thing with the Veronica covers, other than making the titles more legible, was to standardize them so they really look like a professionally done series. In honor of my new covers for these, all three novels in the series (Veronica in Paris is a novella and a prequel, and I don't have it enrolled in Kindle Select) will be available for free tomorrow. I'm not planning to offer all three like this again until I launch The Gamble and the Grave (book 4).

What do you think of the covers? Have you worked with GIMP? Have you got any cool tips to share?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reading or Chocolate?

I've had the flu for the past week, but that hasn't slowed down my recent upswing in reading, since it hasn't had any impact on my nursing schedule. I had a realization, though: if I wean the baby at six months (which was my plan) I won't be able to keep reading so much. This presents a serious dilemma. Because I'm breastfeeding I don't eat chocolate or spicy foods or several other items--which I miss a lot. So I'm going to have to choose: reading or chocolate? What kind of sick choice is that, I ask you?

I've joined Kindle Unlimited. For a while it looked like by the time I got through the thirty day free trial I'd have read all the books available in the program that I had any real interest in, but then I came across the cozy mysteries. So I'm in it for another month, at least. I've been enjoying the Aunt Bessie series a lot and just started one of Charlotte MacLeod's, with Peter Shandy. I had a mystery phase many years ago (about the time I first started writing about Veronica Barry) but my genre phases come and go and it's been quite a while since I enjoyed a mystery. I'm finding that cozies scratch that itch and at least little bit of the Jane Austen itch, too. There's something really comforting about novels that spend some time and description on tea, for some reason.

Reading the Aunt Bessies made me think about Veronica and I'm rereading The Plane and the Parade as a result. A couple of things have occurred to me as I do. 1) I don't give Veronica much down time. Aunt Bessie spends a fair amount of time just enjoying her hobbies, and while Veronica does take her dog to the park and such, she's usually on the phone to someone about the case she's on at the same time. 2) Veronica drinks way too much tea nuked in a mug with a tea bag. I mean, to be honest, it's been a long time since I ordered gourmet tea online and made sure to steep it at just the right temperature in an iron teapot, but after reading Aunt Bessie, each nuked mug in Plane makes me wince.

So I've decided that the next Veronica is going to be a bit slower in pace, so Veronica can enjoy more downtime, and better tea. Because while I realize the Aunt Bessie series isn't exactly famous, I really have enjoyed it, and if I enjoy reading about an eighty year old baking shortbread then there's no reason my readers won't get a similar feeling of comfort if Veronica does it, too. I've had several ideas for Veronica five and six, so that means I'm really going to have to find some time to finish writing Veronica four and get on with publishing it. My editor has been super busy lately, though, so I may have to call on some new beta readers--Rick, I'm looking at you.

I've been enjoying Kindle Unlimited so much I decided to enroll some of my own books in it, which means taking them off sale anywhere but Amazon and doing the KDP Select thing. That's okay because the only book I've sold in the last four months at B&N is Veronica in Paris, and I decided not to take that one down from there as a result. I also left Broken Ones up. But all the other Veronica books and The City Darkens are now available through Kindle Unlimited and that lending program Amazon has. I've also scheduled some free and reduced price promos, so be on the look out for those. The first is this Sunday, April 26: The River and the Roses will be free all day.

Have you tried Kindle Unlimited? Do you use any of those free and bargain Kindle sites?
How do you like your tea?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Having a newborn means lots of reading and not much sleep

Last night I got four hours of sleep, and not all at once. But on the bright side, since my second son's birth I've read something in the neighborhood of fourteen novels--that's since January 18. Considering how little I've been reading until recently, that's quite a change. It all comes from being on maternity leave and having to nurse about every two hours. While I nurse, I read (unless the baby's being especially adorable--then I have to stare at him and stroke his cheek and ears... because they don't stay little like this for long!).

Sometimes I get really nostalgic for when my first son was a baby... it's very different when you only have one child, which I'm sure is not news to any parent of multiple children out there. When I think back to how stressed out I was about having a newborn I wonder what the heck my problem was. When my older son goes to preschool these days I feel like having a baby is cake walk! Nurse him, nap when he naps, change a pooplosion diaper--what's the big deal? And, looking back, I must have got the hang of it eventually, because it was when my first was about four or five months old that I really started blogging a lot, and even started my recipe blog in addition to this one. I was writing, too!

I've had some ideas knocking around for writing, and I've also been thinking I might find a moment here and there (when the three year old is at preschool and the baby is napping, if I've had more than four hours of sleep the night before--it does happen sometimes) to finish writing Veronica 4 and editing The City Smolders. The thing about the ideas for a new story is that the one that seems to be shaping up the most is for a Regency-era romance. If you are at all familiar with my novels you'll know that this is very far afield of what I normally do. Basically, I love Jane Austen's novels and that love extends to a lesser degree to other novels of the period and somewhat after, and I often think I need to write the novels I wish I could find to read. That, and I have a hang up about romance as a genre, and yet I do still love Austen's stories. And I don't understand what my deal is with that. My hang up is that I tend to be pretty cynical about romance in real life, and I also get bored of the heterosexuality of most romances. But, somehow Austen's stories don't push those buttons for me at all. So if I do end up writing a Regency-era romance, it's going to be in part because I'm trying to figure out why those romances don't push my buttons. What is it about Austen's world that I find so compelling? And am I even capable of capturing it?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Nice Boost

So I discovered today that without really trying, I'm back to selling a few books each month. My sales only ever got truly exciting about a year and a half ago when for some reason one April I sold a bunch of books. I was like, "This is it!!! I'm going to be able to quit my day job!" Uh, no. In fact, about two months later my sales tanked lower than they had ever been before. There ensued some desperate marketing of various stripes, until I finally decided I just didn't want to contribute to the spam out there anymore. I pretty much abandoned all marketing, unless you count occasional tweets about dieselpunk stuff. Which honestly, I don't. I do retweet when someone lets me know they are reading one of my books. That's really the only time I mention my books online anymore. I've quit checking my sales, especially these last few months because I'm not writing and seeing zeroes in my sales columns isn't going to help motivate me. But recently a couple of people on Twitter and Goodreads have let me know they are reading or have finished one of my books (mainly The City Darkens) and one of them gave me a five star review, so I thought, okay, let's check the KDP report. And lo and behold, I'm back to the numbers I was seeing regularly before that illustrious April. Nothing to suggest I'll be quitting my day job any time soon, but it really is so nice to know people are reading the books. I find I only ever want to write for an audience, so feeling like there was no audience was just an inspiration killer.

Why a picture of fruit? Why not?
I'm rounding the last base of this pregnancy and writing just isn't going to happen for a while, though. I do spend some time thinking about it. I started a story for NaNoWriMo but only got about 3000 words in. I may end up abandoning it--I don't know. I get ideas for it, but I also get ideas for this middle grade/young adult fantasy novel I was toying with. Though most of the latter have to do more with setting than plot. So I just can't be sure which way I'll go when I am ready to write in earnest. I also have the first draft of the sequel to The City Darkens to revise, and I'm about 3/4 done writing the first draft of book four of my Veronica Barry mystery series. And since actually a number of the books purchased recently were from that series, I do feel like maybe the first thing I need to do is finish that. When I have the time and the energy. Which probably isn't going to be soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Here we go, NaNoWriMo 2014!

Well, I'm giving it a shot! So far, I have something in the neighborhood of 2200 words written, so I'm on track to achieve my 50K in something like February. But some writing is better than no writing! And I'm hoping my husband will be able to take the three year old to the park or something for longer this weekend, and I can maybe get a bit more caught up.

I deliberated a lot about what to write. I had a dream with this awesome setting. I can really see it working for a Harry Potter-esque young YA fantasy novel in a steampunk/early dieselpunk setting--you know, 1920s again, maybe with more of an art nouveau feel than The City Darkens. The trouble is, it really hasn't had enough time to percolate, so I'm going to put it on hold.

I decided to go with another idea I've been chewing on for the last year or so, which is more of a sort-of cyberpunk, futuristic urban fantasy dystopia story. I still haven't fully decided if I'm going for YA or New Adult in terms of my target audience... the difference is how much sex there'll be in it. I'm being vague about my MC's age for the time being (2200 words in, it's not hard to be vague about that) and I guess when I get to the first scene where sex is an option, I'll see how I feel about it. Oh the joys of NaNo, where you really don't know quite what you're writing until you get to like, the 30K mark.

That said, I did create an outline for this novel, which is unheard of for me. I figure with how little time I have in each sitting, I need a road map or I'm going to get lost. However, yesterday I was looking at it and I'm not sure what I meant by half of what I wrote. So there's that.

I'm a pantser at heart.

How about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? How well is it going, if so? What kind of story are you writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?