New Site Design

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A Redesigned Website with a New Purpose

I thought it was time to bring my author website into the 21st Century. I’m still tinkering with it but at least I have it ported over to Squarespace where I can do a lot more customization. As I have mentioned too many times to count in other posts and tweets, staying the course with writing is hard for me. I write something and then start the next thing and then I stop. A half-written, wonderful story, just sitting there waiting to be finished. I have a dozen or more of those and it makes me sick.

I’m going to have to approach this as a full-time job. Not out of excitement or joy or anything, but rather, a commitment to just sit down and write at a specified time. I have a leg up because I know that inspiration doesn’t strike you always before you write, but mostly during the act of writing itself. The work is the thing. So get to it David!

David

The Audiobook for The Tempest Guild is Now Live

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After going through several revisions with the narrators of my audiobook, I am happy to announce the audio form of my book, The Tempest Guild, is not for sale online at Audible. I was happy to have found a couple to give a more dynamic performance between the characters. I think they did a great job and I look forward to finishing the second installment of The Talam Chronicles and producing another audiobook. The process was fun and interesting and I will be creating a post detailing the process in the near future.

I've had a couple of requests from friends for an audiobook version so I am thrilled to be able to offer this version of my book for them, and for you who prefer to read your books while driving or other forms of listening.

David

My Book is Entered Into the SPFBO Contest

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August 1 marked the official beginning of the Self-Publishers Fantasy Blog-Off contest. This was something started by author Mark Lawrence to help showcase self-published fantasy authors. How it works is every year Mark opens up the contest for new submissions, usually sometime in June, and when it reaches the first 300 submissions, the contest is closed. The only guidelines are that they can't be short stories and they must be in the fantasy genre. This last part gets stretched a bit if you read some of the blurbs from the pool of submitted books. Anyways, then the books are broken out into groups of 30 books and each group is assigned to one of the ten fantasy blogs personally picked out by Mark.

Then, starting August 1, each blog picks out their favorite book from their assigned pool and that book advances to the finals. Then in December, all the blogs vote on the last 10 books to pick the winner. So the cut is pretty quick and deep. That puts the odds of your book winning at something like 0.33%. But that's not the point. Being part of the contest has brought my book wider attention than it ever would have achieved otherwise and I am in the process of meeting lots of fellow writers.

For the first five days of August, over 120 authors offered their ebooks for a special $0.99 sale. It worked out well as my sales spiked for those few days. As I write this I'm smacking myself in the head for not promoting the sale on this website. Oh well, that's how we learn.What chance does my book have in making the cut, you may ask? Practically 0. Since The Tempest Guild is a novella, it tends to get looked down upon by the bloggers as not a "true fantasy novel." One blogger from my pool even wrote a blog post about it saying that he wouldn't consider any books under 200 pages. That's okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

So far, I've been getting positive feedback and reviews for my book and I'm really happy about that. My hopes at this point are to get at least a review from one of the bloggers. That would make me happy. Also, I was interviewed by two other bloggers from outside the contest and I hope those will be up soon. I will link to those from my social media accounts as soon as they go live. It could be a couple of months, though, as they are going to spread their SPFBO interviews out over the course of the entire contest.

I continue to work on volume two of the Talam Chronicles and my hopes are getting it out there for a holiday release. That's a pretty tight schedule, however, and even in self-publishing things take longer than expected. There's a lot of work that goes into publishing a book properly and deadlines tend to slip. I will keep the progress widgets updated with my progress, so you can always see where I am in the process.

David 

The Tempest Guild is for sale on Amazon

I am very proud that The Tempest Guild has been published on Amazon. Through all the starts and stops, time off, rereads, redos, edits, second-guessing, et al., I can't believe it actually happened. I want to mention again those I thanked in the Acknowledgements of the book who helped me along the way in reaching such a milestone and accomplishing one of my dreams. First and foremost my wife and two lovely daughters. Without their support and guidance, I would never have had the courage to finish. Next, my editors, Nichole Strauss and Jessica Nelson. Their recommendations and proofreading comments improved the book immensely. My two beta readers, Noelle DeLaney and Jennifer Lane gave valuable story feedback early on in the process. The wonderful fantasy map was designed by Hiru from MysticMapz. And last, but not least, the cover art was a dual affair between Avery Mullin and Adam Isailovic.

If your interested in reading a quick-paced, easy read, here's the jacket blurb:The fragile peace in Talam is disintegrating. The northern ice pack is melting and the king of Sinistra plots to take advantage of the calamity to start a conflict.Oblivious to the looming natural disaster and a coming war, street urchin Phaedra lives in the underbelly of the capital city. She has a unique and powerful ability, but she is too frightened to use it. Shunned by society, she longs to fit in. When two factions in the underworld clash, Phaedra is caught in the middle. Forced to defend her life, she finally unleashes her power with deadly consequences.With Talam on the brink of doom, Phaedra is thrust into a conflict she doesn't understand. She must flee the city in possession of a plant that could change the course of history, but she can't do it alone.With her antagonistic band in tow, Phaedra must find a way to escape Sinistra with hundreds of thousands of lives hanging in the balance. 

David

The Tempest Guild Cover Reveal

I've had the cover for The Tempest Guild done for a while now but since I just sent the manuscript in for a final proofread, I thought I'd reveal the cover. My daughter Avery is quite the artist so I commissioned her to give it a go. She came up with the initial look and feel of the illustration but she and I both felt that it needed more of a professional touch to make it more realistic. So we commissioned Adam Isailovic to take what Avery started and give it a more thorough polish. Once I approved the illustration, I worked on the cover layout myself using Derek Murphy's Creativeindie as a guide. I think it turned out pretty good. I think Derek's best advice is that you don't want your cover to be so original that it doesn't fit into the genre people are looking for. If it's too far out of the "norm" for that genre, people will actually be put off by it instead of flocking to it because it's so "original."Anyways, without further ado, here's the cover for The Tempest Guild:

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Yet Another Hiatus

As I've mentioned in a few posts before, I have trouble keeping my head in the game when it comes to writing (or photography or screenwriting for that matter). I enjoy dipping my creative toes in several different spaces but that will only work for me if I stick to it on a regular schedule. I can certainly run a photography business at the same time I write books. So why can't I seem to do it? It's like when one interest wanes and another takes over, I have to stay in that silo totally committed.

I am now working on staying in several different silos but each on equal footing. Am I making any sense? I don't know. All I know is that I have lots of good stories in me and they deserve to be shared. If it's just with my friends and family, then so be it. But getting them out into the world is what counts. And who knows, perhaps I'll pick up a few random readers along the way and they'll like my stories.

So I just finished up the fourth draft of my novel (according to WorldCon, anything over 40K words is a novel and mine is about at 43K now). I incorporated the developmental/proofing edits from a wonderful editor named Nichole Strauss. Now I'm going to print it out and give it another read/edit before sending it off to another editor for a final proofread. I hope to publish it by the start of Summer or a little after.

Once I have sent it off to the proofreader, I will disclose the cover for my book and then maybe even the map I had made for it. I think part of the reason why I stopped editing in the middle of the fourth draft was that of the writer's best friend: fear. It's one thing to get the book close to completion, have a cover set to go, but actually putting it out there is a whole different story and one filled with peril. But it's time for the final push and I'm up to the task.

David

And The Title Is...

I have finally come up with the title of my adult fantasy novella. Well, actually, I came up with it a couple of weeks ago but today I'm announcing it to the world. Drum roll, please...THE TEMPEST GUILD.

One of the unforeseen things about writing and self-publishing a novel is all the stuff that goes into it that has nothing to do with writing the book itself. Coming up with a title, designing a book cover–and most importantly–writing the blurb. I could have written a whole other novel with the time it's taken to work on these other book-related tasks. But then again, that's what this is all about, right? A learning experience.

For those wondering how to come up with a title, here's what I did: I came up with a couple of theme words that pertained to my novel and then I opened up Thesaurus.com and kept digging around for words that fit what I was looking for. I would write them down, one at a time, as I found ones that may work. Then it was just a matter of putting them together and seeing which ones worked together the best. I'm not sure that process will work with all my titles, but it sure did the trick this time (at least I think so). And, how many more times can I fit the word "work" into this paragraph? Oh, and I changed the series name from "The Chronicles of Talam" to "The Talam Chronicles." I think the latter sounds more powerful and action-oriented.

David

Blurb is the Word

So for that past two weeks, I've been working on the blurb for my fantasy novella. In all seriousness, I think it's harder than writing the book itself. Having to whittle down the plot and four POV characters to just 150 words is a nightmare, but boy is it a great exercise. I've learned more about my characters and the plot of the story than I have done while outlining and writing three drafts. The blurb process forces so much clarity of character and story that I realized that it's the first thing I should write before attempting the first draft.

A big help structuring the outline came via Libbie Hawker's book "Gotta Read It: Five Simple Steps to a Fiction Pitch that Sells." In her book, Hawker describes how a blurb should be structured using five simple, yet important, questions about your novel: 1. Who is your main character? 2. What does she want? 3. What stands in her way? 4. What will she do, or what must she do, to achieve her goal?5. What is at stake if she fails?

What I did was answer these five questions for each character and then I wrote a paragraph for each laying out the structure above. With four POV characters, obviously using four such paragraphs would be way too long, not to mention there would be no room to mention the plot. But it gave me a clarity of each character's predicament and how they relate to the plot for me to go ahead and take a stab at the blurb itself. I ended up with one that was 365 words in length. Way too long for a blurb, which really should be no longer than 100-150 words.

It was in the cutting down from 365 to 150 that I found the holes in my book's plot as well as what was missing from my character's arcs. A negative consequence was that when all was said and done, my 150-word blurb resembled the plot of A Song of Ice and Fire. This happened because I chose to focus on the plot instead of the characters and their stories. So back to the drawing board I go. Oh, and a word to the wise. These blurbs are perhaps the most important part of marketing your book. In addition to a nice cover, the blurb is what's going to sell the book, so you should take lots of time, do many revisions, and get lots of feedback before deciding it is complete.

David

Using BetaBooks For My Beta Readers

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A few weeks ago I sent out a request for Beta Readers on the Facebook group I belong to and received a few replies from people who were interested in reading my WIP. I was excited and scared at the same time, as it was the first time putting my fantasy story out into the world and I didn't know how it was going to be received. I have done several Beta reads for other authors and the process usually involves sending over a pdf or a link to Google Docs. But over the summer, I had discovered a new product on the internet titled BetaBooks.

BetaBooks is a web-based app that lets you break your WIP up into chapters, create specific feedback questions for those chapters, and then send invites to potential Beta Readers. Once they accept the invitation, the Beta Reader can read as many or as few chapters as they desire. And after each chapter, there's a box with the author's feedback questions and a box for the reader to submit their questions/feedback. As an author, you can receive emails whenever a reader leaves feedback for one of your chapters. And the cool thing about the feedback is that there is a drop-down menu that lets you organize each piece of feedback and let you decide if it's a piece of advice you want to act on or just read it and move on. I have found that feedback mechanism quite useful as I go back and edit my novel.

While I have Scrivener open with my novel, I keep the feedback page in BetaBooks open in a browser so that I can make sure I incorporate that feedback into the next draft of my novel. Once I'm satisfied that I have covered the feedback, I mark it as "Done," refresh my browser, and the next chapter's feedback moves to the top of the list. Once all the feedback has been marked Done, I know that I have covered all the feedback from my Beta Readers. As this is my first time through the Beta Reader process, I have nothing else to compare it against. I do know that when I read someone else's WIP in Google Docs, I make extensive use of the comment feature and then I have to send a separate email with my overall concluding feedback. With BetaBooks, the reader cannot make inline comments as of this writing, but the end of chapter feedback, and having it tailored to my specific questions, makes organizing reader comments a breeze.If your novel is ready for the Beta Reading process, I highly suggest giving BetaBooks a try. Their free version allows you to invite up to 3 Beta Readers and have one book available at a time. If you have multiple books or want more than three readers, you can subscribe to the service for $14.99/month. The cost is well worth it, IMHO. I can't imagine doing the Beta Reading process any other way.

David