Preparing to Celebrate

How does one prepare to celebrate? In some ways it depends on what you are celebrating. It does not have to be a special occasion, it can be just because you are happy or you found an entertaining book. Of course finding an entertaining book is as easy as clicking through to Amazon and getting a free Kindle download. You are welcome to do just that: Click here. Of course the multiple award winning scifi/fantasy, The Blood: The Stone’s Blade, Book One, is available as a free download through August 15, 2016 in celebration of the upcoming publication of the second book in the series, The Balance: The Stone’s Blade, Book Two.

Scheduling this free download is the second step in celebrating. The first step was exhorting followers, friends, acquaintances, even family to pass on the word about the upcoming publication and that they should read or reread their copies of the first book. I have heard from several early purchasers of The Blood that they have reread it and that they found clues to the identity of The Balance and they are eager to find out if they are correct and how Ani and Renloret will find out who it is and then what happens next. They are pestering me with questions about the survival of the Anyala Stone and what is going to happen to Ani if it dies.

They will “read all about it” in the second book – well, at least most of it. I am already working on the third book of the series. And I guess that is another reason to celebrate.

 

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About the Book – The Blood

I am thinking about updating the “About the Book” section on Amazon for The Blood to coincide with the upcoming release of The Balance. What do you think about the following?

Telepathic intelligent crystals known as Stones are the guardians of the Lrakiran people and when the first portion of a thousand year old prophecy comes true they choose Renloret to pilot the rescue mission to return the prophesied child, known as The Blood, to Lrakira. For it is only the blood of a five year old Lrakiran child born on far away Teramar that can save the Lrakiran people from extinction. When the rescue ship crashes on Teramar under mysterious circumstances leaving only Renloret alive he must race against time to find the child with the help of his own rescuer, Ani, her telepathic canine, Kela, and the local village sheriff, Taryn. TSB_3D-XSMALL

Renloret ignores first contact protocols and enlists the help of local people whose society and customs are eerily similar to those of Lrakira. He further breaks taboos when he finds himself falling in love with Ani. They must struggle against their mutual attraction so he can complete his vital mission. However Ani’s own issues complicate the search and Renloret must destroy Ani’s beliefs in order to save his species. In the process he will reveal the secret of Lrakira’s Stones and why the future of two worlds, Lrakira and Teramar, hang in the balance and, unknown to him, everything depends on Renloret.

2014 EVVY Fantasy - the Blood

 

The Blood is a great space opera about self-discovery tangled up in a prophecy deemed a fairy tale by the very people it was meant to save. This award winning science fiction/fantasy crossover is reminiscent of classic genre reads in the 1960s and 1970s “before they got harsh, cold and violent.” The Blood is a multi-category award winner placing 3rd Place in Science Fiction and 3rd Place in Fantasy in the 2014 Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s EVVY Awards.

2014 EVVY Science Fiction - The Blood

The Blood is currently available on Amazon.com [click here] in your choice of ebook or paperback. I will be running a reduced price on the ebook at the same time The Balance, the second installment of The Stone’s Blade series, which comes out in the next month or so. Keep your eyes open for that announcement. The Blood can also be found at The Tattered Cover Book Store [click here], and there are still a few copies at The Bookworm, 211 N Main St, Gunnison, CO 81230. Join the journey as Ani, Kela, Renloret, and Taryn and the people of Teramar and Lrakira discover their past and then must decide whether or not to embrace their future.

Tell me what you think.

 

Denver Comic Con Adventures and Future Possibilities

Seeking creative energy today pointed me to revisit past blogs. This in particular was posted just after “The Blood” was released two years ago. I wonder, again, about possibilities as “The Balance” closes in on release.

TimberDarkWriter

Today at my youngest daughter’s invitation I had the opportunity to attend the Denver Comic Con! Totally new experience. Observed everything, talked a little, listened a lot. There was even a weapons check-in area where all kinds of weapons were okayed to be carried (or not) in the convention center. I found that I wondered how people would dress up if they wanted to “be” one or more of the characters from The Stone’s Blade series. My daughter and I speculated by picking out costumed people. I decided that dressing up as one of the Stones would be the most difficult, though of course, you could carry them around. The interesting thing is the juxtaposition of space travel technology and the weapons being mainly swords and knives (Renloret hints that lasers are considered illegal as weapons). Oh, one positive is that I may have to get another dog to take around representing Kela (I…

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Peeks into the Past – Poetry Found

I was scanning through some old files and found a poem I wrote in 2007 for a cinquain poetry contest on FanStory.com. Of course I did not win anything, however the poem itself means a lot to me and rereading it brought a smile to my face. I decided to share this dip into poetry – to a different side of my writing mind. If you have not ventured into poetry for a while or ever, the cinquain set up is fairly easy to follow. It is similar to haiku in that it is based on the number of syllables per line. Syllables per line – 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. So pick a topic and try it out.

I Dance

I Dance

To melodies

Jigs, hornpipes, and waltzes

All wrapped up in joy and freedom

I Dance

Now, go find a photo to help the reader visualize what you have written.

Australian logo for square dance

And now I may have to do this again. The syllable restrictions have whetted my imagination. I realize that sometimes authors need to venture into other areas of writing to keep vocabulary and ideas sharp. Has this spurred any thoughts? What did you come up with? Please share.

Traditions in Writing

A fellow writer and friend recently shared on of her birthday cards with our weekly writing group. Begun over twenty-five years they had passed the same birthday card back and forth with properly dated notes. In time the card had no more room to write and her friend began typing up longer notes and stuffing them inside the card. This has continued for more than twenty-five years. They include all the notes along with the original card with its center fold completely worn through.

When she talked about writing a blog about this event at our writers group I realized that I was jealous of her multi-decade tradition. Once I got home I located and dug out a box of old letters and cards from my basement. I was searching for one particular Christmas card

Winter in Switzerland - Keith R

Christmas in Switzerland

from my grandmother. Somehow it always showed up on her gift to me the following year – dutifully dated with a short sentence about the joy of the season and how much I’d grown over the year. I remember the card but it may be buried too deeply because I have yet to find it. Perhaps the card is long gone but what has come bubbling up with this memory is the joy I felt each year when I read the card. I assume my mother saved the card along with the wrapping paper which she ironed every year and stashed safely away until the next time. I can imagine my mother grinning when she handed it to her mother in preparation for my next gift.

With that memory brought to light I understand and will cherish the light in my writing friend’s eyes and voice when she shared the birthday card and the 25 years of news and thoughts with us. (Her blog about this can be found at http://www.InTheWritersWeb.com) Seeing her with the envelop full of years of birthday cheer as well as hearing about the touching and joyful handwritten notes she received from her father’s friends R.S.V.P.s to his 90th birthday party which my friend is charge of, all culminate in me recognizing a need to communicate through my hands and words on real paper.

For me there is a profound joy in handwriting a note, it doesn’t have to be more than a few words. It does not have to be pages long. I have decided that these notes should be handwritten and mailed. I will start simply. I will find a blank card or a piece of scratch paper and write a note to one person just saying that I am thinking of them. It does not have to be a special occasion. Though I’m sure when they receive it they will wonder what special occasion prompted my writing to them. I will try to do this once a month. I have put a task on my calendar so I have already blocked out time to write that note. Even if it is only that I am thinking of that person at that time and I wanted them to know.

Who would you write to?

 

Editor Comments Bring Work and Smiles

Yes, this is the second post today. This was suppose to be published two weeks ago. At least I thought I had it scheduled to do that. More learning must take place I guess on how to schedule postings. Without further ado:

This post was originally written ten months ago when the first draft of The Balance was sent to the editor, Melanie Mulhall (http://www.DragonheartWritingandEditing.com ). It has been sitting in my draft box since then. Now that the major edits which were only hinted at in Melanie’s comments have been completed and the manuscript is in the hands of a proofreader, I need to, once again, distract myself from working on the second book of the series. Looking for things to do I found this and realized that it is still worth publishing. All writers need to step away from their manuscripts and let second, third and sometimes more sets of eyes look it over. Granted the major work is done on The Balance, unless the proofreader discovers a major problem, and both Melanie and I hope there are very few things to be tweaked. In the mean time here were my thoughts on the editor’s first response to this exciting second installment of The Stone’s Blade series:

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July 2015 – My editor is done with her first run through of The Balance: The Stone’s Blade, #2. She will send me her notes later today. It has been a long month. I created a long distraction list so I would not be tempted to open the manuscript document while Melanie worked. Though I’ve gotten about half the list complete the draft was never far from my thoughts.

While waiting I have read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for recreation, though it was difficult not to read as a writer. It had many examples of techniques I need to learn how to use.  I also read and took notes of Story Physics by Larry Brooks (suggested reading by Melanie and has been on my Kindle since last summer) to get familiar with plot points. This is an excellent read and should be on the top of your resource book pile.

All this reading led me to send several e-mails to Melanie particularly aimed at some changes I am considering for the ending. However, from her comment below I may have worried about the ending too much. I am confident there will be many changes once I get it back but I am smiling with relief and excitement.

Here’s part of what she said: “I just made my way to the end. And what an exciting ride it is as the reader nears the end. . . . I won’t comment here except to say that the way you have pulled it together at the end (with the exception of the few paragraphs with Reslo) is very satisfying and leads the reader forward well. Well done!”

My favorite parts? “Exciting ride. . . pulled it together . . . very satisfying and leads the reader forward. . . Well done!”

The real work begins as soon as I get it back from Melanie. I promise to do my best to make this second installment of The Stone’s Blade series better than the first. I hope you will find the ride exciting and satisfying and that you look forward to the third installment.

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Back in the present, ten months after that was written I am struggling with keeping my hands off the manuscript by beginning to outline the third installment, currently titled The Blades. I truly believe that the second book of a series is the most difficult to write – especially when the characters are forced to lie.  Good grief, try not to have that happen! However, in this one they had to and while they tried to keep to the truth as much as possible Melanie and I spent hours and hours on the phone trying to track when who said what to whom. We may have to go on tour speaking about the trials and troubles of writing a series. Anyway, publication for The Balance is coming up soon. I hope you enjoy it.

– An extra note here on April 1, 2016: I received the manuscript back a week ago and with more cutting and smoothing to the infamous Chapter Twenty-six it has been sent to the book designer. Hopefully his having already designed the first book and planning to use many of the design elements throughout the series, the time it takes to bring The Balance to publication will not be much longer. We look forward to the end of April, I think. We are planning to enter it in the Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s EVVY Awards whose entries are open now until mid-May. Plan to get your copy as soon as we can get it up on Amazon as a paperback and ebook. You can also get it directly from me with an autograph if you want one. As soon as I see the cover I will post it around so you will know what to look for. A little more patience and then we can celebrate before heading back to the notebooks and outlines for the third and fourth books.

Topics for Building Teramar and Lrakira

I found a posting on my personal Facebook page which listed seventeen topics on developing a world that a writer should brainstorm about before and during writing any kind of story. Many people assume that world building is only relevant to fantasy or science fiction genres. Every writer should look at this list and consider the impact of the world that surrounds your story has on your story. If you are writing a nonfiction piece based in another country or continent you MUST take into account all of these. If you are writing a memoir all of these will color your story – what were these things like when you were in elementary school? How was your life impacted by these things as you grew up? These topics make your story rich and flavorful and help pull in the reader or listener. World Building for writers

These topics are especially important in a series. I am working on documenting these right now to help me be consistent between books and the multiple societies in my science fiction/fantasy series. Yes, it’s not nonfiction and I am going to use them to help me in the writing of the transitions my two societies are going to go through as they discover their true identities and why they are so similar. It’s going to be fun but entails a lot of work. This list is an excellent place to start.

I will have to go back and look at the first two books, again, to make sure I have everything straight – at least in my supporting material which may not show up specifically in print. Remember that just like full character sketches much of this material may never show up in your story though it flavors every word you write because you have a deeper understanding of how your world(s), real or imagined, work. This is part of your research and the more you know about world the better your stories and articles will be.

How much detail do you need to write the current project? The next project? Should you go back to a previous project and do a bit more research or world building to improve it?

 

Marketing Experiment for December 2015

December 2015 has been an interesting experiment in marketing book one of The Stone’s Blade series, The Blood. In preparation for the upcoming release of the second installment of the series, The Balance, I launch a multi-pronged social media announcement scheduled across three different sites.cropped-the-blood-at-tattered-cover-hr-rmas-shelf-6-24-14.jpg

I began the month with by paying for several advertisements on a website for readers called BookDaily. Their daily e-mails to general audiences and targeted e-mails for readers of specific genres included a brief blurb, copy of the cover and link to Amazon for purchase along with the first chapter as a sample.

Then I set up a five day FREE Kindle download from Amazon which ran from December 18 through the 22nd. This was been a very interesting result. Day One 148 downloads, Day Two 158 downloads, Day Three 40 downloads, Day Four 231 downloads, Day five 92 downloads. The jump on day four is directly related to a single day announcement on Goodreads of the free Kindle version.

On December 22 I decided to check on the rankings: this was my posting on Facebook: So here’s the good news on the Kindle down loads and rankings on Amazon for The Blood.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048 Free in Kindle Store
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel
#7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

If you look carefully you will notice that I broke into the top 10 in two categories – Time Travel and Space Opera! Thank you to everyone who downloaded the past five days. I look forward to seeing your reviews when you get the chance to post. I hope you enjoy the read.

Then on the evening of the 23rd I returned to Amazon to see how far the book had dropped in the rankings. This was what I found:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,432 Paid in Kindle Store. #403 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel. #1614 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera. #1871 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

A fascinating difference, don’t you think? Now I am hoping that of the total of 669 downloads of the Kindle version at least 65 (I’m thinking 10%) will actually read it and perhaps post honest reviews to Amazon and or Goodreads. That will have wait I guess because it should take most readers a couple of weeks to read. I mean a lot of people actually collect free downloads and probably read none of them. I hope to see an uptick in the number of reviews around the end of February 2016. That’s when I am hoping to get The Balance out. Somehow I am hoping for some bleed over from all the Kindle downloads of The Blood to purchases of either the Kindle or paperback version of The Balance.

This marketing is all a learning process. I really just want to write the stories but I must learn how to be more effective in my marketing – essentially no one else is going to do this for me. I promised the characters I would write their stories and I promised to do my very best. Learning marketing of fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy is not an easy task and I believe it will be worth it. My goal is to break even. At an average of $3 to $5 profit from each book I must sell at least 2,000+ paperbacks just to break even on The Blood. I believe this is possible. I will be patient. Most series don’t really get noticed until at least the third installment is well into publication. I have five titles. I truly can hardly wait to get started on number three, The Blades. Yet, again, I must wait and be patient. Number two, The Balance demands my attention for now. I promise it will be good. I am doing my best and with help and guidance from my editor, proofreader, book designer and a couple of beta readers, it is worth the wait.Book Promotion

Have you read The Blood yet? What do you think? Please post a review on Amazon, Goodreads or BookDaily. Don’t keep it a secret.

I thank you for sharing the stories of The Stone’s Blade.

 

Characters See Trees – Authors Create The Forest

Tuesdays are Write-in days. Generally around four hours of concentrated writing time with up to four other authors. We bounce ideas off each other, help with rewording, listen to rejection letters and acceptance letters, have word count races, share power protein snacks and lunch, and have long sections of time where we are all writing. It gives me a place to go do work.

Today I am researching differences/similarities between the language Of Lrakiran and Southern in “The Blood” so I can fix or redo, or hint at explanation of such in “The Balance” and upcoming #3, “The Blades.” Melanie, my stickler of an editor, and I have to get it all straight in our heads to keep it consistent throughout the series. And I have to write it all down for reference material later. The nice thing is that I discovered that I had already set up a solution to the language problem in “The Blood” so I must have been thinking about this possibility a long time ago. Fancy that!

tall trees and sun light from Pixabay

Writing a complicated, intertwined series is harder than most readers know. We will not rush to publication – we want this to be as right as we can get it before everyone gets their hands on #2 and starts raising questions as to why something did or did not happened. Remember that when characters are focused on one goal they often can’t see the forest cause they’re just looking at a couple of trees. It is the author’s responsibility to plant thousands of trees so the story can be a large beautiful forest. I’m just making sure I am planting the right variety of trees and undergrowth.

How do you keep track of all the little details in your series? Suggestions for methods would be appreciated.

Thus the day goes

Writing, writing, rewriting, erasing, cutting & pasting, saving, forgetting where I wanted it to go, erasing, deleting (oh gosh did I just delete the entire chapter??), recovering from heart failure by pulling weeds in the garden, washing dirt off hands and knees so can touch key board, opening program (again), writing, rewriting, finding the missing piece – still haven’t figured out where it was supposed to go, erasing, pasting, saving, writing, . . .  Thus the day goes. So how is book two going?

Then the question “How is book two coming along?” enters every conversation, and I mean every conversation. Just because book one has been out for over one year (one year, three months, and six days if you really want to know) every one(who is NOT a writer) thinks I can whip off the next one in a couple of months all while working to get the first one off the ground. And I’m not going to tell them how long it took to write the first one – that’s too scary for me to think about. Yes, book two is not taking near that long but good things take time. I promise I am not just lazing around like some chipmunk waiting for a handout. I will let you know as soon as it’s out, I will even tell you how many book stores or places you can purchase it. I am sure I will have a stack of them in my car, too.

Yes, yes, I do very much appreciate how much you enjoyed the first and how much you are looking forward to reading the second. It is for that reason that I am working to make it worth while, make it enjoyable, make the characters hold true to themselves, work at adding just enough twists and turns and new information that you will be hounding me for book three less than one month after book two is published. I want this to be the very best it can be and the best takes time.

Want me to get to it sooner? Don’t stop talking about how much you enjoyed the first book  – tell everyone. Post your review on every social medium you’ve got. Even word of mouth is good. Tell your friends, co-workers, enemies, your dentist, your pediatrician, your children’s friends’ parents to pick it up at The Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, at the Bookworm in Gunnison, at the Book Mine in Leadville, Hearthfire Books & Treats in Evergreen, (all locations are in Colorado) and perhaps check it out to read from the Custer County Library in Rapid City, SD. If not any where near those then you are encouraged to encourage them to get The Blood from Amazon – either as a paperback or on their Kindle or Kindle app. If you do all of this along with the limited time I have to keep spreading the news then I may have more time to concentrate on completing the editing of the second installment so that I may be able to make my self-imposed publication deadline of near the end of 2015. Only then are you allowed to start quizzing me about the third installment.

However, if you do keep in touch with me during this whole process you may be asked for your opinion on possible cover designs, or what kinds of things you might want to see in the second book that are not present in the first such as maps of my two worlds, character list with pronunciation guide. Let me know if you would be interested in seeing those.

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