Monday, July 18, 2016

Unfolding Life Now on Inktera and Scribd

The roll out of new places to buy Unfolding Life keeps moving along. Now you can purchase the ebook edition of Unfolding Life from Inktera for $2.99! Scribd members can also download the book as part of their monthly subscription.

Getting a wider distribution is an interesting lesson in independent publishing. I've talked with some authors that say some of these not-Amazon sales channels are great and others say they never see a single sale from. Still, it never hurts to get your title in front of more people. I'm currently using Draft2Digital to do this expanded distribution, and it's going well so far. I hope they are able to add other channels soon so that I can--dare I say it?--rule the world.

Camp NaNo update: I'm behind. No surprise about that. As much as I like the story I'm working on, I just have a lot of distractions. And let's be honest, these are distractions I can avoid, but don't. I should, but when you find an episode of American Pickers that you haven't seen yet, there's NO WAY you can write through it. I wish this wasn't a true-life example of my kind of distraction, but sadly it is (Side note: not distracted from other writing projects--just this one!). Anyway, it is still a living, breathing piece of writing. It will get done. Just maybe not until mid-August. And that's totally cool with me.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Unfolding Life Now Available at Barnes & Noble

It might have been a slow roll out, but Unfolding Life has finally made it into another store for purchase! You can buy the ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $9.99 from Barnes & Noble.

It's been an up and down week with this roll out. First, formatting is a nightmare and I hate it and I hate everything about every word processing program I've ever used. That said, the B&N ebook (and any future epub versions) may not look the same as the Kindle version. Although all of the content is there and readable, when I previewed it with Adobe Digital Editions each haiku was on a separate page. But the page counter only when up to 11 (the Kindle version has 67 pages) which means page breaks in the original file may not have transferred to the epub conversion. Ugh. As long as no one mistakes it for a single poem with 90+ stanzas, we're good.

The up side of this new adventure? The Reader's Favorite five-star review which I received awhile back was automatically there on the B&N book page when I first looked at it. Because of the rules about editorial reviews and how they can be posted, this review hasn't appeared on Goodreads or Amazon in full. It's always nice to click on your title and see that it has a five-star rating.

And then there was camp. It's going really well. My fingers are flying across the keyboard when I work on it. I did slack off during the holiday weekend, but I hope to be on track by Friday. This story is really interesting to explore. Let's be honest, if it wasn't, I would have given it up already. I can't wait to see what happens at the end.

Happy writing!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Fantastic Deals for Your Holiday Weekend

First of all, Happy Canada Day! If you want to pick up Unfolding Life this weekend for just $0.99, it's available at Kobo (you can also purchase the Kindle edition or paperback edition from Amazon for $2.49 and $9.99, respectively). This Kobo deal is available starting today through July 5th.

You know what else is coming up? That's right, Amazon's Prime Day! Yeah, I know everyone thought it sucked last year. But there are a lot of people saying that this year's deals are going to be A LOT better, so if you aren't already a Prime member, sign up today for your membership.

And since it's the first day of Camp NaNo, I just have to do a little bit of bragging. This word count total for Day 1 deserves a mic drop, doesn't it? :-D

Have a great holiday weekend!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

What's Left of June's Odds and Ends

This weekend I was getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo when I realized that, although the outline I picked as my project is sturdy and a story that I want to explore, there was another outline that I thought should be written first. So instead of a literary ghost story, I'm switching to a near-future political thriller. Yeah. I'm branching out a bit when it comes to genre.

I've also completed something for this blog that was always at the end of the to-do list, so it's been passed over day after day. But today, it's here. Check out my BOOKS section on the top navigation bar to see what I published, including contributions to collections and shorter works. I've had a version of this page before, but this one is organized.

To keep my busy this week (and when am I not busy?!) I'm working on a pilot script and the novella Haunting Melody. When it comes to scripts, I always thought I would see a feature script all the way through first, but the idea I have for a pilot just keeps nagging me, so I'm focusing on that first. Plus, even if no one bites for the pilot, I have something to show until I build up a few spec scripts. Anyway...

I can't wait to get to camp and see what damage I can do to that outline. Happy writing everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Melody of Love: Year One (And What Comes Next)

It takes a great amount of courage to come up with a story, to play with fictional lives like they were plastic dolls. And it takes a mountain of confidence on top of that to think you can pick up someone else's pile of dolls and put them into your own little world.

This is the one-year anniversary of publishing my novella, The Callaways: Melody of Love. I took it upon myself to sneak into someone's toy chest and start playing with their fictional characters because this novella was based on The Callaways series by Baraba Freethy. I was able to do this through Kindle Worlds, a pretty fantastic place (though not really well known) where authors of popular series offer up their worlds and their characters for some of us to experiment with. I did this because I was in the middle of reading the series when I found out that it was available on Kindle Worlds. And when life smacks you in the face with a sign like that, you've got to take your chance.

Diving Right In

I think the reason I didn't find this project as daunting as I should have was because I wanted to be immersed in the world, not necessarily with the lives of the specific characters. One of my favorite novels in the series was the one about Sean Callaway--the black sheep of the family because he was into playing music and not being a firefighter, doctor or other public servant like the rest of the big Callaway brood. His novel led to finding his love, Jessica, and helped her reignite a desire to dance like she used to before she was widowed. The novel ends with Sean and Jessica opening a recording/dance studio in San Francisco. And that's where I found the perfect place to create a love story of my own.

I used original characters to create Melody of Love, but without Sean and Jessica in the picture, the story couldn't have taken place. This was my first attempt at romance, so I had to navigate the waters of what type of romance it would be. There's a huge sliding scale in this genre where from one end the goal is the story ending with the couple holding hands for the first time all the way to full-on smut that you only read on an e-reader so no one can see the cover. I decided to stick with a more middle-of-the-road approach because that's where this series falls, and it can be hard to please romance fans, especially when they are coming from an established romantic world.

Publishing Through Kindle Worlds

Once the story was written, the work had to go through more steps than I had before with previous independently published work. The formatting had to be correct, sticking to a few specific rules like not including a photo on the author bio page, which I happened to forget when I first submitted it. After all of the little things were taken care of, I submitted it and still got it rejected. I was totally and completely disheartened. What could I have done wrong when I spent weeks getting it just right? Turns out, it was something very simple and something I should have been aware of before submitting my work.

The problem was in my book's description. I can't believe I would overlook it, but I didn't mention a Callaway family member. Not once. And because the book is based on a specific series, something needed to be mentioned, not just the two original characters I created. After taking care of that problem, it was smooth sailing. This probably gave me a better idea of how traditional publishing could go--lots of back and forth, getting everything just right before it's finally published.

I must also address this point to any authors looking to publish something through Kindle Worlds: just like any other major publisher, there is a lot of fine print and not a lot you have control over once you submit your work (heads-up for authors: you don't get to set your own prices). Be sure to read all of the fine print before you publish so that you are aware of what rights you hold and what rights the original author or the publisher holds.

A Built-In Audience

Writing a book doesn't guarantee you'll find an audience. Writing a book based on someone else's popular romance series doesn't guarantee you'll find an audience either. This discovery surprised me. I thought that super fans of this series would be all over my novella, even if it did veer off to another, non-Callaway couple.

Guess again.

Like anything you create, you have to get the word out about it yourself. I know I have a few fans out there (okay, maybe just two), but nothing like the the fan base of the original series. I was banking on bringing a few of them over to read my work, but as of writing this post, none of the readers who read and reviewed Melody of Love were actually readers of The Callaways series. I can't tell you whether that's a good or a bad thing. Maybe it doesn't matter at all since I put a lot of effort into making it a standalone story while still honoring the atmosphere of The Callaways. 

My biggest setback in the marketing game is that I'm reluctant to use the original author's name in the way I advertise the book. For some reason, it feels wrong to bring up her name just to make a sale, even though she clearly gave permission for authors to come in and write. (Just to be clear, I also feel the same way about books advertised as Stephen King-meets-Judy Blume or whatever big-name authors they choose to compare themselves with.) I've also purposely not approached Facebook fans of hers or posting about my work on her fan group pages (of which I am, of course, a fellow fan) because it seems like it would be in bad taste. So I haven't yet found out what her fans think of my work--and readers coming in as non-fans all have the same issue: it's too short.

That is a problem I can remedy. I wouldn't mess with Melody of Love to make it longer, but I would provide more novellas featuring my original characters. In fact, the novella I was working on last fall was a continuation of this story. So this October I'm going to be releasing a second novella called Haunting Melody (you heard it here first, folks). There is also a third novella in the very early planning stages, which would take my Kindle Worlds experiment from a good little story to a mini-trilogy within the world of The Callaways.

It was a thrill to work with someone else's characters with permission, especially since I spent some of my high school years honing my writing skills on unpublished fan fiction. It was also a great learning experience to publish work through Kindle Worlds. Even though Amazon is a giant in the world of all things written and published, it's nice to see that they have programs to help provide the space for independent authors to grow.