Getting in Bed with the Devil

Sorry, this post has nothing to do with my daydreaming (or night dreaming) about the devilishly handsome Tom Ellis, aka “Lucifer.” In case you don’t know who I’m typing about, here’s what I mean….

Yeah, I know. And while I’d love to go on about that, this post is actually about my finally making a decision about going exclusive with Amazon. If you missed it, you can read about my vacillating frustration in this recent post, but let’s just sum it up by saying I was tempted, but still had qualms.

Well, those qualms were settled when I came across a couple podcasts on the very topic of going exclusive with Amazon, who should do so, and why. The first podcast was Episode #66 from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and the other was from one of my favorite podcasts the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast Episode #92.

That’s a couple hours’ worth of listening, but I’ll just boil it down by saying I was the EXACT type of writer who should be in Amazon’s KDP Select because….

  1. I have a small platform (and they say size doesn’t matter!)
  2. I make less than (SO much less than) $100 from book sales each month
  3. Being exclusive to Amazon makes it much easier to get noticed than being spread across all retailers (and as I’m finding out, simplifies book file management)
  4. Amazon exclusivity is the best place for new authors to gain traction with building an audience. Since I feel like I’m starting over with my writing career this year, I feel I’m essentially a “new” author.

In the ALLi episode, the funny thing was, the person who was supposed to be arguing the case for not being exclusive had numerous books exclusive to Amazon because of all the benefits of exclusivity…not exactly pleading your case, lady (good thing she’s not a lawyer, right?). Another of my favorite podcasts, The Creative Penn (by Joanna Penn), has also said numerous times  – even though she is a staunch supporter of being wide – that authors should start out in KDP Select before expanding onto other retailers.

With all this in mind, in early March I made the scary choice to remove the Osteria Chronicles books from all the other retailers (and let me tell you, my hand was twitching when I was hitting that “Delist” button). Yesterday, those three books officially became part of the KDP Select monopoly adventure. Wait, do we need another Lucifer picture? Yes, I think we do.

Yes, cheers to you too, Tom. Anyway, so what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re subscribed to the Kindle Unlimited program, you can now read ALL three books in the Osteria Chronicles for free (and I still get paid as long as you do read them).

This ability for readers to take a chance on my books without having to (directly) pay for them is one of the key benefits of being exclusive, so I REALLY hope you KUers out there take advantage of it (not that I’m begging or anything. Okay, yes, I’m totally begging. Go borrow my books!! I’ve even given you direct links below to show you how sincere I am in this plea).

For those of you not in Kindle Unlimited, this exclusivity can also benefit you because I spent the past week and weekend poring over calendars and my budget and many many MANY pieces of advice to create some really great promos around the launch of The Bonds of Osteria in late May.

As it stands, I feel a little dirty getting in bed with the Amazon devil, but I also feel a lot more focused on how to go about my marketing strategy and even a tad bit hopeful that I might actually get this series (that most readers seem to love) off the ground. Speaking of feeling dirty, time for one more Lucifer.

I still have no idea what I’m doing and the Bonds launch is going to be a huge experiment, but as they say, you can’t win if you don’t play the game — wait, no, that’s what Mr. Husband says about buying lottery tickets.

How has your week been? Any scary decisions or big leaps into the unknown? Writers, have you come across a podcast (or episode of a podcast) that’s provided you just the advice you were seeking?

I’ll be back next Wednesday with more writing news. In the meantime, here’s those direct links to the Osteria Chronicles books on Amazon.

The Trials of Hercules
The Voyage of Heroes
The Maze of Minos: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles

Curious about Kindle Unlimited? Find out more by clicking the image below….

Finn Brews Up Some St. Patrick’s Day Spirit

Oh what a crazy couple weeks it’s been since we last hung out with Finn McSpool. First, he recently got a huge mention on his creator’s blog over at Crawcrafts Beasties which began a whole weekend of ego-mania.

Then, just as I had his ego tamed, the report that Finns were the happiest people sent him into another round of “I’m Number One! I’m Number One!” I still haven’t gotten through to him that “Finn” refers to people from Finland, but I’m also worried this revelation might make him think he has a whole country named after him.

But ego-taming is not what today’s post is about because today is St. Patrick’s Day and, being from Ireland himself, Finn is ready for a celebration. And his celebratory drink? A home brewed batch of pseudo-Guinness!


Beer as a Reward System

When I hit Save on my (almost) final draft of The Bonds of Osteria, I thought I deserved a little reward. After my wine-making experiments, I’d been contemplating trying to brew my own beer. I’ve tried home brewing once before many many many years ago with a Mr. Beer Kit only to end up with rather bland results.

This time around, I wanted to try my hand at the real thing: an all grain beer. As luck would have it, the site I was browsing for info had a kit with all the ingredients and tools. As luck (of the Irish?) would have it, the kit was heavily discounted. Talk about some hoppy fate!

And, since my first batch would be ready right around St. Patrick’s Day, and since I’d be celebrating the day with an Irish monster, I had to opt for the Pride of Dublin Stout (aka “pseudo-Guinness”). I think Finn approved of my choice.

Finn Puts on His Brewer’s Hat

Along with hops, yeast, a bottle capper, caps, and more, the kit included a big bag of grains and a mesh bag to put them while they boiled. Well, at least I thought a mesh bag was included. I thought it was just here. Where is it? Oh lord, Finn. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, not Halloween!!

Once I untangled Finn from the confines of the bag, I managed to pour the grains in without spilling them all over the kitchen (an amazing feat, if I do say so myself). Unfortunately, after waiting for me to read the instructions and get everything sanitized and organized, Finn was ready for a break and thought the grain bag made the perfect Beastie-sized bean bag chair.

Finally, I got the grains in the pot and heated the water to coax those lovely fermentable sugars out of the mix. As you might expect, Finn was a big help even if he was doubtful about the quality of a beer that started out looking like a pot of muddy laundry.

Still, as the tasty scent of the grains (and eventually hops) filled the kitchen, Finn was getting a little eager for some beer and brought over a bottle. Sorry, Finn, it’s going to be a few weeks.

Finn went off to sulk and I (while contemplating where he got that beer bottle and why he hadn’t shared its contents) cooled everything down before transferring the yummy brown concoction into a jug and adding some yeast. Then it was time to let the beer ferment. I told Finn we needed to keep an eye on everything to make sure it didn’t bubble over. He took this instruction literally.

The Results…Hey, Where’d They Go?

Bottling day went so fast that I forgot to take pictures (and let me say that capping beer bottles just doesn’t have the same frustration-relief as corking wine bottles). Finally, tasting day was upon us and although this picture doesn’t show off the magically creamy head the beer had, you’ll just have to take my and Finn’s word for it that our creation  tasted remarkably like Guinness.

The only problem? Well, besides now wanting to brew more batches of all kinds of beer? We ended up drinking it all before St. Patrick’s Day. Oops.

Are you celebrating all things Irish today? Have you tried brewing your own beer? Have you had to tame any egos this week? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!!!


Curious About Making Your Own Beer? Here’s Some Books I’m Finding Helpful….

Continue reading

Everything Old is New Again

So now that I’m on the downhill slope of releasing The Bonds of Osteria: Book Four of the Osteria Chronicles, I’m sure you’ve been kept up at night wondering what my next project might be. Sorry, I need a break from the series, so it’s not going to be book five. However, fans of the world of Osteria, shouldn’t dismay because there’s a whole heap of Osteria coming your way (ooh, that’s almost poetic).

The Never-Ending Project

My current work-in-progress has been “in progress” for about six years. Okay, I haven’t actually been working on it for six years, but I did pen the first word of it way back in 2012 when I was still fumbling around trying to write a book I felt good enough about to release. From the various colors of ink that have made their mark on the manuscript, it’s obvious I’ve come back time and time again to this book but kept getting tossed off its track to completion.

And what was derailing me each time? Research.

Why do you refuse to become a novel!!!???

This pesky project was a historical novel set in one of my favorite time periods: Ancient Rome (on which many aspects of Osterian life are based). Unfortunately, I’m no Roman scholar and there were some aspects of Roman life, politics, and history that I simply couldn’t nail down (for example, a huge chunk of time during which the biographies of one of the characters offers little information).

There were non-research related bits of this work that needed help such as my perpetual habit of “losing” characters in the narrative or not nailing down character motivation, but those are issues that would have been easy to work out if only I could get around that damned lack of information. Even though I loved the overall story line of this work, my inability to satisfy my need for accurate details meant I kept setting the manuscript aside.

Fantasy Fiction to the Rescue!

Anyone who is familiar with the Song of Ice & Fire series (aka “Game of Thrones”) and with English history will have realized that much of Martin’s war plot line stems from the War of the Roses and England’s other dynastic battles. Ever since realizing this myself, that old manuscript has been making noises from its spot in my closet.

Keep in mind my series The Osteria Chronicles is based on Greek mythology (plot lines), Roman history (settings, clothing, etc.), and my own twist to put the myths into a new setting (a very-distant future Pacific Northwest). Since my research-anemic historical novel was set in Ancient Rome, it didn’t take too big of a leap to think this old manuscript could be made into something new, something Osterian.

And the best part…it would require no additional research. As Sherlock (the Cumberbatchian version) would say, “The game is on.”

So What’s the Story??

The basic tale of this new work is that of Julia Domna, wife to Emperor Septimius Severus and mother to the Emperor Caracalla (he of ginormous baths fame). I’ll go more into what drew me to this story in a later post, but suffice it to say, her life and that of her sons had some serious drama–and potential for drama if you have a writer’s imagination–going on that really captured my interest.

Julia Domna striking a pose in Ostia Antica just outside of Rome.

For those of you familiar with The Osteria Chronicles, this new series is set quite a bit before events start shaping up for old Herc in book one. It centers on a time just when Osteria splits from being one cohesive realm (“empire”)into the twelve poli with the gods taking a stronger role in the affairs of his or her own individual polis.

So far, the book is fitting marvelously into the world of Osteria with a few tweaks to place and character names, adding in some centaurs and satyrs, and pulling in some oracles at just the right moments.

Septimius Severus, rome

Septimius Severus looking pensive at Rome’s Musei Capitolini.

The rewrite isn’t simply changing out a few names, though. First off, there’s those messy plot points to tidy up and the overall book needs a huge dose of tension thrown in. Because I’m not constrained by the history and get to put things into a fantastical setting, I’m able to play around with my characters far more than I could have, which has been loads of fun! For example, my vaguely threatening character from the historical novel is getting to become really creepy in the rewrite.

Serial Killer? Killer Serial!!

Even before I started rewriting the book in late February, this was a LONG manuscript – something like 150,000 words. However, I originally wrote it in three parts, with one part being long enough to split in two.

With it already divided up like this, my plan is to release the book in serialized form (like Stephen King did with The Green Mile and old timey writers used to do for magazines). This also has some marketing strategy behind it, which is also a topic for a future post.

Planning for Fall and Looking for Thoughts

As it stands now, I hope to have the first part of the serialization out in ebook format in the fall, probably sometime in October.

For you paperback fans out there, I’m toying with the idea of whether to release the book in one big tome or in the same serial format as the ebooks, so feel free to shout any input you have on that. And in case you’re wondering, sometime next year, I do plan to make an ebook box set of the series.

Writers, do you have any experience with releasing serialized fiction? How did it work out? Readers, how does a serialized book sound to you? How long in between the releases would you want to wait? And of course, what has everyone been up to this week? I’ll be back Saturday with A St. Patrick’s Day special with Finn McSpool!!


Have I made You curious about Osteria? By signing up to my mailing list, you’ll get the exclusive ebook Inside Osteria, not to mention a terrific newsletter full of book news and book recommendations each month.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year (for Readers)

What?! Is it Christmas again already? Well, if you’ve wandered over to my Instagram lately, you’ll have seen my Christmas cactus thinks so.

For those of you who aren’t calendar-challenge bits of plant life, never fear, there’s still over nine months before we have to endure the holidays again.

In my opinion though, this week is far more magical than Christmastime because 1) it’s centered around books, and 2) it doesn’t involve a single note of muzak Christmas carols.

What is this super special time? Why it’s Smashwords’ Read An Ebook Week! Yay!!!! Continue reading

Witchy Houses & Angry Monsters, aka “Your Average Day Out in Portland”

A few weeks ago Mr Husband and I took advantage of a string of dry days and headed out for a little local adventure (and for a walk somewhere besides the neighborhood). Little were we to know the trouble we’d be stirring up with Finn McSpool.

A Little Mansion to Start Your Day

Our planned day out was a hike in Forest Park along a portion of the (almost) 30-mile long Wildwood Trail and rather than start at our “usual” spot by the zoo, we headed up to the trailhead at Pittock Mansion.

Now, ever since I got to go there on school trips, I have wanted to live in this little mansion (a mere 46 rooms), but until the City of Portland decides to gift it to me, I have to make do with strolling the grounds and peeking in the windows of this historic home that overlooks the city from its hilltop location.

Quick Fact: Pittock Mansion was the inspiration for Eury’s home in my book The Trials of Hercules. I’m sure this bit of trivia will one day be added to the mansion’s history page on the Pittock Mansion website.

Gawking complete, it was time to hit the trail.

Down Down Down

From the mansion it’s a long, steep walk downhill for about two miles. And yes, the whole time the fun thought of, “I’ve got to walk all the way back up” danced in my head. Ugh. But we did passed this group of cute men in funny hats on the way down. Continue reading