Happy (Re)Launch Day to the Osteria Chronicles!!!

This Valentine’s Day I’m showing my fantasy series a little love. I’ve forgone the box of overly-packaged, overpriced chocolates and sappy cards, and have instead opted for a little makeover…not for me, but for my books.

What in the world am I rambling on about? Cue drum roll……

The first three books of the Osteria Chronicles have now been officially relaunched!!

YAY!!!

This process began last November-ish with admitting the books really needed a boost, then moved onto the cover design showdown over the holidays, and just wrapped up last week with an unexpected decision about the content of the books.

So what changed and what remained the same during this makeover?

Big Change Number One: The Covers

The first big change, as you can see below, was a cover redesign. The old covers, while I tried to give them a similar color tone and font, just didn’t have that “series” look to them. My goal with the redesign was  to tie the covers together with similar imagery, tone, and font so the series has the same style across what will eventually be all six books. Continue reading

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Clearing the Hurdle of Book Four, aka “Bonds is DONE!”

That’s right The Bonds of Osteria: Book Four of the Osteria Chronicles is DONE!! Okay, not “done” done, but done enough to celebrate with all kinds of happy dancing and hoppy libations because it was a major struggle getting to this point.

The Troubles

I wrote the bare bones of Bonds as I was reworking The Maze last year. I’d basically taken each story line in Bonds and wrote them out as individual stories just to figure out what needed to go into The Maze and what needed to wait until Bonds. While this gave me a really nice starting point when it came time to starting Bonds, it also spelled gobs of trouble.

The first major issue was plot gaps big enough to fit Trump’s “239”-pound behind into. I knew X needed to happen and I had it happening, but the logic of getting X to happen ended up with me just plunking something in that didn’t make fit smoothly or logically into the rest of the narrative. I’ve included one of these examples in a deleted scene below.

Nightmare number two was the timeline. Bonds has at least six story lines all weaving together and one story line (the one that involves Bellerophon) is very dependent on the one that involves Perseus. Unfortunately, Perseus’s storyline was taking far too long to wrap up which would have really left Bellerophon in the lurch. I also had people taking way too long to travel when the main guts of the story happens in a rather short time frame.

The other serious problem was having characters’ story lines just falling off. For example, Jason (who you’ll remember from The Voyage) has a task he needed to do. Well, I had him just doing the task and then you never heard from him again. That’s no way to write a story. Resolution, man! I need resolution!!!

Killing Off My Darlings

Not so much killing, but more like a horror-movie homicidal maniac was left with a fully gassed up chainsaw in a room of teens on a backwoods getaway.

Continue reading

A Monster Wander Through the Not-So Wintry Garden

After going on a lot recently about monsters – Doubt Monsters, Amazonian Monsters – I’ve been looking forward to a post featuring that far-friendlier monster, Finn McSpool!

This year, the Pacific Northwest has thumbed its nose at the seasons and declared that winter is definitely NOT coming. While I was putting away all the dragon glass I’d stockpiled in the event of an invasion of White Walkers, my garden was scratching its head, having a few committee meanings, and coming to the executive decision that it was time to get blooming.

And of course, Finn saw the buds and blooms as a perfect chance for an outdoor photo shoot.

His first stop was to check out the pink blossoms of the border of Bergenias just outside my back door. He looks like he’s diligently studying those flowers, doesn’t he?

Of course the giant leaves of these plants were perfect for a game of hide-and-seek (I don’t have the heart to tell Finn he’s not very good at this game). Continue reading

Checking Up On Those 2018 Writing Goals

Egad! Is it really the end of January already? Apparently time not only flies when you’re having fun, but also when you’re hard at work (which kind of makes that saying a bit pointless, if you ask me). It’s been a crazy busy month. At times has been a tad overwhelming and the old Doubt Monster has crept in more than once, but so far I’m making headway into my creative goals for 2018 even if I’m not meeting all of them just yet.

If you don’t want to slog through the detailed list below here’s a quick summary of the goals I’ve conquered in January…

  • I’ve done a soft relaunch of Books One, Two and Three of the Osteria Chronicles (official relaunch is in February and you’ll hear all about it in a couple weeks).
  • I’ve tested out Amazon Ads during a short experiment
  • I reignited a new mailing list system (and have been begging for subscribers ever since).
  • I completed Draft 3 of The Bonds of Osteria and the end of Draft 4 is in sight!
  • I drafted a short story that was so scary a noise outside made me jump while I was writing it.

(if you missed my Original list of goals, you can catch up here)

And now, the detailed lowdown on all my creative ambitions for 2018…

    1. The mailing list revamp is complete and I even sent out my very first “real” newsletter yesterday that was chock full of the secrets of your local library and a recommendation for a fiction series that mixes humor, mythology, and mystery in a wild romp through the streets of London. I haven’t doubled my number of subscribers yet, but c’mon, it’s only been a couple weeks since the mailing list’s official launch. You can sign up for the newsletter here (hint hint) and get a couple free books for joining!
    2. The website remodel is complete for now and THANK YOU to those of you said you liked the tidier look and easier navigation. I’m considering adding a way for you to buy books directly through me, but that’s a project for much later in the year.
    3. Earn a defined amount from book sales. Um, yeah so even though I thought I was totally low-balling this one, I still fell short and that has fed into the Doubt Monster who keeps shouting, “You’ll never be anything, loser!” But I’m keeping a pair of ear plugs handy and trying to silence him as I push forward.
    4. Run at least one ad a month. I wasn’t going to start this until February, but I thought I’d give Amazon’s ads (AMS Ads for short) a try. The ad was just an experiment to try out the system and I plan to do a “real” ad next month. I’ll let you know the results from both and tell you a little bit about the ads in a post in the near future.
    5. Stay knowledgeable. This has been pretty easy. I’ve been keeping up with podcasts such as the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast, The Creative Penn, the Sell More Books Show, and the Self-Publishing Formula (my treat on the weekend is taking a break from all the book podcasts and listening to StarTalk). I’ve also read two marketing books and one book on the craft of writing (you can see them at the end of this post).
    6. Keep improving. This has been more fun than I thought it would be. Each Friday I’ve been doing one 10-minute writing exercise from The Write-Brain Workbook. The prompts can be challenging, but it’s amazing how the brain can come up with almost two pages of story on the fly. I’ve also drafted a short story that’s sort of Downton Abbey meets Poltergeist. I’ll be tidying up that draft next week.
    7. Continue on with the Osteria Chronicles. Next week’s post is going to go into more details about this, but let’s just say I am thisclose to being done with the hard stuff on Book Four (The Bonds of Osteria)…and it has been hard at times! As mentioned above, the official relaunch of books 1-3 happens next month. Work on the box set is still scheduled to begin in February with an expected release date of late April or early May.
    8. Publish an Osteria-based trilogy. I’ll start work on this in March.
    9. Write a stack of non-Osteria books for 2019 publication. I may have time to start outlining some of these in February, but the real writing won’t start until late spring.
    10. Try out KDP Select. As you may have gathered from last week’s post, I’m really on the fence about this one. The Osteria-based trilogy mentioned above may be a good test subject for a KDPS release, then a wide release once the 90 days are up. Again, I’m still researching/debating this.
    11. Make some passive income. Thanks to my affiliate links (some of which are below, hint hint), I’ve raked in a whopping 12 cents so far!! I just don’t know what I’m going to do with it all! :))
    12. Keep on blogging. Despite the insane writing schedule lately, so far, I’m staying on track  with my blog. However, something has to give so my social media interaction and posting has really fallen off. And I can’t say I’ve missed it!

Continue reading

Orvieto, Italy, Italia, Umbria,

The Amazon Angst

This month has been all about debating with myself over one single aspect of my writing/publishing future: whether or not to try out KDP Select. While I do like what I’m hearing and reading lately about the potential exposure this program can create for my books, do I really want to feed the monster that is Amazon.com?

Orvieto, Italy, Italia, Umbria,

Some monsters survive just fine on a steady diet of wine.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Amazon. They’re really the ones who made self-publishing possible beyond begging your friends and family to buy the stack of print books you had made. Amazon also carries tons (literally) of products, some of which I need but can’t find at local stores.

However, unlike the friendly and funny monsters created over at Crawcrafts Beasties, Amazon is turning into a scary and belligerent monster. And just as this monster has gobbled up some physical bookstores, it’s also threatening to smash the villages of e-bookstores and make slaves of formally-independent authors.

Warning: I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this, so this is an extraordinarily long post.  Continue reading