Posted in books, serial, Seventh, Stories

Seventh: A Serial Story

Hair black as night.
Lips red as wine.
Skin pale as snow.
Eyes as dark as their hearts.

As a third generation seventh child, Crystal knows better than most how dangerous fairies can be. Now, thanks to a fairy’s meddling her brothers are in danger.

Lucinda, Queen of the blood fae, has claimed Crystal’s brothers. Their freedom may be regained, if Crystal is willing to trade them for the items Lucinda needs.

Six items traded for six brothers, and a seventh trade for her own freedom. Escaping from the underground realm of the fae might well require the help of another fairy. A fairy who knows the shadows just as well as Lucinda does. One who stands to gain just as much from Crystal’s entrapment as they do from her freedom.

Last week I announced my latest project. This week I’m even more excited to tell you all when you can see it and to let you know a little more about it.

Like Crimson and Gold, Seventh is vaguely based on a well-known Western fairy-tale. You’ll also be able to see characters from both Season of Preparing and The Spinning Wheel Trade in it. Unlike its related stories however, Seventh will be released as a serial story.

Part One | Part Two

You humans like to add ‘happily ever after’ onto your stories. There isn’t always a happily forever after, Sometimes it’s only ‘forever’ after.

Posted in books

Reasons for a DNF

If you’re not familiar with the term DNF it’s short for Did Not Finish. I’ve seen it a lot in the book community, and even some posts on specific books as to why they ended up being on the DNF list. After looking over my own DNF list, I realized there were a few key things that ended up causing me to put the book aside.

Too Many PoVs This one is very subjective, however for me, there’s a limit of how many characters are needed to tell the story. If you’re introducing a new point of view in almost every chapter, there’s too many views to follow along. I don’t need to know every character and their side of the story, I want to know why I should care about the main character.

A variation on that is also late introduction to PoV characters. I’ve had two separate stories where I got halfway or better into the story only to be blindsided by an entirely new PoV character.

Dumb Characters I really wanted to put it some other way besides ‘dumb’ because that feels harsh but that’s what it came down to. In both of my most recent DNF additions, the lack of basic thought on part of the main characters heavily contributed to the book being put aside.

This isn’t just a case of a character who isn’t academically smart or who simply doesn’t think very quickly. This has been a case of characters following questionably sound logic, or outright ignoring the very obvious signs that they are the Chosen One, their friend is a vampire or anything else that might be painfully obvious to the reader. It’s also a case of characters not asking the obvious and important questions–like how everyone knows they’re the Chosen One, or how everyone knows their friend is a vampire.

Lack of Plot This one is a really minor complaint. I’m personally much more drawn to character driven stories, but when the progress on solving the main conflict is largely characters rehashing what they know or going about their day-to-day lives doing their jobs while the side characters around them are off doing important plot-worthy things, it’s frustrating and it’s boring.

Inaccuracy Again, this is a very minor thing. Getting every detail about a place you’ve never been or a food you’ve never tasted is hard. Even getting every detail about an experience you’ve had can be hard. And the only reason this ended up on the list is because it ended up being the entire reason for a DNF within the first chapter.

Inaccuracy in facts does happen–but when it happens across almost every fact, it makes me feel like you haven’t done your job as a writer. And trust me, I know that’s a hard job (it’s one I pursue myself). It doesn’t take long to google how large an animals is, what kind of fish can be found in an area, that tigers can swim and which plants are actually poisonous.

These are all reasons for my personal DNF’s. They’re not a guarantee that every book out there with these things will be a DNF, it’s just some of the more common or stronger reasons for certain books to be put aside.

What are some of your reasons for a DNF?

Posted in books, writing

The (Almost) Launch Post

Back in September when I first started looking at publishing Crimson and Gold, there was an entire list of questions to answer. From the cover to the formatting, did I have everything I needed? There were also questions about whether or not I should do pre-orders, blog tours, ARCs and so many other little things it felt almost like I could easily drown in all the uncertainty.

Writing books is hard. Editing them is harder. Publishing is harder still.

I am however, incredibly happy to announce that all of the pre-launch chaos is almost over. Crimson and Gold officially releases on January 15. I know I’m not the only one wading through posts on how to do a book launch or how to create buzz for a story, so I’m hoping my experiences here will help anyone else with questions.

Building the Plan
The first place I started was figuring out what I needed to do to get ready to launch. That involved digging around on the internet and finding out what others had done for their launch plans. There were a few things I noted were key components.

  1. Time.
  2. Marketing
  3. Preparation

All three of these are things I knew I had to put into my own plan, which is why for something decided on in September of 2019, the end goal wasn’t feasible until at least January 2020.

Preparation was the biggest factor for how much time I needed. I needed time to make any final edits and to format the text. Additionally, I needed time to write any posts related to the launch. There were also several weeks of work to go into creating the cover.

Because Crimson and Gold is just over thirteen thousand words, I opted for fairly light marketing, utilizing just my twitter and the blog. I went back and forth on whether or not to open pre-orders (more on that a little bit below). Although that certainly reduced the amount of time I needed between deciding to publish and actually clicking the button, there was still a lot of work to go into it.

Behind the Scenes
A lot of the work going into launch day was technical work and learning as I went. Cover creation required not only editing and processing an image but also adding a few new skills to my repertoire of digital art. Learning those skills added several hours to an already lengthy process.

There was also formatting. Once the final edits were made, I needed to add in an appropriate table of contents and make sure it would properly transfer over to an e-book. That was likely the easiest portion of the entire process to complete.

I also had to upload both the manuscript and cover files, check those for errors and make any necessary corrections. Namely my initial cover wasn’t saved at the proper size, making it too small to upload.

All of that took up the months of October through November. Because I wanted the cover reveal done in December, I had to make sure that was completed and ready to go and became the primary reason the cover wasn’t revealed until the 30th. Before I could reveal anything I needed the cover and I needed a description.

The countless hours already put into writing and editing the story had to shift from checking word choice and grammar rules to trying to talk about the story and manipulating photos.

What’s Next
Officially, Crimson and Gold is launching on January 15th. I spent a lot of time debating about opening pre-orders. Ultimately, I decided on yes. It made things a little easier since it meant I could set the date and forget it, not needing to worry that anyone looking for the book wouldn’t be able to get it right away.

Beyond the 15th however, things get a little murkier. I’ll still need to do promotion and marketing. There’s plenty more to learn ahead.

CRIMSONANDGOLDREVEALCOVERCrimson and Gold available January 15th, 2020. Pre-order it here! You can also check out my other works here.

Twelve years ago, a wolf attacked Scarlett. Twelve years ago, Grandmother Rose chased off the man behind that attack.

Now, Ethan is back and Scarlett is the one responsible for defending Fairvale.  Doing that means finding the fairy spring and the only person who knows how to find it is the woodcutter, Carter. Carter has is own reasons for not getting involved with fairies and wolves. If Scarlett can’t find the fairy spring, Ethan gains control over some of the most dangerous creatures in the entire First Kingdom.

The same creatures he used to attack her twelve years ago.

Posted in books

Crimson and Gold: Descriptions and Teasers

I’m so excited for January when I’ll be releasing Crimson and Gold. Although it’s only a short, it’s still taken a lot of work to get to this point, and now that I have my cover (and the above teaser) officially set and ready to go, it’s even more real now than before.

There are still a few small things to take care of before January rolls in. For me, the hardest part of any story has been writing a back description for it. I’ve redone my current one twice in the last week. It’s hard to distill an entire a story down into just a paragraph or two, even if that story clocks in at 13k.

To that end, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the back summaries of other fairy tale retellings (especially other red riding hood retellings).

Officially, I’m showing off the entire cover on December 30th, and Crimson and Gold will be released on January 15th. For now, enjoy the teaser and the summary:

Crimson and Gold

Twelve years ago, a wolf attacked Scarlett. Twelve years ago, Grandmother Rose chased off the man behind that attack.

TeaserNow, Ethan is back and Scarlett is the one responsible for defending Fairvale.  Doing that means finding the fairy spring and the only person who knows how to find it is the woodcutter, Carter. Carter has is own reasons for not getting involved with fairies and wolves. If Scarlett can’t find the fairy spring, Ethan gains control over some of the most dangerous creatures in the entire First Kingdom.

The same creatures he used to attack her twelve years ago.

Posted in books, writing

Creating a Launch Plan

One of the most daunting tasks I’ve faced so far with Crimson and Gold is figuring out how to share it with readers. It’s a little too long for most short story markets, and longer than I want to post here. The story itself doesn’t fit into a serialization either. That leaves few options, of which I’ve settled on self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Shorts.

The next hurdle: figuring out how to launch it. Although I could easily just hit ‘publish’ and call it good, advice and evidence both say that’s not the best option. Like anything else,  it takes work to make sure it doesn’t get buried before readers even go looking for their next read. There are plenty of guides catered to launching full-length books, but what about something that’s only just over thirteen thousand thousand words?

It turns out finding any sort of short story launch guide is difficult. I won’t say impossible, but I also didn’t find any myself either. There are dozens of book launch plans however, and they all start months before launch, and some of them start years beforehand.

Given the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of publishing anything, that makes a lot of sense. Cover designers need time to work. A final copyedit and readthrough needs time. Buzz takes time to create and spread. All of that can take weeks and months to create and implement, so number one rule of creating a launch plan: Start several months before launch. 

The next part is figuring out what your launch plan needs to do. Do you have a social media presence to utilize? Do you need to start one and work on building it? What about getting your book or story formatted? Do you have a cover or any teaser images you can use to create buzz? Remember the more your launch plan needs to do before launch day, the more time you need.

Another part of how long you need is going to center on what you plan to do to create buzz. Are you going to have events or items at your local library, school or bookstore? What about a blog tour? Pre-Orders and reviews?

For Crimson and Gold, given how short it is, I’ve opted to keep my focus on making sure it’s formatted and put together. While I won’t be doing any massive blog tours and I’m still iffy on doing pre-orders for a short story, I do want to use teaser images and a cover reveal to get the word out. Those are all things that need to be timed and ready weeks beforehand. That means for something I started planning at the end of September, I’m looking at the end of January at the very earliest.

To actually create and write my launch plan, I gave myself goals and deadlines for each month and the weeks leading up to the intended launch date. Once I had the general goals, I could break each goal down into what needed to be done to complete it. I added general deadlines to each step and ended up with a pretty good structure of what needed to happen and when.

What are any tips or tricks you’ve learned for writing a launch plan? Any experiences you want to share from your launches?