Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marketing stuff

I've been busy at work making some images for that book website I probably should have started a few weeks ago as well as other promo stuff. All the parts a writer loves.

I joke, but in reality photoshopping is a nice break from the stress of contorting my manuscript into a paperback and then ebook form. (I have rants that would burn apart a sun about Lulu's wizards)

On to the pictures. I made a sort of banner for each of my characters.

Aldrin, the second son for the throne who's been
 tasked with saving a crumbling throne he has no right to.

 Ciara, a daughter of near knight, is tossed into the 
world on the flames of loss as the Empire ransacks her 
home. She is the only one left to save Aldrin.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Free book covers?

On Thursday I had my consultation for the free covers we were promised as part of winning this genie's curse.

It was short and she didn't ask many questions; so I put together a synopsis and shared a link to a pinterest board I'm working on for a visual imprint of my book.

I haven't done a lot of book covers (only six, five of which are my own) but I was more than a bit surprised when checking my e-mail while in the middle of Rapture --splicer behind you!--I find an e-mail from the graphic artist we've been given. I figure, oh, must be wanting to ask a few questions, no these are the cover options.

Let me begin by asking which of these three you'd prefer for a YA fantasy novel about a black girl trying to keep the spare to the throne alive while fighting off walking corpses filled with returning magic?

Edited to say I added one more. Because I can't leave well enough alone, I'm trying my last crack at a book cover and then calling it good. Four options is enough.

Have you decided? Good, because while I really do want to hear your thoughts you can't stop me from sharing my first impressions.

This strikes me as both a Game of Thrones knockoff (which my book is nowhere near) and a very droll book about the history of swords.

And this one...oh this one. I don't remember writing a romance novel about a white woman who hangs baroque wallpaper for a strapping but aloof sword-collecting billionaire.
What pisses me off the most about it is that I stressed, three times over, that my main heroine is black. Shit, out of the five in the main group of characters there isn't a single white woman. My witch is asian. After struggling to find a few pictures of any people of color in a renaissance/medieval/fantasy setting, to get this whitewashing book cover drove me to see red. Many splicers met their end.

(And the creator's response to this was "Well, I like to create in my mind the characters as I read them." No, there is no doubt Ciara isn't black. None. You'd have to be working damn hard to miss that)

The last one, if you've been following me at all, is a book cover I threw together for my personal hardcover before I was promised a free book cover from a graphic artist.
Since I did it so quickly, there's a lot I'd still have to fix/mess around with.

I'm still trying to think of an e-mail to send back to the artist that isn't a string of WHAZLEFRARG!!!!!!!

When we were first informed by Lulu that they hired someone's cousin who started a graphic artist job for spare money (or so I tell myself to keep from throwing things) I checked out her site. There was some drab, forgettable stockphoto logos and blog themes and nary a book cover in sight.

Oh boy.

So I suspected what we were getting was, at best, going to be pretty photoshop thrown together but, damn, do those options not look like something you'd get for free from a "Book cover" wizard?

It's funny, I don't remember wishing on a monkey's paw to win this Lulu contest but that must have been what happened.

Please share your impressions, comments, thoughts on these three covers below. I'm still ruminating...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Best Worst Book of 2014

It is not rare to come across a god awful, Gulliver-wouldn't-piss-on-it bad self published book. What is far more difficult to find, to achieve, is the book that is so putrid, so disgustingly obnoxious that it becomes good. 

I believe I have found the best worst book of 2014 and it is The Life and Loves of Aaron James:
That luxurious cover art surely cost the author at least $1.50 in markers after he forgot to put the cap back on.

But they say that one should not judge a book by its cover. These are the same people who also cry "Boo, how can that book be so bad when the cover's so pretty" but humans are a contradictory lot. The proof is in the syllabic pudding, so to spell. 

This is the point when I would comment on the characters, the plot, the setting, or the theme, but there is none. Sure, there are names, a confusing jumble tossed around to the point I suspect there are two perhaps three players but at least six to seven different names used to describe them. I would say this detracts from the beautiful awfulness, but characters are pointless.

The plot is even less in existence. The summary claims this is a vignette about the love life of a man named Aaron. I shall have to take the synopsis at its word because aside from some of the most disturbingly unsexy sex scenes I've ever read, there is nothing approaching this thing you humans call love.

If the author cannot be bothered to create characters or plot, what is the point of caring? Ah, gentle reader, trusting reader. Would I lead you astray? 

The beauty of this book lies not in the whole, but the sum of its parts. It is the incomparable prose which elevates it from gutter trash to pure poetry. But you need not take my word at it, as this beauty is in the 70,000 word range we have much to experience in the sample.

It begins thusly:
"A~BeYouToFull~ publication"
Can't breathe! Dying of laughter! Help! We know when you make up your own publishing company to hide the fact it's self published. But I would kill to find someone straight laced sending out business cards with "A~BeYouToFull~ publication" in raised letters. I'd hoard them all!

A first sentence is like making a good impression. Stick your nose in someone else's coffee and they probably won't wish to speak with you again. What does "two running medallions" mean? Can we ever truly understand how two people are strapped to these silent running medallions? Will the world believe and trust what is or is not to come? We shall press on to find it with limited interruptions from yours truly.

Friends don't let friends use thesauri. 

"though her sexual properties diminished as she approached him, her unfaithful behavior was still a cut above daring."

"The imminent structures of her body were informing Streicher of her inventory"
Two kidneys, one liver, and a pile of petty soul gems. 

This is such purple prose, it's gone pure ultra-violet. Only some insects can properly view it.

"unhappiness migrated vaguely across her face."
Where ya wanna migrate to?
I dunno, just wander off over there or something. 

"the equine toss of her head forced him to reciprocate"
Wait, she's been a horse this whole time? No wonder she has a vast inventory.

"Streicher was humid with remembering the relics of their lovemaking."
This is why you want to keep a desiccant with your sex relics. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


a very very short story


The room should be cold and dark, like an untended grave; more silent than the finger of death. That’s what all the advice articles say to combat insomnia. Still I lay here, counting something…

I tried to focus on my breaths like the books say, but I can’t hear them anymore. They’ve faded into the night as my relentless mind stubbornly cling to the waking world. The hours for witches, for the dancing dead, for the nocturnal animals to prowl their elements pass as I flip over. Time is different in the ink of the night, each heartbeat could last for a nanosecond or an entire day. It is impossible to discern the passing of minutes into hours, or hours into day.

But the glare of sun, the proof that I once again failed, always cracks the drawn blinds of my tomb never reaching my partially opened eyes. Daylight, another chance to struggle for the unreachable peace as I again rise from my shroud of twisted sheets empty of sleep.

Lonely. Am I lonely? I am alone, but does that make me lonely? I can’t remember.

Day is not night. Of course it isn’t. What a silly thing to think. I’m so exhausted, common and uncommon sense allude me. I can’t remember when last I slept. Was it before? Or have I ever slept? Can one go their whole life without sleep? It’s on the cusp of my memory…no, it’s gone. It was never there, not in the ethereal daylight. Only when the sun slumbers, as I roll through my internal rolodex calling up every wrong, every fear, every hurt in my life, can my memory return. Only them am I properly alive.

I stand before the bed -- my bed -- my untended, unused bed, and watch the last drops of light from a lonely world spilling across the dilapidated carpet. I am lonely, but all I can ever be is lonely. A form lies on the right side, on my side, curled inward as if reaching its knees could have stopped the inevitable. The eyes are partially open from the dehydration. The skin is the texture and color of ham jerky, with a few wisps of hair fanned across the molding pillow. Day to months to years; it is forgotten, abandoned, lost.

Sleep. Sleep will not come for me. It left me behind. I am alone.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hangin' of the Green

The manuscript is done, gone, out of my hands and into the wild blue yonder. To celebrate I took a much needed break from editing, reading, looking at, or being in the same vicinity as words. (I communicated through a series of pictographs). I also decided I wanted a springy wreath to hang upon the door.
Much like my old spider wreath I wanted something kind of simple and twiggy. So for $4 I got an 18" wreath of sticks, a $6 bag of moss and jammed the two together. I thought I'd have to hot glue the moss on at first, but then I realized I could just work it under the sticks in clumps. I'd add some below and some over top to give a lush look. It's so easy even I can do it.

 I still have about half the bag left so I can moss up something else.
It has a fresh breath of spring and looks a bit like an avant-garde bird tried to build a nest on my door. But as you can probably see, I wanted to add my own macabre touch. I chopped up one of my fairy skeletons and glued in the bones.

I wanted it to be subtle enough that most people probably wouldn't notice...until it was too late.
This is probably why I should stick to the wording. I make far more creepier stuff in the real world.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's almost time

I can smell the freedom from the editing monster. Our manuscripts formatted into book are due at 11:59 PM on the 15th. If all goes well I'll be done tomorrow and then I will never ever look at this book again.

On that note, with only four days left to go, and after a month + of silence we finally heard from our Lulu overlords. Apparently, they want us to go through something called Pubslush to do our advertising.

Okay. Great. What the hell's Pubslush?

If your first thought is the detritus you kick off the back of your car on a snow day, you'd be wrong. (Seriously, slush is never ever a word you want to officially associate with your book anything. Slush is bad, slush makes writers break down into sniveling balls of snot. Do not use slush.)

Apparently Pubslush is "Crowdfunding for the literary world."
 But not editing for the literary world. Sorry: Editing, for the Literary World.

Bad feeling. You're probably asking yourself, self, doesn't kickstarter already have a ton of book campaigns?

Why yes self, it does. It does indeed. And a lot of people use kickstarter to fund their self publishing to varying degrees of success. I have avoided that route for various reasons. The greatest being I do not want to make a video of me begging for money. You guilt your friends, and family, and their friends, and family into financing your shit, getting a copy and then not looking at it again. It's a box of girl scout cookies dressed up as advertising. Advertising to finance advertising sounds like a mobius strip of hell to me. I'm no good at the humble begging, "Please sir, may I have another reward."

Okay, but self, if this is crowdfunding specifically for the literary world then perhaps they're better prepared to handle the book world while kickstarter is there for watches that shoot lasers and tabletop games based upon time traveling mailmen with harpoon arms.

I decided to peruse the genre my book would fully land in: fantasy. There are 8 books listed, in total, and not a single one of these was successful.

Bad feeling rising.

Poking around a bit more it seems there are 4 successfully completed campaigns. From every genre of book listed. Four. FOUR!

I'm not even certain what the hell we're supposed to get out of it. In theory, we get cover art and distribution from Lulu. I have no idea what money we beg off others would go for. Bookmarks? T-shirts? A shiny new apple? At this point I'll be happy with 100 free books, a vague mention on the lulu site, and that shiny new apple.

I know book stuff isn't easy. It's a single drop shouting for attention in a rainstorm. But promising the moon for a contest that they're still scrabbling to cobble together for the winners is not a good way to have happy people to use to sell your publish on demand company.

On another hand, I have some potentially good news as the query I sent in under the deadline for Dwarves in Space got a bite. So I e-mailed off that full manuscript. First time I've gotten anyone interested. Apparently I'm quirky.

That's all for now from my brain and screaming fingers.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Free Book/Still Editing

To start off, for this week my first book I ever wrote, Tin Hero, is a free download on Smashwords.

You just have to use the code RW100 when checking out. And maybe sacrifice your first born or something, I never read the terms of service.

Now to that other book I have a little over ten days to finish. So...I have reached the point where I cannot stand a single word I wrote, I hate every idea I've ever had, and am looking into a deep cave and building a doomsday device.

But still plugging along...choo-choo!

When not reading through 200,000 words and change I've been doing the formatting/layout/making a book pretty stuff.
And there's also the map that I redrew because I really needed to.
I'm a little over 150 pages from this last major pass through then this manuscript is out of my hands and off into the ether. Then I never want to see another word ever again.