Posts Tagged With: Books

Blue Gentian Update

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In case you’re curious…

First of all 77 people have downloaded or bought my book in the last two days, and I’m SO THRILLED.  That was better than I’d hoped for in my wildest dreams.  Thank you all for checking out my work.  This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that you have my back.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In other news (!!!), last night I hit #41 on the top 100 Free Bestseller list for Epic Fantasy, which I NEVER thought to do.  I expected that I wouldn’t break into the top 100 at all.  Although that’s my best number, I’ve broken 50 in all Blue Gentian’s other categories, too. Something else to throw a party about.

Lastly, if you haven’t downloaded your free copy yet, we’re halfway through the promotion.  Just two more days until the price goes back to $4.99.   This is your friendly reminder to get the book sooner rather than later.

And thank you again.  It’s a little scary to launch a book – will people even care?  Will they read it? Will they like it?  You’ve answered at least one of those questions for me with enthusiastic gusto.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  I know I’ve said it a bunch, but seriously – THANK YOU.

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Categories: Fiction, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Nano Wrap Up

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Well, tomorrow is the end of Camp Nanowrimo, and I did VERY good this year.  In fact, shock of shocks, I won. I have an excellent track record at the regular Nanowrimo in November (I’ve won every year but last on account of, you know, going into labor and stuff), but I’m typically pretty terrible at Camp.  It lacks the urgency of November, and the cabins don’t really do anything for me.  Pep talks are also typically not as inspiring.  Still, it’s a good opportunity to have a little accountability.  I don’t usually win, but I usually get more done than I would have without participating.

I’ve been holding off on my writing this year (and honestly most of my hobbies, too).  The Small Boy takes precedence over everything right now.  But he’s becoming more self-sufficient with his entertainment and sleeping pretty consistently most nights.  Which means I found it pretty easy to scare up a bit of time for the writing this month.

I didn’t write things every night, though I did do things that furthered my writing career.  But I did write most nights, am about 1/3 of the way through the “final” draft of my next novel (before Autocrit, maybe Critique Circle, then 2nd/3rd party edits).  And I think, going forward, that I’m going to instate my old goal for the year.

  • I will write 20 days of the month for all the months left of 2018.

I think it’s totally doable, and I’m posting it here so that you can all keep me accountable to it.  I’ll include it when I do my rundown in December on whether I reached my goals for the year or not.  It may be a pipe dream, since the Alpha and Beta read process can take a long time, but I’m kinda hoping to get book #2 out to the world by this time next year.

Also, I GOTTA find a way to speed up that process…

That’s it for now.  T-minus 1 day until Blue Gentian releases!

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Is a Galley Worth It?

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Another publishing update.

I decided on a whim to order a galley copy of Blue Gentian.  Kindle was telling me that my cover photo was too small for the book, and I wanted to see (and maybe better control) what readers would have when they purchased my title.  At the bargain price of whatever it costs Amazon to print the book ($4 in this case), how could you go wrong?

You can’t, basically.

I’m THRILLED I decided to go that route and shell out the bucks for the galley.  It wasn’t the photo on the front that was the problem so much as the lettering that looked a little pixely.  I fixed that and we’ve moved on.

But honestly, that’s not the real reason I’m so relieved that I decided to order a copy.  The real reason was twofold.

One: there were a TON of typos that I just didn’t catch in the e-copy proof of the book.  There’s something about holding the item in your hand and reading through it that makes you catch those stupid periods that are duplicated, or the five times you’ve used “the world” in a single paragraph.  There were so many issues that I think it would have been pretty obvious to someone that the book was self-done.  By getting the hard copy, I was able to remedy that.  There may be typos I still didn’t get, but they’re not GLARING now.

Second: the book didn’t FEEL like a real book.  I was using the same document for the Kindle version and the print version, and so I had done all the stuff you’re supposed to do for the Kindle version – no extra pages up front, many links to my sites, etc.  By putting everything in the back of the book, I made the print version seem like a fake book, I think.  I now have formatted the print version to feel correct.

So, in case you were publishing a book and wondering if it was worth shelling out the bucks for the hard galley copy, I would 100% recommend it.   We’re looking at approximately 3 weeks until this thing is officially released.  I can’t wait.

And in case you’re wondering, I AM ordering a new galley of the updated book.  You know, just in case.

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I’m probably crazy…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the cover poll. The results are in!

Forest: 20

Caped Heroine: 9

Sparkly Face: 4

So, it looks like I’m going with the forest one. I’ll play around with the fonts a little more and see if I can’t get something better, though, since there were a lot of comments on that.

I’m a little nervous about it. Everyone I know who does design liked the Caped Heroine best, and honestly that sort of thing is what I’m seeing from most self-employed published authors. Still, Forest has my heart, and evidently the heart of everyone who has read the book (thanks to everyone who beta’d, too!).

That’s the great thing about self-publishing, though. If Forest isn’t selling the way I’d like, we can replace with Caped Heroine and see if it does any better. Yay for total control!

Aside from a few minutes faffing around with stuff that’s already mostly done, I haven’t done any real writing in a VERY long time. In a bid of desperation, I’ve decided to sign up for Camp Nanowrimo this month. Yes, I’m crazy.

I’m trying to take it easy on myself, though. I’m calling this project “be a writer” and I’m giving myself 1000 words for every day I do something writerly. Updating the blog, editing, creating Blue Gentian’s cover, formatting, outlining, actually writing fiction, plotting, random notes and penguins and iguanas lists; anything counts.

It will be hard, especially since I’m so out of the habit and in summer school. But I have faith in me.

I want to get ready to put my next book out, now that Blue Gentian is all but finished. It’s about 1/2 way through draft 2 right now, and I have at least two more drafts before I can put it though Auto Crit and then show it to Brian. Major rewrites usually follow any Brian input, and then there’s beta reading… Basically I’m saying it’s a WHILE off, even if I do manage to get my act together. It’s called Easterbay, it’s set in Maine during the 1940s, and it features creepy fairies.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going. Stay tuned for more. Also, I’m Caseykins over at the Nanowrimo site if anyone wants a writing buddy.

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Anne of Green Gables Read Along

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When the L. M. Montgomery institute called for blog entries for their Anne Read-Along this year, I knew I had to be involved.  Anne has been a major part of life from adolescence onward, and I surely would not have found Emily, Rilla, or Valancy without her.   All four girls have shaped my life in innumerable ways.  Anne is the gateway drug to all of it; the crux; where most of us start.

They gave me a hard chapter.  It’s short and not a lot happens.  It took me a while to think about it, but when it was all done I was really proud of what I had come up with: https://www.lmmontgomery.ca/anne-green-gables-read-long-chapter-iii-marilla-cuthbert-surprised  

I can’t wait to see what everyone else does for their chapter.  Reading the other blog entries has already made me see things in the books that I hadn’t before.  Happy reading along.

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Christmas Romance, Nano Wrap-Up

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Hello! As promised, it is December 1st and I am back with a vengeance. Well, maybe not a vengeance. But with bells on. I have problems sustaining vengeance, and I never have problems sustaining glee.  I miss blogging when I don’t do it.

Today I’m going to write about Christmas romance novels, after I tell you that I won Nanowrimo. Yay me!! That’s number 6. This year was easier than last, mostly because I planned better and didn’t freak out when I got stymied after writing the beginning. I just went on to write the middle and end in no discernible order whatsoever like I usually do. No existential crisis about it first this time. Now if I can just get some of those rough drafts finished, I’ll be feeling even better about myself. That’s a task for next year.

The verdict on subject matter?  I think I’m capable of writing a romance novel.  Now we just have to figure out if I can edit one.  Brian has refused to be a beta-reader on the grounds that he’ll never be able to keep a straight face.  Fair enough.

Speaking of Romance Novels… I have been binge-reading Christmas romance novels in the hopes that somewhere there are good ones out there. Here’s a quick list of what I’ve completed so far, and how I felt about it. In order of read-worthiness, in case you’re interested in joining me.  I was pleasantly surprised, I have to say.  After last year, this one could be considered a rousing success.  Several things were very readable, and a few were outright good.

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The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig: There’s no sex in the book, but it still manages to be exactly perfect in all ways. It starts with a Christmas pudding on which a secret message has been written, and evolves into this perfect novel of romance and intrigue that is not only Christmassy, but also sweet. Bonus points for a hero who isn’t very smart but still manages to be hot, quippy, and funny all at the same time. And for Christmas pageants and yule log rituals. This was my favorite read this season.

Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams: A contemporary that’s a little bit religious in nature. I didn’t mind it, though, because it wasn’t rampantly so and it is a Christmas novel. With a pastor as the main character. The two of them didn’t feel goody-goody, they felt like real people in a marriage of convenience, and the issues they were both dealing with were real and serious. It was also the hot and bothered kind, the first one I’ve read this season.

A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield: This one and the above are probably tied for enjoyment.  There’s also no sex in this book, but it ended up being one of my favorite historicals this time around. The premise is that, though a confluence of misunderstandings, the duke’s family thinks that their oldest son is engaged to this girl even though he’s not. And the duke totally starts to fall in love with her, but won’t do anything about it because he thinks he’s usurping his son’s girl. The heroine is AWESOME, and the antics that go on in the house are great. There’s lots of Christmas goodness to recommend it, too. But just know that it’s a lot more sweet and funny than it is hot and bothered.

A Family for Christmas by Noelle Adams: I can’t say exactly why I didn’t enjoy this book at all as much as the first Willow Park book (above), but I didn’t. I think that it just was too far outside my own experience to be relateable. The main character is a missionary who basically just wants to be in India, where she feels her new life is waiting. And eventually she falls in love with her husband and all, like we all knew would happen, but her inner journey isn’t one I identified with. Still, a solid book with lots of Christmas goodness. And I do think it might be the thing for some people. It was well written with a solid story arc.

All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts: It’s a novella, so it’s short. And contemporary. There wasn’t really anything I can put my finger on that was wrong with it, but there wasn’t anything extra to be excited about either. The kids are cute, the love interest sweet with the usual “brokenhearted previously” trope to keep the two (very) temporarily apart. It was totally fine. A solid novel with many nice Christmas touches. But honestly, I’ve already forgotten that I read it.

His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander: I just… I hate to be so disparaging. But this novel rubbed me in ALL the wrong ways. He’s so passive about her that it starts to feel like he doesn’t know what to do with a woman, even though he’s supposed to be this fancy experienced explorer with a girl in every port. She tells him he’s extraordinary every time he opens his mouth in those exact words. They fall in love in two seconds without ever spending any real time together. He’s supposed to come into some big inheritance, which turns out to be his father’s beat up watch and not actually a thing. The sexual tension wasn’t present. While it did have plenty of Christmas trappings, that’s it’s only saving grace. I’d skip.

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In Preparation for Christmas

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I have several things today, mostly in preparation for Black Friday.  Christmas is coming fast, and I’m trying to remind myself of that so I don’t leave it all to the last minute like I usually do…

The first thing that’s coming up is that the anthology I’m in is ready WAY sooner than they thought it would be, and is going live on Amazon this weekend.  Yay! You can get it here if you’re interested.  And if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s even free! Anthologies make good Christmas presents.  Or can get you in the mood for buying a ton of Christmas presents. Just saying… Also, my hard copies have not come in the mail yet.  So you can have the (semi)exclusive version even before the author gets hers.  What’s not to love about that?

Second is that I have waded into the murky and often cheesy-in-a-bad-way genre of Christmas Romance again.  Ever the optimist that there’s actually good stuff in that sub-genre, I suppose.  But I hope to have a post of things I thought were worth it soon for you to peruse if you want.  From last year, I recommend the Christmas Ladies collection by Grace Burrowes, and An Affaire Before Christmas by Eloisa James.

Christmas shopping is about to be in full swing.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably buy all the presents in the 2 weeks before the event and then spend that last week wrapping furiously.  If you’re shopping for someone bookish, here’s a few other things I can recommend.

Know your special someone’s favorite book?  Check out Out of Print.  They have everything bookish clothing printed with classic cover art, from James Bond to Harry Potter, and their shirts are SO SOFT.  I have the Little Prince one and the American Gods one, and I practically live in them on the weekends.  I’m currently drooling over Bunnicula and may need to splurge.

Go for a bookish candle.  You can get several that smell like your favorite characters and places here, or you can light a candle to your favorite writing saint here. The writing saint one comes with a hilarious poem on the back, too.  Well worth it.

It’s a well-known fact that you can never have too many bookmarks.  And they’re an easy thing to buy because duplicates don’t matter!  Pick your favorite and run with it.  Make your own.  Get creative.  My favorite right now?  These awesome magnetic ones from Happy Hello Co on Etsy.  They have all kinds fun and adorable bookmarks, everything from Eleanor and Park to a smiling pancake.

Is your reader also a writer?  Fancy pens and blank notebooks are always a good buy.  Moleskine just came out with a BEAUTIFUL limited edition Harry Potter notebook that I’m dying for.  But they also have Game of Thrones, Avengers, Toy Story, The Beatles, The Hobbit, Hello Kitty and a bazillion others.  Even their plain ones are perfection.  Moleskines take ink beautifully, are the perfect size for toting around, and are generally an obsession of mine.  I almost always have at least two stashed in my purse.  You can bet your writer will be happy to get one.

It’s well known that caffeine and books mix beautifully.  Consider getting a bookish mug for your booklover.  An Etsy search for “Book mug” brings up some awesome ones.  And it turns out that there is no really one stop shop I could find for this item.  Still, the favorite one I found was this Penguin Classic homage.

And, of course, gift cards to Barnes and Noble and Amazon are always appreciated.  My opinion of Kindle Unlimited?  Okay if you’re into romance, and getting better all the time for other genres.  But is it worth that hefty price tag yet?  Maybe not.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and the start of Christmas.  I’m counting down the days to the end of Nano with both terror and relief.  And planning to put the Christmas stuff up this weekend, if I get a few spare seconds to rub together.

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November Start

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I told you it wouldn’t be a whole month until I came back again.  Nano is going very well.  So well, in fact, that I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It usually drops in week 2, so we’ll see how much I hate this story and everything it stands for in another 8 days or so.  I’m no longer surprised that this happens, but every year I’m surprised by how genuine the feelings of loathing are.  You would think I would have learned by now that this is a phase.

Brian participated in the annual Baked Potato Decorating Day contest at his work, held every year on November 1st.  He won for his impressive rendition of Bag End, complete with round carrot door and broccoli Party Tree.  I am still upset by his refusal to let me make hobbits from tater tots, but I shall live through my disappointment.  His prize was $45 to Barnes and Noble, and we spent a blissful evening among the stacks of books.

“Do you want anything?” Brian asked me toward the end of our perusal.

I started laughing.  Because I want everything, of course.  They’ve come out with those amazing gilded Barnes and Noble Classic editions of American Gods and Anansi Boys, A Wrinkle In Time, Shell Silverstein poems, Cthulhu mythos, Robin Hood, Moby Dick, The Eye of the World, 10 Wizard of Oz books…  Moleskine has Harry Potter special editions sitting on the shelf.  I have not yet read Rene Ahdieh’s latest.  America’s Test Kitchen has a gigantic cooking bible.  I’m dying to purchase a slew of romance novels, and Uprooted. They have a vast collection of color-your-own postcards and a Pusheen luggage set.  I still need the Puffin In Bloom copy of the Little Princess.  They had fancy hard-backed editions of The Silmarillion.  When I said I wanted everything, I wasn’t kidding.

“Don’t worry about me,” I said.  I’m used to drooling and not buying.  Also, I didn’t help with the potato and I can’t remember the last time Brian bought books.  He picked up three and has been spending his nights reading, like I usually do, which is reward enough.

Writing and reading your heart out are what November is for.  We have a good start on that over here.

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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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I’ve been a sickie all weekend, which is the WORST way to spend a few days.  This thing just kept hanging on, too.  I felt a little scratchy of throat on Thursday night, and I’m only just back to the land of the living today.  I feel better than I sound, which is a combination of stuffy and gravely.  The house is a mess, the laundry did not get done.  The only silver lining was the mass amount of fudgesickles I had an excuse to eat.

I did, however, get quite a lot of reading done.  I just read Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted,” which has been on my list since it won the Nebula for Best Novel.

I’ll tell you right now it was SO well deserved.  The basic premise is that there’s a Dragon in the tower in the valley Agnieszka lives in, only he’s not an actual dragon.  He’s a wizard named Dragon, and every ten years he takes a girl to live with him and she never comes home again.  The villagers put up with it because he saves them from the horrible infestation of things that live in the forest that’s forever encroaching on their territory, and a girl every ten years is his only request.  He treats them well.

Agnieszka is one of the girls who will be sixteen when the Dragon needs to take his next girl.  Against all assumptions (it’s supposed to be her pretty, accomplished best friend), she gets picked.  But her ties to the land and to her family are too strong for her to stay in the tower as the rest of the girls did.  And that sets off a chain of events in which kingdom politics, wars, assassinations, infected tree people, and an innocent village will combine together in a fight against nature itself with no one on the side they seem to be.  It’s not a Young Adult novel, either.  It gets both bloody and sexual at times, though mostly it’s not.

Add that to a little bit of love story, and it’s basically the perfect novel.  It made me remember why I like fantasy so much, and reminded of Robin McKinley without the problems of unsatisfied plot lines I sometimes have with her Damar series.  It reminded me a little of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Tenar in the desert too, though Agneiszka’s problem is that she loves too much where Tenar’s is that she can’t love at all.

I’ll be buying the fancy hard cover version of this, and maybe also reading everything else Novik’s ever written (we’ll see).  I highly recommend that you check it out, too, if you have any interest in Fantasy at all.  This is the best of what the genre has to offer.

Happy Reading!

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A Week of Education

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I’m just gonna do a general roundup today, because it seems like that sort of a week.

It’s the National Park Service’s 100th birthday today, and admission is free all weekend.  It makes me want to road trip SO BAD.  Joshua Tree is only an hour from us.  It’s supposed to be 93 degrees out, though.  I don’t know.  At this point, temperatures have been over 100 for so much of the summer that 93 seems doable.  We’ll see.

I had a spate of work that was all mindless adding things to the database, and so I was doing it while listening to the On Being podcast.  They’re all amazing, but I want to particularly recommend this one by Ellen Langer.  Mindfulness without meditation?  Amazing.  And her advice on “can we?” vs “how can we?” is also mind-blowing.  This podcast maybe has changed my life.

I made both Apple Lemon Lavender Jam last weekend and Watermelon Jelly.  The apple lemon is a bit tart, and the watermelon didn’t set up correctly, despite all the pectin I added.  But both are tasty, so there’s that.  I’ve made the Apple Lemon before, only with lemon balm instead of lavender, and it’s one of my favorite flavors EVER.  I just think that I should have either soaked the lemon peel or picked a different herb to put it all with.  Or maybe just added more sugar.  Next time.  And I’ve officially invented watermelon syrup – good on ice cream of all kinds. Just don’t try to spread it on any bread (it doesn’t spread, it oozes.  I may also have a B movie in my refrigerator, only time will tell).

The students come back to school in a couple of weeks.  I’m not ready.  Mostly because I haven’t even started my seasonal reading list, and that’s no small task.  I’d better get on it.  Amid all the novel writing and dissecting of my favorite books, of course.  I’m ½ way through the dissection of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L’Engle and I feel like it’s so full of stuff I never fully realized yet still felt. I’m in love with all the quotes she uses.

I guess the point of this post (if it has one) is that it’s been a very educational week.  That’s all I have to say on the subject for now.  Have a good weekend.  I’m going to.  How do I know this?  Ellen Langer told me so.

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