Giving Birth and the Publishing Process

Usually I feature an indie artist in this space on Fridays, but today is a Very Special Friday.

Yes, it’s Launch Day!

Now, not only can you order autographed print copies here, “Athena’s Promise” is now available for the Kindle. I’ll be getting it up on Smashwords too, in the next week or so. Remember, you don’t need an e-reader to read it; Amazon thoughtfully provides a free app for you to use on your PC to read Kindle books. Isn’t that nice of them?

Don't mistake Amazon for a saint. But it's still pretty cool.

So, now we have that out of the way, let me just say this has been such a roller-coaster experience. I don’t remember it being so intense when I put out “Not Nice” last year. Of course, that could be a case of selective amnesia, heh.

This time, I took notes. Lots and lots of notes, because I intend to release “Athena’s Chains” in the spring of 2012. Believe me, I hear the clock ticking already. However, one of the great things about being fully in the driver’s seat of your own publishing business is the fact you are the one determining the scheduling. Although that can be stressful, it’s quite liberating.

Giving birth to a novel is really similar to giving birth to a child, I have come to think. You have your gestation period, where you conceive the idea and start writing. You might think once you’ve finished it, the hard part is over — but you’d be very, very wrong.

The early stages of labor — beta reads and editing. *Sigh* Just like in real labor, this stage can take forever, to the point where you start to wonder if you will EVER BE DONE WITH THIS DAMNED THING. Honestly, I was editing up to the very last minute, and then I had to quit picking at it like a scab and let it go. That was probably the hardest part, for me.

In the second stage, you’re wrangling with covers, trailers, and trying to formulate some kind of marketing plan. The deadline fast approaches and you start hyperventilating, trying to figure out how to fit 97 hours in one day. Tip: you can’t.

Then, the actual delivery. For the record, I hate formatting. Here is where my anal and compulsive personality is both a blessing and a curse. It helps to keep in mind print is vastly different than electronic and I must extend many blessings to the creators of Mobi Creator for making the electronic conversion so easy I about wet my pants.

Print is a different story. Designing a print book is an art form. I felt like a baboon with crayons.

Only I'm not this cute.

Honestly, this was very difficult. Mostly because I wanted the print version to look every bit as professional as a book released by a legacy publisher. And friends and neighbors, that is not as easy as one would wish, just like delivering a baby. It’s painful, messy and it made me scream, bleed, yell and not only use every cuss word in my vocabulary (which is quite extensive) but made me invent even more crass ways to express my frustration.

But in the end? I have a beautiful baby, and I can’t stop looking at her. I’m happy, relieved, and feeling all kinds of awesome.

I really hope you’ll check out “Athena’s Promise” and tell me what you think, whether in a private email or even better, on a review. Because, just like having a baby, once you deliver the hard part starts. Now I have to devote myself to raising her and introducing her to the World At Large. It takes a village, and I’m counting on my peeps to help me get word about Pallas out to the unsuspecting. So if you can spare a Tweet, an update, or want to write a review or even interview me, feel free :)

I’ve lived and breathed in Pallas’s world for two years. I know the journey isn’t over yet, but I’m ready. I think she is, too.

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful support. I appreciate it more than I can ever say. *MUAH* !!

Share

First Chapter of “Athena’s Promise” and a Cover Reveal!

Just for you, here is the print cover for “Athena’s Promise” and the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget, you can pre-order autographed copies here. The official launch of the e-version is scheduled for Friday, October 28th. Thanks for all your support! *MUAH*!

Chapter One

Hearing the phone ring a full hour before the start of my shift was usually a sure sign the day was going to go right down the toilet. Living on site in a hotel as the front desk manager has its perks, but being on call 24/7 sure wasn’t one of them. I guess I should have been used to it, but that didn’t mean I hated it any less.

Of course, since the accident at Atlantis some twenty years ago, opening the Portal and allowing just any creature to cross over, calls like this were all too common. What awaited me this morning? A pissed- off centaur, a drunk and disorderly minor league wizard, what? Working in a hotel located on the edge of Zombietown sure made for interesting guests. Not to mention the staff.

I rolled over in the king-sized bed, one of my favorite perks, and picked up the receiver. Before I even lifted it to my ear I heard Lilah, the pixie working two night shifts a week, screeching in her twangy voice. Oh lord, it’s gonna be a long day, I thought, and I don’t even have my eyes open yet.

“Miz Pallas! I swear to all the Gods, you gotta get down here. I can’t get this stupid horse – yes, I just called you a horse! – to understand if he checks in this early he has to pay for two nights. –Don’t you shit on this floor mister, you just better not!”

Well, that popped my eyes open in a hurry. I knew exactly the target of Lilah’s screeching .

I sat up in bed. “Lilah! Lilah, I know you’re upset but calm down. You can’t talk to a guest like that, not even Cedric. Tell him to hang on; I’ll be there in ten minutes. You’d better hope Medusa doesn’t hear you from the back. Go to the laundry room if you have to and cool off.” I loved Lilah, I really did. She was a cute little thing, brown and sparkly with eyes shaped like almonds, but those damned pixies were so high strung!

She finally started to settle down. “Oh, oh, oh! I’m sorry Miz Pallas, sorry. Sorry. You’re coming down, right?” I heard her say, “Oh, now you gonna deal with Miz Pallas! How you like that?” and I couldn’t quite suppress my grin. I hated it when Lilah got upset, although most of it was just pixie dramatics, but Cedric could be a handful. I knew from pulling too many double shifts the night shift around here could get really hairy. And of course, no one wanted to deal with a pissed-off Medusa. That was strictly my job.

“I can’t get dressed if you keep me on the phone. Just hang up and bug out. I’m on my way. Cedric can leave or wait till I get there; I don’t care what he does.” I hung up and contemplated for the thousandth time why I was still at this job after three years of dealing with “critters” – the crossovers from every fable, folklore tale, myth, and legend you can think of. I must be crazy.

I sighed and scrambled into my uniform of the day – a navy blue polo and a pair of khakis. Sneakers, my red hair pulled into a hasty ponytail, and I booked out the door. Hey, with the running around I did, it didn’t pay to be girly. I just usually ended up sweating off the makeup and perfume. Not to mention the days when I was so frazzled my hair resembled Medusa’s. I cleaned up pretty well, I’ve been told, but this job was not for sissies.

I headed for the elevator. My suite was on the third floor, at the far end of the hallway. When I first started working here at the Traveler’s Haven, I made the mistake of taking a room on the first floor as close to the lobby as I could get. Big mistake. On the first floor everyone thought nothing of just walking over and knocking on my door at all hours of the day and night. On the third floor I could take the back stairs and no one knew my business, even though living on property was like living in a fish bowl. Privacy could be a problem.

With Cedric kicking up a fuss, I couldn’t even stop off at the little breakfast café to grab my daily cup of coffee, and that pissed me off. The food served there was gross, but I guess three years of anything would seem gross. However, the coffee was excellent and sometimes it was the only thing to get me though the day. I nodded to Luke, the breakfast host, on my way by. He was a new employee, hired by Medusa, and I had yet to become well-acquainted with him, but he seemed like a nice enough guy. Still, I’d been around the block enough times to know looks can be deceiving.

Cedric didn’t see me at first. He was busy feeling up the blond (Skank Number One) while the brunette (Skank Number Two) swayed back and forth on her feet and tried to snatch at Cedric’s tail. I sniffed the air as I approached the front desk, and thankfully I didn’t smell anything other than the odor of horseflesh and the perfume of the two floozies twined around Cedric. I saw no sign of Lilah – a good thing.

I sure wasn’t happy to see this bunch in my lobby. The hotel was at the edge of Zombietown, it’s true, and we received a lot of business from the local strip clubs and bars. But Medusa and I worked really hard to cultivate a better clientele than inhabited the hotel here when we first took over. The owners, three gnome brothers, didn’t seem to care where the money came from as long as it kept coming, but in the meantime guests like Cedric gave the “normal” clientele the wrong impression of our place, an impression we were trying to change.

“Cedric, what’s going on?” I pasted the “Guest Service” smile on my face, hiding my irritation at being called out early for this. I leaned against the front desk and crossed my arms. Oh, he appeared in fine form. From what I understood, centaurs were usually not so ostentatious, but Cedric seemed to be an exception to the rule. His light brown hair and mane were plaited with ribbons of all colors; sparkling bling around his neck, on his fingers, around his wrists. I knew his stuff wasn’t genuine, or he’d be staying at a much nicer place than this. The ice in his ears might have been real, but the rest of it was strictly for show. His clear blue hooves, probably the only thing I found attractive on the douchebag, were drilled out and embedded with more fake bling, ruining, in my opinion, his best feature.

A handsome critter, Cedric, but a player all the way. Actually, I was surprised he only had two females with him. Those girls just can’t seem to resist Cedric’s uh…other assets. I’m sure I don’t have to draw a picture.

“Ah, Miss Pallas! Finally some competence here.” Cedric’s deep voice rumbled as he untangled himself from Skank Number One to reach for my hand, dropping what I’m sure he thought of as a charming kiss on the back of it. To me, it was disgusting. His tail switched back and forth in agitation.

“Cedric, that’s not fair and you know it. How many times have you stayed with us?” I surreptitiously wiped the back of my hand on the side of my pants. See? That’s why I didn’t dress up. “You know the policy. Check-in is at three o’clock. You check in this early, you have to pay for two nights; check-out is tomorrow at eleven. I’ve explained this to you before.”

Cedric stomped a hoof, barely missing Skank Number Two. “Come on, Pallas, it’s not fair. You mean to tell me if I check in right now I have to check out at eleven or pay for two nights?” His tail switching stepped up a notch. I noticed he dropped the “Miss”. He stomped his hoof again, and I started to do a slow burn. “That sucks. I probably won’t even stay until tomorrow. ” He snorted and pushed away the loving arms of Skank Number One, who pouted and promptly sat down on the tile floor and thanks to her short skirt, I saw everything but Jesus. This was getting out of hand, and in a hurry.

“Cedric, it’s the policy and you know it. I can check you in right now, but if you pay for one night you’re checking out at eleven. Period.” My patience ran out. “It’s not my policy, it’s hotel policy, and I’m not jeopardizing my job for you. Pay or go. I don’t care which, just make up your mind.” I had to get this asshole and his two uh…companions out of the lobby before respectable people started showing up.

I walked right up to him and put my hands on my hips. I might have been a foot and a half shorter than this critter, but you bet I had a bigger attitude. “You can quit switching your tail, because I swear to the Gods if you shit on my lobby floor you’re banned for life. Now, do you want the room or not? Because I’m not in the mood to stand here and argue with you one more minute.” I stared him straight in the eyes, and he backed down, just like I knew he would.

He reached for Skank Number Two, and almost stepped on Skank Number One. “All right, all right. Gimme the room until tomorrow.” I heard him complaining and mumbling as I made my way around the long desk to the computer terminal to check him in, but that was okay. I loved it when they called me a bitch behind my back. Didn’t bother me in the least.

I checked him in and charged him top dollar, oh yes I did.
As soon as Cedric and his lovlies cleared the lobby, Lilah came flitting out of her hidey-hole.

“Miz Pallas, I’m sorry I called you early, I truly am.” She giggled into her tiny hands. “You sure gave him what for, and he sure had it coming.”

I stapled the paperwork together and threw it in the “in” basket. “Lilah, you can’t talk to guests that way and you know it. I know Cedric is an asswipe, but he’s a guest. Sometimes, you just have to grin and take it.” I sighed, because six in the morning was too early to lecture, and I needed some caffeine. Like, right now.

Lilah nodded as if she actually cared, and I said, “I’m getting some coffee. Might as well finish up your shift paperwork, girl, and you can leave early.” She brightened and glittered. I loved it when pixies did that, you know, got all glittery-like? It happened when they’re happy, and it was really cool to watch. This makes pixies dangerous to most people, because humans will go above and beyond to make a pixie happy just for the sparkle. This, in turn, makes pixies the most spoiled bunch of brats you’ll ever meet, but I didn’t take any shit from them. Lilah knew it and was smart enough not to push me past my limit. That would be a very bad thing for all involved. Good thing I had such a sweet temperament.

I made straight for the breakfast café. It wasn’t much, really – basic stuff like fruit juice, pastries, cereal and the like. The food sucked to me, but the coffee was fabulous. Critters could request special items, like roe eggs for the merepeople (mermaids were popular at the strip joints nearby and stayed here often) or protein shakes for the undead. I tried not to think about those items.

Luke came out of the kitchen with a load of cinnamon rolls. When I nodded, he smiled. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. He seemed charming enough; he showed up every day on time; he did his job well. Cute, I guess. Tall, shaggy brown hair he kept in a neat pony tail, brown eyes. Medusa hired him as Breakfast Host without any input from me, not our standard operating procedure. But, whatever.

“Morning, Pallas. Coffee’s fresh. Want a roll?” He breezed over to the warming station and started filling it up with cinnamon rolls. After smelling them every single day for the last three years, the aroma made me want to barf. Copiously.
“Uh, no. Thanks anyway. I just need caffeine.” I walked back to the small kitchen to grab my oversized caffeinator – I didn’t mess around. It held about a half a pot of coffee. No matter how quiet the day began, the joint started jumping around check-out time and I never knew what was going to happen.

Perky was not my thing in the morning, especially when I had to come on an hour early. The staff knew it, and they walked careful. Even Luke, new to this gig, knew that much and kept his mouth shut, which told me he might be smarter than he looks.

After filling up my tank of coffee, I walked around to the back of the front desk to my tiny corner of heaven. Medusa occupied the back office, and rarely came out front. There’s a reason. She had this unfortunate handicap, you see. When riled, she had a tendency to turn people to stone. Therefore, the bulk of the front desk duties fell to me. We got along fine – I didn’t have a problem with her, I was still standing, and I ran interference. The Gnome Brothers had a love/hate relationship with her, and with me…well, I despised the little fuckers and if it wasn’t so illegal I’d love to see her turn them into nothing more than a lump of rocks. But, I digress.

I sat down at my corner, just a space carved out big enough to do a little paperwork but not much more. The security monitor, mounted over my head, and the monstrosity of a copy machine constructed sometime around when dinosaurs roamed the earth made for a tight space. A night window, seldom used, helped me keep an eye on everything. Or try to, anyway.

Looking over the schedule for the housekeeping staff, I saw Miss Esther, the head housekeeper, had four zombies on for today. That’ll work, I mused – it’s a slow day and they should be done by one o’clock, saving on payroll. Those little gnome brothers were always carping about payroll, but they carped all the time. They had more money than King Midas, and yet they screamed poverty constantly. Typical.

Oh, the zombie thing. Look, I knew most people wouldn’t have anything to do with zombies, and I understood. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about them, but living and working on the edge of Zombietown gave me a different perspective. Zombies aren’t quite what they’re made out to be by Hollywood. Their condition is not their fault. They weren’t contagious until the Turn, and zombies could be quite lively for a long time – sometimes as long as a decade until the Turn happens. That was when they became feral and a danger. It meant they had to be put down. Usually, families took care of their own, but there was a unit which specifically took care of feral zombies when they Turned. They were called the Z-Squad. Original name, right?

Until then, zombies were perfectly nice people. We employed about eight as housekeepers. Yes, there was the stench, but commercial deodorants usually masked the worst of it. Our zombies were certified as required by law, meaning their “birthdate” was confirmed so we could anticipate the approximate date of their Turn, but most of them didn’t last that long. As they got up in age, certain body parts fell off and they couldn’t do the job.

It was a sad thing, to be a zombie, but the ones I met were some of the best peeps I’ve known. I took care of them, they took care of me. In the hotel business, loyalty counted for a lot.

I sighed and sifted through group booking requests, supply forms, invoices and a slew of other stuff I had no interest in dealing with. I heard Lilah counting her drawer, humming to herself and sparkling. I loved it when she sparkled, have I mentioned it? Otherwise, I expected another quiet morning at the ranch.

Lilah finished up and bounced over to me, singing in her pixie way, “All set, Miss Pallas.”

“Go ahead, punch out. See you in a couple of days. Stay out of trouble, will you?”

She giggled. “Oh, Miss Pallas. You know I stay out of trouble. I’ll be back for the second shift on Thursday, right?” Damned pixies never kept track of their shifts, but at least Lilah knew enough to confirm every time she left property.

“Yes, dearie, and you’ll be relieving me, so don’t be late.” She giggled again, and I had to grit my teeth. Sometimes, her chipper attitude in the morning was a lot for me to take, so it was. She flitted off, and I heard her punch the time clock on her way out.

I gathered my paperwork and moved to the front desk, where I had more room to sort out the stuff I needed to speak to Medusa about and the stuff that could wait. I liked having everything organized. It kept her happy and it was a good thing to be on her best side.

I flipped through the group requests and bird-dogged one from a band traveling through here on a regular circuit. They wanted to book two weekends in July; a nice piece of business, but I happened to know their manager served Lucifer himself, and they could be trouble. Not only the band, but the groupies following them. Another group request on the list, a tour bus from Pennsylvania; a group of vampires coming for a convention. I liked this, because they slept all day and were gone all night, which meant no service from housekeeping.

I shuffled papers and started making notes; grateful today seemed low-key and calm. Boy, seldom have I ever been so wrong. When things blew up, they really blew. I had no idea then how bad it would get.

Cedric was the least of my problems.

Share

Of Elves And Cons – Tristan J. Tarwater

Her name is beautiful and unusual, much like the writer. I met Tristan through a mutual friend, and as soon as I read her first email I knew we were going to work together great. Why? Because she’s imaginative, open-minded, and has a work ethic of mythic proportions. She’s also a lot of fun and I love her work. I’m not only her editor, I’m a big fan. Read the interview and you’ll see why! Then head on over to Back That Elf Up and check out “Thieves At Heart”.

Just looking at this smile makes me smile!

1. What has your path toward publication been like?

Our path towards publication has been a bit like stumbling through a marathon after thinking, ‘Hell, I think I’ll go for a little walk.’ When I initially started writing The Valley of Ten Crescents it was a lot of brainstorming and back story for Tavera and a bit of Derk for an RPG campaign. It started off as something a bit hyperbolic, and got toned down and fleshed out; it went from ‘Oh, I’m going to make a thief that likes to sleep around a bit and is part of a secret society!’ to over 200,000 words. I really fell in love with Tavi and the other characters and wrote it all and when it was said and done my Admin (husband) and I had to decide what to do with it. I wanted to share Tavi’s story with people, I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it and through trial, error and a lot of learning about formatting we got it out there. Our unofficial motto of sorts is ‘Just ****ing try.’ It went from back-story to a serial on the web to an e-book and paperback with an actual ISBN.

2. With a Small Boss and a family to care for, how do you structure your writing time?

A vast majority of my creative writing takes place at night. I’m a night person through and through and I pretty much only turn in for the night because the part of my brain that can think about the future says ‘Hey, your child is going to wake up early tomorrow and you need to be able to make coffee without gravely injuring yourself.’ I spend the mornings answering emails and doing any advertising I have to do and basically brainstorm throughout the day, writing things down if I come up with conversations. I’m lucky enough to have this freaky memory so if the plot point is big enough, it generally sticks in my head and then pulsates in my brain, especially when I’m trying to get to sleep to avoid the coffee related injuries. Every once in a while I do have to go on crazy research binges where I spend a combined several hours looking up other lunar goddesses or rabbits or rock formations and how they occur or elemental magic. So basically it’s not very structured! I just try to use my free time to the best of my abilities while watching the clock. Sometimes that means dinner is at 6:30pm instead of 5:30pm. Sometimes it means saying ‘Hey, I need to get some writing done.” Sometimes it means not eating, sad but true. I love to eat and I love food but I have enough interruptions from everything else, I can’t let simple things like organs and biological needs get in the way of me hitting my word count.

3. Who would you say are your biggest literary influences?

I would have to say one of the earliest bits of fantasy that really struck me was ‘The Crystal Cave’ by Mary Stewart. I’m named after a version of Sir Tristan so an interest in the Arthurian saga came really early for me and Merlin is just one of those characters that I think everyone knows about. And to see him broken down as a little kid, to read about him as a real person who climbed trees and felt pain and was awkward around girls and wanted to belong really struck me. Those things happened adjacent to the stuff everyone knows him for, the prophecy of the tower, his aid to Uther Pendragon’s lust for Ygraine, the sword Excalibur. It wasn’t till recently that that book registered as ‘fantasy’ for me, I’ve always thought of it as a fictional biography, heh. Between the extraordinary bits, very human things take place and without them, the emotions and the political stuff and the familial angst, the extraordinary stuff has no foundation.

4. What made you decide to engage a professional editor?

Realizing that I definitely needed one, ha! I had ‘Thieves at Heart’ out in its original incarnation and it was only about 23,000 words long. We were just figuring out how to format and the Admin was learning GIMP and we just wanted to get it out there and do something. I think we rushed to put it out because at the time the Admin was deployed and we wanted something to work on together and to help fill up the space of our separation. There was also the sense of ‘If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it.’ The series (then a single, giant book) was done so we jumped in. As a result it was not nearly as polished or professional as it should have been. I know part of this resulted because I was scared to look it over too many times. I didn’t want to give myself the chance to doubt myself (‘You wrote ‘their’ instead of ‘there’! You should never write again!). Someone was kind and honest enough to say hey, the story is good but this really needs to be edited (not their exact words) and gave us a name and email for our editor. That was another thing, when we were just starting out in February we didn’t know anyone who was an editor so having a name and a testimonial was kind of like a golden ticket. We had kicked around the idea of having someone else look at it and make corrections at the beginning but for me, the idea of asking a total stranger to potentially tear apart my work and judge me was pretty much terrifying. After it had been out for a spell we had a few people say that they enjoyed the story so I was more confident about my work and ready for a bit of literary flogging, I think. We worked with the tools we had at the time, someone gave us another tool and we thought we’d be stupid to not use this. But we had had enough positive feedback that the first spank wasn’t going to reduce me to tears. To use a really inappropriate analogy.

5. How has working with an editor affected your writing process?

There’s still an aspect of ‘other’ when it comes to the editor. Not the editor herself but by showing this body of text to someone else, I am admitting that this will in fact see the light of day. Therefore it needs to make sense not only to me because they don’t live in my brain, they don’t know what I mean or have the info I have. For me the inclination sometimes is to just get it out as fast as you can (see above issue with having ‘free time’) and sometimes that means gaps in trains of thought or events. In true husband-wife fashion, I do just tend to think the Admin knows exactly what I’m talking about and when he doesn’t I go, ‘WHAAAAAAAAA?’ In addition I can just explain something to him if he wants to know something since he is physically there. With my editor, that’s not the case. So the editor is kind of an intercessor of sorts. In addition I’m more aware of those words that I use too much and my own grammatical shortcomings. I used to use the word ‘had’ as if I was getting paid to use it. And bloody hell, do I love gerunds. Being in the headspace of writing for an audience versus just to write really helps.

6. What surprised you the most about working with a professional editor?

The most? That the first email I got back wasn’t a giant harpoon of ‘THIS SUCKS. DID YOU HAPPEN TO FAIL GRAMMAR IN MIDDLE SCHOOL? ALSO, ELVES AREN’T REAL.’ For the record, I did fail grammar in school. The fact that the initial email was rather quite pleasant and not just scathing commentary on my all too obvious lust for the pluperfect tense was a surprise. While I do have a professional relationship with my editor there is definitely a sense of camaraderie, that we’re working on making this as awesome as we can together. I guess I was expecting an editor to Balrog me (You Shall Not Pass!) when really, the editor is in your Fellowship. But don’t throw your manuscript into Mt. Doom! HA! That’s not the goal, obviously.

7. You recently attended Geek Girl Con. How was that experience and would you go again?

GeekGirlCon 2011 was AMAZING. And we’re already making plans to go next year. I wrote about it on my blog a few days ago but basically, I felt like I was home. Even though I was trying to sell books and network a bit and working, the Con was really well organized and everyone was really excited to be there. It was great talking to other writers and encouraging to hear people wish me luck in my endeavors. So many things there were awesome, from the people running the Con to the other exhibitors to the amazing cosplayers. It was a small Con, as far as Cons go (it had a bit under 2,000 people attending I want to say) but it made for great opportunities to connect with people. I got to talk to a lot of great people about the things they were working on and what they dug.

8. Why did you choose the path of self-publishing?

Probably a little bit because of impatience? HA! But also because our team of two people really does believe in things like DRM free e-books and Creative Commons and Open Source. I write on LibreOffice now and wrote all of the initial manuscript on OpenOffice. We both run Linux on our machines, the Admin made the ads and formatted the cover on GIMP. The e-books are DRM free and always will be. The book and the material is protected under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 which has provisions for things like remixing and sharing. I love stories and if what I wrote, if Tavi and Derk’s story inspired someone to make a youtube video or write something or make something? I would be totally blown away! Even if it was a silly rap about onions (HA!) I would be floored. I wrote this story because I wanted to but I put it out there to entertain and hopefully make people think about what it means to be yourself. If it spurs people on to be entertaining and do their own things and follow their passions, that’d be great. Hell, if someone reads it and thinks, ‘I write better than this’ then well, get on it! Self-publishing was right for us because we wanted to be able to say ‘Hey, have a bit of fun with this if you like. The fun doesn’t have to end when the book is over.’

9. What would you say is the biggest challenge of being an indie artist?

Advertising/Self-promoting, I want to say. Back That Elf Up is a two person team with a lot of neat people filling in really needed roles but I’m the PR person, the research assistant, the caterer, the CEO, the advertising department, etc. I’m fairly introverted and the fact that I have to be digitally social daily and email strangers is slightly daunting. Trying to think of the best 140 character pitch for ‘Thieves at Heart’ takes more time than you might think. Getting your ads out to the right people who will be interested is another challenge. Thank goodness for the digital age that we live in. It makes a lot of this a bit easier. Through things like Twitter, Kickstarter and G+ we’ve been able to reach people and get out story out to places we wouldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Well, there’s still about 180,000+ words of The Valley of Ten Crescents to reveal. ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ is due to come out this coming winter if all goes well and that’s a prequel to ‘Thieves at Heart.’ ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ goes into Derk’s beginnings as a thief and how he gets to the point he does in the very beginning of ‘Thieves at Heart,’ where he kidnaps Tavi. A few characters from ‘Thieves at Heart’ show up like Old Gam and Hock as well as a few new faces and the first bit of magic as we think about it when it comes to fantasy. The third book is tentatively titled ‘Red Moon Rising’ and picks up with Tavera and what she gets herself into once she’s on her own. Tavera teams up with a few honest type folks and so it goes into the whole private self vs. the public face and what that means when a group of people are trying to pull something off. We’ve also got some ideas for ways for people to show their support via t-shirts. And well, the next two books are started, ha! A lot is upcoming, basically!

Coming soon! w00t!

Tristan J Tarwater is the author of The Valley of Ten Crescentsseries, as well as several other stories that hope to see the light of day. Born and raised in New York City she remembers reading a lot, visiting museums and the aquarium frequently and wanting to be a writer from a very early age. Her love of fantasy and sci-fi spills over into what she reads and watches in her free time as well as the collection of dice, books and small metal figurines that reside in her home. She currently lives in Central California with her Admin, Small Boss, a cat that knows it’s a multipass and Azrael.

Share

Pre-Orders Open For “Athena’s Promise”!

I don’t think I have ever been so excited and nervous about something in my entire life. Can you see me bouncing up and down in my seat??

FINALLY.

And click here to see the trailer…

Athena’s Promise Trailer

****

SQUEE! Here’s the back cover copy:

As the front desk manager of a hotel on the edge of Zombietown, Pallas is used to dealing with angry centaurs, surly trolls, and zombie housekeepers. The trouble really starts when one of her guests ends up dead. But that’s not her only problem.

A cop with an attitude – can he be trusted to be more than just a pain in her ass or does he have a more sinister agenda?

A new Guest Services Manager, out for her job and ready to sacrifice anyone in his way – what does he really want?

The attractive maintenance guy, endangering the promise she made out of necessity to the Goddess Athena – does he know more than he’s telling?

A mermaid diva, whose show at the Sparkling Butterfly must go on – or else.

Pallas needs to find the killer, and fast, or she’ll lose her job, her home, and the ragtag family she’s adopted out of her crew of “critters”.

In the course of the investigation Pallas uncovers connections to a nasty Oddities dealer deep in the heart of Zombietown, forcing her to expose a trauma from her past which could threaten her future. With everyone and everything she loves in danger, the promise made to the Goddess Athena may well damn her if she breaks it, but she is bound and determined to save her friends, her home, and everything she’s built.

No matter what it takes.

****

Blurbs!

“Ribken’s Pallas grabs you from word one with her no-nonsense attitude and solid sense of sarcasm and keeps you hooked all the way through. Witty, tragic, inventive and an altogether fantastic read that will have you asking what I did–where’s the next one?” ~Patti Larsen, author of The Hunted series and Family Magic

“If this book were any more fun, you’d need to bring a condom. I loved every second of this snarky, mysterious, hilarious goodness. A fabulous debut!” –Joseph Paul Haines, author of Marooned

“Pallas is brilliant, loyal, and determined to balance her precarious positions in two very different worlds. Both strong and vulnerable, this heroine truly shines.” ~Lori Whitwam, author of Make or Break

Are you excited as I am? Right now you can pre-order autographed print copies and save a dollar off the list price. I can’t wait for you to meet Pallas and her friends!The E-version will be released October 28th on Amazon, and to other online retailers shortly after that for those who are electronically inclined. But here, right now, you can order an autographed print copy!

Please share the link with anyone you can hog-tie. Thanks so much for the support!



Athena’s Promise Autographed



Share

Getting Down With Patti Larsen

When you meet Patti Larsen, you have to squint your eyes, she shines so bright, in person and online. She’s got one of the strongest work ethics of anyone I’ve ever met. She is THE most prolific writer I’ve come across, generous and giving to other writers. That counts for a lot in this business.

Keep your eye on this rising star — and eat your Wheaties, because you’ll need the strength to keep up with her.

She looks like she means business, doesn't she?

1. How has your dream of becoming a published writer differed from the reality?

Oh boy. You don’t pull any punches, do you? In one word, VASTLY. I went from THE DREAM of writing a best seller, finding the perfect agent, nabbing a million dollar advance and sitting back to enjoy the accolades of my adoring fans to, well… none of that. Except writing the best seller part. That will always remain.

I’ve learned so much in the last two and a half years. When I dove into writing full time, I was still under the impression this was going to be so easy! And that lasted quite a while. It’s really only the past year or so I decided to actually open my eyes and pay attention. After all, I’m a businesswoman and have been for many years through two other businesses. But when I leapt into publishing, it was like the smart and savvy part of myself took a vacation in favor of having everything done for me.

Since when? It took some great new friends (yourself, Joseph Paul Haines and others) to help me see how much I’d strayed from what I really wanted. With all the changes in this industry, it makes sense to put my big girl entrepreneur panties back on and treat this like what it is–not a fairy tale or a pipe dream but a business.

Am I ever glad I did.

2. You really pump out a lot of material. What is your writing process like?

I think I suppressed the muse for so many years because of fear and other people’s opinions that she’s been saving everything up until now. Seriously. It’s like this faucet has been turned on and the more I drink from it the faster it flows…

My process. I get an idea, I spend two days developing it, turn it into an outline and sit down and write the thing in about eight or nine days. That’s my process. I wish I had a magic bullet to hand to other writers, had some witty or charming way of explaining where all of this material comes from but I don’t. It’s really just that simple. And while I know it isn’t for everyone, please don’t be jealous.

I have to produce that fast. The voices, you see. It’s write or go nuts.

The first book in Patti's series, "The Hunted". Get ready to Run!

3. What do you think is the most important part of being a self-publisher?

Being in control of my career. NO ONE knows what’s good for me and my books but me. NO ONE. And while I am wide open to information, to learning, I embrace what I discover, absorb it, take what I need from it and discard the rest as I see fit. Everything I do, sink or swim, is up to me. The learning curve is massive but it’s also thrilling–and I no longer have to tolerate someone else’s opinions on how I should run my business.

Every writer, every creator, needs to do this at least once. I love to explore all avenues of everything I get involved in. I need to understand how everything works, from typesetting to cover design, editing and proofing, marketing… all of it. Every piece of the puzzle gives me another insight into doing my job better, smarter and faster.

4. What was your biggest misconception of the editing process with a professional editor?

Oh, that my work was absolutely perfect, naturally, and that the manuscript would come back with giant happy faces and lots of notes proclaiming how I was a literary genius.

And while I know I’m fortunate, I can string words together into a coherent sentence and those sentences into paragraphs and those paragraphs into something that makes sense, the editing process has taught me so much more about how I write. I never see comments as criticisms but as an opportunity to learn something more–to take that knowledge and apply it to my work from then on.

So while it didn’t happen the way I imagined, it’s been so much more than I could ever hope for.

5. How much self-editing did you do before engaging an editor?

Not a whole lot, to be honest. I’m pretty lucky that the copy I write is fairly clean. I still need editing, I know that, but I trust my creative process now. I’m a staunch believer in outlining and do most of my editing during that part of development–so major story changes don’t tend to pop up for me (at least so far…). When I’m finished with the first draft, I basically read through it once, catching as many typos as I can as well as fleshing out anything that needs it then send it off immediately.

While some of your readers may flinch at the idea of not revising fifteen million times, I say this: why are you washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher? That’s what your editor is for.

6. What do you like the most about the editing process?

EVERYTHING. Seriously. I know most writers hate it, but I love it. Love it. Did I say I loved it? It’s like taking a diamond and adding facets and angles and sparkle until it glows and shines even without any light on it… it’s fun and informative and I adore every second.

The key to it I think is having an open mind and leaving your ego at the door. And trusting your editor. You have to find someone who understands your work, who sees your vision. Shares it. But is outside it enough they can spot the areas that aren’t sparkly yet. I’m lucky enough to have found that person in you.

I don’t let my logical mind control my editing. Again, I feel your readers all shuddering collectively and that’s okay. I don’t think logic really has much of a place in writing, at least, not in the art part of it. When I go through your notes, Netta, I let my heart tell me: does that serve the story? Of course it does! Or, hmm… no, I like it the way it is. Most of the time I’m bouncing in my seat with excitement that you’ve pegged the very thing I’ve been trying to let out and get to. Tip of my mind stuff. For me, that’s thrilling. Like uncovering treasure.

I love it so much.

7. What do you like the least?

If I had to pick something it would be when I screw up and repeat a mistake. I know better than to tell and not show but sometimes the odd one will slip through. You catch them and I kick myself. I don’t like wasting time, mine or yours, so I see those mistakes as failings.

8. What surprised you the most about it?

I guess how much I love it. I didn’t think I would enjoy it this much. I mean, I was raised to think editing is terrible, horrible, painful, that I’d end up hating my manuscript at the end and never want to see it again. That I wouldn’t even recognize it when it was done.

Um… I call bullshit. I love my books even more. Who would want to work like that?

9. Tell us about any upcoming projects.

So many… you and I just finished the edits on Family Magic, book one of The Hayle Coven Novels. It’s due out on or around the 15th of this month. I love this book. It was the first one I wrote in this current incarnation of my career, the very first young adult I tackled. It’s about Sydlynn Hayle, a sixteen-year-old daughter of a powerful witch and a demon lord, but she just wants to be ordinary. Syd is my soul sister and I adore her. I’m thrilled she’s finally going to meet the rest of the world.

I’m working on next three books in that series as well as outlining the following four. In November, I’m tackling the Blunt House series, Pins and Needles, Them Bones and Blood Lines, about Alice, a quiet loner who finds a voodoo doll in her grandmother’s house and then wonders why horrible things start happening to people who are mean to her.

That will wrap up this year–next year is another story entirely. I have eighteen novels lined up to write in 2012 and books scheduled into 2015. Busy busy!

Wooohooo!

10. Tell us something you’ve never divulged in an online interview.

I don’t like to have strangers tell me their story lines–not because I’ll steal them but because I’m so prolific I know I probably have something similar on the back burner–and if I hear someone else is working on the idea I have to dump mine. I have too strong of a work ethic to ever consider writing something I know is already being developed by someone else.

About the Author: Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four massive cats.

Where to find Patti:

My website! Shiny!
For the latest news on my work
My writing blog
Because a girl’s got to have a fanpage
I’d love to Tweet you!
My Amazon page!

Share

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I was in a lovely conversation with a fellow writer who asked me about marketing and promotion. When you work a regular job and put in more than 40 hours a week; when you have a family who needs, craves, and actually LIKES your company; when every spare moment is dedicated to either working for a living or re-acquainting yourself with the progeny to which you gave birth or the person with whom you share a home; when any time above and beyond that is spent with the creatures who live inside your head, how do you find time to market and promote your work?

Tick-tock, tick-tock...all I have to worry about is my Evil Cat Overlord but trust me, I wish there were 12 more hours to the day.

It’s difficult enough to find enough time to write, much less pimp yourself out. And how effective is it to be an Internet ho? I don’t have the answers — all I know is what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned from those who have come before me (and you will find some very helpful links to some amazing blogs on my sidebar) and what I have observed all my years in the writing biz. The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re angsting about selling books is:

THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.

It's gonna take a while. And you'll need to drink a lot of fluids. Probably alcohol.

The best, most effective way to sell more books? Write more books. This is the secret most writers blow off, think it’s too simple or think it doesn’t matter. It does. You see, you hook someone on your book, and the first thing an avid reader is going to do is buy every single thing you have written. And they’re going to talk about it. Readers are very loyal and once they find an author they like, they would rather buy from them than someone new. It’s the truth and that’s what’s behind all the big name success stories you see in the news. Amanda Hocking? Has a shit-ton of work for sale. Joe Konrath? Barry Eisling? Same thing.

That’s not to say you don’t have to do ANY marketing. It just means without the material out there, it’s not going to be effective. You need books, short stories, novellas, on the market, more than one. The more you have, the more you sell, and the more you sell.

Not a hook like this. Using this kind of hook to get readers will lead to an arrest record. Don't ask me how I know.

Marketing can be a total time-suck, but there are things you can do that take very little maintenance. Here are some of my suggestions:

Your blog is a great start, but put links in your email signature. I like WiseStamp because you can link it to update automatically with your blog posts and Twitter feed. Don’t have a Twitter account? Get one. Use a service like Buffer (free) to capture pages you surf and to schedule automatic posts, but set aside a little bit of time to actually talk to people. Twitter takes time to establish, and it has evolved over the three years I’ve been on it. It’s social interaction and if you don’t interact, it won’t do you much good. But, it’s great for networking and support, even if it doesn’t sell a whole lot of books.

Support other writers. I am in an awkward position as an editor for some of the best books I’ve read this year. As an editor, it’s a conflict of interest for me to pimp my clients out, and that totally sucks. (Because really, what am I going to say? They suck? Of course not, plus if I don’t give every one the same amount of time, that will cause problems. PLUS, if I don’t like the story, what happens when I don’t pimp that one out? PLUS, I’m an editor, not a promoter and I barely have time to pimp myself out. I hate being in this position, I really do, but there it is. Other than a link on my site — I do that for all my clients, but that’s the most I can do. Although I do post guest posts. It’s a problem for me because I love all my clients and some of them are great friends, as well. *sigh*)

Yeah, we've been here before. I love you, but I can't pimp you. *sad face*

Goodreads — get yourself an author page on Goodreads, and hook it up to post your blog posts there, too. Same with an Amazon author page. Make it as easy on yourself as you can by taking advantage of the RSS feeds and that way, all you have to do is update your blog and it will update on Goodreads and Amazon. I’ll be updating Goodreads with a video trailer once it’s done for “Athena’s Promise”.

Here are mine:

Annetta’s Amazon Author Page

Annetta’s Goodreads Author Page

Shelfari is another good site to set up the same way.

Use as many “set it and forget it” options as you can.

Get your book in the hands of reviewers.

Put together a media kit. You only have to do it once, and you’ll use components of it over and over. Here’s how: How To Construct a Media Kit

Do you have a Facebook Fan page? I offer exclusive excerpts from my book — a couple of lines from every chapter, then some blurbs, then the cover…that’s the only place people can see them. I plan on offering the book trailer there first and then I’ll post two or three sample chapters on the blog when I get closer to launch, which will then update automatically to all the sites I just mentioned. Here’s my page so you can see what I’m talking about: Annetta’s Facebook Fan Page

Instead of devoting huge hunks of time to marketing, you’re much better served by setting up as much as you can that requires the least bit of attention and using the time to work on the next book, and the next, and the next. That is honestly my best advice.

WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

Now, get going.

Share