Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Success Breeds Success

My summer giveaway for "Dreams of the Fallen" was a success! Thanks to help from folks like my blogger friends and the Paranormal Readers' Group on Facebook, it garnered 22 more likes. Thanks!
Sales wallowed over the weekend until late Sunday when it doubled from 600 to 1200. By Monday it doubled again and I was #1 epic free (#100 in overall fiction). However, on Amazon, the algorithm is "success is contagious". As I hoped, my first book in that series, "Doors to Eternity" experienced a lift onto the top 100 paid epic list. I sold two months worth in those last two days. Unexpectedly, the second book in my Jezebel series "Sirius Academy" hit the top 100 paid High-Tech Sci-Fi.

My wife and final proofreader, Tammy, started reading my latest novel Sunday and finished over half in the first day. Another reader also submitted her comments. I just copyrighted "Contagion of the Gods." Everything has fallen into place for another book release while the iron is hot. One last check during the paperback formatting and I should go out this week. (I don't want to overuse exclamation points, but I feel like everything in this update deserves one.)

"Queen of the Pirates" has reached the 58K word mark and it's agonizing because I see almost every word of the next four chapters on the island of Center before the plot threads split again. There's a lot more magic in this book, two new types. The meet and exchange portion was only supposed to be about three chapters but exploded into ten. It took an unexpected turn and it is hot. I just have to make sure it stays realistic and tasteful.

When talking to fans at the local book/game store and at the 4H fair, I told them about my idea in my short story "Ghosts of Giardi", and they said the same thing Katy did: "You should do a series on that guy." I think I might, after "Hero of Fire."

Good thing I'm doing this full time starting September 1.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Maps of Ancient Greece

When I make maps for my epic fantasies, I usually use the Tolkienesque toolkit in Campaign Cartographer 3. I can hand-draw any symbols they down have, import into the program, and it looks great. However, "Contagion" is based in the real world, Golden-Age Greece. Most of the maps available on the web are for tourism and have too much modern information on them. I don't want the Crete airports labeled for my mythic era heroes, nor the modern names for countries. The maps old enough to be public domain are usually too cluttered to read well on Kindle. So I compromised.
  • I found an excellent public-domain, vectorized graphic of the area with NO labels.
  • Cropped it to be just the immediate area of the Aegean where my characters sail.
  • Bleached all the color out of it except the land borders.
  • Labeled the important areas by hand in Paint.
  • Colored land/water to add contrast, filling in the holes in the o's and e's a pixel at a time.
  • Someone suggested a hand-written font, but I couldn't get Paint to cooperate without starting from the original blank map.
Here are the results. I did one set with dark sea and the other with lightly shaded islands. I had friends and beta-readers vote of which one they liked best. Since it was tied, my vote counted twice and I'm using the dark background version for now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Celebration July 20-22

My mid-summer epic release has been delayed, but I want to do something to boost sales and celebrate my pending full-time-writer status. I'm selling about 100 US units a month now of each of my four books that are parts of a series. (Jezebel is selling well in France and England now!) After my success with the "Dreams" giveaway, I found two sites that are rumored to boost freebie volumes by a factor of ten.

They want two days' notice. Since I've missed this weekend, and I got one complaint about "backtracking for plot points and multiple POV in the same chapter", I'm making another edit pass on "Doors" to tighten up. I'll have a minor reissue on "Dreams" for a deleted character who I left in the Cast of Characters page. Next weekend, July 20-22, I plan to do a three day event to give away "Dreams" again. Let's see if I can duplicate last event. If the giveaway is still doing well on day three, I'll extend the offer. Rereading book one of the series is helping me re-affirm key characters in book three (now at 40K words). I am feeling better now about the Traveler series being worthwhile.

So much is happening at once.  I couldn't sleep last night and hand-wrote a key scene in the finale. Pagaose has to choose a concubine at the annual dance of the virgins. No matter who he picks, all the other factions will be offended. He pulls out a wildcard at the last minute who turns out to be a little wilder than he imagined.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Seaweed Is always Greener

Major news: even though I'm only 48, I was accepted for early retirement at HP and could be writing full time as early as September 1! The kids go back to school September 4. That month is looking so good. For now, I have to try hard to focus on July.

While I'm waiting for the last two reads of the sea epic "Contagion of the Gods", I'm plugging away on "Queen of the Pirates": 35K words/14 chapters, and almost exactly one-third done based on my outline. I should just make the mid-September line-edit. Currently, I'm going back for some world building. I've never needed the days of the week before in sword and sorcery, but as the new emperor, Pagaose has a lot of appointments. Try to detail a schedule without day names. I made Imperial days close to ours but more elemental: Starday, Sunday, Moonday, Waterday, Windday, Stoneday, Fireday. I also have a Dawn people legend to write--the Song of Serog, how she lost her seven daughters and challenged the council of gods in her grief. Once I get these ironed out, the next section (where all the heroes meet together again) should write itself.

Oddly, that self-writing thing makes me paranoid. If it's too easy, is it good? Am I just writing another "Love Boat" episode or real pirate action? I have two other stories crowding in my brain now, each one swearing it's better than the one I'm writing now. They always do that. I even have a voice whispering that if I rewrite Traveler 1, two will sell more.

The writing expands to exceed the available time.