Tag Archives: publishing

Featured today on Betty Book Freak: Model #37

Just a quick announcement, that my science fiction tale “Model #37” is being featured today on “Betty Book Freaks” website here:  Betty’s Bargains for October 16

In other news, I was laid off from my job last month, and I’m currently working freelance as a technical writer. Making money again, yay. Crazy schedule, boo, and tough on getting any fiction writing done. But fear not, I’m still writing the second book of the Spirit Mage Saga to get published hopefully some time in the spring.

Release Day! Model #37 now out everywhere

And it’s now out!  Amazon (and all its markets), Barnes and Noble, Ibooks, Smashwords, Kobo… well everywhere except for Google, who is being a pain right now. Check out this classic science fiction short story two-pack today!

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A Science Fiction Short Story Two-pack

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Excerpt:

She crossed her arms, looking hard at him. “What is this place? I thought you said it was a beauty pageant! For special people like me!”

He glanced around nervously and took her by the arm. “This isn’t the place to talk. We can discuss it later, once we’re home.” At the sound of the audience clapping, he frowned. “They’re too narrow-minded. Kitchen shelves! Idiots.” He pulled her over towards the coat rack where several shiny metallic coats hung, including his own.

They were leaving before the show even ended? Baby tore her hand away, glaring at him. “I want to hear about the other models. I want to hear what they say.” More than that, she wanted answers to the mystery of what this place was really about.

His bushy brows drew together. Father was older, with gray hair and glasses. They looked nothing alike, and yet he had said that she was born of his genetic materials. “Don’t speak back to me. When I say it’s time to go, you obey.” He grabbed her arm again.

The other models watched them with concerned looks on their faces. Baby tried to break free of his hold. “When do I have a say in what I do? Didn’t you just say I’m an adult now? When can I meet people, see places?”

Father opened his mouth to reply, then shut it. “I’ll explain everything later. Once we’re home.” He glanced at the muscled security standing nearby. “I need assistance. Help me get her into the car.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Baby saw Moo returning from the stage. Their eyes met, and he frowned, seeing her struggle.

Fear churned in her gut. She’d argued once with Father when he’d told her it was time to get in the cage. He’d struck her across the cheek. The mark had only lasted a day or two, but she never forgot the shame of disappointing him, the anger in his eyes.

Moo was walking away. She might not ever get to see him again, or talk to him. Baby squared her shoulders and glared at her father. “Let go of me. You can’t make me go with you. I’m a legal adult now.” She hadn’t ever read an actual law, but she’d read enough to know that adults had rights under the Constitution. It occurred to her that Father might be breaking a law or two with how he was keeping her, now that she was eighteen.

“Baby,” he pleaded, looking angry and hurt at the same time. “What’s gotten into you?”

New Cover: Eight Minutes Until the End of the World

So just a quick announcement today: I finally got a new cover for the very first short story pack that I published as an indie writer: “Eight Minutes Until the End of the World.” This short humorous tale, about aliens who make a booboo and then try to save the best that Earth has to offer, was published originally on the “Alienskin” emagazine website. The tale is coupled with an original space-opera style story about a starship with artificial intelligence who would do anything to save her captain.

Check them out!  Also, for those who sign up for my newsletter, I’m offering the book for free with a coupon code at Smashwords.

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Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eight-Minutes-Until-End-World-ebook/dp/B007Z1OR8S/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/157219

Description:

On the Tridak ship, an alien utters the worst thing an alien can ever say: “Oops!” And on Earth in NASA’s latest project, the Mercury Probe Orbiter, John Fanchett makes the fateful announcement: “Sir, we got a big problem. The sun is going nova.”

The problem is, John only has eight minutes before the end of planet Earth, to solve the mystery of an alien language and his own survival.

Bonus short story: The Emergence

The Emergence has always loved her captain, and as aliens endanger her, she must take steps to avoid what could be a horrible blunder with alien intelligence. For the Emergence is one of the first artificially intelligent spaceships.

New Science Fiction Short Story pack available on Pre-Order!

Now available for Pre-order on Amazon and Smashwords! A science fiction short story two-pack, featuring “Model #37” about a genetically enhanced young adult, and “The Nannypod,” about the device that people just can’t live without. This ebook will be out for sale on September 30, 2015.

Amazon link: Model #37: A Science Fiction Short Story Two-Pack

Smashwords link: Model #37: A Science Fiction Short Story Two-Pack

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Model #37: Baby has lived a privileged life—her father always said she was “special.” And Baby knows she’s not like normal humans. She’s only 47 inches tall, even though she’s eighteen years old. She can live off tiny amounts of food. And she’s got a dorsal fin in the middle of her back.

Today’s the big day. She’s supposed to model for the world, and make her father proud. The only questions are why is she so nervous, and why won’t her father let her out of the lab? Most of all, Baby, also known as Model 37, wants to see the world.

Maybe even meet another “special” person like her.

Bonus short story:  The Nannypod

It’s Monday morning, and Chris has to get to work. The only problem is, his Nannypod, the device strapped to his wrist that runs his life, just died. He doesn’t even know which bus to get on.

How will he live without it?

(Also included is an excerpt from the paranormal novella, “Dreams and Constellations”)

And here’s an excerpt from “Model #37”:

Baby’s heart lurched as the announcer called her number. She heard people beyond the curtain murmuring to each other, though she couldn’t discern the words. Sixteen years of training had led to this moment. She glanced at her father, breathing hard.

Lines around his eyes deepened as he granted her a smile, towering over her diminutive size. He patted her on the head. “Show them, Baby. Make me proud.”

She fidgeted, adjusting the sheer bodysuit. It hid enough for modesty, but it felt confining. She didn’t like the open back, exposing her dorsal ridge. Father didn’t have one of those. He said it made her special.

“Go!” her father urged, giving her a push. She brushed the curtain out of her way and stepped onto the runway. Lights blinded her, but she’d practiced this over and over. Smile at the people beyond the glare of the lights. Ignore the flash of cameras taking pictures. Walk with confidence down the runway. She moved, forcing herself not to rush despite the pounding of her heart. Keep to the rhythm of the music.

“And here’s Dr. Heim’s model, number 37. She’s a little thing, as you can see, but this isn’t dwarfism; she’s perfectly proportioned with no deformities or known genetic defects. Dr. Heim designed her with the group objective of species modification in light of our water and food shortages and increasing global temperature.” The female announcer’s voice blared through the speakers, and Baby wondered what the woman was talking about. She was specially bred, that was true. Father had told her so. And she knew she was smaller than others, than the true humans. But group objectives? What group objective?

She reached the end of the runway and gave a twirl in the white body suit, smiling at those in the front row. Men and women of different ethnicities looked her over critically, jotting things down into their tablets. Several took pictures of her, reporters, possibly. Not one returned her smile. Baby tried to keep the fear at bay. Did they like her?

The announcer continued. “Dr. Heim wants to remind viewers that while Model 37 may be small, she is fully mature at eighteen years old. She requires only 500 calories and 32 ounces of water a day. Note also the dorsal ridge, designed to regulate body temperature, even in extreme heat.”

“What is her exact height?” One fellow asked, raising a pen.

“Approximately 47 inches, or 119 centimeters tall,” the announcer replied. “Model 37 weighs only 45 pounds, about the same as a six year old child.”

A woman carrying a tablet with a bud in her ear called out. “Are there concerns that this type of design could face discrimination, such as the kind faced by individuals with dwarfism? What about things like car designs, kitchens with high shelves?”

Baby was nearing the end of her walk, almost back to the curtains. The questions bewildered her—what discrimination? And why? She’d lived her entire life in a facility with others like her. Some were human; others were four-legged animals, dogs, sheep, even a pig. All of them had modifications, to make them special. Like her.

Before she could duck behind the safety of the curtains, her father stepped out on stage and grabbed a microphone. He squinted at the woman who had asked the question. “Society already has in place protections and equipment to assist those of lesser physical stature. I imagine that over time, things would be adjusted to the new standard height. This has historical precedent. Modern man is taller than his ancestors. In this day and age, I see that as a liability, not an asset.”

Baby stood at the edge of the curtains, hovering. She thought she recalled him telling her to wave and bow at this point, but her thoughts had scattered. Her father sounded angry. Another person near their end of the runway raised his hand. “How do you expect people to take your design seriously? She looks like a child!”

That she could not stand for. “I’m not a child!” Baby said. Her voice didn’t sound childlike; it earned surprised looks from several of those closest. She looked to her father, but he frowned and shook his head, then made a gesture for her to go backstage. Shooting the fellow a glare, Baby pivoted and exited through the curtains.

She heard the announcer clear her throat. “Right, so any further questions for Dr. Heim? Remember that you all can place your votes on what you consider to be the most promising breakthroughs as we move forward to approach the world community with our proposals and designs.”

Baby nearly ran into the next model, a tall thin thing with blue skin and gills, wearing some kind of apparatus that supplied it with water to breathe. It wore a tiny bikini Baby would be horrified to wear. Baby ducked out of the way and stood off to the side, waiting for her father to return backstage. She’d known about the voting. But it seemed there was much her father hadn’t told her.

When she looked at the other models milling around, Baby saw them with new eyes. A model with dark brown skin shifted her stance, and Baby realized her skin was scaly like a snake. Another model, this one a tall, strong-looking fellow, had tiny horns on his forehead. He chewed gum sleepily, leaning against the wall.

She walked over to him. He smelled of grass and something else, something she’d never smelled before. The closest she could describe it was ‘male.’ “What’s your name?” she asked, hoping that since her part was over, she’d be able to enjoy herself a little before Father returned.

The young man scraped the toe of his boot along the wooden floor, looking down as he answered. Brown hair fell into his face. “They call me Moo.” She couldn’t tell by the dim lighting, but Baby suspected he was blushing.

“Moo? That’s an odd name. Why do they call you that?” Baby knew why Father called her Baby. She was his baby. He’d told her that nothing fit better. He loved her. He’d even given her a rag doll to hold when he locked her in her pen at night.

Moo rocked back and forth, holding himself. He swallowed whatever he was chewing. “I’m part bull. So…Moo.” He didn’t seem particularly happy about it.

“Is that why you have horns?” She reached up to touch one.

He shied back, breathing hard, but then stilled himself, hands clenching into fists as he allowed her to feel the hard smoothness. “Sorry. My instincts get the better of me sometimes. They’re real.”

Baby glanced over as the next model stepped towards the curtains, but there was no sign of her father. “Are you nervous?”

Moo shrugged again. “A little. I don’t think the judges will like me.” He took a step towards the scaly girl but she hissed at him. He stepped back, lowering his head again. “Everybody thinks I’m stupid.”

“Well that’s stupid,” Baby said, pouting. No one had ever questioned her intellect before. She could speak and read four different languages, and Father said her math skills were exceptional. She only wished more of her education had come from something other than books. He hadn’t even allowed her to watch TV, though he’d told her about it. “So where is your parent?” She glanced around, but most of the people backstage were like them, unusual mixtures of genetic material. She noticed the security guards wearing utility belts with things like handcuffs and batons. That struck her. Why would the models need security guards?

Moo scratched his head, looking nervous. “Out watching the show. I don’t like these things. I’ve already been to three of them.”

Baby studied his eyes, noticing for the first time that his pupils were abnormally large. She admired his eyes. She couldn’t explain why. “Why don’t you like them?” She hadn’t liked the tone of the announcer. Perhaps that was it.

Scaly Girl threw them a dirty look. “They don’t showcase our skills. It’s a bloody waste of time. Just a media circus to make the politicians happy, that the scientists are thinking up something as the world goes to hell.” Baby blinked at the thick Australian accent, but even as she opened her mouth to ask a question, the girl turned away again, ignoring them.

From beyond the curtain, Baby heard clapping and muted voices. Apparently the audience had liked the girl who breathed underwater. As the underwater breather returned backstage, Scaly Girl stepped towards the curtain to take her call. Moo stamped one foot, breathing hard. Baby placed a hand on his well-muscled arm to calm him. “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

“I want to run. I want to escape,” he told her. At first she thought he was joking. By the fear in his eyes, however, she realized he meant it.

Yes, Joe! YES!!

I just want to post this link to Joe Konrath’s latest blog post from yesterday, where he discusses trolls and writer reactions to reviews.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/04/suffering-fools.html

All I can say is AMEN!!!!!  A professional writer does not react. A professional writer writes, and lets everyone else say what they will about their books, engage in discussions or rants, etc. They do not engage, unless a fan emails them directly with a question.

And to any writer who can’t bear to watch others tear their “baby” apart, just don’t read it. Don’t. Walk away, and go back to writing. Read a few books on writing, join a writing workshop or critique group, listen to your beta readers. But don’t engage with reviews once you’ve hit that “publish” button. If your book has a low average and it’s not some unreasonable attack, then it means you have work to do to improve your craft. Suck it up and just do that, then.

That is all!

Buzz Buzz!

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So it seems like the cover reveal for my soon to be published fantasy novel Journey to Landaran went really well! A total of 25 blogs posted it, I received a bunch of new Twitter followers, over 75 “To Read” additions over at Goodreads and the Amazon gift card and ARC giveaway currently stands at 427 entries and counting!

One of the hardest things for any writer, and particularly for indie writers, is to create a buzz for their book. How do you get that word of mouth thing going? How can you get people excited to read what you have written?

In my experience, I think genre and the demographics of your audience does play a role in what kinds of activities you should do to promote your books. If you have a heavy science fiction and comic books crowd, then you’d probably benefit from setting up a table at a local sci fi convention. If you are after the academic and educational crowd, try speaking at libraries or colleges.

And if your audience is younger or your genre is YA, especially with paranormal elements, blog tours are a way to go.

I knew my first book wouldn’t appeal to the YA audience. The writing is denser and the flow of the book is a little slow. Also, there are a lot of thematic undercurrents to the book which would appeal more to the main sci fi/fantasy reader, particularly male and academic. It’s a ‘smart’ book–it makes you think. I don’t envision a lot of teenagers getting into it, so I didn’t even try to market it that way.

This new book, however, is different. Descriptions are paired down and the pace is faster. The protagonists are younger. Romance is only hinted at in the first book, but you’ll see more of it blossoming in the next couple of books in the series. The magic is based on psychic abilities more than traditional spells and witchcraft. Technically it’s a science fantasy.

I knew it appealed to the YA reader the instant I first described the book to my pre-teen daughter (then eleven at the time). She’s now 13 and she’s been hopping up and down wanting to read this one. She wasn’t really all that into my Heart of the Witch book.

So I branded the book with a cover more appealing to YA readers, and I set up the cover reveal with a YA blog.

And people are talking. The cover is getting positive feedback, and what’s more, people are interested in reading about these twins and their powers.

I’ll be doing another blog tour with Candace when the book comes out in February. Meanwhile I have beta readers reading the book (my daughter’s one of them), and I’m sending out ARCs to various reviewers. I’ll see what people think!

And hopefully that’ll create even more buzz.

(Remember, you still have a couple weeks to sign up for the giveaway!  Details can be found here:  http://www.candacesbookblog.com/2013/11/cover-reveal-giveaway-journey-to.html )

The importance of branding and lettering

So the cover image for my upcoming novel, The Spirit Mage Saga: Journey to Landaran is complete now. I’ll do a full cover real and blog tour probably in a month or two once I’m closer to publishing. Today, however, I want to talk about the importance of the FULL cover design, not just the image.

You can have the greatest image in the world and ruin it with some boring lettering.

You can also have the simplest image or background, and the lettering can be your design. Hunter Games, anyone?

Either way, the fonts you use and the way you display the title and your name can make a really big difference on your book. This is particularly true in the age of eReaders, where all a potential buyer may see is that itty bitty thumbnail of your cover. Can they read the title? Author name? If you take a look at the books being sold at Walmart or your local grocery store, you may notice something in common.

Big names, big titles.

So with that in mind, I started playing around with the title lettering for my fantasy novel. Below are three mock-ups that I created without an image, so that I could focus on the letters. Keep in mind that my target audience is likely going to be mostly female readers ages 14 and up, crossing over into the paranormal market.

First version: Title fonts small (This one was okay–it has a feeling of movement. The series name is a little small, however.)

Second version: Title fonts 2 small (This one I decided it was too difficult to read the “J” and the “L” but I liked the fonts for the author name and series name.)

And Version 3:  Title 3 small (This to me brought out the best of everything. It’s easily readable but still has a fancy “L”, the series name is clear, and the author name is nice and big on the bottom. Right now, this is my favorite.)

So you can see just with these examples how various fonts can make a difference. By the way, I’d love some feedback on these as well. What do you think?