Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cover Reveal for The Last God

If you've been skulking around here between now and November, you'd undoubtedly heard bits and pieces about my current project: The Last God. Well, it's finally almost ready to share with you.


While I wait for the last two of my esteemed critique partners to hand over their red ink filled pages so I can complete the touch ups, I figured I'd share the cover with you. I fell in love with this art after spending most of an afternoon searching for cover elements. When we created the cover for Sahmara, it was from five different pieces that we pulled together. This one hit me, the angels sang, and that was it. And so after working some graphical magic to make it just right for the story, I present the cover for The Last God.

Jane has decreed that the time of the Unlata Kai is over. Her race of god-like beings has caused enough chaos, leaving floundering hybrid races and war-ravaged planets throughout the universe. Kaldara, their home, is about to fulfill her wishes. When the planet goes, it will take her and the last of her kind with it.

The crew of the Maxim sets out to warn the leaders of Kaldara of their imminent demise, but instead, witnesses a violent battle between gods. One of them holds knowledge that could restore the Maxim to its full strength. The possibility of a defense against the ruthless army of Matouk that destroyed his homeworld fills Logan Klevo with something he’s been missing, hope.

Abducting an angry and suicidal god might not be a wise choice, but if the god of war can learn to love, they both might discover a future worth living for.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reflections on the 2017 A to Z Challenge

I will admit right up top that I was leery about the lack of the linky list, (You'd think this was an L post, wouldn't you?) but having survived the entire month with more activity than ever, I have been won over. Yes, it was more work than signing up one time on the linky list before April. Yes, I had to remember to copy my links every day to google+, Facebook, and the A to Z site, but it worked. In fact, by the middle of the month, hectic mornings sidelined my advertising rounds a couple times, but people still came.

So what changed for me this year?
I started gathering a blog list in a word .doc to visit during the theme reveal. Anyone who had an active blog who was participating got added. It made it way easier to make my daily rounds than trying to hunt down links for everyone everyday or magically sync up with their posts on any of the three posting mediums I mentioned. Because many of us were in different time zones or advertised in the morning or evening, there was often a two to three letter range of where we all were within the challenge by using my method, but going down my list during my morning rounds helped keep me organized.

Not to say I didn't find other blogs along the way. Often, when I was posting my link, a topic would catch my attention and I'd wander off (as I'm prone to do on the evil internet), to see what they had to say. I did the same thing while leaving comments. Oh, who's that? Click. Thank you to all of the A to Z people who made the effort to push us into leaving links in our signatures! That made finding other blogs so much easier.

By the end of the month, keeping in mind that I did delete a few blogs from my list due to a total lack of return comments or they just stopped participating, I was actively reading and commenting on twenty-one blogs everyday. That does not include the few interesting attention grabbers that I also visited here an there. I cannot emphasize enough how much adding a link to your signature makes it easy to get to you.

Following that many blogs meant I gave up my writing time altogether, but April is often a (mostly) writing vacation month for me due to the challenge so that was nothing new. What was new was that instead of following a handful of blogs, I had a whole list of people I enjoyed visiting each day. While there were a few days that got away from me, I did try to comment on as many blogs on my list as possible. Saturdays were hard because I don't have a set aside writing time to use for blogging during April.

What surprised me:
• How many people commented but left no way to find their blogs. Their Google+ accounts only had comments on other people's blogs or no activity at all. They didn't leave a link. I'd love return the visit, but I don't have twenty minutes to solve the mystery of where to find you.

• How much smoother the month goes when you write your posts ahead of time. It leaves much more time for commenting.

• That the lack of a linky list actually worked really well. I had far more visits this year than in previous years.

• All the fun blogs I found and interesting people I virtually met throughout the month. In previous years I connected long term with one or two blogs, but this year, with a much larger daily list, I hope to have many more long-term connections.
For me, April has become the month of networking. While I follow blogs throughout the year, I also sporadically become a writing hermit and seem to fall off the face of the networking earth. Having a month set aside to get out there and meet people is a good thing.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to comment throughout the month and to those of you who stopped by just to read. I hope to see you throughout the year. My A to Z blog list is saved for future visits as time allows.

Now that April is over, it's time to get back into writing mode!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

April IWSG

With A to Z now lurking behind us and the reflections posts waiting to be written, it's time for a short break to think about this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

I'm sitting at that awkward point of waiting for feedback. So I'm anxiously twiddling my thumbs, pretending not to be anxious to see what comments come back from the three critique partners I wrangled into going over The Last God.

I could be using this time to work on other small projects and that is my plan, but I've been plagued by headaches lately and dealing with half of a throbbing head and black spotted vision isn't exactly conducive to writing. Being outside in the fresh air helps, especially if it's a little chilly, which means I'm not at my computer. Over the past month I've managed to build garden beds, haul a bunch of dirt, rocks and mulch and make a nice little garden area. I'm sure it will be overrun by the stubborn dune grass in no time, but I'll share pictures of how nice it looks for now another day.

Today's thoughts are wondering if I should give Kindle Scout a try. It would appear that you retain print rights while they get ebook and audio. Assuming you're chosen, of course. Anyone out there have any experience or insight on this?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A to Z: Editing Fiction - The End

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

Just as Z is the end of this challenge, let's talk about the end of your story. Make sure you take a good look at the end and whether it will make your readers happy. Endings, like beginnings can be tricky to write.

Depending on your story, the end could mean very different things. For the most part though, is your ending fulfilling? Have you made the time the reader has invested in this story worthwhile? Does it offer enough closure? Not every story has a happy ending, but it does need to have an impact.

Does it need an epilogue? Is everything clear enough? Are the subplots are wrapped up? Do you need to give secondary characters closure as well? How much closure do the main characters need? Is the ending dragging on because you don't want to let go of the story or ending too abruptly?

We all know how some genre's end: the mystery is solved, the couple in the romance get married. Others can be bittersweet, tragic or happily every after or at least happy enough for now. However your story ends, make sure it ends.

You're writing a series or a sequel? Great, but end the damned novel. It doesn't have to completely wrap up with no lose ends, but it does need to have a solid point of resolution for the plot at hand. Otherwise, it will end up in my donation pile after putting dent in my wall, and I certainly won't buy the next book to find out what happens after that little To be continued text, the ellipse or whatever cliffhanger sentence the book doesn't end with.

End the story in way that makes the reader feel something (other than anger about how it didn't really end) and they will be more likely to look for more of your work. This is an important place to note the reactions of your beta readers. If they were happy, others will likely be too.

I've enjoyed spending April with you. I hope to see you around throughout the rest of the year. Congratulations on surviving the month!

What are your feelings regarding books that don't really end?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A to Z: Editing Fiction - You Need Other Eyes

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

You can't do this editing thing all by yourself. Ok, you can, but please don't.

As I've said before this month, you know your story. It came from your head. Of course you know it. You know what everyone looks like, where they are, and why the doing whatever you made them do. But have you conveyed all that in a way your readers will understand?

The only way you'll know, is letting someone else read it. And I don't mean by publishing it. That's easy to do these days, but that doesn't mean you should.

Find a two or three or handful of other people you trust to tell you truth. They don't need to be brutal about it, but you do need them to be honest. This could be some friends that do a lot of reading, a friend or co-worker's parent that was an English teacher, a college student with some sort of English major, or better yet, a local writer's group or online critique group. There's no one more willing to pick apart your words than other writers.

What do you do when you do get that feedback you were looking for (through the hands over your eyes)? You read through it. Don't rush off to change anything major. Sure, fix the typos and obvious grammatical errors. Fix the things you totally agree with. Because the words "Holy crap, how did I miss that?" will very likely come from your lips at least once, if not several times.

Now, the other stuff, the things that may require you to make major changes:
  • Do they feel right for your story/voice/plot/genre?
  • Did more than one person point out the same area as a problem?
  • Do you respect that person's opinion/knowledge enough to trust that they are possibly right?

Whatever you decide, remember that the opinions of readers vary widely. The thing someone hates, might be the exact same thing another reader loves (true story, many more times than once). Give suggestions due thought (nothing beats sleeping on them a night or two for clarity) and change what feels right to you. You are the author. These are suggestions.

On the other hand, there may stuff that makes you never talk to them again/quit writing forever/want to throw things/run off and write an angry response over. Don't do any of that. Just think about it, and for the love of all that's holy, don't say anything but a polite, "Thank you for your help".
Give that stuff a few days to settle into your mind and then go through what they said again with some criteria in mind.
  • Where they just being cruel for the hell of it or, more likely, helpful but maybe phrased more boldly than you're used to?
  • Does this person read/write your genre and is what they suggest inline with that?
  • Is this person more experienced than you was perhaps frustrated that you don't know what POV is or that your dialogue punctuation was all wrong, or that you didn't bother to fix any typos?

Most people, even other writers who like to beat up your words, are doing so to be helpful. Take a step back, use what advice speaks to you and say thank you for the rest. All of this is good practice for working with a paid editor, either one you contract or from your publisher.

Do you prefer beta readers, critique groups, or friends to read for you?