A World Away – Chapter 5 on Wattpad

I see I’ve missed mentioning when I’ve posted the last few chapters of this story. It’s up to Chapter 5 now on Wattpad, if you want to get caught up. This is a romance, if you’re not familiar with it. Also, it is a work-in-progress, so the final product may be slightly different from what I’m posting now. Eventually it’ll be available as an e-book, but probably not in paper. Thanks so much to everyone who’s been reading along, I really appreciate it!

I Do It My Way

writer at deskI try to write the best books I possibly can, and with my limited free time to devote to writing, it should be no surprise that it takes me a while to finish even a first draft. Once that’s done, the revisions and rewrites begin before I allow beta readers to see it. This flies in the face of some of the advice to indie authors these days that you should be putting out several books a year. It simply can’t be done, or at least not done well. I take writing very seriously, and rather than toss out a sloppily written novel I try to put out the best product I can. Why should I expect anyone to pay money and spend time on anything less? I do aspire to be a better writer and I’m always looking to improve.

As a writer I love to discuss the craft of writing with other writers. To that end, I participated (briefly) in an online writer’s chat on Twitter the other day. It turned out to be more of a coffee klatsch than writing talk. Questions were things like “What’s the best review you’ve ever received?” Being at work while the chat was going I was only able to participate in the first question which was “Where are you in your writing process?” Most of the rest of the participants (not all) mentioned several projects that are in various stages of writing or revision. I answered that I’m working on the sequel to my first novel. I do have other stories started, but I’m focusing most of my time on the sequel. The moderator (who has apparently heard me discussing this before) said, “Still? How long have you been working on that?” I replied that if I didn’t have a day-job, it might go faster. The mod does not have a day-job. Yes, it’s taking me a while, and I’m sorry for that to those of you who are waiting for the sequel but I have to keep the day-job as I have bills to pay and I’m not a kept woman. Add in everything that needs to be done around the house on weekends and it leaves very little time to write.

That question rankled. It’s no wonder the market is flooded with poorly written books and indies have such a terrible reputation. People are cranking out multiple books a year, but how much time and attention are they giving to any of them? Could my own book have been better? Of course, and I wish I had the money to hire a professional editor to go over it. I may yet release a revised version, now that I’ve discovered ProWritingAid. I’m dying to run the whole book through it and make it better. I can already see things I’d like to change and tighten after using that program for just a couple weeks. I expect Revenants Within to be a much stronger book.

Before self-publishing became an option, it was the norm for a writer to take six months to write a book. Now, if you don’t publish six books a year, you’re pretty much told you’re slacking. I will never be able to write at that pace. If you can, godspeed. But don’t denigrate others who don’t.

And if you’re a slow writer like me, you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it at your own pace, which is exactly how you should.

Do Your Research

On Twitter this morning, an author I follow retweeted another author that he follows, who spake thusly:

 

Still looking for the right publisher for my newest #book . If anyone knows of a good publisher or agent, please let me know. No selfpub plz

 

And I thought, he’s kidding, right? There is no way anyone can answer this because the author in search of a publisher gave no info about the book he’s hoping to publish. Nada. This person has apparently already self-published one book, but didn’t specify if the new book is a sequel, in the same genre, or something completely different. Maybe some of his followers know more about the book, but retweeting it to people who don’t is pretty pointless. Frankly I wasn’t interested enough to even ask. Nor do I have any info on agents, but it’s not that hard to find.

Here’s the thing: Agents and publishers are very specialized. Writers need to do their own research and find an agent that handles the kind of material they write. An agent who reps (represents) Young Adult books may or may not also rep erotica (very likely not). Some will handle a variety of genres (mystery, historical fiction, women’s fiction), whereas some may have a much narrower focus. A poetry publisher will not be interested in a memoir of a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Newbies to the writing and publishing business have to understand that it IS a business, and they need to become as informed and in-touch as any business professional who hopes to succeed in their chosen career. And here’s the biggest thing: It is no one’s responsibility to do it for you. Even if someone does have a working relationship with an agent, that doesn’t mean it would be the right agent for this particular book. I thought we were past the time when writers thought all they needed to do was sit in a coffee shop typing out their masterpiece and then turn it over to a publisher who would instantly recognize their genius and deliver it to the world. Apparently not.

Agents are like anyone else, they have their likes and dislikes. This is why it’s so important to do research, see who else the agent has published, if they seem to be interested in what you’re offering. Just because that agent likes one writer doesn’t mean they’ll like what the next writer sends along. To use a dated analogy, they’re not like phone booths – “Oh look, there’s one.” Just wastes everyone’s time.

This kind of plea makes me wonder if this author also thinks signing a contract is the end of the work for the writer. Whether self-publishing or getting a contract with a publishing house, the bulk of marketing and advertising will still fall to the writer. Unless you’re Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, your publisher is not going to be taking out full page ads in the New York Times to advertise your book. To quote Westley in The Princess Bride, “Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” Do your homework. Read up on publishers and agents. They’re all online now so it’s much easier than it used to be. Back in the dim time writers had to head down to the library to read the mastheads of magazines for editors’ names and addresses, most of which would be out-of-date by the time you read it. I honestly don’t know how people found agents in those days. Probably going through the phone book.

Nowadays agents and publishers are all online. Try a quick Google search for “literary agents on Twitter” and follow the ones who rep what you write. Read their bios on their sites. They will spell out in glorious technicolor detail what they handle, and what they’re looking for. If you’re pitching a military steampunk novel to an agent who only reps childrens’ books, don’t be shocked when they don’t even respond to your query.

Follow the hashtag #MSWL (My Secret Wish List) on Twitter to see what agents are really looking for right now.

Pick up the Writer’s Digest “Writer’s Market” or “Fiction Market” or “Poet’s Market.” They even publish a separate “Guide to Literary Agents.” Writer’s Digest site is a great place for any writer to begin. There’s a wealth of information there no matter what you write. Check here. I’m not shilling for them, but I would have been lost without their magazine when I first started writing.

Read  Writer Beware, which will steer you clear of scams and shady publishers and agents.

That tweet this morning reminded me why I don’t hang out in writing chat groups online. They’re full of newbie, aspiring writers (which is fine in and of itself) who spend half the time begging other people for ideas. “I don’t know what my main character should do, can someone give me an idea?” Hand to god, I am not making this up. I feel a little bit like I’m channeling Harlan Ellison here, but if you have no ideas you should probably do something else. It’s the writer’s job to write the book, unless you plan to credit the person who supplies all your ideas as your co-author on the book.

I have no way of knowing how much info the tweeter this morning expected other people to provide since I didn’t respond, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was expecting other people to research agents for him and get back to him with the details. That could be a full time job. But I bet the pay is lousy.

UPDATE March 24: Here is a searchable database of agents  http://agentquery.com/

 

End rant. Here, have a pretty picture for reading all that.

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FINALLY! Revenants Abroad available in paper!

Revenants Abroad - Final for Web Display 501x800

Never thought I’d see the day, but I approved the proof on CreateSpace moments ago, which means Revenants Abroad is officially available in paper through the CreateSpace store! It said it’ll be 2-3 days before it’s up on the main Amazon.com site, I have no idea why. It is still, and will remain, available for Kindle and for KindleUnlimited. I’m going to order a few copies for giveaways and for those who’ve requested signed copies. I have to say wanting a signed copy strikes me as surreal in the extreme. All I can say is I have the best friends who think more of me than I deserve. Thanks you guys, love you all.

 

Links updated 3 June 2015

Revenants Abroad Paper Copies SOON!

I want to sincerely thank everyone who downloaded the ebook of Revenants Abroad over the holiday weekend! I hope you will enjoy it.

And the new proof copy of the paperback arrived today, and while the color is not quite as rich and bold as the electronic version for the ebook, it is lighter and you can see all the detail in the art, which is what I wanted. So… since all the pages seem to be present, and everything looks right, I will be approving the proof, and should have paper copies available on Amazon in the next few days! :::faints::: Honestly I was afraid to open the package when it arrived today. I think if it had looked the same as before I would have… well, I don’t know what I would have done. But it wouldn’t have been pretty.

The ebook is still available via KindleSelect, so if you have KindleUnlimited it’s still free for you. Otherwise it’s back to $2.99 now. The paper copy will be priced at $12.99. I couldn’t go much lower or I would have owed money to Amazon every time it sold. BUT… I’m thinking of doing some giveaways so stay tuned, or sign up for my newsletter. I won’t be sending that out ,more than about once every 3 months or so, so don’t worry about me flooding your inbox. Sign up here if you’d like to be included.

Long Weekend and a Freebie

I’m making Revenants Abroad free for the long holiday weekend on Amazon! If you’ve put off buying it, now’s your chance to get it. The free promotion is scheduled to run Friday, May 22-Monday, May 25. Amazon warns there may be a slight time delay as to when it begins or ends, but there should be enough of a window in there that’s not in question. I do hope you’ll take advantage of the offer, and get to know the gang. Of course, if you have kindleunlimited, you can read it any time.

I’m making slow progress, but still progress, on the sequel. Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding. When you’re working a day job with a long commute it’s not always possible to crank out thousands of words a day. Believe me, no one is more frustrated about that than I am. I’ve got four days off this weekend for Memorial Day so I’ll be spending as much of that as possible writing. Joy! Truly, I am happiest when I’m writing.

Anyway, herewith a few pics from the last couple of days.

Revenants Abroad Paper Proceeding

The good news is: paper copies of Revenants Abroad are back on! I finally caved and contacted my cover artist, Jason Juta, and he graciously said he’d provide me a lighter version of the cover at no charge. I love this guy so hard. I felt bad going back to ask him for yet another change (of course I intended to pay him, but still) because I know he’s busy. He graciously said he’d do it gratis, since it’ll only take him about 30 seconds to lighten the image up. If the book ever really takes off, I’ll be throwing a few extra dollars his way, believe you me.

If all goes according to plan, the paper copies should be available in a couple of weeks. Once I get the file from Jason, I need to upload it to CS, and get another proof copy to make sure they don’t hose it up again. Those of you holding out hope for a paper copy shouldn’t have long to wait now.

The advantage to publishing paper books via CreateSpace is that it’s no charge, unless you hire them for design, edit, and marketing. It’s not cheap. “Custom covers” from them are $399 (starting with a stock image), a custom cover ‘Premier’ is $599, and still starts with a stock image. After the customer support I’ve experienced (essentially, none), I don’t think I’d trust them with something this important. So the disadvantage to going through them rather than another self-publishing route that would charge hundreds or thousands of dollars is lack of support. Also, while some bookstores will now stock self-published books, those same bookstores are often not happy about stocking books pubbed through CS, as Amazon takes a bigger cut of sales.

So, if you’re going to self-publish hard/paper copies of your book, do your homework. There are so many options it makes my head spin. That’s one reason I decided to use CreateSpace. I basically had everything (electronic files, cover art) and not a lot of cash up front.

And here are some of my latest shots, just for fun.

Going Select, and a Selection

Just to let everyone know, I’ve pulled Revenants Abroad off Smashwords, so that includes Kobo, and Barnes and Noble, etc (Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart). It was proving to be a dead end. I’ve chosen instead to go with Amazon’s KDP Select because I think it will provided greater visibility and will make the book available via Kindle Unlimited to those who have that. I don’t actually know how that works since I don’t have a Kindle, but I’m sure those of you who do, do. See?

Revenants Abroad - Final Flattened with Text for PrintAnd for those patiently waiting, here’s a small snippet from the rough draft of Chapter 1 of the sequel, “Revenants Within.”

Hope you like it!

Revenants Within

Six hours of bad roads from Montreal to Tupper Lake felt like a week and a half, but neither the old house nor the solemn solitary figure standing in the driveway looked at all inviting to Anne-Marie.

“This is it. Wait here a minute while I make sure everything’s ok.” Andrej parked, opened the door and got out. He walked up to the waiting figure who shook his hand.

“I had no idea traveling could be this painful.” Anne-Marie tried to stretch her back, twisting and turning while she waited with Neko inside the car as Andrej spoke with the man. The guy was young, strikingly handsome with a square jaw and shaggy black hair, but he had a cocky belligerent air that chased away any thoughts of confederacy with him.

“What the hell is going on?”

Neko heaved a sigh. “These guys-it’s just their way. They want to be sure we’re the people they expected.”

“Who else would we be? How many people drive all the way out here? And who is that guy?”

“A pain in my ass. I’ll explain later. Come on, looks like we’ve cleared customs.”

The man had nodded and Andrej turned and motioned for them to join him. Neko hopped out first and opened Anne-Marie’s door for her, and together they walked up the driveway. Andrej put his arm around Anne-Marie’s shoulder, pulling her close.

“Jimmy, I’d like to introduce Anne-Marie. And of course you know Neko.”

Jimmy looked at Anne-Marie while he held out his hand to her. As he and Neko shook hands neither one spoke. He turned back to Andrej with a sidelong glance at Anne-Marie, making her feel more like an intruder than she already did.

“Come on inside. Gaston’s resting, he’ll be up later.”

They trudged up the muddy driveway to the wooden steps of the front porch that were nearly bare of paint.With an exaggerated swagger, Jimmy pulled the screen door open and held it, indicating for Andrej and the others to enter.
As Anne-Marie walked in he said, “Anne-Marie, is it? You don’t look like an Anne-Marie. Sounds like a nice Catholic girl kind of name.”

She stopped and looked him up and down. “Jimmy, is it? You don’t strike me as too bright, trying to pick a fight the minute we get here.”

“Listen, bitch, we don’t need you here…” he started, but in less time than it took for him to turn his head to her, Neko had him by the throat, pinned against the house, choking him.

“Don’t piss me off you little shit. I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.”

“Neko, let him go. Now.” The command came from inside. It was woman’s voice, strong and steady.

Neko snarled and pulled his hand off Jimmy’s throat, letting him fall to the floor, gasping for air.

“You touch him again and you’re out of here, all of you.”

The woman speaking came out on the porch. Her gray hair was gathered in a loose soft bun, and old-fashioned glasses set off a stern face. It was not an unkind face, but she clearly didn’t take guff from anyone, human or vampire. Andrej stood behind her, eyebrows raised, watching Neko.

The woman kept her eyes on Neko as she said, “Jimmy, why don’t you go check on the truck? I may need to go to town later.”

Jimmy pushed himself up off the porch floor, rubbing his throat. He shot a murderous look at Neko, then walked off down the porch and around the house.

“Neko, let’s get something straight. If you want to stay here, and you want our help, you will not lay a finger for any reason on any of my people. Are we clear?”

“He should know better than to insult my friends.”

“Jimmy was out of line. I’ll talk to him. But if you touch him again you’re out of here. I can’t have you killing off my coven, if you want our help.”

Neko shook himself, trying to subdue his own rage. Anne-Marie watched him, wide-eyed. He saw her looking at him, and hung his head. “I’m sorry,” he said.

The woman turned to Anne-Marie and gave her a motherly smile. “And I’m sorry we got started off like this. I’m Sylvia. Come on in and make yourselves comfortable and I’ll get tea.”

Neko made a sour face, but waited until Sylvia was out of the room before saying, “Hope she’s got something stronger.”

Andrej put a hand on his shoulder. “I think it’s BYOB here these days.”

With a sound of disgust, Neko shook his head. “How long did you plan on staying here?”

“No longer than we have to.” He turned to Anne-Marie. “I’m sorry about that guy. If he gives you any trouble, let me know.”

“Don’t worry about me. I’ve dealt with worse than him.”

Neko laughed. “That’s our girl.”

The house was decorated, if you could call it that, with a hodge-podge of mismatched furniture, all well-worn and somewhat battered. The house itself was what interested Anne-Marie most. The old farmhouse dated back to the mid-nineteenth century, and had suffered little updating over the years. Apparently repairs were carried out only when something broke or became unlivable. Even the glass in the many windows looked to be original and had become rippled with time. A large bay window in the living room looked out to the west side of the property. The woodwork and double-hung sash windows looked original.
Sylvia returned carrying a tray laden with mugs and a pot of tea.

“Neko, I don’t suppose you’d care for any,” she said, pouring tea into each of the mugs.

“Thanks, I’ll pass.”

“What are you two planning to do for food while you’re here?”

Neko looked at Andrej.

“We can take care of that, don’t worry,” Andrej said.

“You know we’re all out of bounds, right? We can’t work to protect you if we’re weakened in any way.”

Andrej nodded. “Of course, we understand. Even Anne-Marie is out of the question.”

“Unless it’s an emergency,” Anne-Marie said.

Sylvia raised one eyebrow, looking from Anne-Marie to Andrej. Andrej shook his head slightly, and Anne-Marie knew she’d made a mistake.

“Don’t worry,” Anne-Marie said, “it’s not a regular thing.”

Sylvia cleared her throat, poured a cup of tea, and passed it to Anne-Marie. “Well, whatever you decide among yourselves is your business.”

“Syl, you know me better than that,” Andrej said. He stood next to one of the windows, looking out towards the woods behind the house.

“How long have you two known each other?” Anne-Marie looked from one to the other.

“All my life,” Sylvia said. “He knew my parents before that. When I was little I even called him ‘Uncle Andy.’”

“Really?” Anne-Marie laughed. “How is it you’ve never mentioned that particular factoid?”

Andrej made a face at her.

Sylvia leaned toward Anne-Marie with a smile and said, “He’s always been very tight-lipped.”

“That’s true enough. But you have to admit lots of things have happened in my life, we’ve hardly had time to talk about everything,” Andrej said.

“That is a lot of ground to cover.” Sylvia leaned back with her tea, looking around at each of them in turn.

“So where’s Gaston?” Neko asked.

“He should be down shortly. I didn’t think you’d be so eager to see him.” Sylvia sipped her tea, looking at Neko over the rim of her cup.

“The sooner we get this straightened out the happier I think we’ll all be. Might as well get the show on the road.”

Anne-Marie’s shocked look told him he’d gone too far.

“Sorry, Sylvia. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate what you’re doing for us, and the risk you’re taking, which is why I think the sooner we move on the better.”

“Neko, this isn’t something that’s going to be resolved quickly. I suggest you find a way to accept that you’re likely to be here for some time. Hiding you from Paimon isn’t going to be easy. But you’re right, the sooner we get started the better. And here’s Gaston now.”

A man had appeared in the doorway to the living room, He looked to be about Andrej’s age, but with thick blond hair, and large blue eyes. He was not quite as tall as Andrej, and not quite as slender.

“Andrej, it’s good to see you,” he said with a broad smile.The two met in the center of the room, shook hands, and embraced momentarily.

“Gaston, you’re looking well. Let me introduce Anne-Marie.”

“I’m delighted to make your acquaintance,” Gaston said with a bow,and taking Anne-Marie’s hand he placed a kiss on the back of it. As he stood again he looked past Anne-Marie and saw Neko leaning against the fireplace mantel. With a wink at Anne-Marie he said, “Neko,what a pleasure to see you again.”

###

Interested in Reviewing “Revenants Abroad”?

I should have posted this long ago, but wanted to say if you’re a book reviewer interested in reviewing Revenants Abroad please contact me for a complimentary copy in your choice of electronic formats. There’s no obligation. You can also check out the first 20% of the book at Smashwords (anyone can do this) to see if it piques your interest. Amazon doesn’t give you quite as much to preview, I don’t think. You can contact me through the “Contact” form (see above in the menu) or email me at fillingspaces (at) gmail (dot) com.

And some recent pics. I saw something on the way home a couple nights ago I’m dying to get a pic of as soon as I get the road to myself and don’t have to worry about some tailgater trying to kill me if I slow down for 2 seconds.

Also, I have a huge bouquet of lilacs on my desk this morning stinking up the place.

4-14-15 lilacs at work

Revenants Abroad and My Battle with CreateSpace.

Just so you guys know, at this point I do not plan to move forward with paper copies of Revenants Abroad. I’m so disgusted with CreateSpace/Amazon’s destruction of the cover art, I can’t bring myself to sell print copies. I can’t understand why the perfectly good artwork that was supplied to them is turned into a murky mess, and they refuse to do anything about it. Their only solution was to tell me to upload a lighter version of the artwork. I don’t have the original artwork, or Photoshop, to manipulate it in. For comparison, here is the original image:

Revenants Abroad - Final Flattened with Text for PrintAnd THIS is what they did to it. These are the first two proof copies I received, the third is exactly the same. I haven’t even bothered to check the actual text inside. I just want to cry every time I look at this.

Two proof covers

I’ve never seen anything like it. If anyone else has had a similar experience with CreateSpace I’d love to hear about it. I was told this was “within acceptable variances.” They also said something about “spacing” which basically meant they didn’t address the issue at all and all I got was a canned response. Obviously they couldn’t care less about the quality of the books they publish.