Updates – ‘Broken’ Novella Release Date and Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Elden is a young man driven by impulse. A natural telekinetic raised by strict disciplinarians, he has struggled all his life to be what anyone expected him to be. On the eve of his brother’s induction into Justice training Elden is faced with a series of crucial choices, the outcome of which will determine his future in ways he never imagined.

As mentioned in a previous post, the writing for Broken happened fast – really fast. I’ve wanted to take the time to explore Elden’s past since his conception, so as soon as I got myself into his head I couldn’t get out until the story was finished. The whirlwind of inspiration was a surprise, albeit a welcome one. Broken takes place approximately 5 years prior to the events in Tragedy, when Elden was 16 years old. In it we get the chance to meet the younger, less-experienced boy who becomes the cocky, life-hardened man we see briefly in Tragedy and more prominently in Sacrifice. He gets a lot of POV time in Sacrifice, which will make Broken a nice introduction to the character prior to reading the sequel (and yes, I am going to finish this sequel – I swear it).

Broken’s release date is now set for June 26th, which should theoretically give me plenty of time to get feedback from the betas and finish up a final edit. Having a release just before the big residency wave hits will *hopefully* keep the writing going strong through the first part of intern year. Intern year is still a giant void at the moment, a point at which it seems my life ceases to exist (mostly because I *still* don’t have a schedule). For now I’m just going to keep writing, reading, and trying to finish as many projects as possible before I hand over the keys to my life. There are a few blog post ideas I’ve come up with, as well, that I hope to write up between now and then. To keep me honest I’m going to put this list out there for all to see –

  • What it means to write “strong female characters”
  • Marketing: one writer’s experience, what I’ve seen from others, and what I’m planning
  • The big Kindle Select vs. Wider Distribution debate
  • Contests?!

If something on that list sounds particularly interesting to any of you, please comment! I will bump that topic to the front of the queue.

Alright, that should be plenty to add to my to-do list. I should probably scurry off to work on some of the more practical items on that list… like packing for my move, which I haven’t done. At all. Have a lovely evening out there in the real world, folks. 😉

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“Fathers and Sons” Short Story FREE in all E-Book Formats

I wrote Fathers and Sons for several reasons. First, I love Garren as a character in ways you might not expect while reading Tragedy. He is a deep-thinking, kind, independent person who, despite his hardened exterior, has a love for his friends and family which may be unmatched. He is an incredible person with an incredibly tragic story, and I wanted to find a way to show readers the man behind the tough mask.
On a more practical level, I wanted to see how the publishing process works and offer a low-risk or no-risk way to sample my work. I wanted to upload it for free from the start, but hadn’t figured out the best way to do that at the time. While it is not yet free on Amazon (still need to get them to pricematch it), it is 100% free to read across all platforms on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the iBookstore. If you’re at all interested, please check it out!
Garren has spent many years building his home in the Kaldari border town of Plen. A satisfied husband and father, he is known as one of the best scouts in all the provinces despite his identity as a half-Kaldari bastard. Although he tries to ignore the war brewing between the Kaldari and the Children of Elseth in the north, one man’s mistake brings that war to his doorstep and changes his life forever.This short story told from Garren’s point of view is a prequel to Sydney M. Cooper’s novel, “Forsaken Lands Book 1: Tragedy.”

Obligatory Year-in-Review Post

I hope that all of you made it through the holidays intact and are had a safe, happy new year. I’ve been busy the couple weeks with family and last-minute vacations before work begins again. That work thing just will not go away.

It’s been a very interesting year, as you may have noticed. I’ve been job searching all over the country in my non-writing life, published both Tragedy and Fathers and Sons, and have already started working on the sequel to Tragedy. Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine, and while I haven’t been as wildly successful as some other authors, it’s enough that I’m happy to continue. I’ve met the goal of distributing my work to people I don’t know, and fortunately I’ve gotten some good responses.

It’s not much, but it’s enough for me.

The e-publishing game is tougher than many people will make it out to be. With so many borderline publications out there in the indie author world, very few readers specifically seek out indie writers – and of course, most indie writers to not have spare cash to sink into advertising. We get most of our traction through blogs, social networks, offering free stuff, and just generally trying to prove that we’re good enough to warrant the “risk” of a few bucks. Me, I don’t have a vast network of people to automatically like/share/endorse my work, so I’m making slow, gradual gains by virtue of the work itself. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme in any sense of the word, and it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re thinking about going the indie route.

Despite the drawbacks, I couldn’t be happier that I live in a time when this method of delivery is available. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have kept submitting to publishers, suffering rejections, and maybe never published anything at all. It may be arrogance on my part to assume that readers should look at my stuff despite a lack of interest from traditional publishers, but honestly, I just want the subject matter out there. I’m not the best writer to grace the earth, but I do think I can run up against some of the traditionally published authors on the shelves. My stories are stories worth telling, at least to me, and apparently to some other people in the world, too. Dan Carlin posted a pretty nice video to his homepage about “new media” and how it gives a voice to people who never had a way to connect with an audience before – he speaks from the perspective of a podcaster, but I think it’s relevant for indie authors as well. We are one part of the new media revolution, relatively uncensored by the former great gatekeepers (i.e., publishers). It is a great time to be a creative person.

What’s the point of this post? I suppose it doesn’t have much of one. It’s not very long for a year-in-review post, but I suppose it will have to count. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions (seeing as anything labeled “new year’s” is swiftly forgotten about within the first two weeks of January), but I do have some general goals. As I move on to making some actual money here in the future, I would like to endeavor to buy more things from local or independent producers, be it food, music, jewelry, or books. There are incredibly talented people all over the place with wonderful gifts to share – I think that supporting them with whatever extra dollars I have is simply good karma.

I’ll keep you all updated going forward. I’m 25,500 words into Suffering and cannot wait to get through this first draft. Have an absolutely wonderful 2014, readers and writers! I’ll leave you with a little taste of what I’ve been working on lately.

    “I told him not to do it.” Les shook his head, “I told him that she’s a snake, and he won’t listen.”
“She who?”
“Drei,” he rasped.
The sound of the name instantly drew Adria’s brow together. Drei was the Commander of the Kaldari Coalition of Tribes, a woman who threatened to kill as many people as were necessary to “take back” Elseth’s Lands. A warrior race from the south, the Kaldari lived brutal lives which were reflected in their religion and their treatment of others.
“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny.”
“No joke. As Adreth said, this isn’t a government and it’s certainly not a democracy. He’ll do what he pleases, and he thinks this is a good idea.” Les pulled the cig from his lips to steal a swig from Adria’s drink and coughed. “Skies above I hate ale.”
Adria snatched the mug out of his hands and leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And he made this decision tonight?”
“Skies no, he made the deal a while ago. She’s on her way here tonight.”
“Here?” Adria seethed. She was on her feet without meaning to be, ready to turn and walk up the stairs to strangle her goddamned twin.
Les grabbed her by the arm tightly. “Rendezvous was in Saphena. The detail left to pick her up an hour ago. They’ll be here any minute.”
She wrenched out of his hold easily. As much as Les had grown as a fighter, she was still a fair twice as strong as him. The man couldn’t easily make up for a lifetime of privilege. “I don’t need very long, trust me.”
When she looked up she was too late. Adreth was on the catwalk overlooking the hall, staring down at her. His large, callused hands were gripping the banister, and did not move when she made a direct and deliberate line up the stairs to him. Adreth’s expression remained tight and strong, the way it always was when he had made up his mind. Adria fisted both hands by her sides when she approached. Les sat and watched apprehensively, but knew better than to follow.
“We need to talk alone,” she said as calmly as she could muster.
“Not the time, Adria,” Adreth replied.
“I don’t think you catch my meaning. We need to talk alone or I’m going to bring your business out real public.”
“You spoke with Les.”
“Damn right I did. He thinks you’re half cracked, and so do I.”
He spoke slowly, gaze fixed on the men and women socializing in the hall below. “You of all people have to know how hard it was for me to make this call. I didn’t make it lightly. We’re losing this war, Adria. We will never be able to defeat the Celet with this strategy.”
“You told me that if we found the engineers-”
“It’s more than firepower.” This time he turned to look at her, fierce brown eyes stone cold, surrounded by his bold features. They had similar faces, Adria and Adreth, but Adreth always had an intangible edge in him that Adria could never match. “We don’t have enough trained men and women to keep this going. Drei’s people are harder than us. They’ve lived like no one in Elseth’s Land could imagine, and because of that they have something we don’t.”
“And what is that?”
“The dedication to sacrifice everything for what they want.”

Reach Out and Touch… Book

Okay, I will admit that Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode has been stuck in my head ever since I got my hands on the physical proof. No, it’s not quite appropriate, but that’s just how it is.

Forsaken Lands: Tragedy is now officially available both in ebook and print form. Currently the printed edition is only available through my Createspace E-Store, but it will also be available on Amazon within the next week (supposedly!). The price for the printed edition is $9.99, and if you buy it through Amazon, you will be able to download the ebook version for free.

Pretty cool, if I do say so myself. It is a huge weight off my shoulders to be completely done with Tragedy. I am sure someone, somewhere will find some kind of typographical/grammatical error to pick at in the future… and that’s okay. Nothing is ever perfect, including books printed by the big publishers. The big deal is that it is done, and I do not have to read it for a good long while.

I’ve been getting in a few hundred words here and there for Book 2 between job interviews this month (non-writing jobs, of course). I am very happy to be making some real headway on the story, and can’t wait until next week when I will have plenty of time to devote to it. Here’s a little taste, in case you weren’t already as excited as I am. 😉 *potential spoilers ahead*

“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny,” said Adria.

“No joke. As Adreth said, this isn’t a government and it’s certainly not a democracy. He’ll do what he pleases, and he thinks this is a good idea.” Les pulled the cig from his lips to steal a swig from Adria’s drink and coughed. “Skies above I hate ale.”

Adria snatched the mug out of his hands and leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And he made this decision tonight?”

“Skies no, he made the deal a while ago. She’s on her way here tonight.”

“Here?” Adria seethed. She was on her feet without meaning to be, ready to turn and walk up the stairs to strangle her goddamned twin.

Les grabbed her by the arm as tight as he could manage. “Rendezvous was in Saphena. The detail left to pick her up an hour ago. They’ll be here any minute.”

She wrenched out of his hold easily. As much as Les had grown as a fighter, she was still a fair twice as strong as him. The man couldn’t easily make up for a lifetime of privilege. “I don’t need very long, trust me.”

I’ll be checking in before the holidays, I’m sure. Stay safe out there in the meantime!

Because Everything is Word of Mouth

Hey there folks. So here are just a few updates – this week I’m going to be proofing the physical copy of Tragedy with the hope of being able to approve it for distribution before the end of the month. YAY. I’m about 10,000 words into Book 2 (again!) and loving where the story is going. It’s hot stuff. I’m not going at NaNoWriMo speeds, but I’m getting there (and by the way, to those of you who are NaNo’ing it up, you have my utmost respect).

Tragedy has gotten a pretty reasonable number of downloads/buys so far. I’m not getting rich over here, but the story is getting out! The point of getting the word out at this stage of the game isn’t about the money, though, and that’s what I would like to briefly discuss today. As the title of this post would indicate, everything about promoting your work as an artist seems to come down to word of mouth. Advertising, free promotions, being seen… all of that is done in the hope that the person who sees your work will take a minute to enjoy it and then tell someone else about it. As an indie author, reviews are a huge part of that. I know that when I’m clicking through books to read on Amazon one of the first things I look at are the reviews – I probably miss some great books by sorting them this way, but with so many books out on the net you have to use some kind of criteria.

This is not just a plug for my own reviews, though (of course I’d love ’em if you want to give ’em). I recently had the pleasure of exchanging emails with a lovely woman named Felicia who is in the book blogging/reviewing/author-interviewing business. She has her own blog where she runs her opinion pieces, but also recently started a blog called ‘Connect and Post.’ The idea is that authors, readers, and bloggers can come together on this page to exchange reviews, interviews, and guest posts. I think it is a fabulous idea and I am very happy to be one of the first authors to appear on the page.

Additionally, Tragedy now has a listing on Goodkindles, a website which features mostly indie authors and helps get the word out about new releases. I can’t say how effective it is, but it’s another avenue to get your stuff out there if that is your goal (as it is mine).

If I find any other especially effective resources for discovering new authors and getting the word out about new releases, I will be sure to let you know. Similarly, if you as a reader or author have found a great way to connect indie authors with readers, please let me know!

I think that’s about it from me. It’s been a while since I had anything deeply philosophical to post – I’ll see what I can do about bringing in some more profound material for next time. 😉 Have an excellent week out there!

The Novel Playlist – ‘Cause I’m Silly Like That

I’ve seen this done on several other blogs, and I honestly find it quite amusing most of the time. I rarely encounter author playlists with music I like, but there is something curious about seeing what other writers listen to and what inspires them. Also, I needed to post something – preferably something quick and easy – so here we are.

I’m a child of the 90’s, therefore my music choices (mostly late-90’s and early 2000’s) reflect that. I’m also a sucker for a lot of what some people would call low-grade pop/rock that came out of that time (think Nickelback rather than Britney Spears). You might laugh at what inspired the various characters/scenes in Book 1, but in my defense, 90% of the novel was written to the backdrop of Lindsey Stirling who is anything but low-grade. That girl is awesome. So, without further adieu… the playlist.

Teveres:

  • Halfway Gone – Lifehouse
  • Am I Ever Gonna Find Out – Lifehouse
  • It’s Been a While – Staind
  • You Found Me – The Fray
  • Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
  • How You Remind Me – Nickelback
  • Going Down in Flames – 3 Doors Down
  • Ticket to Heaven – 3 Doors Down
  • My Own Prison – Creed
  • Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
  • Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  • So I Need You – 3 Doors Down

Aia:

  • I’m With You – Avril Lavigne
  • Nobody’s Home – Avril Lavigne
  • Quasimodo – Lifehouse
  • Name – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Acoustic #3 – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Broadway – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Here is Gone – Goo Goo Dolls
  • You Owe Me Nothing in Return – Alanis Morisette
  • Slania’s Song – Eluveitie
  • How To Save a Life – The Fray
  • Prince – Vanessa Carlton
  • Pieces of You – Jewel
  • Numb – Pink
  • Hemorrhage – Fuel

Les:

  • Far Away – Nickelback
  • I’m Still Here – John Rzeznik
  • Syndicate – The Fray
  • Wasted and Ready – Ben Kweller
  • Closing Time – Semisonic
  • Think Twice – Eve 6

Garren:

  • Freedom Fighter – Creed
  • Weathered – Creed
  • Bullets – Creed
  • Drive – Incubus

Yep, I’m a ‘cheap date,’ as they say. 😉

In other news, Tragedy has done exceptionally well on “free” days, and was #9 on the historical fiction free amazon bestseller list during the first promotion! It’s quite possibly the longest, most specific distinction in the book world, but hey, I’ll take what I can get at this point. I’m doing another free day on 10/26, so if you’d like to check it out and haven’t yet, do so! If you found it intriguing at all, PLEASE write a review. Reviews are lifeblood for a self-published gal like myself.

Suffering is in the works. It’s slow, and a little painful, but it’s happening. There’s a whole lot going on in Book 2 which gets real complicated real fast, and I’m relying pretty heavily on my historical consultant (aka “the husband”) for direction. Think French Resistance – and that’s all I have to say about that. Will there be a short story coming your way soon?

Will Les be the subject of that potential short story?

Well, that’s up to you folks. If the interest is there, it will come. Shout out.

Official Novel Release Statement – Forsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy now on Kindle

Tragedy CoverForsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy Available on Amazon

You heard that right, my friends. The day has come – the book is released. Well, technically it was released on 10/8, but I wanted to get it up, put it out there on Facebook, and have something fancy to offer newcomers to the blog (namely a free promotion day). So far the reception has been positive. Synopsis as follows:

Teveres and Aiasjia could not be more dissimilar. Raised in poverty at the merciless hand of her mother, Aia is a powerful healer disgraced by her profession and outcast from her home city of Nivenea. Teveres is the privileged son of Ilvan’s High Priest whose startling ability to kill with only his mind leads to the brutal murder of his entire family. Though they do not know it, Aia and Teveres are linked by their strange abilities – they represent a once-revered minority of the population known as the Deldri, individuals gifted by the gods with extraordinary power. It was thought that the Deldri lived on only in legend… until now.

When the leaders of Elseth’s Lands disappear and Aia and Teveres are captured by the warring Kaldari people, they are thrust into a whirlwind of politics, religion and subterfuge which has been quietly destroying their homeland since before they were born. Together with a peculiar young baron and a renegade Kaldari mercenary, they must grow beyond their weaknesses to discover their roles in the fate of nations.

Review requests are out and the print edition is in process. It’s kind of awesome. No, really awesome. I don’t expect to make big bucks, of course, but just having it out there feels fantastic. I can’t wait to start really getting to work on Book 2, and I’m planning on a few interesting extras to be released on the blog in the coming weeks.

Excited? I know I am. If you’re moved to do it, please review it (hell, that even rhymes!).