Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Newest Blade's Edge Chapter, a Free eBook, a Survey, and My Thanks

Well, Blade's Edge Chapter 22 (aka Part Three: Chapter 6) went up last night and is ready for your perusal. Sorry for the delayed update, on the blog. Got caught up in letting everyone over on facebook know about it.

Also, Blade's Edge is now at #32 for the month of July... just shy of the top 30, it could use a few more +votes!

In other news people have donated over $20 to support Blade's Edge in the past 24 hours! A huge thank you to the people who have chosen to support Blade's Edge financially.

Please remember though, that even if you can't support Blade's Edge financially, you can do just as much (or even more) by recommending it to a friend who you think might enjoy it, or reading and +voting it yourself.

My sincere gratitude to everyone who reads and supports my writing in any form.

As a thank you to everyone, and an enticement to those new to my work, Rain on a Summer's Afternoon: A Collection of Short Stories is available for free in ebook format from now until Friday! On Saturday the price will return to it's regular $0.99.

Your support and generosity over the past few months has inspired me, and I am planning on running a kickstarter campaign to raise funds in order to release a full length novel (with a professional cover this time -among other things). But before I do, I could use your feedback. I have created a short (and mildly humorous) survey over on survey monkey in order to get your feedback! The survey is meant to be funny, but it's also very useful to me so if you have two minutes and are looking for entertainment, please check it out.

Today marks just over five weeks since I officially switched over to writing full time. Tomorrow marks the last day of my first FULL month of writing full time. It's been an amazing journey so far, and I have learned more about the publishing industry in the last few weeks than I ever thought I could. It's exhilarating to be a student again (of sorts) and many of the hours I have logged over the past month have been research on marketing techniques, publishing methods, distribution channels, and many other things I won't bore you with. This really is running a one woman business and it's a challenge I find both exciting and terrifying at once. So thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past few weeks in any way, shape, or form; from encouragement, to buying me coffee, to reading my work and everything in between. I am truly rich with friends and supporters and those who love me and I just want to take a moment to let everyone know that I appreciate the hell out of all of you!

And no, I'm not drunk.

I'm just taking a moment to appreciate how wonderful life is.

So thank you, dear readers. There is much work to be done, and many challenges ahead, but I look forward to them all and I thank you for joining me on this adventure.

I'm hiding... you can't see me...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interviews with Indie Authors: A.G. Riddle

So the title of this post suggests it's something I do often. It isn't. This is my first, but it's something I would like to continue to do. Interviewing other authors who are succeeding at self publishing (and publishing in general) is something that's certainly very informative for me, and hopefully interesting and informative for anyone else who reads this blog as well. 

A.G. Riddle is the author of the acclaimed Origin Mystery Trilogy comprised of the books Atlantis Gene, Atlantis Plauge, and Atlantis World. I've read all of them and thoroughly enjoyed them.

From his own bio here is some background info:
A.G. Riddle spent ten years starting and running internet companies before retiring to focus on his true passion: writing fiction. He grew up in a small town in North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where he founded his first company with one of his childhood friends. He currently lives in Parkland, Florida
Although apparently that last bit about Florida is no longer accurate. Riddle has recently married and is returning to North Carolina. Though I just tied the two together in one sentence I have no reason to believe that they are related events.

Riddle and I first got in touch when I finished the first book in the trilogy, read a plea for feedback at the end, and for the first time in my life e-mailed another author I'd never met in person. Since then Riddle and I have stayed in touch periodically and I had the honor of being a beta reader for the final book in the trilogy: Atlantis World.

After the Atlantis World's release I asked Riddle if he wouldn't mind answering some interview questions for my blog. So here you have the interview (my intent was to mix serious questions with more frivolous ones so you'll have to forgive my tongue in cheek questions and their responses):

1. You've just finished the third book of your Atlantis series. Will you be going to Disneyland? 
Yes! I'm doing a lot of travel this fall (including 100 days in Europe and North Africa), and Disney World is on the list. Most of the travel is research for my next series.
2. If you could hang out with any of your characters in real life which one would it be and why?

Patrick Pierce. He's a World War I hero and had some pretty incredible experiences.
3. How long does it generally take you to finish a novel: first draft through final revision and formatting?

The first novel (The Atlantis Gene) took me two years. During that time, I did a lot of planning for the trilogy, which helped me release the other two books in less time (7.5 months for #2, and 6 months for #3). 
I do a lot of planning for the novels (the plots are pretty intricate); planning and research actually takes me a bit longer then writing.

4. The aliens in your series tend to look, talk, act and think in a very human way. If there are aliens in the universe do you think it's likely they'll be that similar to humans? Why or why not?

I think it's unlikely that we're the only intelligent life currently alive in the universe. In fact, I think the universe is so vast that there's probably a wide variety of sentient species out there, some may even look and communicate similar to humans.

The Atlantis World, the third and final book in the trilogy, does explain why the Atlanteans are so similar to humans; no spoilers from me :)

5. What is your favorite color?

Carolina Blue.

6. What is the snack and/or beverage that keeps you fueled when writing?

I'm trying unsuccessfully to stop drinking caffeine, but Diet Coke remains a staple of my daily routine. I have been known to eat a microwaveable chicken slider every 2-3 hours when I'm writing.

7. We all know that writers are beings that live in small, dank caves and only remove themselves to periodically read their work to others or get dusted off to stand in front of cameras, but if you were to have a life outside of writing what kinds of things would you do?

Travel, see the world, and sometimes take notes (for use in future novels).

8. If you could choose an animal spirit what would it be and why?

Any sort of bird or fish; it would be great to see the world from a different vantage point.

9. You have recently had a great deal of success with self-publishing, to what do you attribute that success?

The readers. I would still be an unknown without the kind folks who took the time to tell a friend about my work, write a review, or post to social media.

10. What advice would you give to other authors who are trying to make self-publishing work for them?

Don't let anyone else define success for you.

11. Which Game of Thrones character would you kill off next?

The Mountain.

12. It has been rumored that you have superhuman final revision and formatting abilities. How do you respond to these rumors?

Who told you that!?!?

13. If Milo could meet any person (living or dead) who would he want to meet and why?

Gautama Buddha.

14. If Ares were a correspondent for the New York Times what kind of correspondent would he be?

War correspondent.
15. And finally, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Love a good Monty Python reference! [turns and runs]

Well, there you have it. A smart man always runs away before the creepy, old, bridge keeper in the Quest for the Holy Grail can throw him into the depths of the gorge. Well played, Riddle. Well played.

Unfortunately, that cut our interview short, so if you were hoping for something meatier you'll have to take it up with the creepy hermit who asks people inane questions.

Anyway, if you haven't read Atlantis Gene I recommend that you check it out. Of course, what you do from there is entirely up to you. Thanks to AG Riddle for taking the time to answer my questions, and thanks to you all for reading. Off to look up the velocity of an unladen swallow...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Two Late Night Pieces of News, and a Reminder...

Three awesome things:

1. I am an aunt again! All of my other siblings have children. I am officially the last childless McClain. My brother and his wife welcomed a healthy baby boy on July 22nd and everyone is doing well. YAY!

2. My collection of short stories Rain on a Summer's Afternoon can now be purchased in paperback from by following this link.

  • Can I just say how awesome it is to hold a paper copy of a collection of your own work? Made me do quite the dance of joy.

3. The latest chapter of Blade's Edge is up and ready to read! Chapter 21 (or Part Three: Chapter 5 as I like to call it) begs the question: Will Mishi kill Katagi before they even reach the Elder Council's compound?

So, those things are pretty cool, and it's late enough that I don't feel like including much else for content, but, I will remind you that coming soon is an interview with indie author A.G. Riddle. That post will happen tomorrow or Friday. So stay tuned!

I am now off to bed after I log my hours in my awesome spreadsheet. (Have I told you about my spreadsheet? Maybe I'll have to blog about that soon too.)

Good night to all! Remember, to read, comment, +vote (for Jukepop) and leave reviews on amazon! :-)

Unfortunately, I don't have any baby pics of the new nephew yet, so here is a picture of my own fur baby instead:

"Why can't I drive the bus?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Destruction is easier than creation...

How long does it take to build a house? I suppose it depends on a number of factors... A builders survey says that it takes on average 7 months. I imagine with a very dedicated team, a small enough house and zero inspections/no building code to contend with you could build a house in a week.

Last week Corey and I watched them tear down the house next to us (condemned by the city) in a handful of hours.

That much took only 30 or 45 minutes (less time than it will take me to write this post). 
Corey and I watched the whole thing from our kitchen window while having our morning coffee.

It was this part, clean up with the bobcat, that took a few hours (still less time than it takes me to edit/rewrite a chapter of Blade's Edge).

The final result is what you see above.

Here are some pictures of things that I have done in the last week that took longer than it took them to tear down a whole house:

Make this stack of tortillas from scratch: 

And turn them into this quesadilla:

Take the dog on an off-leash adventure in this park:

Bake this bread:

Finish the formatting on, order a proof copy of, receive my proof copy of, read through my proof copy of Rain on a Summer's Afternoon and decide that it's ready for print:

Definitive proof that destroying is easier than creating.


That last one has me very excited. 

For those interested: the Paperback of Rain on a Summer's Afternoon will go on sale between Wednesday and Friday of this week (amazon takes 3-5 business days to release the paperback on its site after approval and I submitted my approval on Sunday). Details will be available here as soon as I have them.

In the meantime, if you just can't wait to read those stories you can get the ebook version for just $0.99 here

Now I'm going to get back to all my various projects that take substantially longer than tearing down a house. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Week Away...

First things first: If you haven't seen it yet, Chapter 20 (aka Part Three: Chapter 4) of Blade's Edge just went up today, so make sure that you read it and +vote it.

Blade's Edge is holding in the top 30 for the month so far, but it's a close run thing and it could definitely use your support!

Wow. It has been a busy week since last I wrote to you all. Perhaps one of the least relaxing vacations I've ever taken, but then again it was never a vacation so much as a total change of scenery. It certainly was good to get away for a few days.

Exactly a week ago, the husband, the dog, and I all packed up our stuff and headed out to the in-laws' place for the week so that we could hang with them, volunteer at folk fest, and get some awesome dog sitting services to boot (not to mention the occasional, delicious, homemade meal). After an intense week of writing and formatting, a chance to get out of the house was most welcome. Volunteering for the Folk Festival was intense in its own way, but it was a very different kind of intensity to my new normal day to day, so it was welcome. Still, by the end of my weekend (working an 8hour shift that ended after midnight on Sunday and then doing one more half shift from 8am to noon on Monday morning) I was exhausted, and took all day on Monday to recover.

To be honest, I wasn't fully recovered yesterday which is why I was unable to finish up the latest Blade's Edge chapter until today, despite having worked on it over the weekend. Yesterday, instead, was devoted to the less mentally tasking efforts of formatting the paperback version of Rain on a Summer's Afternoon.

The good news from that is that said formatting is finished! I have ordered a proof copy (yes a physical in your hand book) and when it arrives here (eta next Wednesday) I will check it thoroughly and, assuming that all is well (it should be after all the virtual proofing I've already done, but one never knows) I will be approving it for publication that same day, and that means that those of you who have been waiting for a print copy will be able to purchase one as soon as Thursday of next week.

So let's all keep our fingers crossed that nothing about the formatting gets messed up between input and printing!

To celebrate my achievement I went ahead and applied for an author page on, and today my request was granted. So, you can now find me on my author page over there. Said author page links to this blog, and for the time being doesn't host any bells and whistles that you can't find here EXCEPT: you can rate Rain on a Summer's Afternoon on Goodreads.

I invite anyone and everyone who reads the book and enjoys it to post a review on Goodreads, and over at amazon as well.

Please rate it honestly! Bad ratings and good ratings are both better than no ratings and currently I have no ratings. I have a thick skin, I will not be hurt by criticism, (hell, I might even learn from it), but without ratings no new readers are ever going to pick up a copy of the book. Please rate it!

Also, if you missed it, I have an author page over at amazon now as well, so feel free to check that out too!

So, now it's back to the ongoing projects! Blade's Edge has entered territory in which everything I'm writing is new even if I'm using a chapter that already exists. I've found that my writing now is so much improved over my writing back when I wrote the first draft (circa 2009) that it's not really worth keeping anything from that first draft. Consequently, I am starting every chapter from scratch and it's taking a lot longer than it used to to get a chapter up (luckily, since I'm writing full time, that still enables me to get 1-2 chapters up per week).

Gwendamned has been sitting around needing revision and I have decided to force myself to finish that final revision before I allow myself to start a kickstarter project. Which means I should be kicking my own butt into gear for revision.

That said, the first draft of the first volume of Arcteryx needs to be written (I have done some EPIC planning for this series and I'm really looking forward to writing it) so that will also be happening soon.

Whew. I'd better get back to it then.

I leave you with this awesome (though blurry) shot of an all lady, all swedish, all sister band that rocked the mainstage on Saturday night of the Winnipeg Folk Festival. They're called Baskery if you want to check them out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Going Offline for a Bit

After the efforts of getting that eBook ready for publication (as well as getting it's paperback sibling ready for proofing) it is time for a mini-vacation.

The hubby and I are both volunteering at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this week/weekend. Hubby will be MCing one of the daytime stages (Shady Grove for those familiar with the festival) and I will be working the Greenroom (performer hang out and prep area before they go on stage) for the Mainstage at night.

Both of our volunteer gigs should be pretty fun, and we are really looking forward to getting out of the house, seeing people, eating food we didn't make ourselves, and did I mention getting out of the house?

Thus, the next few days promise to be pretty busy with Folk Fest and my other writing endeavors, and my online presence will likely wane for a few days because of it.

Fear not, I still plan to get the next chapter of Blade's Edge up for everyone to enjoy. But, aside from that, I plan on taking a bit of break from the online realm. You never know, I do have blogger on my phone, so there's a chance that there'll be some short, picture heavy, blog posts from the festival itself, but there may not be, and I don't want to get anyone's hopes up.

To keep you entertained in the meantime, you should check out Rain on a Summer's Afternoon.  It's only $0.99 for a collection of six entertaining short stories. I've gotten great feedback from those who have read it so far. Remember if you don't have a kindle you can still get the Kindle app for free at the google play store for android phones, the app store for macs/iphones, or here for your PC.

And if you do read and enjoy it, don't forget to leave a review on amazon!

If you're waiting for the paper edition, it's coming soon. I will blog about it as soon as it's available, so keep checking back here for more details. Or, check out my author page for access as soon as it's ready.

You can always find the latest books available from me over here to the right ---->> Where it says "Books."

Oh, and by the way, for those who haven't checked out Blade's Edge yet: it's at number 15 for the month over at JukePop and, as always, could use your support. Currently, at number 96 overall out of over 600 serials, it's fairly successful, but could always use more readers. Check it out!

Here's a picture of a double rainbow that was gracing the Folk Fest site last night when I went to help set up. (Forgive the glitches created by my phone's stitching attempts.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rain on a Summer's Afternoon Short Story Collection is Now for Sale!

Well, it's finally happened. Rain on a Summer's Afternoon: a Collection of Short Stories is on sale now on amazon! The ebook edition is available right now, and the paperback will be available in two weeks' time.

Click either of those links to get your copy, or simply search for "Rain on a Summer's Afternoon" or "Virginia McClain" once you're on the amazon webpage.

If you lose track of this post, never fear, see the link that says "books" over there to the right? It will always take you to a page with the latest updates on whatever books I have available for purchase.

Whew! That was a surprising amount of formatting work. Actually, the ebook was fairly simple (once I got the hang of compiling my scrivener documents the right way) but the paperback formatting has been very nit-picky and there's still more to do.

This isn't the monumental accomplishment that getting one of my novels all the way to publication would be, but it still feels like a really solid step into my career as an author, and I'm pretty excited about the whole thing.

I hope you enjoy the short stories! (And if you do, please leave a review.)

I'm off to get those novels into publishing shape. Happy Tuesday!

This is the ebook cover for now. The paperback cover will be different!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Top Five Ways to Support Your Author Friends (Even If You Don't Read Their Genre)

When switching to writing full time recently I garnered some interesting reactions from my friends and family. It's probably worth a whole other post to address the various reactions and the thinking behind them, but today I want to focus on two main categories: 1. The people who said, "holy crap, that's amazing, I can't wait to read your stuff!" and 2. The people who said, "Holy crap, that's amazing! I feel bad though, I don't read ____ (fill in blank with fiction/fantasy/scifi/adventure/for fun)."

Let's address group 2 first.

First of all, I find it very sweet that you feel bad that you don't read the type of thing that I write, but let me be perfectly clear here. I don't take it personally! You shouldn't feel bad at all.

Feeling bad about not liking the genre in which I write would be like feeling bad about not liking sushi when your friend opens a sushi restaurant. Sure, it's probably not a bad idea to try it once, just to be nice and make sure that the reason you don't like sushi isn't just because you've only had bad sushi or because you've never had it at all because you were afraid to try it... But, if you're certain that you don't like sushi, no one should be upset by the fact that you continue to dislike it even after someone you love has decided to make their living selling it.

Having a friend who is a writer who writes in a genre that you don't enjoy is just the same. You don't like fantasy? No problem. I have absolutely zero expectation that you will read my stuff (or my stuff that's fantasy anyway). And, unlike with sushi, I won't even encourage you to try it once just to make sure (you can if you want to, but you'll get no pestering from me). But I appreciate those friends and family who still feel like they want to be supportive and are wondering how.

So, I present the Top Five Ways to Support Your Author Friends (Even if You Don't Read Their Genre):

  1. Help spread the word: These days marketing is all about social media and word of mouth, especially if your author friend is self-publishing. The most helpful thing you can do even if you don't read your friend's work is to pass along whatever project they are currently marketing to people who might read it. If that means posting to your blog, or facebook page, or tweeting (or retweeting) announcements for their new book or book tour, or kickstarter, or whatever spreading the word is the most important thing you can do.
  2. Be encouraging: Writing is hard work. It takes a lot of time and energy, and then marketing takes even more, and then the writer sits around while no one reads their stuff for a while and feels bad about herself/the work/people who aren't reading it etc. (until people do start to read it and then they feel better). The more people who are encouraging the author in their time of need the better. 
  3. Support Crowdfunding: Producing a quality book without funds (or even with funds) is difficult. It takes money to buy good cover art, and to get copyediting and formatting work done. These days a number of authors are using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund their projects upfront so they don't have to foot the cost of these services alone and only recoup their money once their book starts selling. The great thing about a crowdfunding project is that the rewards aren't just a copy of the book (though they usually include that). You can get other great rewards, or no reward, and so it doesn't matter that you don't read your friend's work. You still supported them in a very real way, and didn't have to read a word of a genre you don't enjoy. Everybody wins!
  4. Ask about the latest project and listen to the answer: Writers work alone, but that doesn't mean they like to live that way! Lots of people like to talk about work that they're excited about, or what's not going well at the office or new challenges that they're facing. Writers are no different, but we don't have a water fountain to gossip around with all our other writer friends during the breaks. Sometimes it's nice to have a friendly ear to explain the latest goings on to, even (sometimes especially) if that ear doesn't read our work.
  5. Hugs! (and then help spread the word again): When we write we basically live in a cave. That cave is our mind. Don't worry, it's a freaking AWESOME cave. It has unicorns, manticores, dragons, griffins, aliens, dolphins, wolves, brownies, forests, castles, sharks with frickin' laser beams, and whole other civilizations that exist nowhere else but in that cave (until we put them on paper). Still, it's a cave, and it can get kind of lonely in there. So hug your author friend whenever you see her/him and then... GO HELP SPREAD THE WORD AGAIN! (I seriously can't emphasize enough how important that bit is). 

So, now I'm sure all the folks who fit into Category 1 are thinking, "Well, that's great for the people who don't read your work, but what can I do?"

To which I say,  "Please read the earlier list and do all of that, with one change: Read and enjoy the author's work AND...

There is one critically important task that you can do that our friends who don't read our stuff cannot...

Please leave reviews on every forum where reviews are able to be left."

Reviews are critical to an author's success these days and if you read and enjoy the work of your author friends you can give no better gift than to leave a thoughtful commentary on amazon, goodreads or other sites where such things are possible. 

So, thank you to all the supportive friends and family of all the writers everywhere! I hope that you find this information useful. 

Just a quick reminder that the kindle version of Rain on a Summer's Afternoon comes out TOMORROW!

And, finally, I leave you with this adorable picture of my dog (kindly putting up with my antics in order to cheer up a friend) to make your monday better:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mishi's First Mission, My First eBook Release, and a Cover Contest!

It's going to be an exciting week here in authorland. (Yep, that's right, I've decided I now reside in a mystical world known as authorland wherein I get to write every day and people will eventually pay me for it.)

Mishi, one of the main characters from Blade's Edge, is off on her first mission in Part Three: Chapter 3 (also known as Chapter 19). Blade's Edge is currently riding at number 17 for the month over at JukePop, so reading and +voting is, as always, appreciated.

And coming up this week (Tuesday to be specific) is the release of my first ever ebook collection of short stories Rain on a Summer's Afternoon (recognize the title? If not, take a look at the top of this page). Here is the 'back cover' blurb to get you excited.

Rain on a Summer's Afternoon is a collection of short stories that are sometimes dark, sometimes humorous, and always imaginative. This collection includes 'Off Belay', previously published in The First Line magazine, as well as five new stories. The stories in this collection include:

Pretty Chains
Bound from birth to a life of servitude in the sultan's palace, Asha's only moment of freedom was a brief one bought and paid for by her mother's life.  Yet once the sultan pushes her past the breaking point, Asha will find there is more to her past than anyone suspects.

The Flaming Oak
Alys loves the Flaming Oak, even though the other villagers refuse to go near it. But Gran, who Alys trusts more than anyone, says that it's safe to play with the ancient tree most days. Most days...

The Wolf Mage
Argen is a rare animal mage who uses her skills to mediate between the worlds of nature and man. But her skills are challenged when she meets a wolf unlike any she has ever seen before.

A Rose by Any Other Name ... Except, Perhaps, Agnes
Agnes hates her name. She just doesn't own enough cats or afghans to suit it. Ahnye, on the other hand, has a perfect name and enough assault rifles and C4 to go with it. Yet to get this next job Agnes and Ahnye will have to learn to work as one.

Lisa knows all about irony; she explains the concept to college students every day as an English professor. But her new relationship with a sexy writer beau is about to show Lisa that reality can be more ironic than fiction.

Off Belay
A woman abandoned by her partner during a climbing trip must find a way to survive and make it back to civilization after a deadly avalanche buries her.

Are you a paper-only person? No worries. The paperback version of this tome will be available in two weeks' time. Check back here for announcements and details.

And directly related to that, dear readers, I now offer you some direct input to into the creative process for this particular project. The cover. As you know, despite the old adage, most people do judge a book by its cover. In the not very distant future, for my larger scale projects (full novels, series etc.) I plan to run kickstarter campaigns to allow me to pay a cover artist for work that is actually good. (More on that in a week or two.) In the meantime, I'm without funds, and this project is so small and so 'just testing' that I am doing the cover myself.

I have created four covers for this project so far. One of them you've already seen but I'll post it here again. The other three are new. They're all kind of similar, two of them even use the same picture, but they're the best I can do at the moment since I completely lack talent in the department of two dimensional drawings.

So the contestants are as follows: I will number them just to make voting easier.





Keep in mind that I know next to nothing about graphic design and these are just the best I could throw together on my PC using photos that I have taken in various places around the globe and shareware photo editing software. 

Constructive criticism is welcome, but just a quick "I vote for #__" is completely acceptable. Simply comment in the comments section with your preference and I will tally them all up by Wednesday and make a choice. 

Keep in mind this vote is for the paperback version. The ebook will start with whichever cover I deem best at the time of publication, but can be easily changed at any time after publication so, I will update it with whatever choice we make later. 

Thanks so much for your time and input! Don't forget to check out Blade's Edge if you haven't already.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Amazon is not the bad guy...

I was planning a very different blog post for today. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was planning for today's post to be a lovely, pleasant interview with A.G. Riddle, author of the Atlantis Trilogy. Yet I'm sure Mr. Riddle will forgive me for delaying that post a bit for the topic I will be covering instead. Afterall, it affects him as much as it affects me.

The Amazon vs Hachette "battle" has been covered in the news a fair bit over the past few weeks. I have posted a few articles on facebook regarding the whole mess, but haven't actually written anything here about it until now. You've probably heard something about it in the news, and you may or may not understand the details of what's happening, depending on how much attention you've been paying. You may not be paying attention because it may not seem important to you. Well, as a writer who is just trying to give this gig a full time go, it's very important to me, and if you're a reader it should be important to you. I am bringing it up today because this petition came across my virtual desk this morning.

Here's the problem in its simplest form:

Amazon and Hachette are renegotiating their contract. Hachette wants amazon to raise its prices on everything, particularly ebooks. Amazon wants to keep ebooks affordable. They are unable to reach an agreement at the moment and consequently two things have happened that are making people upset: amazon has turned off pre-order buttons on Hachette books that it now doesn't know whether or not it will be able to fulfill due to the disagreement, and amazon has stopped stocking up on Hachette books for the future because they aren't sure they will have a future agreement with Hachette. Any books that are already selling and stocked are unaffected.

This has a lot of people with their panties in a twist about amazon not playing fair and representing a monopoly, etc. etc. Which is simply not true.

Amazon is trying to protect the low cost of ebooks. As a reader, you want ebooks to be cheap. It is downright silly for ebooks to cost as much as paper books because the production costs are VASTLY lower. You should not have to pay for that.

Here is the part that might surprise you. As a writer I want ebooks to be cheap. Why? Because you sell more ebooks when they are inexpensive. You reach more new readers, and... get this... no really wait for it... you can MAKE MORE MONEY when your ebooks are cheap. How you ask? By selling it through amazon and making 35 to 70% of the list price instead of 2 to 12.5%.

Let's do some quick math. Let's say I am an author publishing via Hachette and they are selling my ebook for $15.00. Now, let's go ahead and pretend I'm a bigwig author so I'm making 12.5% of that. That means each book earns me $1.87. Now, let's say I'm selling on amazon and my ebook price is $5.00 but I've opted (yes it's an option - I'll explain more in a bit) for 70% of the list price. I'm earning $3.50 per book. You go ahead and think about that for a minute. Even if I had opted for the 35% of list price I would be making $1.75 and think of how many people more people would be buying my book for $5.00 instead of $15.00.

I'll let you think about that for a minute.

Amazon is a writer's friend, and a reader's friend, and I will add my own personal experience with this in a minute. First let's finish up with the media induced anti-amazon sentiment with a couple quick taps to the head.

Poor little Hachette is being abused by big mean amazon. Right. Sure, amazon is a huge company, but it is also a company that had to get legislative help five years ago when Hachette and the rest of the big five cornered it into raising ebook prices higher than those of paperbacks. Luckily, the Department of Justice wasn't having it (because it was ILLEGAL) and as it happens... That's why Hachette and Amazon are renegotiating their terms right now. The DOJ required them to and required each of the big five publishers to renegotiate at different times so that they couldn't pull the same stunt as before! And Hachette is going first, out of all the big five, and consequently setting the stage for how that will go. And the media said...


Yeah. When the media companies are all owned by the same parent corporations as the big publishing houses, YOU dear reader don't get to know what's going on if you don't root around on the internet for it.

If you want a really detailed explanation (from people who know even more about this than I do) of how this is going down I'll refer you to a couple of other articles. This one and the entire blog of Hugh Howey capture the issues pretty well.

Also, and importantly, there is this detailed letter of explanation attached to the petition I mentioned earlier to KEEP people from boycotting amazon and to get the word out.

So, now, here's my personal take on amazon.

Some people don't like amazon because they think it's bringing about the end of paper books. That's kind of silly. The end of paperbooks has been writ in the stars since the day the computer was invented. It was only ever a matter of time. Does it make me sad? A little, yes. I LOVE paper books! I hope to publish many of them while paper books are still a thing and I surround myself with paper books at home.

And while all those books are a pain in the ass to move (more than half our boxes in this last move were, in fact, books) I will probably always keep them around. Why? Because I love them. I love the smell of paper. I love the feel of a book in my hand, and I love the physical manifestation of the written word. It feels more substantial.

Still, I also now purchase 99% of my books on this:

And I can carry thousands of books around with me in my backpack or purse without putting any undue strain on my body. The truth is, I ALSO love my e-reader (and yes, it happens to be a kindle - did I mention that Amazon is my friend?).  My kindle allows me as a reader to enjoy hundreds of books that I wouldn't normally drop money on for a very low (sometimes free) price. The reason I wouldn't normally spend money on them is not because they're not good, but more because I wouldn't ever have had a chance to read the first 10% of the book at my leisure and consequently decide to buy them.

As a writer, I love amazon (and the kindle) for the same reason. Next week I will be releasing my first e-book ever on amazon and I will be making 35% of the list price on every single copy I sell. I won't be making 70% only because I CHOSE not to. Why, you ask? Because in order to set your royalty to 70% you have to sell your ebook for at least $2.99. I decided that $2.99 was more than I wanted to charge people for this particular endeavor for a variety of reasons (not least of which is encouraging new readers to try me out) and consequently I opted for the 35% royalty.

You can argue that once you take into account the time and money I spend on marketing I won't be making half that. You might be right but even half of that will still be greater than 12.5% (a number I would never be making on my first ANYTHING in the world of the big five) and I would like to point out: I will be selling a collection of short stories to people I have never met (probably only a handful, but still, people I have NEVER met) only because amazon exists and works very hard to make its readers AND its writers happy and to expand the opportunities for the two to find each other. It considers both sides to be its customers, and it has great customer service. No brick and mortar publisher would ever sell an unknown author's collection of short stories.

Big publishers are angry because they are being made obsolete and are clinging so fiercely to their old price modeling and distribution methods that they refuse to adapt to the times. They are upset because they've been trying to bully amazon into joining their anti-writer, anti-reader business model for years and amazon has finally called their bluff.

This mini-play really nails it.

So, I'm here to ask that you consider this whole debate from my perspective for a moment. Do you like my work? Are you one of the people who has ever said to me (or any of your other writer friends) "This is really good, you should get this published." Well it never used to be that simple. It never used to be, "Hey my friends and family think I'm pretty good so I'm just going to publish this." But now they can (hopefully after getting some copy editing done, and making sure they have a nice cover and such, but that's really up to them). And you might say: "But what about all of the crap that people can publish now?" To which I say two things: 1. Seriously? Have you seen the crap you can buy in bookstores? and 2. Since when have you ever needed a publishing house to tell you what's crap or not? Do you read every book that is on sale in a brick and mortar shop right now? You are just as much in charge of what you read now as you were ten years ago. Actually, more so.

Ten years ago you couldn't search around for obscure authors who happen to be exactly what you were looking for. Ten years ago you couldn't let those authors know that you supported them by writing a glowing review for their work and sharing it on facebook. Not only can you affect what you read, you can also strongly influence what others read. Amazon is all about customer reviews, for books more than anything.

The power lies in your hands.

So I'm going to post the link to that petition again, and I hope you'll join me in supporting amazon. Not because they are the little guy (they're not, they're huge) but because even though they're huge, they still treat the little guy right, and that, in my opinion, speaks volumes.

Support reader, authors, and the people who work to treat them both well.

Thanks for reading!

**Gets off of soap box**

**Goes back to normal business**

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

So, apparently back in 1867 on July 1st Canada officially declared themselves a country (or you know, a commonwealth of Britain or what have you). Apparently three years prior to that date representatives from some of the colonies had gotten together in order to discuss the possibilities of organizing and then, BOOM, three years later: Canada! (For a far more lengthy and accurate history of those events I refer you to the following wikipedia article: Warning: following the aforementioned wikipedia link may result in drawing you into a wikipedia rabbit hole and you might not get anything else done with your day. But, that can be said of ANY wikipedia link, so proceed at your own risk. (I for one just spent the past hour of my life learning lots and lots about the history of Canada Day, followed by when Alaska became a state, followed by the population density of Alaska, followed by the population density of Nunavut, which of course was then followed by a list of available jobs in Nunavut.)

Ahhh... wikipedia. You are such a lovely way to spend a morning. 

In the meantime, here in Manitoba (and the rest of the country) it's CANADA DAY! Which means people take the day off, get together and barbecue, drink beer, and blow shit up. Sound familiar my southern friends? Tell me if it looks more familiar on the other side of Friday...

I am, of course, celebrating Canada Day by getting some work done, but that's largely because mother nature has decided to celebrate Canada Day by pissing on everyone, knocking a few trees down, and lighting the occasional house on fire. Apparently mother nature can't hold her liquor.

Meanwhile, we're huddled up in our nice cozy apartment, which is 80% unpacked. Yesterday, I spent over six hours writing and revising, which allowed me to put up a brand new chapter for Blade's Edge. Part Three: Chapter 2 (also known as chapter 18) follows Taka and gives us a little more of an idea of how much time has passed since Part Two and what has happened in the meantime. Part Three: Chapter 3 will be up later this week. These chapters are taking a bit longer than usual because they are not only complete rewrites (the latest one contained 100% new material) but they are also pivotal for setting the track for what remains of the book, so I have to be very careful about where each step is taking me. 

Rain on a Summer's Afternoon the short story collection is coming along nicely, and should be right on time for release next week! So get ready, tell your friends, and help me test run Kindle Direct Publishing by picking up a copy as soon as it's released. Just to tempt you, here's a sneak peak at the cover I designed for it (please note that I am not a graphic designer by trade).  

As you can see, the cover is themed according to the title of the collection rather than any of the stories contained within. (For those curious about the theme it could most easily be described as 'women kicking ass.' The stories cover a range of genres from contemporary adventure, to fantasy, to suspense.)

In other writing related news: I am starting to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) this week on a new project that I have been doing a ton of planning for over the past few months. I have mentioned it before, it will be a series of novellas, and also my first foray into self-publishing and kickstarter campaigns. More on that later.

Oooh! And I almost forgot. Later this week I will be posting a special blog entry in which I interview the bestselling (and self published) author A.G. Riddle. He has recently completed and released the third book in his Atlantis trilogy. Books 1 and 2 were both #1 bestsellers on amazon in the category of science fiction. I will tell you more about him in a subsequent post, and in that same post he'll tell you more about himself as he answers some interview questions of mine. Should be a fun post.

Well, I'm going to go get to work on those various projects I mentioned. I hope you enjoy the new chapter of Blade's Edge