Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Successful KeyCon and Some New Contract Work

Well, for anyone who was wondering, KeyCon turned out to be a reasonable success. It was a bit slower than I had expected, but I still managed to net triple my table money, so all in all it made for a good weekend. Plus, it was really great to meet so many interesting people!

(If you were at KeyCon and signed up for my mailing list and are wondering why you haven't heard anything from me yet, fear not! It's only because this has been a busy week and I haven't gotten around to updating my subscriptions yet. However, your welcome e-mail complete with free short story should come out in the next few days.)

If you are reading this and haven't signed up for my mailing list but would like to get updates about new books when they're released and/or go on sale, as well as receive the occasional free short story you can always sign up by clicking the link above that says Virginia's Mailing List.

Anyway, here's a shot of me running my half of the table at KeyCon:

And here's a slightly blurry shot of Katya and I and the whole table spread:

If you haven't had a chance to check out Katya's webserial and art yet, you really should. I was tempted to buy most of her prints over the weekend and only managed to restrain myself because that would have eaten up my profits for the whole event. Probably worth it in the long run, but hard to justify all at once. ;-)

And speaking of artwork, ever since I started working as a full time independent author one of my favorite things has been learning graphic design and using it to sell my own work. Recently, I've been selling my graphic design skills to others. I started selling my formatting services a while back, when I noticed that I was producing results as good as what the big five were churning out. And now I've decided that I've finally gotten my graphic design skills up to par for selling some book covers. So, without further ado, I present to you my fiverr gigs: 

Hmm... there's supposed to be a super nifty badge thingy, but it doesn't appear to be working. So here's a simple link instead: 

My hobby of playing with covers has now turned into a possible income stream, which is exciting and gratifying. So, if you know of anyone in need of cover or formatting services feel free to send them my way!

For those who are curious as to what my covers look like, here are some of my custom mockups:

*all covers are copyrighted and not for public use or distribution

Monday, May 16, 2016

Achievement Unlocked!

Last night at just after 11pm a wonderful thing happened...

Traitor's Hope

I FINALLY finished the first draft of Traitor's Hope. The draft I've been working on since September of last year. The draft I had originally hoped to have published by this weekend. The draft I didn't touch for the entire first trimester of pregnancy because it was just too overwhelming to write fiction for some reason. That draft.

It's done.

Of course, that's just means I'm about half way (or less) to having a finished book, but it's still huge progress. From here, I will start on the major revision, which will take about four to six weeks. Then I will send the revised draft off to beta readers. Then I'll address beta reader concerns in the next draft, then I'll send it to my editor. Then, I'll format it. And THEN it will be ready for readers. Yay! My goal is to have it out before Speck joins us on the outside, because I have a feeling I'll be a bit distracted with the arrival of the wee-un. So fingers crossed that that works. 

In the meantime, I'm off to work outside with the dog in the beautiful weather. I have lots to do, but everything seems easier and better when one is sitting in a field under a tree with the sun on one's face, don't you think?

So I'm off to do that. In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of Artemis being adorable, as usual.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Of Spring and Walking

Despite the cold weather that has taken hold in the past two days, Spring is taking hold in Manitoba, and I have photographic evidence! 

See! Spring. It's really happening. Accept no substitutions!

Now then...

I think I've mentioned on this blog before that going for long walks helps me resolve almost all of my writing problems. Generally speaking, if I get stuck on a plot point and writing notes to prod myself doesn't fix it, I take the dog for a walk in the park and all the answers reveal themselves to me. It's a lovely tactic because on top of working like a charm for writer's block, it also keeps the dog and I in decent condition even through the winter.

Imagine my frustration then, when over the last ten days, as I got so close to the end of the first draft of Traitor's Hope, I found myself stuck and... WALKING DIDN'T WORK.

It was most vexing. Especially with the end so close I could taste it.

So I had to break out the big guns. I had to talk through my problem with a willing audience. On Friday I spent most of the day with a close friend who is also a writer and I started on this tactic, but unfortunately, she didn't have much of the backstory and I took so long catching her up on necessary plot points (and some unnecessary ones - I have a hard time restraining myself at times) that by the time our schedules forced us to part ways I had failed to parse the problem.

Then a few nights ago, my husband kindly volunteered to be my wall to bounce ideas off of. He was wonderful, and since he's already quite familiar with the first book, I was able to catch him up on pertinent points quite quickly and get to the meat of the problem. This worked. Once I was able to get down to the crux of the issue I was able to think through what was missing. It's not the most glamorous solution (I've had a few in this first draft that have been surprisingly elegant) but it will let me finish the damn book. Then I can fix the rest of what's wrong in my major revision.

So, after a more than week long stall out, I'm back in business, and hopeful that I'll have the rough draft done by the end of the weekend. Muhuahahhahahahahah...

Ahem. Yep. So... in other news KeyCon is almost upon us! It starts next Friday evening, and Katya Kolmakov and I will be rocking a table selling books and artwork, talking to people and signing things, and generally looking forward to seeing people there. So if you're in Winnipeg over the weekend and like fantasy books, fantasy art, fantasy games, or fantasy paraphernalia, we hope to see you there!

I think that's all for the moment. Happy spring!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Slow Progress and Flash Marketing...

Well, I won't lie. I'm stuck just before the end of the Blade's Edge sequel. I'm at 90,000 words and I need to resolve a major plot point before I can move forward... into what is essential the climactic final scene. Then there's the epilogue. Then I'm done with the first draft.

So, that's frustrating. I'm hoping that going for a walk later today will help me sort that plot point out. It often does... fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I'm trying to get my poor neglected sales moving again. I haven't done any marketing or promotion on Blade's Edge for months and I've watched it's sales rankings dive as a result. The whole making another human thing proved pretty distracting, especially when it came to having the energy to... well actually do my job. Then this past month has been much better, but I've spent pretty much all of my available energy on writing the sequel. Which, honestly, is a. my priority and b. way more fun than marketing.

But now, it's May and really I need to get back on the marketing and promotions wagon because books do not sell themselves... (well ok they do half the selling, but the cover, copy, and title can't do their work if you don't put them in front of people to see). Especially with the sequel (hopefully) coming out in late August.

So... if you haven't yet picked up a copy of Blade's Edge, you should know that you can snag a kindle ebook copy for just $0.99 if you head to amazon before 6pm PST. If you miss that deadline, no worries, you'll still be able to get the book for just $1.99 for the next 17 hours. Then $2.99 then $3.99 and finally back up to full price at $4.99 on Sunday. In other words, it's a countdown sale and the countdown is on. The price won't likely drop this low again until the promotions that I'll do before releasing the sequel, so if you were hoping to add Blade's Edge to your summer reading list, now's a perfect time.

And for anyone who is local I will be running a dealer's table with the talented Katya Kolmakov on May 22nd for KeyCon here in Winnipeg. We'll be running table #4. Katya will be selling her artwork and promoting her fantasy web serial Rhodina and I will be selling and signing copies of Blade's Edge.

Whew! That's a lot of marketing and promotion in one post. Sorry about that.

Here's a picture of the giant pile of hush puppies I made to go with some chili last week, apropos of absolutely nothing, just to make up for all that promotional stuff:

I hope everyone is enjoying spring! It's 89 degrees here, so things are greening up nicely.