Interview on ePublish Unum

Despite my camera deciding to have a complete fail moments before the hangout started (and behaving just fine up until then, of course), I had a delightful time talking to Evo Terra and Jeff Moriarty of ePublish Unum last night. You can see the result here:

If you have any questions, feel free to respond in comments below, on their blog of it here, or anywhere else that works for you. Definitely speak up if you’re another reader who wants to ensure you’re only getting a professional, edited product when you buy books, especially if you have any ideas for how that information should be put forth.

If you want to talk to the puppet, the best place to do that is here. Watch out: she bites.

Happy 393rd Birthday, Jason Truitt!

jasonbirthdaycard500
And even better, it’s a PALINDROME birthday! Jason is 393 today. Yay!

Wait, what?

That’s right. 393. Because he’s immortal. But shhh, that’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone, except maybe Trish because she already knows. And of course, those who have already read “Finding Gaia”. Everyone else can read more about him on his profile page.

He also happens to look exactly like Hugh Jackman, which is eye candy for the rest of us*. But since I’m a writer and not a graphic artist like Charles Dowd, the best I could do was whip up this cheesy card. Maybe some of you fans out there could make better graphics for Jason’s birthday. If anyone does, I’ll feature them here!

Besides, this could’ve been worse. It’s also Fabio’s birthday. I could’ve posted photos of Fabio, but I made a promise to never have barfy pink Fabio-ish covers on my novels even though they’ve got romance and sex in them. You’re welcome.

Want to spy on Jason a little for free? You can at Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, Goodreads, and Diesel.

* Obviously no part of this is endorsed by Mr. Jackman. You can tell because I’m not dead, and if I ever had communication from Jackman, I’d drop dead of fanjoy. But if you also like Jackman eye candy, I have a notify circle on G+ where I share occasional delicious picspam privately, so come on by sometime and ask to be added.

Another Easy Way To Help Indie Artists/Authors/Musicians

A thing I’ve done for years now, particularly with indie family musicians, is to find the performer/band’s website and drop them a quick email to let them know that we like their stuff and where I heard about it.

Indie creators really love fan mail because, frankly, sales are few and far between and their day is made each time a fan says, “I bought your album/book/litho/etc and I love it!”

But when you take the time to also say, “I found out about you from [source],” it’s vitally useful to their future marketing strategies.

For instance, I heard about Monty Harper’s excellent science-based kids’ music from the Parenting Beyond Belief podcast, and I made sure he knew that. I’ve told other indie/small scale artists about having heard them first on Pandora. I told Dave Carroll that I bought his album “Perfect Blue” because I’d heard of his viral YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars” but that now I’m more in love with other songs on it (particularly “Now” and “The Place that I Call Home”).

And of course Charles Dowd knows that I found out about his girl-positive comic Lilith Dark because of asking for specifically that sort of thing on G+.

Indie creators know when their friends buy their stuff it’s because of that personal relationship, but are often bewildered as to how random strangers heard of their work. Is this sale a friend-of-a-friend thing, or did a promotion strategy actually work this time?

Last month I ran a coupon for “Finding Gaia” on Smashwords. One person used it. But my current Amazon stats show five sales so far for February, two of which were from before the coupon. Were those other three related to the promotion? Did people forego the coupon because they prefer to buy from Amazon? Or did they just see reviews on Goodreads and happen to buy during the coupon period without even knowing it was available?

Indie creators spend a lot of time on marketing that they could be spending on more creation. If fans take a moment to let creators know what promotions worked, it goes a long way to helping reduce wasted time for everyone and focusing future campaigns more effectively.

So today, go tell an indie or small-scale creator you like that you like them and where you heard about their stuff. You’ll be making someone’s day in multiple ways.

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150 Copies Sold and Valentine’s Day Coupon

I’m thrilled to announce that as of the end of January, over 150 copies of “Finding Gaia” have been sold! That’s real sales, not giveaways or review copies. Given that most independent novels sell fewer than 50 copies (the authors you’ve heard of who have sold thousands are successful outliers), I’m quite pleased and hopeful that as more great reviews come in at Goodreads, Amazon, and elsewhere, word of mouth will increase that number substantially.

To celebrate, and in recognition of Valentine’s Day this week, I’m offering $2 off “Finding Gaia” at Smashwords through February 15. Use code ZA46L to pay only $2.99!

Further, the extended love scene “The Power of a Blush” is still FREE and comes with the first two chapters of “Finding Gaia”. It is available at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Diesel, and Goodreads.

For my fellow data nerds or for any would-be writers who would appreciate some realistic information, here are some statistics on my sales so far:

Publication date: July 9, 2012

Copies sold*: 152
Total known payments owed by all stores: $481.30
Actual payments received: $385.53

Costs**: $1556
Profit: -$1170.47
Percentage: 31%

* Includes those stores that have reported as of February 11, 2013. Third-party sellers to Smashwords sometimes take months to report.

** Includes cover artist, editor, and lyrics permissions. Does not include ISBNs and occasional small-scale marketing costs (ie printing flyers).

Fans are the most powerful force any independent author has. You can make a tremendous difference! Please post a review, tell your friends, and share the coupon around. Thank you for your continued support.

Writing About Gender Issues For Fun and Profit

I taught a whole generation that sexual harassment is okay

Image source: http://cheezburger.com/2247703296

Yesterday I wrote a bit of the “Finding Gaia” sequel in which Trish and Anna discuss their relative perspectives on women as prizes for men. It included Trish using the phrase “Pepe le Fucking Pew”.

Those of you who have read the first book and seem to love Trish so much no doubt want to read that conversation.

But I want to remind you all that I write more when I get sales. I’m almost at 150 copies sold, which is pretty good, but my break even point is just over 500 at the standard $4.99 price (and a lot of those 150 were with coupons, so really the required count is higher now). This is an indie book, but it had a professional editor, cover artist, and other costs to produce.

If everyone who bought it so far convinced three other friends to buy it, I’d be in the black and well on the way to getting the next one out.

Of course the “next one” may be a prequel since several of you have been begging for those as well.

So go get three friends to buy it, please. If you run a book blog or club that you think can get even more sales, let me know and I’ll make a coupon for you to share.

The main website lists many purchasing options, as does the sidebar on this post. If you’re holding out for a print copy, tell me here.

And if you liked it and haven’t posted a review, please do, especially on sales sites and Goodreads. These things do influence other potential buyers, and we indie authors depend on fans to help spread the word, especially those of us standing up to disempowering trends in the romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres in favour of actual examination of gender tropes. That’s never going to be mainstream, but you can help make it at least self-sustaining.

Thanks so much for all of your support. I am actually working, I promise!

It’s My Birthday – Mega “Finding Gaia” Sale!

I’ve created a $3 off coupon for “Finding Gaia” at Smashwords. Use code TD72Z to get it for $1.99, the lowest price ever, until November 29. I have no plans to repeat this and I don’t do free giveaways, so if you’ve been telling me all this time that you want to read it but can’t afford to, this is your one and only chance to get it this cheap!

Go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180554 where you can read the first few chapters for free and then use code TD72Z for 60% off. If you dig it, please tell your friends and post reviews! We #indieauthors survive by word of mouth so please help out with that!

If you’ve already read it and are one of those people pestering me to hurry up and write more, please share this coupon because it’s going to take a lot of sales at this low price for me to put a dent in the debt and move on to the next expenditure.

And again, if you really like free stuff, there’s a free bonus love scene plus the first two chapters here.

If you want more information, you can find tons of it at http://findinggaia.com, including other stores (although the coupon only works at Smashwords). I posted a suggested soundtrack of music that fits the various scenes. I drew the main setting in Sketchup (badly) and posted the file plus screen caps so you can go see the layout of Jason’s mansion. There are character profiles there, and for those who dig Trish, she’s got a Twitter, blog, and G+ page.

If you’re holding out for a paper version, tell me so here because I’m not doing it unless I’m certain enough people want it.

If you’re a book blogger and want to do interviews or other promotions, I’m open to that. Just ask.

If you’re on Goodreads, you can add it there plus review it and vote for it on lists. You can also add me as a friend/fan and I add back. A super way to help there is to tell groups you’re involved with about the book and maybe even suggest it for a monthly read. In fact, if someone got it on the Vaginal Fantasy hangout I’d be forever grateful! I think it would suit them perfectly but I’m not well-known enough to get their attention.

So for my birthday, I’m giving you a great deal and really hope the gift you’ll give me in return is buying it, reading it, and spreading the word.

Because c’mon, I’m 40 now…I ancient and could die any day so motivate me to stop playing Civ and hurry up and WRITE ALL THE THINGS before I keel over. I’m not immortal like these characters!

UPDATE: I just put my cake decorating books on sale for my birthday too.

The Great Indie Anti-Black-Friday Promo

Some fellow independent authors, artists, and musicians and I are banding together on Google+ to help give holiday shoppers a unique and positive way to spend this weekend and beyond. Come get great deals on indie creations and help spread the word!

The Great Indie Anti-Black-Friday Promo on G+

My offering is a $1 off coupon (VP87S) for “Finding Gaia” at Smashwords plus a reminder that you can still get the free bonus love scene to that novel (plus the first two chapters).

Buy your friends and family some excellent indie gifts this holiday!

Free Hot Sex

I just posted a free ebook with an extended love scene from “Finding Gaia”, plus the first two chapters of the full novel. It’s available from Smashwords or Goodreads at the moment with hopefully more stores to come via Smashwords distribution.

The Power of a Blush

I’ve also posted a bunch of updates all over the website, including links to more stores, a DRM-Free logo to highlight my commitment to making sure my readers truly own the books they pay for, and some new reviews.

Also check out Trish’s new blog EcoSnark if you haven’t seen it already (she got in trouble with her Gaia Global blog so she archived that). You can now talk to her on Twitter and Google+ as well, but remember that she exists in current time, which is about five years before “Finding Gaia” takes place, so if you make references to the book she won’t understand what you’re talking about. And since it’s Trish, she’ll probably swear at you if you confuse her too much. Or maybe she’ll swear at you because it’s a day of the week. That’s Trish for you.

If you’re a fan and want to help promote “Finding Gaia”, please share the link for “The Power of a Blush” or spread around copies as much as you’d like. You can also help by telling friends about the book, posting reviews on Goodreads, Smashwords, and Amazon, or even voting for it in various Goodreads lists.

Enjoy the free hot sex…the characters certainly did!

Tension Over Tense

I’ve always described the initial part of my writing process as transcribing the lives of the fake people who live in my head. During the editing of “Finding Gaia”, I noticed that a side effect of that is I always write my initial scene blurbs in the present tense, and then I have to do careful editing all the way along to change it to past tense.

In writing some of the scenes for the prequels and sequel, I tried to avoid that workload by writing in past tense to begin with.

It didn’t work.

I found myself stumbling constantly, spending far too much time worrying about the tense instead of paying due attention to the flow of the dialogue or action of the scene. I’ve been contemplating this in recent weeks and determined that I’m compelled to use the present tense in those early blurbs because they are indeed live transcriptions. I can’t say something like “Jason bent forward to kiss Anna’s blushing cheeks” in the transcription phase, because he didn’t do it in the past for me. He’s doing it now, so the only way I can get it down without getting tangled up in the formality of prose is to say, “Jason bends forward to kiss Anna’s blushing cheeks.”

Combined with the fact that I don’t worry about the “saids” until later – choosing instead to do the initial blurbs in point-form – my early drafts resemble scripts with stage directions more than proper writing. Here’s a rough initial scene that appears in much better edited form in “Finding Gaia”:

when anna asks to go to mudslide, trish behind her is shaking her head and mouthing no, anna says “I know I can do this. I know I can help and you promised you’d help me find a way to not feel so useless and disconnected and Trish I can see your reflection in the tea pot and I don’t care, honestly, really, this is important and needs to be done. I will find a way down there myself if I have to but I’ll probably be too late unless you help me get there faster.”
he closes his eyes for a moment, takes a deep breath, nods and says “okay, let’s go”
anna: “Good! We need to pack some stuff like clothes and towels because we’re going to get wet and -”
trish: “No! No! You can’t do this!”
anna: “Yes I can!”
trish: “You maybe but not him!” looks at him “This is insane! You’re not super heroes!”
don: “Well, actually, they sort of kind of are…”
trish smacks his arm, “No they aren’t! They don’t fly, they don’t break through brick walls -”
jason: “Nor do we die.”
trish: “You don’t know that. You don’t know how far you can be pushed. You could end up buried in twenty feet of mud and you have no idea how long you can live through that.”
anna, quietly “At least 32 hours, according to testing.”
they all look at her
anna: “They tried me in water, soil, and just plain vacuum and had gotten up to 32 hours before you got me out.”
don: “And you were okay after that?”
trish hits him again: “No it’s not okay, what’s the matter with you?”
don: “If the science has been done the results are useful even if the methodology was unethical.”
anna: I technically did die each time but within a minute or two of being exposed to air again, everything started back up and any decay that had started began to heal.”
jason groans and closes his eyes again
trish: “that’s…that’s just sick.”

You can tell it’s from my early writing on the book because I was still spelling out their names at that point. Scenes written later – when I’m more familiar with the characters – just list their first initials.

Although if a book is in even earlier stages, I may not have named the characters yet, or even cities and kingdoms in the case of fantasy. Here, for example, is a conversation from the first chapter of a book I currently call “The Book I Am Not Writing Because I Don’t Have Time” (you can tell because I’ve only got about 16,500 words of such blurbs):

she arrives with troops, king intends to approach second in command, can’t see a princess, approaches obvious leader of troop and greets but turns out to be princess in full uniform along with her men
– she tells him soon after: I realize that you likely see my arrival as a burden, or perhaps even an insult. It is probable that you believe my father to be ignoring your request for aid. I assure you, he has not ignored you. I am here because I have long studied and experimented with defensive strategies. I would never profess to be a battlefield expert but I do know how to lock down a fort and keep all intruders out
king, attempting to be pleasant, but with grating edge: Your highness, we welcome you with open arms and appreciate your desire to be of assistance. However, you need not fear for your safety here. [fort] has never fallen.
she: Yet. You face a better-armed, more tactical foe than ever before. [invading kingdom] isn’t whipping boys at your walls for lack of anything better to do. He is set on full-out conquest and domination. What his father began, he is determined to finish. Had his father not slaughtered my brothers then I’m sure you would appreciate their company more than my own. I sympathize. However, I am what’s left of my generation and once more, I assure you that I am up to the task of securing [fort].
king sighs through a forced smile: Of course, we welcome your input, your highness. turns to prince. Are you available to provide our guest with a tour of our defences to assure her of our competence?
prince: if your highness wishes, of course.
she: certainly.
king: there’s no rush to it. I’m sure you’ll wish to rest, bathe, and eat first.
she: there is most certainly a rush, your majesty. I made notes on our approach. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done.

I haven’t even bothered with punctuation for most of that, because I had to type quickly to keep up with the lady’s fast-paced and derisive speeches.

Every author has their unique way of doing things, and those techniques frequently evolve over their careers. It’s part of why books on how to write are almost meaningless beyond education of basic grammar, style, and general readability: what works for one person will almost certainly not work for another. I have no idea if my weirdness with tense and scripting is similar to anyone else’s process or not. I’d be amused to learn that it was, because it’s always nice to chat about similar techniques with other authors, but I’d also be surprised because the whole thing does feel very odd when looked at from an external point of view.

So to any writers reading this – amateur or professional – do you transcribe in present tense like this, forgoing grammar and punctuation in the initial phase? Or are you more compelled to put the proper prose in from the start?