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Archive for June, 2014

I posted a short while ago about the problem of pre-orders in connection with the launch (in less than two weeks) of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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One of the things I’ve done since then is to do some reading. Sometimes, when you don’t see the way forward, the best thing to do is a little research. I read LET’S GET VISIBLE by David Gaughran and changed the way I’m looking at this. I highly recommend this book. I’m starting LET’S GET DIGITAL soon.

The point of having a lot sales all hit at the same time from pre-orders is hitting the popularity lists so that the book gets extra visibility. I don’t know, maybe that’s still important for traditionally published books. Not so much for independently published books, though.

The reality is that pretty much no matter what I do, my book is not likely to hit the popularity lists (those lists that suggest other books to you) on Barnes and Noble or Kobo or Apple. Those lists are still heavily weighted in favor of traditionally published books. The only place where there’s close to a level playing field for indies is Amazon.

And Amazon changed their algorithms a couple of years ago. Once upon a time, that spike in sales would have made a difference on Amazon. But then a lot of people started gaming the system–book bombs to get a lot of people to buy the book all within a narrow time window, for example. It didn’t really have anything to do with the long-term popularity of the book, so Amazon changed the way they calculate the popularity lists. Now, that one-time spike sinks right back down again in the ratings. What gets rewarded now is sustained sales over several days.

That means, I can plan to do several different things over the launch period. (I’ve already got a couple set up.) But I don’t have to–in fact I shouldn’t–put all my eggs into that one launch-day basket. Getting the word out during that first week or so is important. Maybe even the first two weeks. Frankly, that’s a lot less stressful.

I get to pace myself and remember “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

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I’m going to try a blog hop, today. It’s called What’s Up Wednesday.WUW Badge

 

The four questions for this blog hop are:

WHAT I’M READING:

Hmm. I’m sort of between novels at the moment. I recently finished THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ, by L. Frank Baum. (That’s research.)

Right now I’m reading LET’S GET VISIBLE by David Gaughran, because this is stuff I really need to learn to do better.

I need to pull up one of those new novels on my kindle and start reading.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

I’m in the middle (almost) of the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, which is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I’m basically keeping the plot the same, but using the writing skills I’ve learned in the last six years or so.

WHAT INSPIRES ME NOW:

Well, doing a rewrite is mostly just a slog, a special kind of revision. I had the inspiration for the story six years ago when I wrote it (badly) the first time. Although I do love these characters and I’m excited and a little nervous to get through this one and on to the third book. The third book scared me back then, but I think I can write it now. It’s the book in the series (four books in all) in which everything falls apart.

I’m also starting to get excited again about my WEIRD OZ STORY. (Which is why I’ve been reading some of the Oz books.) I made an abortive start on this story about a year ago, but it wasn’t right. I had a pretty good idea what was wrong, but I needed time to figure out how to fix them. Reading some of Baum’s Oz stories beyond THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has gotten me thinking about some new elements.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

Scattered, as usual.

Preparing for the launch of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE in a couple of weeks.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I really need to learn to this part so much better.

Finishing up the last little bits on DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING so I can start querying that one. I finished the synopsis yesterday. Now I just need to go back over the first couple of chapters.

And dealing with a lot of clean up and other business that got postponed when I got the chance to work steadily for the last six weeks (ending last Thursday.) I’ve still got several things to do before I can settle Mom’s Trust. First up, I need to prepare for an estate sale. It’s amazing how much stuff can be accumulated in 95 1/2 years, especially living in the same house for about 65 of those years. A lot of it is good stuff, but there’s just too much of it. Way past time to clear out some of it out.

 

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Here’s another deleted scene from The Shaman’s Curse:

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Vatar walked briskly through the wet, empty streets of Caere on his way to the guild hall, smiling slightly. Apparently the Caerean’s thought they’d melt in a little bit of rain. Although, to be fair, this was more than just a little rain and from the look of the clouds, he expected to hear the boom of thunder at any moment. Still, the Dardani were accustomed to ride in all weathers short of a blizzard. Or when the snow was deeper than their horses’ hocks.

Now that he was officially Uncle Lanark’s apprentice, he spent one day in seven at the guild hall with the other apprentices his age, learning the things Uncle Lanark couldn’t teach him. Like the smelting of iron and how to turn iron into steel during the smelting. The guild hall did that for all the smiths in Caere.

How do they keep the smelting fires hot enough during weather like this? He smiled. Presumably, he would find out today. He couldn’t think of much else they’d be able to do in this weather. Surely not work at the forges. Vatar enjoyed his lessons at the guild hall. In addition to all the new things he learned, he got a chance to make a few friends among the other apprentices, like Fowin.

When he reached the Smiths’ Guild, Vatar was directed not toward the smelter, but indoors to the meeting hall. Three masters presided over the room.

“There are blades in need of sharpening in the barrels, lad. Grab one and a whetstone and get to work,” one of them said.

At almost the same time, the big bell on the top of the hall rang.

“Everyone come over to the windows,” the master gestured toward the wall of windows across from the mural Arcas had shown Vatar on his first day in Caere. “Look up there.” He pointed to the ornate weathervane above the gate.

Vatar did as he was told and drew in a sharp breath. The weathervane was enveloped in a dancing violet flame. He’d seen something similar, once, on the plains, only around the bare branches of a dead tree.

“What is that?” another apprentice asked.

“We call it Tabeus’s Fire. By itself it’s harmless, but it is a warning of an approaching thunderstorm. When you see it, close your forge and get out as quickly as you can. You do not ever want to be caught in your smithy during a thunderstorm.” As if to accentuate the master’s warning, a flash of lightning lit the sky beyond the guildhall.

“Just like not sheltering under the tallest trees during a thunderstorm,” Vatar said.

The master nodded. “That, too. But also, lightning is attracted to iron. And there’s a lot of iron in a smithy.”

As if to demonstrate the master’s point, the next bolt of lightning struck the weathervane. The top portion of the vane flew off and landed with a clatter on the cobblestones of the courtyard.

Vatar swallowed. “I guess so.”

A version of this scene had been in this story from the first draft. But there’s a problem with it. The only reason for this scene is to introduce the idea of Tabeus’s Fire (more commonly known in our world as St. Elmo’s Fire), which will have an important role later in the story. That’s not enough reason for it to stay. I found subtler (and shorter) ways to give the same information.

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Review of TORN CANVAS

“Even a hero needs to be rescued sometimes.” That perfectly describes this story.

There’s been a price for Olivia to reach the top of her profession as a television host. Crazy stalkers, no privacy, no personal life except online, where she can be anonymous. And still there’s one interview she can’t get–the male model who became a hero when the cruise expedition he was on was attacked by pirates.

Hot model Jori has a deserved reputation as a bad boy when it comes to women. No one knows that his behavior is based on a traumatic event in his childhood. That is, until he’s adopted almost as a brother by two women on a cruise. Lyn and Elle are the first attractive women in years Jori hasn’t tried to get into bed with.

That’s the first crack in his armor. Then Jori risks himself to save Elle from pirates. The injury he receives ends his modeling career. Everyone wants to hail him as a hero–including the up-and-coming television host, Olivia. But Jori is still haunted by his past. He still considers himself more beast than hero.

It’s going to take one more woman to finally convince Jori that he’s worthy of being loved.

This story is even better than the first (A Change of Plans). And that’s saying a lot. I honestly love this one.

I received an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Torn_Canvas_Front_Full_Res_WEBVERSION

Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Jori struggles to make a new life for himself as an artist while evading the press. They expect a hero, but he knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.

Olivia Howard’s given up a normal life for her job, and the sacrifices are finally paying off. The twenty-six-year-old talk-show host’s ratings are heading to the top of the charts. Her dream is to make a difference in people’s lives, but the studio wants mind fluff—like interviewing hot model Jori Virtanen. When Olivia learns the guy helped rescue passengers on a cruise excursion from kidnappers, she knows this is the story she needs to make her case. The only problem is the hero was injured, and now he’s disappeared.

The more Olivia learns about the man behind the scar, the more intrigued she becomes. But Jori is no girl’s happily ever after. Once she finds him, Olivia has to free his heart and help heal the beast.

Links:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | GOODREADS

Trailer on Youtube

donna-k-weaver

Author Information:

Author of the Safe Harbors series and Second Chances 101, Book 5 in the Ripple Effect series. A wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, and karate black belt.

Contact the author: donnakweaver@gmail.com

Find the author on:

Blog | Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTube | Google+

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While I try to figure out how to get the word out about the preorder of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, here’s another deleted scene.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This one is definitely going to be part of a short story/novella about Arcas. Arcas is an important side character in THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Cousin of the main character, Vatar. In this, he and Vatar have changed places. Vatar is back in the city, living with Arcas’s parents and apprenticed to Arcas’s father, while Arcas has gone out onto the plains with Vatar’s family and now he’s about to be adopted into their clan.

Arcas squared his shoulders and pushed the hide door covering aside to step down into the ceremonial hut. The inside was lit by an abundance of oil lamps. It was remarkably like any other Dardani hut, with the sod dug out and stacked around the edges to make the walls only much, much larger, built to hold the whole clan, not just a single family. Benches lined three sides in ranks. On the fourth side there were seats for the seven Lion Clan chiefs. An impressive life-sized carving of a lion’s head hung on the wall behind the chiefs’ seats. Arcas couldn’t stop staring at it. The carving looked so life-like; he could almost feel the eyes watching him.

Uncle Danar went to stand with the other chiefs at that side of the room. Arcas found a seat on one of the front benches, next to Pidar and some of the other boys.

He fidgeted nervously in his seat and tugged at his tunic, unable to sit still.

“Are you sitting on an ant hill?” Pidar whispered.

“No.” Arcas forced himself not to squirm. He tried to listen to the clan business that was being discussed before the initiations, but he couldn’t understand most of it. He still had a lot to learn about the way the Dardani did things and lived out here in the wilderness. He started to wonder how much the Clan Mark would hurt.

Arcas almost missed the signal that the discussion of clan business had ended and the council was now moving on to the initiations. Several men stood up and walked to the center of the hut, bringing their sons or daughters with them. Arcas took a deep breath and stepped out to join them.

Uncle Danar laid a hand on Arcas’s shoulder and guided him forward to be formally introduced to the clan. Arcas flushed at the clan’s shout of acceptance. He gladly stepped back again as the next initiate, a girl, was pushed forward by her father.

When all had been presented and accepted, the lamps were extinguished, leaving the interior of the hut in almost total darkness. The only light was at the far end, where the chiefs had been sitting. Complete silence fell, more startling in contrast to the cheers only a moment ago. Arcas only knew the rest of the clan was still there because he could hear them breathing and an occasional shuffle. A soft drumbeat started from somewhere in the darkness, like a heartbeat.

Concentrating on the darkness around him, it took a moment for Arcas to realize that his uncle was gone. Uncle Danar had been right beside him just a moment ago. Now it was just the initiates. The youngsters stood clustered together in the center of the hut, taking comfort from each other’s nearness.One of the girls slipped her hand into Arcas’s.

Uncle Danar reappeared at his side out of the darkness. At least, the voice was Uncle Danar’s. He pressed a large clay cup into Arcas’s hands. “Drink it all. But not too fast.”

It smelled fruity, mostly like apples. Arcas took a mouthful and coughed. Not apple juice. The drink had a pungent taste and it burned his throat.

“Slowly,” Uncle Danar said. It sounded like he was smiling.

When Arcas had emptied the cup, he felt very warm and the light of the remaining lamp seemed blurry.

One by one, the youngsters were led up to the far end of the hut, toward that single lamp. When it was his turn, Arcas saw that all but one of the chief’s seats had been removed. The carved lion’s head rested on that last seat. As he approached, he got his first close-up look at the Clan Totem. It had been realistically carved from some type of tawny wood. The mane was made of grasses, dyed darker and carefully woven into the wood. And the teeth were carved from pieces of bone. It looked exactly like the lion Pidar had pointed out to him. But the eyes almost made him stop short. The eyes were looking at him! The appraising stare was just like that of the real lions, too. A second glance showed him that the eyes were highly polished stones, of the kind called dragon’s eyes in Caere. But they looked so real, Arcas couldn’t suppress a shudder.

“Put your hand in the lion’s mouth,” Uncle Danar said.

Arcas shot him a look of disbelief, but Uncle Danar only nodded confirmation. Taking a deep breath, Arcas reluctantly did as he was told. The bone teeth pressed against his wrist, but they didn’t feel as sharp as they looked. Inside, the wood was smooth and warm. He held completely still as those uncanny stone eyes appeared to focus on him even more closely.

The texture of the wood under his fingers made him feel oddly welcomed, though he couldn’t have said why he felt that. A strange, tingling sensation crept up his arm. The light from the single lamp seemed brighter all of a sudden, making him squint. He sensed a connection to something bigger and wilder. It felt as if he’d expanded to fit a wider world than he had known before.

Arcas followed Uncle Danar back out into the center of the hut. Even turning his back on the one burning lamp, somehow the dim light didn’t obscure as much as it had before. As if he had acquired the lions’ night vision, he could see the interior of the hut clearly, now. Arcas blinked in the sudden blaze as all the lamps in the hut were relit. Had the light been that bright before?

The new clan members sat down on the floor. Arcas was glad. He’d begun to feel a little unsteady. Uncle Danar knelt behind him, holding him by the shoulders. The healers came forward to give each initiate their first clan tattoo.

“This will be quick,” the healer said, pulling Arcas’s tunic up.

She dipped a cloth into a small bowl and swabbed his left breast. Arcas smelled the sharp tang of something unfamiliar in the ointment. The skin the ointment touched went numb. Then the healer took up a long, yarn-wrapped thorn, dipping the thorn and yarn into a bowl of pigment. Despite his best efforts, Arcas flinched as she raised the thorn. Uncle Danar held him steady, as if he had expected that reaction.

The healer smiled at him reassuringly. “It might help if you look away.”

Arcas turned his head slightly and squeezed his eyes shut when he felt her press the thorn against his skin. He held his breath, anticipating the puncture, but he never felt it. What was she waiting for? He opened his eyes and turned his head back.

The healer smiled again. “Almost done.”

Arcas relaxed. This wasn’t so bad after all. Now that his fears had passed, whatever had been in that cup Uncle Danar gave him took full hold. He felt warm and sleepy, safely enveloped in the Spirit of the Lion.

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So, it’s now possible to put a book up for pre-orders, just like the big publishers do–at least on certain sites. Smashwords has the option and through Smashwords, it can be delivered for pre-order to Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, and Kobo. Amazon doesn’t have the option, at least for KDP authors, yet.

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Now, the idea of pre-orders is that you create a little buzz to get people to pre-order. Then all those sales hit on the day of the release and drive the book up in the rankings. Of course, this would work a lot better if Amazon was part of the mix. It’s the mysterious Amazon rankings that make the most difference in sales.

But then you go and try to generate that buzz, like by setting a low pre-order price. You still have to find a way to let readers know about it. Marketing of any kind is always a lot of work–especially if you’re trying to do it on a shoestring. And then . . . and then you find out all the places where you might just be able to list your book to create that buzz–well, they either want the ASIN (the id Amazon applies to all KDP books), which won’t be available until I publish it on Amazon, or, worse yet, they want the book to have some minimum number of reviews. Neither of those is going to work until after publication. But, if I go ahead and publish it on Amazon, without the pre-order buzz, then I won’t get the bump in sales.

Checkmate. Catch 22. I am still trying to find a way to untie this Gordian knot.

In the past, I’ve always buckled and just released early. I’m not going to do that this time. I’m going to keep trying to figure this out.

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First, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is now available for preorder at Barnes and Noble and Apple.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s $0.99 now, but after the launch the price will go up.

Now, deleted scenes:

In my final revision of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, I cut quite a lot. Whole chapters, in fact. But nothing is ever thrown away. I have all those scenes and chapters safely squirreled away.  I’ve already got plans to put several of them involving an important side character together into a story–possibly novelette or novella length. I figured out the title this morning. Maybe that’ll come out around the time I publish the second book or a little before.

Meanwhile, here’s another deleted scene. This is a bit of world building–the Festival in the coastal city of Caere–that will probably come into a later story but just wasn’t needed in this one. Vatar is the main character of TSC, a boy from the semi-nomadic plains tribe come to the city and about to be apprenticed to learn blacksmithing (after his broken arm and cracked ribs heal). Arcas is his cousin. Kiara Vatar’s little sister. She’s about eight at this point in the story (though she may have been a bit younger than that when this scene was written).

Unlike Arcas, Vatar actually resented the arrival of Caere’s great holiday, the Festival, because it meant Uncle Lanark closed down his forge for two whole days. Vatar didn’t care about any of the strange Sea Gods that the Caereans worshipped. What was the Festival to him?

Nevertheless, early on the first day of the Festival, Uncle Lanark led all of them–Pa, Mother, Kiara, and Vatar included–to the Smiths’ Guildhall to greet the grand procession of the Sea Gods through the streets of Caere. Arcas pulled Vatar and Kiara along with him a platform near the top of the wall by the gate which was reserved for apprentices and children of guild members, where they could get a good view of the show.

Arcas leaned as far out over the wall as he dared. “Here they come!”

“I can’t see anything,” Kiara complained.

Vatar boosted her up to sit on the top of the wall and kept his good hand on her waist. “Now sit quietly or I’ll pull you back down.” Kiara was just apt to try something daring, like trying to stand up or even walk along the narrow ledge if she wasn’t restrained.

In a few moments, the stately parade appeared in the street below them. The Sea Gods–all but one–were carried on jewel-studded platforms supported by blue-robed priests. The Sea Gods wore heavy robes in green or blue, heavily embroidered with seed pearls in swirling patterns. All of them looked slightly larger-than-life to Vatar, and most of them seemed to have a sort of hazy glow around them.

Arcas narrated the show for them. He pointed out Celeus, chief of the Sea Gods, at the head of the procession and recognizable by his crown of silver studded with pearls and moonstones. Behind him came Tabeus, the first smith, riding a fine grey stallion and carrying the very spear that had slain the sea dragon. There were also Calpe, patroness of Healers, Abella, the Seeress, and several others.

Vatar was distracted from the full catalog by having to keep hold of Kiara, who squirmed to get a better view as the Sea Gods stopped in front of the Smiths’ Guild to bestow their blessings and receive their tribute in return. The one Arcas had identified as Tabeus took a prominent role in the blessing of the Smiths’ Guild, Arcas said, because he was the first smith.

Kiara squirmed particularly violently and almost fell. Vatar leaned over the wall to pull her back, slipping his left arm from the sling to get a better grip. He cried out at the pain from his broken arm and sore ribs. Tabeus looked up. For a moment, Vatar froze. He felt pinned by that sharp gaze. Then Kiara slipped a little farther and Arcas reached to help Vatar pull her back to the platform.

She stood on her tip toes. “I can’t see anything from here. Put me back up.”

Vatar winced as he put his arm back in its sling. “Too bad. I warned you what would happen if you didn’t sit still.” He looked back down. “Show’s over anyway. They’re moving on down the street.”

“They’ll turn the corner and go on to the Merchant Guildhall next,” Arcas said. “We might as well go back down. There’ll be competitions for the apprentices with prizes.”

Vatar shrugged his left shoulder to indicate his broken arm. “I’m not an apprentice. Not yet, anyway. And I couldn’t compete if I was.”

“True,” Arcas said. “Well, there’s also a special feast day meal when we get home.” He grinned. “More of Mother’s sweet pies, I bet.”

Vatar grinned back. “Now that sounds good.”

 

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