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Posts Tagged ‘sequels’

Now that Become: Brothers is up for pre-order,

Brothers

it’s time to switch back to working on the bigger story, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

becomeblue

It’s not really a complete switch, since this picks up the story of the same characters, just a few years later. But it always takes me a day or two to get my head into the new story, even in the same series.

Right now, I’m reading through what I had already written of this story (about 32,000 words). That will give me a chance to re-familiarize myself with it and to patch any gaps left by removing the problematic flashbacks that are now no longer necessary.

The changed–and changing–relationship between these brothers will continue to be a major part of the ongoing story.

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So, one of the first steps in figuring out how to take my work back to wider markets is determining the schedule. And the first step in that is finding out when the various books, short stories, novella, and boxed sets can come out of Kindle Select. It’s the boxed sets that make this a little complicated.

The KS term for THE DUAL MAGICS BOOKS 1 – 3 boxed set ends on May 23, but the set includes:

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

  1. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, term ending May 27
  2. THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, term ending June 1
  3. BEYOND THE PROPHECY, term ending May 29
  4. And, the joker in the deck, the short story “Modgud Gold”, term ending June 27

Apart from that “bonus” short story that I threw in, they’re all nicely grouped. I’ll have to pull the novels out of Kindle Select a month before I can do anything else with them. Not ideal.

On the positive side, WAR OF MAGIC, which isn’t in the boxed set, has a term ending date of June 23, so at least it will fall right in line when I prepare to take these wide.

On the negative side, I can’t do anything productive about these until late June, except start taking them out of Kindle Select.

But BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC is even more interesting.

By Sword Boxed Set

The boxed set KS term ends on April 17, but the contents:

  1. FIRE AND EARTH term ends May 13
  2. THE BARD’S GIFT term ends also May 13
  3. DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING term ends May 6
  4. And the “bonus” short story “Becoming Liones” term ends July 4

Obviously, the thing to do with this one is take the boxed set out of KS last since it’s next term end date would presumably be somewhere around July 17.

Which, at least coincides closely with DUAL MAGICS. Looks like I might be busy for a couple of weeks early this summer.

Then there’s my CHIMERIA series.

ChimeriaBox

This and the two books included in it, BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER all have term ending dates of May 24. Easy. Except that I really don’t want to lead off with these. They were among the first things I published. I’ve been re-reading them and I seriously think they need a bit of work before taking them out to a wider world–and not just because my craft has improved in the meantime. These–and the handful of other short stories and one novella–will likely go last–which means late August at the earliest.

Well, at least I have plenty of time to research my options.

Meanwhile, I’ve got one more little scene to write and I’ll be ready to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

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I first started publishing my stories five years ago. I stuck my toe in the water with a short story, “Heart of Oak”.

Heart-of-Oak

Then followed up with my first published novel, BLOOD WILL TELL.

Become3

When I started, I published widely–directly to Amazon and through Smashwords to other marketplaces, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBookstore. I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. Three other novels, three other short stories, and one novella followed. I didn’t do very much in the way of promotion and no traditional marketing at all. And mostly, I broke even or maybe did just a little better than that.

And then, in July 2014, two things happened. I published the first book in my epic fantasy series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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(By the way, is it bad that I can type the link to that book from memory?) And, within a couple of weeks, Amazon started its Kindle Unlimited program.

Somehow, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made it onto Amazon’s lists, which really boosted sales. It’s still my most successful book. And I’m still mystified by how that happened, because I still wasn’t doing any real promotion or marketing. But, because of that boost on Amazon, I did notice something else: That first month, I had sold about 8 copies of TSC in all of the markets I reached through Smashwords and about 1500 on Amazon.

And Amazon had this new Kindle Unlimited feature that was only available to us independent authors under certain circumstances–one of which was that we make our books available exclusively through Amazon. Well, that was pretty much a no-brainer.

I withdrew the book from Smashwords and joined Kindle Select. That went so well that I published everything new–four more novels (three in the DUAL MAGICS series and one stand-alone) and a new short story–exclusively through Amazon. Gradually, I withdrew all my other work (except one short story that I’d always intended to leave free) from Smashwords and made them exclusive with Amazon, too. That’s nine novels, four short stories, and one novella.

And I’ve had no complaints about that decision until recently. Over the last month, page reads–the measure by which Amazon pays authors for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited–have fallen to almost nothing. I don’t have the data to determine why this is. I don’t know if Amazon’s relatively new feature, page flip (for which they purposely don’t count pages) has anything to do with it or if it’s something else. Disabling page flip certainly hasn’t made a difference–though I’m in process of finishing up that project anyway.

Maybe all the Amazon customers who would be interested in my work through Kindle Unlimited have already borrowed it. Though, sales continue at about the level I’d expect six months after my last release.

Either way, it’s time to start exploring my options again. I’ve started looking at the schedule on which I can remove my stories from Kindle Select. This is slightly complicated by the boxed sets. I can’t publish the boxed set or any of the books or stories in the boxed set anywhere else while any of them are still in Kindle Select. However, they all seem to be grouped in the May/June time frame, for some reason, with one outlier in mid April.

As I prepare to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

and get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, hopefully this week but certainly this month, I have a decision to make.

  1. I can publish it exclusively with Amazon, at least temporarily. This ties it up for three months. On the other hand, I haven’t completed–heck, I’ve barely started–my research into the best way to take my books wide again, so I probably wouldn’t be ready to do that immediately anyway.
  2. Or I can publish to Amazon first, without tying the book up in Kindle Select and continue my research into other options.
  3. I don’t see any value on holding off until I’m ready to go wide, so I can cross that option off, at least.

Onward.

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Wow, I got busy today and almost forgot to blog.

In my defense, I was (mostly) busy. Seems I opened a can of worms when I started updating all of my already-published books. Not that it didn’t need to be done. But, while I’m making the insides prettier and more, well, up-to-date, it seems silly to leave subpar covers on some of the older books and stories.

What happened was that I worked my way down to the Chimeria series. And, yeah, something needs to be done there. Starting with the first book in the series, BLOOD WILL TELL.

Blood Will Tell Cover

Not my worst cover ever. But not exactly stellar, either. In my defense, this was one of my earliest covers.

This is the unfinished version of the new one.

Become3

Unfinished because I’m not sure that I’ve got the right font, yet. Also, I may still move the dragon around a little. I like him better against the blue background than against the moon.

Then, I need to move on to the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I have no defense to offer for that one. I’m amazed anyone ever bought that one.

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Time to see how I did against the goals I set for myself last year. (Results are in bold italics.)

  1. WAR OF MAGIC: Complete first draft, revisions, get critiques, revise again, polish, and publish. Done.warmagicprintcover
  2. Revise the already-published “Becoming Lioness” and publish the new edition. Pull together the tie-in short stories, “Hunter and Huntress” and “The Seeker”. Put them through the same revision process. Nope. Becoming Lioness Cover 2
  3. Publish a boxed set of the DUAL MAGICS series. Done, though I only included the first three books and one short story, “Modgud Gold”.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  4. MAGE STORM: Rewrite this as an epic fantasy. Same revision process as above. Try to publish in 2016 or early 2017. MAGE STORM ended up being pushed back in favor of BECOME.
  5. BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING: Get a first draft done. Still working on the first draft.becomeblue
  6. Planning, world-building, etc. for some of the other stories on my back burner: Some planning, but no other progress.
    1. Another story in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.
    2. A set of fairy-tale retellings I’ve been playing with.
    3. The prequels to the DUAL MAGICS series that explain how the world got that way.
    4. The sequels to MAGE STORM.
    5. My Weird Oz story.
    6. The last novel in the Chimeria series.
  7. I would dearly love to be able to get to a writers’ conference somewhere in there, but that will depend on both time and finances. Nope.

In summary, the most important goal was met. But it took longer than I’d hoped and basically pushed all the other goals back a bit. Still progress. I’ll take it.

 

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This topic is brought up by a reader’s comment/question about DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The reader wanted to know when the next book was coming out because they wanted to know what was coming next.

The problem is: there is no next book. This is not a series–at least not in the conventional sense. I might have other stories to tell in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, but they won’t be centered around the same characters. (Though the main characters might very well turn up as side characters or possibly mentors to the new central characters.)

Anyway, those other stories, if they ever happen, are presently on hold for BECOME.

becomeblue

(Unless one of them jumps up and refuses to let me go until I write it. It has happened before.)

But the comment led me to think about why I feel this story is finished. The main characters are just starting out, after all, even at the end of the novel. There are certainly more adventures in store for them. But those adventures aren’t–quite–stories. Or, more precisely, not compelling stories. So what do they lack that a story should have?

Character arcs. In overcoming the external story problem, these characters have already also grown beyond the internal issues that were holding them back, the things that made them feel inadequate to really follow their dreams. Their arcs are complete.

Unless, of course, another story occurs to me in which they have another internal conflict to overcome. Always possible, but there’s nothing on the horizon right now.

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One More Scene

WAR OF MAGIC releases on Tuesday! Only two more days to get it at the special pre-order price of only $0.99.

WarMagicNew

So, here’s one more scene to whet your appetite.

Theklan sat with his back to an old pear tree in the middle of one of the lawns of the Academy and sharpened his spear. Not that he needed a sharp spear here, but it was a way of working out his frustration and anger. He’d tried for the third time to pass on Zoria’s warning about the Exiles’ intentions. Not that the Valson would be ready for a fight if—when—it came to them, but he couldn’t even get a hearing before the Valson Council. The few people who had pretended to listen to him dismissed him as just a boy worrying over fantasies.

Before he’d left the Dardani last summer, he’d already been recognized as a grown man. No one there would have just dismissed his warning. And, if he were still with the Dardani, his chosen people, they could have been warned of this threat. At least they’d be prepared to try to do something about it, even if they weren’t able to counter the Exiles’ magic. He should be there to help with that.

At least the spear helped him feel less disconnected from where he belonged. It was a Dardani weapon and Vatar had made it for him. He could feel a tingle of Vatar’s magic in the spearhead, whispering protection. But that life was far away, over the mountains and on the other side of the forest. Most of all, he belonged with Kiara.

“What’s that for?”

Theklan looked up to see Sharila, his study partner, standing over him. He sighed. “Nothing. It just reminds me of home.”

Sharila reached out to touch the point of the spear. She hissed and pulled her hand back, sucking on the tip of her finger. “Seems like a pretty dangerous memento to me.”

“It’s not a memento. This spear was meant to be used—to hunt, to protect against predators, to fight in battle. And, apart from its intended uses, it’s not dangerous if you don’t do something stupid like trying to test the edge with your finger.”

“I’d never seen a spear before,” Sharila protested.

Theklan huffed a bitter chuckle. “Why does that not surprise me?”

Sharila walked around, to the side away from the spear point, and sat down next to him. “What does that mean?”

He really shouldn’t blame Sharila for her ignorance. He’d probably known less when he followed Thekila and Vatar out of the Valley for the first time. It was only seeing it now, after living on the sea coast in Caere and especially after living on the plains among the Dardani, that the Valley seemed so . . . spineless. Theklan let the spear rest across his knees and gestured around the perfect grounds of the Academy. “No one here would know how to use a spear. Or any other weapon. Oh, maybe a few hunters up in the mountains. Even they wouldn’t know how to fight. They can’t imagine having to fight. Even when I try to warn them about what the Exiles plan, they won’t listen.”

“What you say the Exiles plan,” Sharila corrected.

Theklan ground his teeth. “No, what Z—” He cut himself off before using Zoria’s name. No knowing if the Exiles were actually still in contact with anyone in the Valley through Far Speech. And it wouldn’t do to expose her real purpose. “What Thekila—and Teran and Terania, the Valson emissaries to Caere—say they’re planning. What they’ve told me to pass on to the Valson Council.” He shook his head. “Sharila, if they’re not stopped first, they’re going to come over that Pass at the head of an army. And nobody here will even know how to resist. And the Council won’t even hear me out.”

“Well, it would be unusual for the Council to take advice from a boy—”

Theklan surged to his feet and paced in front of her. “I’m not a boy. I passed my manhood test among the Dardani before I came here. Even before that, since I got my Clan Mark at my initiation,” he paused to put a hand over the place where his tunic hid the feather tattoo on his left breast, over his heart, “I’ve had the right to be heard in my clan councils or the tribal council. But the Valson Council can’t even be bothered to let me relay a message. A message—from their own emissaries—meant to warn them so they can save themselves.” He stopped and kicked at a stone. “And I’m getting very tired of being treated like I can’t be trusted to put on my own boots without supervision.”

“It’s not that bad,” Sharila said.

“No? Your brother just denied me permission to go to the City to try for another chance to be heard. I’m restricted to the Academy grounds, according to him.” Theklan turned toward the mountains and the Pass, now blocked with winter snow, trapping him here. “If I could figure out a way to take my spear with me, I’d fly over that Pass and never look back. I don’t belong here.” An empty threat. Not just because the Pass was closed with snow until the spring thaw. He’d only come here to learn better control of his magic—specifically so he could help fight the Exiles. He had to stay until he’d accomplished that—but not one day longer.

By spring. Because the Exiles would be on the move then, attacking Caere. It wasn’t hard to figure out that the coastal city was just a stepping stone to the Dardani—and then here. And being able to help defend the Dardani was the reason he’d agreed to come back to the Valley in the first place.

Sharila drew in a breath sharply. “We can’t even go up in the mountains to practice your flying?”

Theklan snorted. That would be the one thing she worried about out of everything he’d told her. “Oh, he made an exception for that. As long as we let him know in advance. He wants to be the teacher who instructed only the third Valson to learn to fly.” He gripped the spear tighter. “As soon as that Pass opens in the spring, I’m leaving this place. And I’m never coming back.” A chill in his belly cooled the fire of his determination. Except that he didn’t know whether he’d be welcome back among the Dardani, who had an irrational fear of magic. And the shaman had seen him use his Powers. He hoped Vatar would find a way to make that right. It didn’t matter, though. If he had to go back to Caere, it would be better than this. Or . . . a new thought occurred to him. Orleus needed help to the south in Tysoe, where the Exiles and the Themyri had attacked the outposts last year. Maybe he could go there. It wouldn’t be home—only the Dardani could ever be that for him—but it would be at least away from here and on the edge of the plains. And not Caere.

“Sharlin won’t like that,” Sharila said.

“You know what? I don’t really care. He’s welcome to try to stop me—if he thinks he can.”

“What about showing him—and me—about this Spirit magic, then?”

Theklan turned back to her. Another recruit—or two—for the coming war could make all the difference. “You could come with me. Or you and Sharlin could follow later.”

Her mouth twisted to one side in a kind of grimace. “What would we do out there?”

Theklan restrained himself from reaching for her hand. That could be . . . misconstrued. But he looked directly into her eyes, willing her to understand, to agree. “Help fight the Exiles so they don’t reach the Valley.”

Sharila made a rude noise. “You just got through saying that no one here has any idea how to fight.”

“I could teach you. Orleus taught me—he’s Captain of the Tysoean Guard.” Theklan paused, staring back at the dormitory buildings, a slow smile growing on his face. “In fact, I could teach any of the students who want to learn. Maybe then there’d be at least a few who could fight back against the Exiles.”

“Why would the teachers allow that?” she asked.

Theklan shrugged, turning his gaze back to her. “It’s good exercise.” He was already constructing drills in his imagination. He’d start with staves. Easy to make, with all the wood available around the Academy grounds. And it was the first weapon Orleus had taught him to use. Then . . . maybe bows.

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