Posts Tagged ‘Hidden Worlds’

How to Celebrate a 10th Anniversary of a Book?

It’s crazy, squiders. My first book, Hidden Worlds, is 10 years old.

(The first edition came out Dec 2009, and the revised second edition, published through Turtleduck Press, came out in late 2010, complete with change in pen name and everything.)

First of all, wow, where the heck did the time go?

Second of all, wow, that’s kind of a big deal, and it feels like I should do something to celebrate.

But what? And how?

I’ve not had a book reach a 10th anniversary before.

Do I put out a new edition, with new material? What kind of new material? Notes on how the story came together? Old unpublished versions of scenes (and man, do I even know where those are?)? New stories in the same universe (I wrote one recently for my newsletter subscribers)?

Do I put out related swag? Bookmarks? Character profiles? Art of the characters?

Do I do a whole promotional blitz?

What would you, as a reader, be interested in seeing? What would be really cool to see in relation to a book that’s been out for a while?

Too many options. Woo.

(Do you know of any other books that did cool things for their anniversaries? I’d love to check them out.)

A Need For New Music

Okay, Squiders, I need your help today.

I went to my old music standby, Grooveshark, the other day, which is where I’ve made my novel-specific playlists over the years, only to discover that it had been shut down (and in April. I knew I’d been focusing a lot on short stories/nonfic projects lately, but I didn’t realize that it had been that long).

I’m a little grumpy, because if there was any warning that the site was going down, I didn’t get it, or I would have gone in and made sure I had a list of what songs were in each playlist so I could replicate them elsewhere. So now I don’t know what music I had saved in there, nor how to find it elsewhere.

But anyway! I find myself in need of a new website to make story playlists on. In theory, this website should:

  • Allow me to make my own playlists of specific songs
  • Let me listen to said playlists on infinite repeat
  • Be free or at least fairly cheap, and, ideally
  • Have limited or no ads

Those are listed in order of importance. I’ve been out of touch on the music website front (obviously), so I have no idea what’s even out there. If you have something you use that you would recommend, or even if you’ve just heard about something that sounds like it will work, please let me know!

In other news, Hidden Worlds will be celebrating its fifth anniversary of publication at the end of the year, and I’d like to get it some new reviews so I can do some promotional campaigns. If you’re willing to commit to leaving an Amazon review (and, if you’re feeling generous, a Goodreads or Smashwords one as well) before the end of November, I will give you a free ebook copy of the book. Email me at kitmcampbell at gmail dot com and we’ll get the ball rolling!

Autumn Sale–Everything only 99 cents!

Sale Banner

So, exciting news, science fiction and fantasy lovers! Turtleduck Press is having a sale for the next week, and the ebook version of everything–all their anthologies, novels, and chapbooks–is only 99 cents! This includes both Shards and Hidden Worlds, as well as our newest anthology (which I have a story called Drifting in) Under Her Protection: Stories of Women to the Rescue.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can get:

Definitely a little something for everyone, so grab the books now while they’re cheap! Because, alas, on October 8 all the prices go back up. So buy some for yourself, buy some for your friends, buy some for your dog–sorry. Got carried away.

And enjoy!

Calm Yourself, Woman

I’m a mess, Squiders. My manuscript–the novel that’s coming out in December–is in my editor’s hands, and it’s the first time I’ve had a novel edited by an actual publication-process editor, and I desperately want her to love it and so I am kind of stalking her all the time to see if she’s talking about it at all on social media.

She’s not. The few times she’s mentioned anything it’s been things like “I started working on Kit’s book today” or “I need to work on Kit’s book tonight” which tells me nothing.

(Or, if my Inner Critic gets involved, it’s that she’s not saying anything else because she doesn’t like it, or it’s a huge mess, or…you get the point.)

Also, I sent my cover artist a copy of the book on the same day, so she can get a feel for the story and work her magic. This is the same artist who did my cover for Hidden Worlds (who coincidentally happens to be my cousin, but I like to think that it’s not nepotism because she does amazing work). And never mind that it hasn’t even been two weeks, but I kind of want to message her all the time to see if she’s done with the book, and whether she liked it.

I am driving myself insane, Squiders.

It’s just…this is my first real novel release, and I want everything to be sparkly and perfect, and right now everything’s out of my hands (aside for working on marketing, which is kind of exciting, but not really) and I’m going a little stircrazy.

So distract me. Offer me fun tidbits to look at or read, or send me platitudes to let me know that I haven’t gone completely insane, or discuss why the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman (nor an empire). Anything!

Writing Serially

I belong to a prompt community.  I joined, oh, four years ago or so with the idea that I’d be able to use the prompts to stir the creative juices.  It hasn’t really worked out.  Oh, it’s not the community’s fault.  They are awesome, talented writers and the prompts are usually very interesting.  Something about the medium just doesn’t work for me.

Oh, sure, sometimes a prompt jolts something out of the creative centers of my brain.  When I joined originally, you had to post once every three months to stay a member, and I could usually manage something in that time frame.  But a few years ago they changed the requirement to once a month, and I knew the likelihood of ye olde brain coming up with something purely prompt based that often was pushing it.

(This is not to say that I have problems with ideas.  If anything, there are too many ideas floating around.  They just tend to be novel-shaped.)

So I decided to work on a serial novel, with a new part going up every month (or more often if I got around to it).  I’d already completed Hidden Worlds serially, so I knew it was something that I could do.

Two years later, I’m still working on that story.  I use the prompts to direct the next part, and feedback has generally been very good.

I outline very vaguely so this works well for me.

What does writing serially do for you?  I use it as a side project which helps me get through harder sections of my main projects.  It also allows you to work on something a relaxed pace and gain readers over time.

Things you should note about serial writing:

1.  Do it consistently.
I put up a new section every month.  This means my readers can expect a new section on a regular basis, that I know when it’s due so I’m thinking about/working on it when I should be, and that it doesn’t get eaten by other projects/life.

2.  Outline, at least a little.
The thing with writing serially is that you need to have an idea where the story is going to go, what kind of story it is, what promises you want to make to your readers.  What do you do if you get 25K in and realize you’ve written yourself in to a corner?  Alternately, if you make it three-fourths of the way into the story and do a genre change out of right field, people will not be happy.

3.  Reread the last few sections before picking back up.
This helps you remember where you are, what you named your characters, and what you were thinking when you left off.

Some publications are taking serial stories on now.  If you’d like to try for one of those, you need to have the entire story at least outlined before submitting.  They will not be as lenient as my prompt community if something goes off-kilter.

What about you, Squiders?  Ever write something serially?  What have your experiences been?

Ebooks vs Paper Books

First of all, I want to announce that next week shall be ALPACA vs. LANDSQUID guest blogger week.  You’re going to want to stop by.  My guest bloggers are brilliant and extremely funny, and I shall be drawing accompanying pictures.  You have not lived until you have seen a landsquid wearing aviator goggles.

So.  I have a Kindle.  It’s first generation, a group birthday present from my family for my birthday a few years back.  I do like it quite a bit, but I don’t use it a huge amount – mostly when I’m traveling or working out on the cardio machines at the gym.

This drives my husband absolutely batty.  “I don’t think you like it,” he’ll say, sounding personally offended (because he led the charge to buy it for me).

“I do like it,” I reply, “I just like paper books better.”

“Why?” he’ll ask.

Why indeed?  For all intents and purposes, my Kindle should be the greatest thing ever, right?  It can hold hundreds books and fits in my purse.  And it is nice in a lot of cases – I don’t have to worry about space for books when I’m on a long trip (and I can go through a lot of books), I don’t have to worry about keeping the right page open when I’m on the elliptical machine.  I can get new books immediately instead of hunting them down at a bookstore or waiting for them to show up in the mail.  And finally, finally, people can buy me ebooks as presents.

But there’s something about a real book, the feel of the paper, the smell, the sound of turning pages, and I find that despite the convenience of ebooks, I still prefer the real thing.  (Also, your Kindle cannot be on during landing or take-off and I can only read the SkyMall catalog so many times.)

As an author, I actually sell more paper books than ebooks.  Go figure on that – especially as an unestablished writer, it should in theory go the other way, shouldn’t it?  It’s priced competitively – $2.99.  I’ve seen some discussion on the interwebs about ebook price points.  Some people think that new authors should price their books at $.99 to encourage people to try them out.  (Or free, especially if there are other books in the series that people can also purchase.)  On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that they won’t buy an ebook below ~$5 because obviously that author doesn’t value their work and it sets a dangerous precedent.  I have no strong opinion either way and so I sit somewhere in the middle.

Where do you stand on the ebook vs. paper book discussion?  When you purchase ebooks, especially from authors that are new to you, what is the price range you will consider?  How much of a driving point is price?

Goodreads Giveaway: Hidden Worlds

Howdy squiders!

Just a heads up that there’s a giveaway of my fantasy novella Hidden Worlds happening from today to May 15th over at Goodreads.  Now’s your chance to get a free copy!

The giveaways can be found here.  (Note: You must be a Goodreads member to participate in their giveaways.  And you should join anyway, it is amazing.)

Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Fears

So, yesterday I signed up to attend the Pike’s Peak Writers’ Conference, held in Colorado Springs, CO over the weekend of April 29-May 1.

I have been thinking about attending a writers’ conference for about a year and a half.  I hear from fellow writers as well as agents and editors that they are rewarding experiences.  My mother, who wrote for a time about ten years ago, attended several and thought they were well worth her time. 

But to be honest, the idea of a writers’ conference kind of terrifies me.

I have been lucky enough over the years to find writing groups that have been beneficial and supportive, but, on some level, I almost feel like I’m not good enough.  Like, if I go to this sort of thing, if I talk to other writers and agents and editors, they’re going to laugh at me.

Is this an irrational fear?  Maybe.  I don’t know.

I admit I’m terrified.  Even filling out the registration was nerve-wracking.  One of the questions asked “What is your primary genre?”  I clicked on the pulldown, expecting to be able to select “Fantasy.”  Instead I found myself confronted with four choices: fantasy, YA fantasy, urban fantasy, and YA urban fantasy.  I write all of the above.  I had to ask my collab partner and my husband for their opinions before tentatively going ahead with YA fantasy.  I’m sure it doesn’t really matter, but I kind of feel like I’ve messed up before I’ve even made it to the conference.

The next question asked “What was your last published title?”  I stared at that one for a long time, debating whether or not I should put Hidden Worlds.  It is technically “published,” though I self-published it.  Because it was through Turtleduck Press, there is a level of oversight that most self-published works don’t have, but at the same time, I’ve been on enough writing communities to know how negative most writers’ opinions of self-publishing is.  For example, AbsoluteWrite‘s forums are a treasure-trove of information, but some members’ posts on the matter are so volatile, it makes me uncomfortable to be there, whether I’m discussing self-publishing or not.

What’s really pathetic about the whole thing is that I have no regrets about Hidden Worlds.  Putting it out has been a fantastic experience, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of a novella that has received universally four and five stars reviews across all the platforms it’s listed on.  I like having control of my own marketing and distribution.  Yes, I am still pursuing traditional publishing for other projects, but self-publishing has been rewarding.

In the end, I left it out. 

I don’t know why I feel like I’m sneaking into somewhere I don’t belong.  I’ve been writing seriously for eight years.  I have several drafts under my belt.  I’ve edited and polished, I’ve researched.  I’ve written queries and summaries and have been querying on and off for about a year.  I have short stories in anthologies.  I’m in the middle of submitting a short story to magazines and I’ve gotten several partial requests.  It’s not like I haven’t done my homework.  It’s not like I don’t want this.  Writing conferences are supposed to be for people like me.

Yet, on some level, all those fears remain.

The Ease of Self-Publishing, Part II

To continue from this entry in October, where I was commenting on the useability of CreateSpace and Lulu to self-publish.  (On a side note, every time I link to one of my own entries, WordPress gets all excited and tells me a new website is linking to me.  No, just no, WordPress.)

When we left the story, I had successfully updated my listing on Lulu with the new edition and was awaiting my proof from CreateSpace.  This is where the trouble starts.

I was in the process of moving at the time, so I sent my CS proof to my mother’s house, as I didn’t know where I was living, had no address, and figured my mother’s house wasn’t going to go anywhere.  It never showed.  Eventually, some weeks later I called CS (really, had them call me – they have no customer service number.  You give them your number and then they call you after a specified amount of time) and asked what had happened to it.

Apparently it had been returned as undeliverable. 

I’m not sure why they wouldn’t deliver to my mother’s house – I send things there all the time – but I was more annoyed that they had not sent me an email or something to tell me that this was the case.  Apparently we were hoping I would just psychically be aware of the situation.

So we got that hammered out.  Eventually the proof shows up.  It looks brilliant, except for the fact that the back cover is not ideal for reasons covered in the above post.  Really, I am very pleased with the quality.  Everything looks ready to go.

My husband and I go back into one of the CS menus to doublecheck something.  We change nothing, but CS decides that we must have and demands that I order another proof copy.  Oh, hell no.  I am sick of the entire proof copy process.  It will not let me approve the book for sale until I buy another copy.

After several phone calls that generally went “I did not change anything, I like the book as it is, can’t we just reset something for the love of Landsquid?” things finally got straightened out.  The book went live.  It is EXCELLENT to see yourself on Amazon.

Overall opinion of CS: Nice quality product, INFURIATING processes.  I would/will use them again, because it has proven to be a very good thing to be listed on Amazon, but they really need to work on their interface.  You should have to save something before it tries to force you to approve a new copy at the very least.  But in their defense, everyone I spoke to on the phone was very helpful and honestly did the best they could to fix my issues.  And I got a free proof out of the madness.

We also went ahead and did both the Kindle and the Nook.  There’s really no reason not to.  It is SUPER EASY to use both.  Kindle wants you to upload an html file, which is a bit odd, while PubIt! will take a Word doc.  Both sites let you preview how it will look on the physical ebook reader.  The website interfaces are user-friendly and easy.  If you want to include your cover/pictures in your Kindle file, you do need to do some funky html thing in the file and then include the graphics as a zip file, but overall, I have no complaints with either service.

I decided not to use SmashWords based on some advice I found across the interwebs based on an unreliable royalty issue.  For the time being, I am not planning to expand to any other platforms, though that could change with time.  I will keep you apprised of any relevant updates.

Embarrassing Early Stories

Yesterday I was at a Super Bowl party with several college friends of mine.  (I am not a huge fan of football but I do like the Super Bowl because it often involves friends, food, and drink.)  Shortly into the second half, I found myself in the kitchen with a few friends, one of whom mentioned she had recently purchased and read Hidden Worlds and had enjoyed it.

My host says, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to get that.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything of yours – probably that murder mystery you let me read was the last thing.”

My husband laughs and says, “She let you read the sex murder mystery?  She doesn’t let anyone read that.”

At this point I alternately want to melt into the floor and kill my husband.   “Was I drunk when I let you read it?” I ask.

“Probably,” he answers.

Some background.  I wrote a lot when I was younger, but when I got to college I took on two engineering majors and figured I was too busy to write, and so didn’t for several years.  Nanowrimo was invented, my friends started doing it, but I held off until 2003 when I woke up one day in early November with a premise and jumped into the insanity.  It was a murder mystery set on a cruise ship where they were filming a dating reality TV show.  There were a number of problems with it – 1) mystery, while I love to read it, is not my writing forte. 2) I did not and do not, to this day, know anything about reality TV shows.  3) It was the first novel I had attempted in five years.

Understandably it went into a drawer and has not come out.

There are some things that make this even more horrific than a normal first novel.   In the middle, my characters got away from me and decided that it was a good time for a sex scene.  It was not a concise sex scene.  If I remember correctly, it went on and on and on and eventually I just crossed the whole thing out (but left the words in, as it was Nano) and pretended it hadn’t happen.

The second thing that makes it horrific is that my roommate at the time had asked to be included – and I had relented – and this was someone that was also a friend of my Super Bowl host, so it’s entirely possible that he got to read not only a terrible sex scene, but one containing a mutual friend.

I still want to melt.  I am unsure how I desperately distracted the topic to something else.  Perhaps my friends sensed my embarrassment and graciously went along with whatever inanity I came up with to spare my feelings.

All stories teach us something, help us hone our craft, but I still can’t believe that I let that one out of the drawer for anyone to see.  Do you have any stories that you wouldn’t want out in the world?