Thursday, February 11, 2016

Brainstorming Keywords for Facade

Keywords are supposed to help readers find my books. In that, they are an extremely important part of the publishing prep. I need to get them right.

Aside from the blurb, this might be the hardest part of getting the book ready. Once it's written, there are a number of steps before it can be released to the public. Several of them have nothing to do with crafting the story. Those are very hard for me.

I started with the larger themes:

  • Aliens in hiding, but they are hiding in plain sight. So not an invasion or first contact or exploration. That might be a little confusing.
  • They are hiding from a civilization that enslaves them.
  • They also have psi-skills like telepathy 
  • And are healers extraordinaire
On the other side I have:
  • Undercover intelligence agents that are great buddies
  • Multiple alien species coexisting
  • Interstellar travel
  • Long established galactic governance
  • A simmering subplot of economic instability
And then there's:
  • A character who uncovers her own hidden identity
  • An unfolding of the devolved culture of the enslaved people
  • Innate skills that look like magic
Somehow I have to distill this all down into a handful of keywords and blurbs of varying size. Some as small as 50 words! I have to take a step back and try to see the largest arcs of the book, dropping out all the subplots. Sometimes that makes it sound cliched. Another thing I need to avoid.

And when I'm done with this, I'll be getting back to Wisp, Nick, Tillie and Angus.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Free Post Apocalyptic Ebook 2/4-2/8

Lethal Seasons is free on Amazon for a short time only.

February 4 - 8, 2016 get the first book in the series for free. Click on the link below to get yours now!


Please share this with friends that love scifi.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Some Thoughts on Colony (TV - USA)

As a storyteller, I tend to analyze my TV shows in terms of how well they entertain me. When a show feels like it isn't working for me, I like to figure out why. So here are some thoughts on the new show Colony on USA.

After 2 episodes, I get the feeling this show is more about human conflict than alien invasion. That right there I find disappointing. The show starts after aliens have attacked and for some odd reason cordoned off Los Angeles. There's a monster of a wall and access is restricted. So far we haven't seen or heard about the rest of the country.

"No one has seen them." We are told early on about the alien invaders. So they are mysterious but powerful aliens. Again, kind of annoying. It raises so many questions that I can't get into the human conflict that seems to be central to the show. I'm always waiting for more information on the aliens. One persons says that they will leave when their needs are fulfilled. Too vague. This is too important to ignore. Breadcrumbs could work, but more information needs to come forward fast.

There's a human occupation of LA. Soldiers are enforcing a curfew, hunting down criminals and basically terrorizing the general population. There's an underground rebellion that is plotting in the shadows. It all feels a little too Nazis and French Resistance to me, a very old trope that always ends bloody.

If the story is to be about the rebellion and the soldiers, then explain the aliens and let them fall into the background. A solid story about what people do to each other in environments like this could be interesting. However, it isn't something that I would like to watch. I want to know about the aliens. Why did they come to Earth? What do they want? Why LA? What other damage has happened? Why are so many humans collaborating if they've never even seen an alien? What's the end game?

Leaving the viewer with questions ensures they tune in for the next episode. On the other hand, leaving the viewer confused and annoyed will ensure than they don't.

I'd love to hear other impressions from you in the comments.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Update on Facade and Next A Changed World Book

It's back from the 2nd reader. Yay! And there were very few tweaks suggested. Yay again.

I am blending in a bit of business that I forgot to add. It's a species that expresses an obsession common in my family - feeding people.

When you visit any of us you get beverages and snacks before dinner and then desserts and then snacks again after that. I had these little guys in all of the previous versions of the story, but somehow they got left out in this one. When my 1st reader asked about them I realized I needed to include them.

They will play a larger role in subsequent books, but I think the reader needs to be introduced to them right away. They are pervasive in this world.

Once that's ironed out it will go off to the 3rd reader. I am right on my estimated timeline for this book and that feel very good.

The next A Changed World book still doesn't have a working title. I am spending some time with a thesaurus sorting through words. I know what I want it to infer, just not sure how to get there.

The rough outline is coming along. I am about 3/4 done with that.  While brainstorming, I came up with a lot more than I want in this book, so I might already have some stuff for the next one.

I learn so much with each book that the process is starting to have a nice rhythm to it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


As I do my genealogical research I am learning more about language. My father was born in Hungary. Their language is very complicated. I remember reading somewhere that language affects a person's world view. The Magyar language was that of nomads. I discovered when I was there that they had taken some Latin words for certain things like templom for church. It made sense to me that a nomadic people might not have words for things of permanence like buildings.

I was trying to translate some documents when I made another discovery. A lot of Hungarian names mean something. My own last name - szabo - means tailor. Almost all of the names I see in my father's village are either occupations or ethnicity. So there are Millers (Molnar), Carpenters (Acs), Cobblers (Varga), Blacksmiths (Kovacs), Germans (Nemet), Polish (Lengyel), Croatian (Horvat), and Friends (Barat). And of course the usual "son of" - Palfi, Simonfi, etc.

My grandmother's maiden name was Simonyai. I just learned recently that it meant she descended from people who came from Simonya, which is now Partizanske in Slovakia today, but was part of Hungary at one point.

When I wrote the first draft of Facade, (nearly 2 decades ago!) I threw in random names that I made up as I went. That was one of the criticisms I received - the names were too similar. For this rewrite, I took a good look at the names and made certain conventions by planet. If this one has a lot of double vowels, the next one shouldn't, and things of that sort. I already had a certain societal structure to each race so that attaching language restrictions felt right.

Now maybe I need to make some of those names mean something in their own languages. But maybe that's a rabbit hole I really shouldn't go down.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Facade is off to 2nd Reader

Hooray! The rewrite of Facade is off to the 2nd reader.

The other day, as I was off doing something other than writing, it occurred to me that I was working on my 6th book. Sixth! Sheesh. If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be where I am now, I don't think I would have believed you.

I'm very excited about getting this story off the ground. It has surprised me a little in the way it has changed. Back when I was writing it long hand, I didn't have the foundation of 5 other books under my belt. I didn't have all the lessons learned about how to craft a story.

It isn't the same story anymore. I've changed names, dropped plot lines and streamlined some action. Hopefully, that makes it a better story. When I shelved it the first time, I knew I was out of my depth. When I shelved it the second time, I understood that I needed to keep writing until I was ready.

And while it is being read I will get back to work on the outline of the 3rd book for A Changed World. Still no working title, yet. I had a couple of great ideas for it while I was out for a walk last week. Time to get to work on my 7th book.

And it's still a lot of fun!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year in Review

2015 was good.

It started badly because I was sick for about a month. That made me late in my self-imposed deadlines, but they were only self-imposed.

I published Dark Deeds in February and Scattered Seeds in September.

Book 3 for A Changed World is outlined and I plan a fall release.

The first book in the new series, Transmutation, is in the first rewrite and will go to the 2nd reader in about a week. I plan to submit this story to Kindle Scout in the spring. You will be hearing more about this along the way.

As an experiment, I pulled Lethal Season and Scattered Seeds out of wide distribution and put them in the KDP Select program. Every month since has seen an increase in pages read. That translates into increased income for me, but more importantly, it is more people reading my books. I've sold 60 books and have almost 6,000 Pages-read for the year, not counting December (which looks very good so far!).

In comparison, I have some books in wide distribution in Smashwords and Draft2Digital. I have sold 1 book through Smashwords for the whole year. I loaded books into D2D in September and have had only 1 sale there so far.

My sales and reads might not seem remarkable, but they are an improvement over last year. I am getting a smidge more revenue and that's exciting. Not ready to quit the day job, yet, but it is a step on the way. As a new author it is so difficult to get found. KDP Select seems to be helping with that.

The garden gave me an excellent harvest. My new raised beds seem to be working well. There were a few fumbles and failures, but that is to be expected. The weather has been so warm in my part of the country that I am still harvesting goodies. I decided to try some fall veggies this year and they are thriving despite the excess rain and lack of sun.

All in all a good year for me. Looking forward to the challenges and victories of 2016.