For those interested in self-publishing, I went with Author’s Republic over ACX because the terms are much better, and as an author, I have more control over where the book is distributed. The only complaint I have so far is that I didn’t know when the book went live. There was no email from Author’s Republic or individual distributors letting me know when it was available. So, keep an eye on your Amazon page to get that information quickly.
I’ve become more comfortable with my craft as I penned my latest novel. (Which is finished and being edited in my abundant free time. Ha!) I don’t know if any of you like Jim Butcher, but I am a fan, particularly of the Dresden Files. As a reader, it’s maddening to me when Mr. Butcher writes more Codex books or a new series altogether. Honestly, Jim, I need some Dresden closure here! And one of the things I most loathe as a reader is cliffhangers that I have to live with for a year or more until an author releases the next installation of a story (looking at you, Karen Marie Moning). I sought to imitate J.K. Rowling’s level of closure as she brought each school year in Harry Potter’s life to a close. I always wanted more, but didn’t feel like tracking Ms. Rowling down and demanding answers. Instead, I waited, like a kid watching cookies rise in the oven.
So, I’ll begin with apologies. I sat down with good intentions and a trilogy outline–Iron Shards, Iron Spirits, Iron Truths. I swear! I wrote a chapter or so of Iron Spirits. And I hated it. My spouse hated it. I wanted to print a copy just so that I could wad it up and toss it into a trash can. But I did the mental equivalent, and I wandered looking for inspiration. I found it and wrote a new standalone novel, one I’m still editing. So, Jim, I understand now. Sometimes we just follow the whims of our muses.
In the meantime, while the new book was still percolating in my mind, my friend and fellow author Jennifer Pinkley offered to narrate Iron Shards after our local book club selected it to read. Since my plate was rather full with raising kids, exploring caves, and embarking on learning a new skill set, I was thrilled to accept. So, keep watching. Iron Shards will be available as an audiobook soon.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing my book cover on a rocking awesome poster.
The Mountain Home Air Force Base has chosen Iron Shards as their pick for the month. It’s strange seeing my work on a poster, a surreal thrill after the tears, rewrites, and rejections I went through with this book. But no worries, readers. I won’t let it go to my head. *winks*
I am off to work on my latest project. I’m just the medium for those characters’ lives, after all. Happy reading, bibliophiles of Mountain Home!
I recently returned to my hometown for a book signing, and I enjoyed a good turn out in the tiny Southern community. The owners of Humphrey’s Mayders and Tayders were excellent hosts. It’s bizarre to imagine selling books in the mix of this store, but it has a jumble of everything from ferns to crayfish to nice blouses. I was relieved to be given a table apart from the crustaceans. Don’t people know those are actually in the arachnid family? Why are they all merrily eating spiders? There’s an xkcd comic that describes the situation perfectly. It’s called “Alternate Universe”.
Just extend the situation to all crustaceans for me. And since no one came close to me with the insidious clawed creatures, it was a pleasant event. And I was thrilled to sign books for old friends and new fans alike. I am excited to see my favorite genre gaining traction in the town whose library ran out of young adult sci-fi/ fantasy books for me to read as a child.
Here’s a picture from the event.
Thanks to all who showed up and supported a local author.
Iron Shards has always felt real to me. The ideas swirled in my mind on long car trips, worlds building themselves as the miles passed me by. As I typed out the pages, tap-tapping my way to a full manuscript, it became concrete.
As a book junkie, I know that some readers are serious fans of print. I don’t need a physical copy of a work to read it, but I admit that I keep hard copies of my favorites. (I’m going to need my hard copies of Harry Potter and Shakespeare if the world ever comes to end, okay?) I am flattered that others want hard copies of my work, and I was unexpectedly delighted when the paperback proof arrived for me to review yesterday. I stroked the cover, finally holding my brainchild. And to my children, the hard copy meant that I really had been writing a book. Did you think I was dreaming this project up? Of course, the book’s finally done.
And if you feel the need to own Iron Shards in a tangible form, here it is. Iron Shards paperback The hard copy will also be available on Amazon in a few days.
And I can’t resist sharing a picture of how amazing my book looks resting on my desk.
I like to think of myself as more deeply entrenched in math and science than your average English degree holder. I took calculus classes and organic chemistry. I suffered through a year of physics. Still, when it comes to computer coding, there are magical gnomes making the processes work for all I know, so I enlisted my computer-savvy spouse’s help for publication.
He is an absolute tyrant about formatting, and that’s something I need. Apparently, I’m a formatting nightmare. (Did you know that you don’t hit “Tab” to start a new paragraph when you’re writing a novel?) He has been worried for months about formatting my book for digital publication, and the process was in the back of my mind as a minor issue. I truly didn’t comprehend the scope of that project. I suppose I thought I would just upload it to Amazon and click “Publish”. Don’t these people know we’re writers, not computer programmers? Alas. That’s not what happens.
Instead, the book gets uploaded, and you check the formatting with various devices. I thought that all of the Kindle devices at least would be consistent. Naive author brain strikes again. They all had different start pages, given the exact same information. A few were awful, skipping my prologue or starting in the middle of my book dedication, a random “I love you” scrawled across the page. Why, Amazon? Why?
I saw this as evidence of chaos in the universe, the computer gnomes taking my good intentions and scrambling them about. Josh took it as a personal challenge; he was frustrated and curious about why it wasn’t working as intended. He pulled open some html code. (That’s what he called it. I’m certain it was actually from the engineering grimoires.) He cursed a lot. See? Incantations! And no matter what he tried or how many other wizards he spoke with, all of them confirmed the magic is broken. No one has a spell for getting a book to start anywhere other than the Table of Contents. A few, rare practitioners encountered wild magic and managed to get their books to begin on page one. But they don’t have a spell to share with the other mages.
I thought about the e-books I’ve read, and, indeed, they all begin at the Table of Contents. It’s not ideal, but people know how to scroll over. It’s fine, I insisted. At last, my wizard admitted defeat. He uploaded my book, and we went to sleep. What? You were thinking I’d have a wild party celebrating the release of my book? Engineering wizards and authors are usually introverts. Why would we do that?
The alarm clock rang all too early on publication day, and I opened the dreadful phone to turn off the incessant music–only to see a Facebook message from a friend in England. She said that my book had typos in the description. Nooooooooo! At first my sleep-addled brain thought she must be referring to the words I made up that Amazon kept insisting were errors last night. It’s scary to click “publish” when Amazon keeps telling you that you have ten errors in your work. Screw you. I invented that word. It’s real!
But after re-clicking my link, I saw what my friend meant. My stomach churned, my heart pounded, and I had to catch my breath. The book description is critical for any self-publishing author. It’s the crucial paragraph that perfect strangers read to determine if they want to buy the book. And mine had not one, but two typos! My wizard tried to calm me down, to explain that you couldn’t copy-paste this part, that he’d had to type it and must have made some mistakes. This is why engineering wizards don’t write books.
I did some quick editing in the early morning hours, hoping to eliminate the errors before anyone in the US caught them. And now I can breathe again, and I’ve had enough excitement to last for the entire publication day. You might think I’m heading off to rest on my laurels, but I’ll do nothing so exciting. The book writing, editing, and publication processes have taken their tolls on my family, and I’m off to catch up on appointments, oil changes, and endless laundry.
On a different note, some of you are interested in helping this newly published author promote her work. You rock! Here’s how to help. “Liking” and sharing my pages spreads the word about my book to others and increases visibility. Also, if you read the book and want to help me out, review it. Book reviews increase the likelihood that others will choose my book to read.
I hope that you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If you haven’t yet checked out the book and want to, here it is–Iron Shards.
While I was writing Iron Shards, I often sought peace at local coffee shops to collect my thoughts and put words on the page. Being a stay-at-home mom and a caver means that my house is constant chaos. School forms, cave maps, official letters, dirty hockey clothes, muddy packs. You get the picture. If I tried to write at home, those messes drove my inner OCD person crazy.
However, when I went to local shops, I often found that there were obnoxiously loud folks guffawing or talking over each other. Music was my solution. I love when other writers post their playlists, the soundtracks to my favorite books. I hope that you enjoy mine.
During my first draft, I listened to these songs incessantly, sometimes just one on repeat until even I didn’t want to hear it anymore.
Ed Sheeran “I See Fire”
Hozier “Take Me to Church”
Ed Sheeran “I’m a Mess”
Rachel Platten “Fight Song”
Shinedown “Sound of Madness”
Tove Lo “Scream My Name”
Lorde “Yellow Flicker Beat”
Coldplay “Viva la Vida”
Imagine Dragons “Demons”
Hozier “Someone New”
During the editing process, I was only obsessed with one band—Shinedown. I have listened to all of their albums until my family and friends are helping with my quest to find a new obsession. I found their latest work Threat to Survival particularly inspiring as I worked up the nerve to put the finishing touches on the novel and get it out to friends and the public. It’s tough to pick favorites because I love the whole album, but if I had to choose three songs from it, they’d be “How Did You Love”, “State of My Head” and “It All Adds Up”.
I hope you find my playlist inspiring. Now get out there. Create.
Creating Iron Shards has been a wild ride that began quietly, a flicker in my mind, a soft whisper saying, “Wouldn’t that be awesome?” Surrounded by breakfast dishes, after I’d organized my house from top to bottom in the first week that my youngest child began pre-k, I sipped my coffee and thought, “Now what? How many times can one woman organize her garage before going mad?”
I tossed the idea of writing out to my spouse, almost jokingly, to see how he’d react. And perceptive man that he is, he responded beautifully, bolstering my confidence until I was ready to pen my first words. A flood of ideas overwhelmed me, and I had no clue which direction I was heading. I just wrote until eventually I only lived one character’s story–the story I’m finally ready to share with you.
Once I passed the twenty page mark, I was holding more pages of one story than I’d ever written before, and I was excited to finally tell other people about my book as it began taking shape in my mind. I confided to a friend here, told a family member there until I was comfortable telling my local coffee shop friends about all of the tap-tapping happening at my table in the corner. And I discovered a marvelous trait about my friends: they all wanted me to succeed, and they all believed I would.
I wrote every day, a thousand words per day, until the story released its grip on me just after the new year. And you might be thinking that writing the story is the hard part. It’s not. The most difficult part is reading your own work and trying to tear it apart, to break it down so that it can be rebuilt as a stronger, more cohesive whole. I was challenged and frustrated as I found plot holes and idiotic turns of phrase. Did I really write that? What was I thinking? And every time I thought I was done, another error popped up or another beta reader offered feedback, and I was committed to reading the manuscript through once more. I have learned that the editing process doesn’t really end until the book is published, and even then, I’ll probably look back and still see things about the manuscript that could be better. Even if no one else does.
I am excited to be releasing Iron Shards to all of you on Amazon Kindle soon with both e-book and print options. After the publication day, I can move on to a topic dear to both of us–Book Two–Iron Spirits. Until then, keep an eye on my pages for the book release.