Good news…and bad news

The second book in my Unlikely Hero series, Unmasked, launched today, after being on preorder for several weeks. I was excited about today’s launch, but when I opened the book on my Kindle to check it out, I was extremely disappointed.

Let me step back a bit. For this who are not aware, the preorder process goes like this. The information (cover, title, author, all that stuff) for a book is uploaded to Amazon to establish the preorder. In order to start it, the interim book content is also uploaded. Because this is a month or more before actual launch, it is rarely (and for me, never) the final version. It hasn’t been completely edited and proofread at that point.

When the launch date gets nearer, I am responsible for uploading the final file, the one to be put out on the Amazon store. I do that, without fail. I even post several files along the process, just in case there is a mistake with the final file, as I have seen happen with many authors.

I have done many preorders, and launched many books on Amazon. I know the process. I follow it. I expect that things will run smoothly.

They don’t always do that.

On today’s launch, the file that was pushed out to the store is the original file I uploaded. You know, the one with all the errors, the lack of good formatting, even some random letters as text placeholders.

To say the least, I was mortified. I don’t know how this happened, but I contacted Amazon immediately and uploaded the correct file. Again. The problem is, it’ll take twenty-four hours or so to get things straightened up. In the meantime, those who preordered the book have a substandard version.

I can’t apologize enough for this. I am working with Amazon to get the correct file up. Please contact me if you preordered or bought the book and I will get the correct version to you.

So, it’s happy news that the book is out, not so happy that there was a mixup. I’ll try my best to consider this a plot twist, one I would cut from my story in editing if I could.

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“We All Fall Down”

So, it the fall season. It may just be my writer’s imagination buffeting my mind with stray images and thoughts, but in thinking of the season, the snippet of lyric from a well-known children’s song keeps repeating in my head. Do you recognize it?

Now, I’ll admit that it’s sort of a morbid thing to think about, considering the popular interpretation that this particular rhyme is referring to plagues that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Europe in the Middle Ages. But really, isn’t the fall seaons about dying and non-action anyway?

If you think things are getting darker and darker as this article goes on, well, that’s a normal part of the fall season, too, isn’t it?

Do you save daylight?

In the United States (at least in the states that participate), the clocks were just turned back this last weekend to go from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, wreaking havoc with many people’s regular daily rhythms. And yes, days are now darker in the afternoon. If you are in an area that doesn’t follow the ridiculous practice, consider yourself lucky.

But I digress. It’s true that the fall is dark and nature begins to slow things down, even in a relatively moderate weather pattern like Southern California where I live. But that doesn’t mean people necessarily follow suit. Holidays, cold-weather sports, and other seasonal activities make the months from October through December some peoples’ favorite time of the year.

Falling Faster

And you know what else? All activities involving books increase during this time of year. Sales, events, even publishing is thriving in the fall months. From National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo; see my posting from my experience with it in 2015 or my post on what NaNoWriMo is) and special sale prices to multi-author boxed sets, it’s a good time to be a reader. Or an author.

So, it’s not all doom and gloom. We can all fall down, but there’s nothing saying we need to stay down. Enjoy the cooler weather (if you’re in the part of the world where it is indeed cooler at this time of year), pick up a book by your favorite author, and let your imagination take you where it will.

I plan on having a good fall season. How about you?

 

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Unmasked, Wanderer’s Song, and a Boxed Set

Wanderer’s Song: Song of Prophecy Book 1

I have three things to report. First, Wanderer’s Song, the book I wrote for the Magic After Dark boxed set, is now available as a standalone title in Kindle and paperback formats.

The one to crush the darkness…

Nearly three thousand years ago, the Prophet penned the Song of Prophecy, foretelling a time when darkness would engulf the world and threaten all life. The Malatirsay would come, the Chosen One to save the world of Dizhelim, wielding magic unseen in centuries. To prepare for this future time, the Hero Academy was built, its sole purpose to train the One. But it has lost its focus throughout the ages, not watching vigilantly for the signs of the end.

The time has arrived and the animaru have come, dark creatures of un-life, intent on snuffing out all living things and light itself. But where is the Malatirsay?

Aeden Tannoch, trained as a highland clan warrior, raised by the Gypta traveling people, could be the One, but he cannot use the promised magic. Yet. In the midst of the dark swarm invading his world, he must travel to the Hero Academy to seek the aid and tutelage of the masters there. The enemy has caught his scent and pursues him. If he doesn’t learn to use the power he is prophesied to employ, not only will he fall, but the entire world will die with him.

 

Unmasked: Unlikely Hero Series Book 2

Also, Unmasked, the second book in the Unlikely Hero series, is now out for pre-order on Amazon. The official launch date is December 8, 2017.

Being a hero just became a tougher gig.

Daniel and Amy, as the superheroes Angel and Kestrel, have defeated Crusher, ending the supervillain’s plans for domination. All that’s left to be done is to clean up the non-super criminals and Sueño will be safe again. Or so they think.

Crusher’s father, going by the supervillain handle Pestilence, has other plans for the two heroes, and the city they protect. He won’t stop until both of them are killed in the most painful of ways and the city that supported them is punished. With his powers and the resources he commands, it’s not an idle threat.

Meanwhile, other criminals with super powers seem to be popping up like proverbial weeds. Some of them join Pestilence in his quest for power…and his plans for revenge.

When Angel and Kestrel’s biggest secret is revealed to the world, things get even worse. How can the two young heroes stand up to the

 

HMS Boxed Set

Third, I have finalized the cover art (see below) for the Harmonic Magic series boxed set. The set will include Vibrations, Harmonics, Resonance, and Gray Man Rising. For those who are subscribers of my newsletter PEP Talk, I am swapping out a brand new story in the Tales of Gythe collection for Gray Man Rising as a free book for being a newsletter subscriber. I’ll be sending out a newsletter shortly to explain it. The HMS boxed set will launch probably sometime in early December.

 

 

 

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Every Step Is a Victory

 

The Grand Canyon from the upper portion of the South Kaibab trail (beginning of the hike)

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to complete one of the goals I set for myself for this year: to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. It was something I had been thinking about doing for a while, but finally decided the time would never be quite right, so I might as well do it now. Besides crossing another goal off my list, I also learned something from my experience. What I re-learned was that most times, the way we look at what happens to us is more important than what actually happens to us.

I know, that sounds deep and philosophical. It sounds like another motivational story where the teller (that would be me) tries to impart some kind of life lesson on the reader (that would be you). Let’s not suffer through that. I’d like to apply what I learned to the process of writing. Grander applications can be left to those who want to make them. I’m going to keep it light.

Let me give you some background. We can all agree that the Grand Canyon is huge. Hiking it from rim to rim can generally be done either from north to south or from south to north. I chose the latter. Traveling down the South Kaibab trail from the South Rim, it’s nearly seven miles to the Colorado River at the bottom, with more than four thousand feet of elevation loss. The hike up the North Rim is more than fourteen miles, with an elevation gain of 5700 feet. Altogether, it’s a hike of over twenty-two miles.

Not surprisingly, I got tired on the hike.

Part of the North Kaibab Trail

The trail is fantastic and there are adequate opportunities to refill water containers, but it is a long hike. The last four miles or so were an experience in torture and longevity for me, mainly because I never condition adequately for these things. I found myself trying to convince the part of me that just wanted to lie down to keep going, to make it to the top.

I chanted to myself, “One step after another. Keep going. Every step is a victory.” It worked. I was slow for those last few miles. I hurt. I wanted to stop and take a nap, for maybe a day or a week. But I continued and finished the hike.

As I drove home after the hike, I thought a lot about my little mantra. It was true on the hike that every step was another victory, every time I put my foot forward it was closer to the major victory of finishing the hike. Each time I resisted the urge to stop, I won a tiny battle. I thought about how true it is that all the little wins are really what’s important, whether hiking or doing something else.

It applies well to writing. Often, in the writing process, there are sticking points. There are times when we are so tired, so overwhelmed, so sick of editing or structuring or any one of a number of other things, that we want to quit. Just one more word or sentence, paragraph or page, and we have taken another step. We have declared another small victory.

Will this new—although it’s really not new so much as something familiar viewed from another angle—idea help me in my writing, in life? I’m sure it will. The lesson is real to me, branded into my soul by the pain through which I have come by the experience. It makes me feel a little better when I’m tired, beaten down, or just plain want to quit.

The Grand Canyon from near the top of the North Rim (North Kaibab Trail)

The physical experience of the hike was hard, but the exhilaration of finishing and looking back over the canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world, that I had crossed, is indescribable and priceless. It was very nearly the same type of feeling when I hold in my hand a new book I have just published. In my opinion, we can all use a few more of those types of victories. What do you think?

 

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Water & Flame Launch

Water & Flame, a new collaborative story, is now out and available on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle formats. It’s my first foray into the world of paranormal romance (PNR) and advance copy readers have good things to say about it. It’s on special for release week, only 99¢ until June 10, 2017.

 

Fire and water don’t mix…

Water witch Abigail Henderson is focused on one thing: finding the fire witches responsible for murdering her mother. Her coven has finally allowed her to go undercover at the estate of the prime suspect, Margaret Huntsman. The job is to get magical evidence to prove the woman was the mastermind behind the killing and that she actually cast the fatal spell. It’s a dangerous mission, but worth it if Abbie can bring the killer to justice.

But she never counted on meeting Margaret’s handsome, estranged son, Ben.

Now, Abbie must choose between completing her mission or pursuing a relationship with the son of her enemy. It’s not only the success of the mission that’s at stake, either. If Ben is in on Margaret’s schemes, Abbie could follow her mother to the grave.

Even worse, she may have stumbled across a bigger conspiracy than she ever imagined—one that could lead to all-out war among the elemental witches.

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Whispersync: Why I Think Amazon’s Audiobook Program Is Kind of Cool

Amazon has a functionality with some of their Kindle books and the associated audiobooks is called Whispersync, and I am a big fan. First off, let me explain what Whispersync is.

Whispersync

Whispersync is a coordination function that allows synchronization between a Kindle e-book and it’s associated Audible audiobook. So, for example, if you read your e-book and are at page 50, and then get in the car to go to work and want to continue the story, you can start up the audiobook and it will remember where you left off reading. It will start at page 50. No more trying to figure out where you were. I typically read a book and then, after I’ve finished, listen to the audiobook while I’m in the car, driving to work or running errands. Because of this, the functionality to keep my place isn’t that important to me. Some people only listen to audiobooks and do not read text books, so again, this feature wouldn’t be attractive.

Another feature is that when you buy the e-book, the price of the audiobook is drastically reduced for a Whispersync qualified title, and this is more important to me (as a reader and as an author) than synchronizing page number. Put plainly, it can save you money, and everyone likes to save money.

Let me use my book Vibrations as an example. The e-book is $3.99, the normal price for the audiobook is $24.95, and the reduced price for the Audible audiobook is two or three dollars (it seems to change, for some reason). If someone wanted only the audiobook and not the e-book but bought it anyway, they would still save about $18 over just buying the audiobook by itself ($6 or $7 vs. $25). Because I have no control over pricing of the audiobooks for my books, this is great for me because people can read (and listen) to my book for less money. As a reader (and listener), this is great for me, too because whenever I buy an e-book, I always pick up the audiobook if it has Whispersync. I’ve never paid more than $3.99 for a Whispersync audiobook, so adding it is a no-brainer.

One other reason I like Whispersync is that in order to qualify, the audiobook has to keep a pace that allows it to synchronize with the e-book. That means the cadence of the narration can’t be too jerky, can’t speed up and slow down, which can be distracting. I know that titles qualifying for Whispersync have smoother narration that those which can’t qualify and that is an important piece of information for me.

So, whether you are a reader first and listener second, solely a listener, or a hybrid consumer of stories in text and audio formats, I think Amazon’s Whispersync is a good program. I’m a fan of anything that will allow readers to experience the books I write in varied ways and to do so without spending too much money. Both of the titles I have out right now, Vibrations and Gray Man Rising, have Whispersync functionality, and I plan on making sure all subsequent titles have it as well. I am already planning for the audiobook for Harmonics, the second book in the Harmonic Magic series, the e-book and print copy due out this month. Let me know what you think. Do you like Whispersync, too? If so, why?

 

 

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