Sunday, 14 November 2010

Leave of Absence

Due to personal circumstances, I am taking some time off the internet. I might be active on facebook, but that will be all, and even then not much.

I know I have commitments to people on-line. I am sorry to break them. I have commitments to people off-line, too. Real Life always comes first; I seem to have forgotten that these passed few months.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Video Game Syndrome and Becoming an Indie Author (With Giveaway!) by Zoe Winters

If someone was to come up to me and ask me to name the most influential Indie writer, there's only one name I'd consider. She doesn't have as many books out as some, she isn't making as much money as some, but she is everywhere on the web, and she has bound up her name, her brand, with indieness as much as she has with snarky paranormal romance.

Her paranormal romance must be good: she recently told me she even knows what snog means. :)

She's Zoe Winters, and these days she barely needs an introduction. And better than that, she's just brought out a "how to be Zoe book," all about how YOU can get as snarky and fantastic as her. Or maybe it's about being an indie author. Yeah, that's probably it. 

Anyway, Zoe is being totally fantastic today by blogging here. 

 I recently released a guide for indie authors in ebook called: "Becoming an Indie Author". The book is part motivation, part how-to, and part my experiences as an indie over the past two years. Since I started this journey, I've sold over 28,000 ebooks. I'm still far from my goals, but self-publishing is becoming so hot that it seemed like the time was right to release a book about it.

I'd been giving out a lot of info on my blog as well as the Indie Reader blog and the comments section of other people's blogs, that it seemed time to start organizing and collating it. (Actually it might be a bit redundant to say both organizing and collating, but whatever.)

A lot of people have started mentioning me on their blogs and on forums. I get random Google Alerts frequently where someone mentions me as an "exception" somewhere online. People have started to take notice that dinky little Zoe Winters might actually do pretty okay with this indie thing.

The last chapter of the book is on troubleshooting and mistakes I've made, so you don't have to make them. One of the things I talk about in that section is "Video Game Syndrome," which is what my critique partner, Susan Bischoff, calls it.

If you've ever played a video game you know how stressful it gets when you start to get really far in the game or super high points. It's like... "Eeek, doing well, can't mess up now. Can't lose it now! I just need to get a little farther. Just a few more points."

The same thing happens in book publishing. I'd been tortoising along for 17 months before I started making more than $200 a month. Then suddenly I released my third novella and all my books zoomed to the 100's in overall sales rank on Kindle. I stayed there for 6 weeks, which was probably my most stressful 6 weeks of this whole indie author thing.

Because suddenly I felt like people were watching, and I was finally starting to make money. Where before I was on a "slow and steady wins the race" mentality, once I started selling well, I began to picture myself living under a bridge if it all ended. Attention Captain Emo, your girlfriend is wandering around on aisle five.

I've settled down a bit because I know that high sales rankings are awesome, but eventually they will go away. Only, note to universe... please please keep sales rankings high at B&N just until the end of the month, Zoe hasn't owned a car in 3 years, and it would be super awesome to buy one with author money.

So basically, my point is this: If you happen to have seen my name crop up around the Internet and you think I'm "lucky", it sort of took 2 years of hard work and non-stop marketing and making myself crazy without an outside job to distract me to "get lucky". It doesn't happen instantly. And when it "does" start to happen for you, you will become more stressed and pressured when you feel people are watching or have expectations. This is normal. It happens to everyone. 

If you're just starting on your indie journey or you'd like to sell more books than you currently are, you might want to go check out my book: "Becoming an Indie Author".

You can pick it up at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or Smashwords.

I'll also give away a free digital copy of "Becoming an Indie Author" to one commenter here. To enter, all you need to do is tell me your biggest challenge as an indie if you're currently self-publishing, or the biggest fear holding you back if you aren't.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Guest Post - S. L. Armstrong - Collaborative Writing

Guest Post Goodness! I've been looking forward to today's guest poster for weeks; I'm fascinated by the whole idea of writing in conjunction with another author. It's something I've considered doing before, and would love to try at some point.

But is it practical? Fabulous Indie writer S. L. Armstrong, 50% of the creative talent of Storm Moon Press is here to explain the practicalities of co-writing....

When Chris told me I’d be welcome to add his blog to my blog tour, the topic was a natural one for me. When Chris and I first met, he asked me a bit about what it was like co-authoring with someone. You can’t really explain that in 140 characters, though, so this is my chance to answer that question in detail.

I write with K. Piet on 98% of my fiction. I met her quite a number of years ago when I wrote fanfiction. She was a fan of my work and would often leave me feedback on an old Livejournal, and we conversed a few times in email. Eventually, though, I grew tired of fanfiction and began to write my own fiction, and she followed me as a fan through that transition. About three years ago, I fell into a lull where original fiction was difficult for my brain to conjure and I reverted to role playing. I dragged K. along for that ride and, for almost a year, we role played together using characters from a fandom we both loved.

When the role playing sparked our desire to write fanfiction together, it came easily to us. We began to write AU fanfiction for our fandom, but I quickly grew restless with that as AU fanfiction has never made much sense to me. If we were going to only use the setting the original author created and not the characters, then why not just write our own stuff? K. took a little convincing, as she’d never written before that, but I felt she had a great talent for it. Within weeks, we’d taken my idea for a fantasy world called Egaea that I’d been working on and off for a year on and blew it out into a true world filled with characters.

This cover is awesome!

However, Egaea is a long-term project that will take us years to see to fruition, and we wanted to write and publish other stuff in the meantime. We wrote the initial drafts of The Keeper and Rachmaninoff in late 2008-early 2009, and then sat on the drafts until March of 2010 when we went into business together and formed Storm Moon Press LLC.

It’s been a hell of a journey, I’ll say that, and it’s not always been smiles and happy times. There was a brief rupture between us in April of 2009 that led to us not writing together for about six months, and we didn’t return to our manuscripts with the intent to publish until 2010. It was stressful, I’ll admit, because as much joy that comes with having the interaction of writing with another author, there is the grief that comes when there is a serious falling out. When your work is tied to another person, the loss of that relationship can—and often does—leave unfinished works in limbo.

Luckily, K. and I were able to come to terms we both could live with. I have a very exhausting drive which can wear thin on K., and she has other commitments (family and job) that can frustrate me when we’re looking down the barrel of a deadline. I don’t do well with changes to our routine sprung on me at the last minute, and K. has trouble with feeling as if she’s meeting all my expectations. It can be very stressful and hard, but the rewards are well worth all the trouble.

What rewards, right? Well, for me, there is nothing better than working with someone to develop characters, to form a story. There is such motivation in having someone else involved, to receive instant feedback on any idea you might share. I can’t tell you the number of nights K. and I have stayed up excitedly discussing our next idea or spent on IMs working out how characters interact with each other. I think the best aspect of co-writing with someone is the interactive nature writing then takes on. It becomes a living thing, not an insular, inverted process.

I wouldn’t change how we write. We each have our own projects we write on singularly—usually short stories or little writing exercises—but for the most part, we write together. It’s the together I love, and I have such a great relationship with K. that I can’t imagine not writing without her. We’re in business together, we write together, and we’re great friends. We plan on taking it a step further and move in together so the writing and publishing goes more smoothly. Right now, our biggest obstacle is that I’m in Florida while she’s in Arizona, and having both our personal friendship and our professional relationship 95% virtual wears on us both.

So, yeah. Co-writing is stressful, frustrating, and hard, but at the same time it’s incredibly rewarding, fun, and so very easy. From conception of an idea to the ultimate publication of a novel, it’s interactive, instantaneous, and social, which is something I found missing in my solitary writing days. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. :)

Another Awesome Cover!
Cast the Cards is currently available from Storm Moon Press in various e-book formats as well as a print volume.

The themes and forces represented by Tarot cards are said to govern our lives and our destinies. The story of the cards is the story of our lives -- the accomplishments and the pitfalls, the path from soaring joy to crushing defeat and back again. "Cast the Cards" is a collection of six all-new short stories that explore snapshots of remarkable individuals trying to make their way along that path.

We would like to thank Chris Kelly for the opportunity to visit and share our thoughts!

You're welcome.

You can find me at or on Twitter, or K. Piet at or on Twitter. :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

My House is Not a Nudist Camp! And Other Things Not As Important!

Well, Nanowrimo officially began at 0am this morning. I'm currently 2000 words into Goblins - was hoping for 3k today but there is a huge pile of ironing and no one has clothes. Slight exaggeration there; my house hasn't turned into a nudist's camp or anything.

Now that the important news is out of the way, some Invictus news - it is currently in the top 80,000 in Amazon U.S. and has a lovely little 4 star review. On Amazon U.K. it is in the top 25,000 and the top 100 for Science Fiction > Adventure books, but no reviews yet.

Ideally, I want 5 reviews on each site - if you haven't read Invictus yet, and you want to review it, drop me an email at Scathachpub and I'll let you have a copy for free.

Invictus isn't selling so good but I never really thought it would (okay, so I had a super sekret fantasy of being number 1 in Amazon, but I found out to my cost some years ago about the danger of fantasy becoming reality*) and the point of Invictus wasn't to sell (although it would be great if it brought in enough money for me to get another book out for free).

I got the cover for Goblins for free, and I'll photoshop the covers for WS parts 1 and 2 and Book 1 myself. That's what I'm hoping to release beidfore Christmas. When these start bringing in money, I can hopefully get the covers done.

After that... well, not to give away all my plans but let's just say I didn't release Invictus first because I thought it was the best (it's the best it can be, but it's not the best I can do) or because it was the first ready.

Closer to now, I've got plans to change the way I use (and think about) social media. More on that by the end of this week.

Anyway, click on the link at the top (the Goblins one) to check in on my nano progress. Who else is doing nano? Buddy me - I'm Indiechris on there.

*It involved two very naked double jointed woman, baby oil, Twister, and a visit to Casualty.**
**That might have been a dream I had. Moral of the story is, kids... don't eat cheese before bed.
And watch where you put the lid from the baby oil...