The other day a blogger took me to task for being disappointed that one of the blogs that signed up for my tour didn’t post the guest post I gave them, or respond in any way to queries about it. There was going to be a review at that tour stop too…something I’ve come to anticipate, as I’ve gotten only a moderate number so far on the book. Here’s the thing.
There was a bare minimum of effort required for that blogger to meet their commitment. I wrote the post, and I handed it in to them more than a month ahead of time. I provided a free copy of my book and, while that blog does have a review policy that says reviews not guaranteed, they committed to the review when they chose it as an option on the blog tour AND their own policy states that if they just couldn’t finish, or whatever, that they will say so… They said nothing.
Thankfully, the talented Michelle Lee let me borrow her blog space, and, albeit a day late, the Character Interview with LENORE is live (link below). Maybe I have unreasonable expectations, but these things have two-way commitments. I met and exceeded mine, and it’s frustrating and off-putting to have that work ignored. Enough on that. I hope nothing horrible happened in the life of the blogger in question, and I wish them well, but as a cautionary note – if you set up a blog tour, vetting the blogs carefully is important, and one thing I would check is how long it’s been in operation (the blog) and how regularly it’s updated. Also important? Traffic, comments, and popularity. If most of the traffic on a particular post is channeled through my own post about it on my blog, then I didn’t really need that other blog at all…the idea is to diversify and build the audience. I hope I’m doing that. On the up side, 287 people (or so) have signed up to win one of the prizes…
Today’s post is about the birth of Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. It covers the pre-story in Kali’s Tale, and moves on to explain how the book came into being. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Here’s a snippet:
“Eleven months ago, I wrote the following at the beginning of a post at my website and blog:
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
As you can tell from the long list of posts, interviews, and reviews below, I’ve been working this blog tour for quite some time now. In that time, according to Statpress, I’ve had about 7,000 visitors to this blog alone, and about 30,000 page views. That seems like a lot. Here’s the reality of it – no matter how much I write about this book, people don’t seem to be buying it.
I am not a quitter, I am a writer. I invested nearly a month of my life writing posts for this blog tour, and I want to find a way to make it work. If you know people or hang out in places where there are people who like Dark Fantasy, or Edgar Allan Poe, or whatever, please…take a moment or two today and pass on the link to either this blog, or one of the many below. Sign up to win a copy, even if you don’t want it, and then give it to someone who does if you win…
Meanwhile, back near the Dismal Swamp, I am typing the long-lost Cletus J. Diggs novel “The Crazy Case of Foreman James” into the computer, and should move straight from that into “A Midnight Dreary,” Book V of the DeChance Chronicles… The words they won’t stop rollin’, no they just slow down…
Today’s post is over at the Paranormal Book Club. It’s not about Nevermore, per se. It’s about Donovan DeChance, and all the characters, stories, and books that led to the writing of Nevermore. Here’s a snippet:
“The DeChance Chronicles & Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe
I’ve written a lot of guest posts on this blog tour in support of my newest novel, Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe but I think it’s about time I spent a little time on the books that have come before, and the characters who made Nevermore possible.
I have written four books, so far, about a man named Donovan DeChance. Donovan is a mage, book collector, investigator, and self-appointed guardian of the balance of power in the world. He has a familiar, an Egyptian Mau grown at least twice as large as it should have. Her name is Cleo. In later books, he also has an old Crow named Asmodeus. His partner and romantic interest is a woman named Amethyst, who is an expert in the uses of stones and crystals.
As a younger man, I wrote a lot of licensed fiction. I did a Dark Ages vampire trilogy for White Wolf titled The Grails Covenant Trilogy, as well as several clan novels and standalone books. All of the time I worked on those novels, I was chomping at the bit. I pitched idea after idea, but they had a vision in mind for what their books would be, how their characters would act, etc. It was confining, and in the end, soul-sucking, and so I moved on to writing my own novels in my own worlds.” — Read the Entire Post at The Paranormal Book Club ->
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
1) FACEBOOK: Here’s the thing. You can amass huge numbers of ‘friends’ on Facebook. Maybe, as in my case, you have at least a vague idea why each of them is there, maybe you just clicked and clicked to get the numbers rolling. Either way, you are not going to be able to resist trying to sell books there, so here’s a good, and a bad thing about Facebook.
GOOD – All of those with enough interest to follow you will know when you have a new book out, and some of them will read, review, and buy it. Probably not very meany, because all 2,000 or so of THEIR ‘friends’ also have books, or etsy shops, or Kickstarters for videos of their cats with toy balloons, and they are busy marketing and socializing, just like you. (Note that tis “Good” is not all that good)
BAD – most of the people who will see your posts on Facebook already know you. They already know you write, they already know about your books, and have probably already made their decision about buying them. Each time you tell them AGAIN, the filter around your posts grows, and you fall further into the gray area. Facebook marketing, unless you spend a bunch of money on it, generally just markets to the same small group of folks, and in the case of authors mostly markets to other writers trying to market to you.
TWITTER: You may, like me, love the quick, witty banter of a service like Twitter. I’ve made some long-standing friends there, and I’ve been with the service for a very long time. Here are my good, and bad thoughts on Twitter marketing.
GOOD: – if you play your cards right, interact with a lot of people, build relationships and (holy grail of twitter) get onto the radar of people with real reach, Twitter can push the news of your new book a long way. A single post about your book from the right celebrity can send people scurrying to see why their idol suggested it. A simple retweet of a post asking to be retweeted has a lot less gas than one that actually originates with the celebrity I am NOT saying you should start pummeling celebrities … just that if you can get their notice, you can sell books.
BAD – barring the time spent building relationships and the celebrity connections, if you mostly tweet over and over about your book, new reviews of your book, new places to buy your book, etc… lots of links with the words switched around? No one is going to follow those links. No one likes impersonal advertising, and particularly on Twitter, where interaction is the name of the game, spammy, scheduled posts about books people have already seen a hundred spammy scheduled posts about are more likely to prevent sales than to win them.
FREE GIVEAWAYS: There was a time when this was a great idea. There have always been proponents of this method, and it doesn’t take much research to see that most of those really successful proponents were already well-known before they tried it. Like anything else, it works better for a popular author than an unknown.
GOOD: – If you make use of the sites that will announce your book, plan ahead for your giveaway to be sure it’s promoted far and wide – plan the dates carefully and make sure the book you choose has good reviews / etc. you can really spread the word about your work. If you are lucky enough to land a slot somewhere like Bookbub or Boookblast, the freebie can get real legs.
BAD: – Barring something amazing, follow-on sales are sketchy. At one time Amazon counted free sales as “something” but now they have separate lists. Once your free promotion is over, you go back to being ranked 650,000 that very second. If you get lucky, you might coast a while on sales from the curious who found your book through a free promotion, got to it too late, and bought it anyway, but the lasting effect of free giveaways is not what it once was, and not likely to spur huge sales. Also, if you get in the habit of doing these, interested readers just wait for each took to be free. Also, some of the best promotions for what I will talk abut next, sale pricing, will not accept a book that has been recently free.
THE GOOD – The .99, $1.99 and even $2.99 sale price is what the free giveaway used to be. This method can work wonders, if you handle it correctly, and if you are patient but according to the experts in Tampa internet marketing, you are going to need reviews. I don’t think it’s wise to start such a promotion without 7-10 positive reviews, and it’s probably better to have more. Plan your sale in advance. There are services like Book Gorilla, Book Bub, Book Blast, where you can request a promotional day far in advance. If they accept you, they cost money. Spend that wisely. Ranked in effectiveness, Book Bub has worked by far the best, but is the hardest to get into. Book Blast has worked well for us, and is also much more economical than either of the others. Book Gorilla seems not to have much affect on sales, but I have only been involved with it once, and have one friend who used it. Sales were not affected much. Note that Book Bub and Book Blast give you average download and sales numbers, while Book Gorilla – much like Kindle Nation Daily – only tells you how sales ranks changed, which can be accomplished with a very small number of sales. The idea of the sale price is to get a lot of momentum, move up the sales chart, and then go back to normal price and try to sustain those sales. The REALLY good thing about this is that whatever boost in sales rank you get – you keep it at the end of the promotion.
THE BAD – It doesn’t always work. If you don’t promote it well, no one will see it – because no one was seeing it before the sale price. If you try it as the sole means of promotion, you’ll just make less on the few sales you manage. No promotion is any better than the effort put into it and the reach of its visibility. Combining this with the first two, Facebook and Twitter, won’t help that much because – again – those people already know about your book.
BOOK BLOGS: – This is not a new thing, but it has grown into a PROLIFIC thing . A lot of people have set up shop reviewing books, talking about books, creating book clubs for group reads…here’s what I know about them.
THE GOOD – you can reach a solid network of readers if you can get your book into the right book blogs. There are book bloggers with huge followings, not only on their blogs, but in their entire social media networks – you tube channels, Twitter, FB, Google +, etc. They can really create a buzz if your book catches their attention.
THE BAD – Just like with any good marketing source, there are a limited number of book blogs with the reach to really help sell books, and in those blogs, there are a limited number of slots for book promotion. Most reviewers and book bloggers have policies on submission of titles, and most of the really good ones have become difficult or impossible to get into if you weren’t part of their network early on – or don’t manage to become part of their network later on. Some have even grown into big book sites, with hundreds of thousands of followers. Just like getting a celebrity to endorse your book – good luck getting into one of the important book blogs. It’s not impossible, but is’t not easy. The sad fact is that, while you might get another good Amazon review out of a blog post about your book – and that’s a valuable thing in combination with other promotions – most blogs are still fighting to find an audience. A good gauge of how much reach you can get from a blog is to check the average number of comments they receive on posts. I’ve been blogging here forever. My traffic is (theoretically) pretty good. No one ever comments. Well, almost never. They might today, since i’m talking about book marketing again…
When I have finished it, I will blog about my blog tour – still ongoing. The jury is still out on this… You can be part of it by checking out all the posts, and interviews, and reviews that have accumulated this far. Today I have a post over at FIERCE DOLAN’S blog – about romance in books, the erotic, and the subtle. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE….
ALSO – for those interested, I have posted a story here from my collection Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions. I wrote it when I was sort of caught up in the edges of the literary fiction scene… the poseurs and the literati, the infighting for a slot in the oh-so-posh pays not a cent hip ‘zine of the day. It’s titled “Pretty Boys in Blue With Long Hair Dangling,” and it’s available from the Short Fiction Excerpts menu at the top of the page.
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
So, I’ve been conducting this blog tour for some time now. Today I’m nearly at twenty separate posts, trying to convince you that the read you must complete this summer is Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. I think I must not be very good at this – I’ve averaged about one sale per post…but I slog on – it’s what writers do.
On an unrelated note – while my beloved San Diego Chargers did not win their first preseason game, the “starters” were nearly unstoppable. I am pleased. In honor of that today’s featured image is NOT a cute cat, but my favorite football lol – a shot taken from a game between the JETS (note this – it’s important) and the Chargers a few years back.
I discovered something very cool on Friday. I found the lost, hand-written manuscript to a novel that was well on its way to completion. “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Crazy Case of Foreman James”. I wrote this in small bursts just before going to sleep each night. I was well into the book when we finally sold our old historic home in Hertford, NC and moved to the new house in the county. During that move…the notebook disappeared. Lost. Gone. No sign of it, and I had (at that point) only typed out about 1,000 words of it. NOT a good feeling, I can tell you. On the other hand, FINDING that after all this time has been a very cool thing, and I’ve been busily typing it into the computer so that I can move on, finish the story, and get it out to the world.
While I’m working on that, though, you should all pop over to “What Reader’s Want” – where you’ll find today’s blog post on why I’m glad Nevermore did not come out from a traditional publisher…and you should get yourself a copy of the book. It’s discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for the length of the tour. You can get the print editions at a bargain price at the Crossroad Press Store … the audiobook is amazing, thanks to narrator Gigi Shane… Go have a visit with Edgar.
Here’s an excerpt from today’s post, and a link to the rest!
“I am here to talk about my new novel, Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. One of the questions I’ve been asked over and over again is – what type of book is it? What genre? Where would it be shelved? Let me tell you, this is a question I’ve come to hate – and I believe it’s probably among the most hated questions asked of most authors, because the simple fact is – it’s a novel. It has romance. It has dark fantasy. It has magic, and history, and even alternate history. It’s got action and adventure, and could probably be shelved without anyone batting an eye in the horror section, the urban fantasy section, and the paranormal romance section of a major bookstore.
The simple truth is, if my book got stuck on any of those shelves, I think a lot of people who would love it would never see it…” =>Read the entire post at the What Readers Want blog!
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
by David Niall Wilson
(with a nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
In Katmandu did Bob the Man
A Detroit Rockin’dream decree:
Where Jim the Lizard King once sang
As acid left its sizzling tang
On the tongues of a human sea.
So twice five thousand screaming fans
With flow’rd tie dye girdled round:
And there were acid trails and colored aura’s bright,
Where swayed a score of incense-bearing priests ;
And here were sounds as primal as the light,
Enfolding all in ethereal dreams.
But oh ! that deep and rhythmic passion pounded
Echoed deep beneath the f-holes graceful curves !
A savage sound! as holy and enchanted
As e’er from Marshall Stacks and strings incanted
By rocker screaming to his demon lover!
And from the stage with dry ice smoke clouds seething,
As if his soul leaked from his fingers, bleeding,
A haze of purple momently was forced :
Amid whose scintillating bursts
And scales that vaulted like rebounding hail
Or tasty hemp beneath the thresher’s flail :
And ‘mid these dancing rockers, once and ever
Music undulated, formed a sacred river.
Five melodies meandering with a mazy motion
Deep Purple backbeats rolled and ran,
Through deep, harmonic caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a mindless ocean :
Amid the tumult all could hear him from afar,
Jimi prophesying on guitar !
The shadow of a generation hovered,
Floating on the sound and rode the waves ;
As veils were lifted, and their minds discovered
The Song Remains the Same beyond the grave;
It was a miracle of rare device,
A pleasure dome beyond all human price !
Elvis in a pompadour
In a concert once I saw,
He was a vision burning bright,
And on that empty stage he played,
Ensconced within a holy pearly light.
Could I remember clearly
What the chemicals portrayed,
To such a high it would return me
That with music loud and strong,
I would play that holy sound
In Katmandu, with Bob the Man
That Purple Haze, That bluesy sound,
And all who heard would see them there,
And dream of Godspell, and of Hair,
Weave a circle round them thrice,
And close your eyes, then bow your heads,
For they, on dreams and acid fed,
And climbed the stairs to Paradise.
I must have been on a history kick. Today’s post, while not like yesterdays, which dealt with using history and research to find and flesh out ideas for your fiction, is also about history. Personal history. In this post – which is hosted by FLY HIGH – one of the fine blogs on my Nevermore blog tour, I talk about the settings I’ve created – San Valencez, Old Mill, Random Illinois, and where they came from. I promise I’ll be back to posting about some other things soon, but I’m committed to getting a few of you to actually read Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. Anyone who thinks that 30 books and more than 25 years of gathering fans makes it easier to find readers isn’t paying attention. I have a lot of friends, even more acquaintances, get a lot of positive comments and good mentions by others – but I am my own publisher on this book. I know how many copies have, and have not sold, and I know that despite the huge push I’ve been giving this in every venue I can find, most people are saying, oh, that looks cool – and walking away… I want more of you to read my book. After all, I wrote it for you…
Here is a short bit of today’s post:
“Anyone familiar with my work (and I say this with a smile, because I’m aware that’s not as large a group as it ought to be) knows that I love history. I also have opinions about it, which I’ve written about before. I doubt very sincerely that very much of what we know of the events of our past is accurate. We have history books. We have journalistic accounts. We have diaries and biographies and even stories passed through families from generation to generation, but all of them are colored by society, prejudice, and simple error. None of that is what matters. What matters is that we keep that past alive – that we don’t let our history escape us.
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
When I thought about what would work best for another post about Nevermore, I thought maybe I should write about why I wrote the book, and a little bit about myself for those of you reading here for the first time. I’ve written a lot about Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe in the short time it’s been available, but when I thought about why I wrote it – I realized there was at least one reason I had not yet touched on.
I can’t resist a mystery. I was led to this story by things I discovered researching an earlier novel, and one of the things that I discovered I realized had been bothering me for a very long time. One of my favorite poems is The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s dark, tragic, a tale of loss and pain – and at it’s core, there is a mystery. Who is Lenore? Research on the subject turned up a number of remote possibilities, but nothing even close to a definitive answer.
Why the raven? What does the bird symbolize? We know that Ravens are psychopomps – that they help to usher the souls of the living into the next world. We’ve seen The Crow – and those dark birds are magic. Whose spirit did Poe write about? His wife was on her deathbed. His parents were dead. Even the girl for whom he wrote his first love poem died. There is no sign, however, of a Lenore and Edgar was a talented poet. He didn’t need to make up a name to play for the rhyme.
I decided to play one of my favorite games as an author. “What if it happened this way?”
I intended this story to be a short flashback in the next volume of The DeChance Chronicles. My main protagonist, Donovan DeChance (who also has a raven – Asmodeus) met Poe long ago near The Great Dismal Swamp, and he hinted about that in Kali’s Tale, book IV of The DeChance Chronicles. I expected to do a short rundown of that meeting and move on to the story I had plotted in my head, but Edgar and Lenore had other ideas.
So I wrote a story of The Great Dismal Swamp. I added a poet with a dying wife, an artist named Lenore who was compelled to release the images of spirits she saw trapped in the trees and water, stones and walls around her, a crow named Grimm, and – a surprise even to me – a revised fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm – who actually wrote a story titled “The Raven” long, long ago.
I wrote Nevermore because I wanted to be a part of something old, and wonderful. I wanted my own dream of what might have happened in that place, so long ago, to join with the stories of and about Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to write more about The Great Dismal Swamp, which is near my home and a place I dearly love. I wanted, in short, to tell a story, and I hope you’re going to read it – and love it.
I’ve been writing for what seems like forever. My first novel was published in 1987- it was the Star Trek Voyager novel Chrysalis – but that was not the first I sold. My first truly original book was a novel titled This is My Blood– which is sort of a cult classic. In that novel, I played that game for the first time – What if it happened this way? – and I did that by writing excerpts from the Book of the Gospel According to Judas Iscariot, and by suggesting that when Christ was in the desert, he was tempted with one last thing – a woman – Mary Magdalene, a fallen angel raised by Lucifer. Instead of tempting him, she fell in love and wanted to return to Heaven.
In that novel I also wrote about Lilith, vampires, and a lot of other things. It is still probably my most popular novel. What if is definitely still my favorite game. Here is a short excerpt from Nevermore.
“The room had a small chest of drawers along the side wall, and he carefully unpacked and stored his clothing. Next he pulled out the book he was reading, a novella titled Carmen, by Prosper Mérimée, and his worn copy of Children’s and Household Tales – or – Grimm’s Fairy Tales. He set these aside almost without thought and drew forth a thick sheaf of papers bound in a ribbon, his pens, and a small bottle of ink. He glanced at the window. Through the curtains he saw that there was a light. He placed the ink, pens, and paper on the table that rested against the wall beneath the window and pulled the curtain aside curiously.
To the right, along the back of the building and on toward the tavern, only the moonlight shone down to illuminate the trees lining the near side of the Intercoastal Waterway. To the left, however, at the very corner of the building, flickering lamplight danced outside the window of the room adjacent to his.
What had the tavern keeper said? Miss MacReady? And the boy, Tom? “She’s up all hours…”
It seemed that it was true. Edgar smiled. He was no stranger to late nights. He sometimes believed he would be unable to write at all if it were not for the long hours between dusk and dawn, when the world quieted, after a fashion, the light flickered, the paper took on a yellow lamp-light hue, and his imagination wandered. He thought of his desk, and his home – and that brought him to thoughts of his wife, Virginia, and her failing health.
He turned abruptly back to the chair and opened a side-pocket on his bag. He pulled free a large, silver-plated flask and carried it to the table. The wind was picking up outside, blowing in from the south. Trees swayed, and the roaring throaty breath of the storm teased along the walls and through the slats of the roof. It was a proper night for writing, and only the words – and the whiskey – could draw him up and out of the cloud of despair that was his constant traveling companion.
Virginia was always on his mind. Theirs had been a troubled relationship from the beginning, their familial ties, and the girl’s age, but he’d seen something in her – some fragile beauty – that completed him. Now – having filled the hole in his heart, she withered, and he felt the pain like a fist squeezing the light from his world.
If only she’d listen to him. If only the things he knew – the things he could do – could ease her pain. There were curatives – elixirs – potions and charms. He knew he could restore her health, but she would not allow it. Not at what she considered to be the cost of her soul. Not if it meant becoming part and parcel to the powers that swam through the darker recesses of his mind. It was likely that she had trouble deciding if he were evil, or simply mad.
He knew that, despite her wishes, he could save her, but if he did, she would hate him. She would not be happy, and making her happy was all that he craved. Instead, she died, and he drank, and he wrote and he prayed that when all the smoke and dust had cleared that something of worth would remain.
A dark shape dropped through the light from the MacReady woman’s lantern. Edgar walked to the window, glanced out, and actually smiled. He unfastened the sash and lifted the window a crack. The scents of blooming flowers and impending storm wafted in. He lifted the window a bit farther, and with a hop, a large crow landed on the windowsill, then dropped into the room with a thud. It sat glaring at him for a moment, and then, as if satisfied in some way, began to busily and noisily preen its feathers.
“Good evening, Grimm.” Edgar said with a slight, mock bow. “And it is good to see you too. Perhaps I shall groom my mustache while you are busy, as a show of camaraderie?”
The bird glanced up at him, and then continued working over its tail feathers in complete indifference.
Edgar closed the window and took a seat at the table. He arranged his papers carefully, gathering those he’d written the night before on top of a larger stack of blank sheets. He always began by re-reading what he’d just finished. It served as a quick pre-edit, and it dropped him back into the story with a fresh ‘reader’s’ perspective of the work.
“Perhaps,” he said conversationally, “I shall write a story about a bird – a great black one who is too often inattentive. Grave things might happen to such a creature, don’t you think?”
The crow didn’t even bother to glance up at this. Edgar chuckled, and turned to the pages before him. He had meant to write a story of romance and intrigue, but as he read, he saw that – once again – the melancholy that served as his muse had taken over and driven dark spikes between the pages. It was clear that one lover must die at the hand of the other, and that the mystery would depend on the circumstances. The young man in the story was quite mad – as was so often the case – mad and absolutely brilliant. Misunderstood. Lonely.”
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
Today – day four of the blog tour – there are two sites to visit. That’s just how it works sometimes, I supposed. To keep it “shaken up” however, one is a guest post about how I work with history in my fiction – the other is an interview with me over at HSIB where I am the featured author / book of the day.
I hope you are all following these links…reading what I wrote. I put a lot of time into this. If you don’t believe that coming up with something interesting 27 times in a row without a break is hard, give it a try …
Sales are slightly up on Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe – but I hope you’ll give it a try. If you are reading this, you (at least in theory) are interested in my work. If reviews and reactions are to be believed, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done. If you are a long time fan, you’ll find some familiar faces in the pages of the book, and you’ll want to know what happened before I finish Book V of the The DeChance Chronicles.
Anyway… today’s fare:
Today’s Guest Post is at Romance Author Melissa Keir’s Site – Sexy Between the Covers – titled “History is in the Point of View.”
“History is in the Point of View
One of my favorite things to do as an author is to take a story, legend, bit of history, or something else very familiar to people, and look for the holes in it. Most history is reported by survivors, for instance, and nearly all of what we think we know of the past is skewed, just like the evening news, in one direction or another. In broad strokes, we can see the outcomes of things that have happened, but the reality of how they happened, well, that’s always up for debate.” ==> READ THE ENTIRE POST AT MELISSA’S BLOG!
Today’s interview is the HBS Author’s Spotlight:
“Congratulations on your new novel: Nevermore. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I never have just one thing in progress these days. I am working on Book V of the DeChance Chronicles, which I can only say continues on both from Book IV, Kali’s Tale, but also from Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. Nevermore really should be marked book 4.5 – even though Donovan DeChance only appears very shortly, because it is the lead-in to all that happens in book V – working title – A Midnight Dreary. Originally, the story that is Nevermore was intended as a flashback. It just grew beyond expectations.
At the same time, I am working on a Young Adult novel titled HOODS that I expect to become a series as well. It involves a group of teenagers in an inner city environment who have unique abilities. Sort of like “Alphas” or “Heroes” but gritty.
Along with this, I’m working on a long-term project titled Tattered Remnants that is a serial killer novel, of sorts…nothing I write is easily classified, but I think I like it that way. It helps me (over time) reach a wider readership, and keeps me from getting pigeonholed as this or that sort of author. I’m a storyteller. I have a lot of stories to tell, and not all of them are the same kind…
You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?
I find that Social Media is a very frustrating marketing environment…” ==> READ THE INTERVIEW AT THE HBS SITE
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Before I get too far into describing this novel, I want to talk a bit about where it came from. First off, it was a novel that I never would have written left to my own devices. That said, once I had decided that I DID want to write it, I ran into one of the walls in publishing that irritates me the most. An agent who – rather than really being interested in my work, my vision, my voice, etc. – really only wanted someone who could write another “Da Vinci Code” before it lost its appeal and she had to come up with another thing to try and make her authors copy. Authors – write what moves you. Anything other than this will result in – at best – lukewarm, mediocre writing. A worst? It will make you want to stop writing altogether, and then you begin to cave in to entropy and the great boredom that binds. I mean this with all my heart. If you are going to write, write thing that matter to you because there is no way in hell they will matter to someone else if you don’t.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Agents work for writers. That’s the dynamic that works. That is no longer the dynamic in the publishing industry, and it’s a bad, horrible, spit it from your mouth thing. You should NOT spend your hours and nights and weeks and even years banging your head on some agent’s desk trying to write what they think is the next big thing. A: They may have a connection to sell books to, but they are no more qualified to call the next big thing than the editors who – in general – ignore THEM in the same way they ignore you. You may, or may not write the next big thing, but your odds drop astronomically when you stop writing what you want/need to write and start trying to please “the machine”. If your agent makes you feel as if you work for them, that you have to curry their favor? They aren’t agents at all. It’s not what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to have faith in YOU, YOUR talent, and YOUR vision…if they don’t they should represent someone else, and you should have nothing to do with them because -from my experience and that of many others, the odds are you will sell most of your own books over your career. The agent may, or may not help with contracts – but they WILL collect 15 percent of everything you make. They should earn it, not make you feel as if you work for them…and yet pay them.
Anyway…The Orffyreus Wheel was one of several ideas I came up with for a particular agent. She wanted me to write something like The Da Vinci Code. I came to her with several proposals – all of which she wanted three chapters and an outline for – none of which she could – in the end – be bothered to represent. When I finally figured out she was killing my ability to work at all, I cut that anchor chain – and began writing again. I sold a bunch of books fairly quickly, and during that time, I wrote The Orffyreus Wheel because, though the prod to go and find this story came from elsewhere, once I DID find it, I was fascinated, and knew it needed to be completed.
It’s relevant. Whether or not Johann Bessler invented a perpetual motion wheel that could have pumped water virtually forever, barring worn out hardware, is a moot point. What would happen if someone presented such a constant, free energy source to the world is not. The fuel and power behind our world is controlled by people who consider most of the rest of us bugs. If they didn’t need the bugs to use their energy, they’d do away with us cheerfully. Witness the billion dollar severance pay-outs for oil execs and the fact that bankers who run failed banks and ruin people are still rich. They would not be on board with a good, clean, free energy source -they would want to either own it – or destroy all knowledge of it. Don’t even get me started about what the government might do with it.
That is the basis of half of my novel. It runs on twin timelines – one in the past, a fictionalized version of the life of one Johann Bessler, the invention of his wheel, the power struggles that ensued, the hatred from his peers, where it all led. In the present – an heir with the keys to that same secret, and enemies so large and dark she can barely comprehend them.
This is a thriller. It is also a historical novel. It is fast-paced and I think, intriguing. It was published as a serial by “Amazon Shorts,” one of the old Amazon programs – and was a bestseller in that program, but the program died just as the last segments were going live, and the book fizzled. I brought it back as an eBook, revised and cleaned up – it’s also available as an unabridged audiobook….one day before long it will finally see print.
This Wednesday and Thursday – it will be a free eBook on Amazon.com and I hope you’ll take a chance on it. It was not a book I would have found and written on my own, and for that much I thank Dan Brown and that old, not-very-helpful agent. It’s notable that once I sold one of the other books she did not like – The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, she had the temerity to write, congratulating me on my success and ask if I needed her to represent it… Seriously. That happened. I managed to keep a civil tongue and bid her adieu.
There are stories to write, you see, and every one of the stories she told me I should not write are now published…some with a degree of success, and NONE paying her fifteen percent for hating them. I’ll count that in the win column! If you are an audio lover, you can buy the eBook for $3.99 and receive the “Whispersync for Voice Ready” audiobook for $1.99 – narrated by Ian Alexander. If you download it later this week for free – you can STILL get the audio for $1.99. Come on – let me tell you a story.
- Write what you know.
- POV Matters.
I’m not much for cut-and-dried rules; I write what I write, and I write ‘how’ I write, but sometimes I can go back after the fact and pick out some things that are important. Since this week I’m talking about my novel, This is My Blood, I thought I’d start with that.
When I parted ways with organized religion, the insides of my psyche were not a pretty sight. I had issues. I had some anger, too. Mostly, though, it was growing pains. I was drawn into the “fold” the way many are – I was young, lonely – girls asked me to a Bible study (pretty girls) – it gave me a sense of belonging, and, for a while the notion that I knew something important. I’m not planning on bashing religion in this post. I’ll say that I write fiction, and it can be powerful. Ancient people wrote fiction too, and just because it helped them get through the night, and the stories were passed down from generation to generation, I see no reason to consider them more than they are. Fiction. The world does not need Gods or higher powers to believe in – it needs men to step up and take responsibility for their own good, and bad works.
In any case, there I was. I had recently decided NOT to become a campus minister, but had studied quite a lot toward that end. I had a wealth of biblical knowledge, and some very strong ideas about what I did NOT like about Christianity. It had nothing to do with Jesus, or with God – for that matter, though he seemed (and still seems) far too clinical, judgmental, and violent for my taste. It had to do with rules, with the men who made and enforced those rules, and the hypocritical nature inherent in anything important that becomes ‘organized.’
I started with my plot – it was straightforward. Someone near Jesus would be cursed with vampirism. I did not want to change the main story. I did not want (as many suggested I should) to turn it into some sort of cosmic romance novel. I had something to say, and I needed the proper voice to say it. So I started with what I knew.
Religion – particularly Christianity – is based on faith. You don’t’ get to know things, you have to trust…God, The Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Church. You just take what they say on “faith” and forge ahead. That is the flaw. It is not enough, and it never was enough, because men are creatures of intellect. We can think for ourselves (and should do so) and in a faith-based system, that’s not only frowned upon, but you are told in many cases that the thoughts and facts you encounter are just tests from some dark, evil entity trying to lure you from the fold. Clearly, then, none of the men surrounding Jesus was going to be able to tell the story as I wanted it told. It had to be someone who knew the truth. Someone who had walked where Jesus had walked, had absolutely no doubt there was a Heaven, and a Hell – someone without the false support of faith crumbling beneath their feet.
I chose an angel. I chose to have Lucifer raise one of the fallen in the form of a woman, ostensibly to test Jesus’ will to resist temptations of the flesh, but in my mind, to provide the perspective – the point of view – that could make my book more than a vampire story.
I don’t want to get mired in talking about that book, because I want you to go and read it. I’m greedy like that. I love feedback. The point is, as Mary often tells us in the novel, she has walked the roads of both Heaven, and Hell, and her memory will suffice. She was disgusted by the greed and infighting among the apostles, astonished at the blindness of those witnessing miracles, and five minutes later arguing over points of “law” as if their opinions mattered a whit. She knew what was at stake, and so, as she walked along through the gospel of Judas Iscariot, she was the perfect voice to comment on things that had been left unsaid, to voice the concerns and fears that the Bible ignores.
She was MY voice, my message to my past, and my hope for the future.
I call these posts “Writing What Hurts” for a reason. When you are really writing, everything about the words matters to you. Sometimes you are just storytelling. Sometimes you are fulfilling commitments, or putting bread on the table. Other times, like the time I spent writing This is My Blood¸ you are consumed by the work – obsessed with it – invested so deeply that every comment, every reaction, every turned page matters to you. If Clive Barker is right, and we are all books of blood, then our best work is flesh torn from our hearts.
When you decide what your book is about, think about who is involved. Think about all of the points of view from which the story could be told, the problems inherent in each, the gains and take-aways of each choice. Think about how you want your readers to react, and to which characters – and events. Choose your book’s voice wisely, and stay true to it. You may find that, by the time the work is done, you’ve learned as much as you’ve taught.
Now, as I’m certain I’ve caught your attention – Buy This is My Blood now at Amazon.com…