Keeping on Keeping on

First: the SF/F marketing podcast from last night is now available on youtube (or as an MP3, if you want to miss the video). I’m pretty sure I was coherent despite being on my last legs! I think in the future I will try not to schedule myself to work after 8 PM. I am not at my best late at night. (And yes, 8 PM is late when you wake up at 5:30 AM!) More on point, though, I had a great time chatting with everyone, and hope I didn’t get too ranttastic when talking about Kickstarter etiquette!

So there’s that..!

The new SFWA membership requirements are live! Indies and small press authors can join us (and many have: the first few hours we got 28 applications!) It is gratifying to have been part of the initiative that got this change enacted, and just in time for the organization’s 50th anniversary. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate five decades of helping career SF/F authors than to embrace the changes that allow more of us to make a living.

I have been quiet because I have been busy. Most days I write 4-6 pages for the novel, and as the end of the book gets closer (and the end of the trilogy), the more focused I get on it, and the less brain I have for other things. I’m looking forward to having that off my mental plate. But in my spare time, I’m doing some maintenance on my website (my bibliography page now has a bibliography, if a rather spare one).

I am also reading a lot. About a quarter of that reading is for pleasure; most of it is research, in the sense that I am reading books that have a similar tone to the one I’m writing. I’ve noticed the whole “read books by authors of this or that category” thing floating around, but I find it perplexing. You can tell very few things about a person’s categories from their name, and researching them as people won’t necessarily tell you all the rest since many folks like to keep some things private.

Honestly, the only category that matters to me as a reader is ‘how were you published.’ Not because I want to discriminate against people published by traditional means, but because their books are usually priced too high for me to afford. :/

I’m not sure this counts as an opinion on the controversy, but it’s what I’ve got.

And now, I go back to work.

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News and Qs

All right! I am trying to keep organized here, but the book is eating me. I’m moving into the denouement now, and looking ahead to a lot of editing of all three books together to ensure continuity before handing them off to first readers and proofers. If I am slow to respond to things, that’s why. I’m sorry about any delays! Please be patient with me so I can finish up this series for your enjoyment!

Meanwhile, news and Qs!

Tuesday, I’ll be a guest on the the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast! This apparently involves a live broadcast via Google Hangouts at 9 PM EST, so you’re all welcome to come see me look simultaneously tired and cheerful. Among other things, I’ll be discussing why indies should consider joining SFWA (timed nicely to coincide with the publication of the indie qualifications on March 1st).

Speaking of indie qualifications, your crowdfunded revenue via sites like Kickstarter will be eligible to get you into SFWA. We might be one of the last organizations to hop on the ‘indies can join as pros’ bandwagon, but I think we’re the first one to acknowledge that crowdfunding counts. I am really proud of all of the people who pushed that through (and not just because they listened to my vociferous and constant arguments that it was necessary. >.> ).

I am currently chatting with the owner of Fictionary about the possibility of creating custom dictionaries for my e-books. Basically, this is a file you download for your e-book reader and set as your primary dictionary, and then pressing on all my alien terms and character names will get you definitions, just as if you were using the device’s stock dictionary! I am still trying to understand the process, but I’m hoping you’re as excited by the possibility as I am. Can you imagine having one of these for the Kherishdar books? No more wracking your brain to remember the language!

I am tentatively scheduling the Shell audiobook podcast for Sunday, March 15th. I have a lot going on in March, so this is (as noted) tentative. But if I can’t swing it then, we’ll have to put it off a month, so I am going to try to hold to that date!

And now, your opinions are needed! I am trying to decide on a good Patreon gift for March (besides the Shell audiobook download). I’m soliciting opinions now! What would you like to receive?

Finally, I’m seeing more reviews cropping up on my books, and I am really grateful to you all. Reviews help sell books! Also, the more reviews I have, the more likely it is the book promotion sites will pick up my books. There are some that won’t even touch books with under 25 reviews, or under 50, and (naturally) those are the good ones! So even your two line ‘this book was great, I enjoyed it’ one-liners count.

Thanks to you all–your word of mouth, reviews, and enthusiasm–I have had my third “as much or more than my day job” income month. From writing! I am crossing my fingers that March will be month four, and that this represents a new plateau. Thanks so much for coming on this adventure with me, and making it possible. :)

And now, to make breakfast for me and hungry Child. She’s been reduced to drawing pictures of bacon and cookies. I think I’d better take care of this before she graduates to trying to fry things on her own. O_O

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Jaguar, the Easily Entertained

Earthrise continues to be free on all outlets, because I’ve observed this to lead to more sales and I like sales. It has a steady rate of download most days… nothing huge or shocking, just a double handful of takers. But once in a while, someone or something points to it as a freebie and then my graphs get way, way bent out of shape. This happened yesterday:


curiousspikeHmm, seyz I. Wonder what that’s about.

A few hours later:

curiousspike2Check out that happy blush!

I go to sleep. This morning I wake up:

curiousspike3Me oh my, the jaguar has fainted!

I’d be surprised if today we didn’t return to a normal rate of download, but it was fun to watch the sudden surge. Hopefully some of the people who picked it up will like it and keep going to Rose Point and Laisrathera: in this I must thank all of you who left reviews on Earthrise, because a book with 40 good reviews looks like a book that 1. lots of people have read, and 2. lots of people have liked. (Those are different metrics, and yes, I suspect a lot of people operate on them, even if only by instinct!) And that only gets better as more people look reviews; I suspect once Earthrise has 100+ reviews, I will be at the point where I could easily stay home on the income I make writing.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the silly doodles, and to take the opportunity to (once again) thank all of you who reviewed the book and recommended it to friends. Y’all are awesome. :)

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Recommended Reads: Jess Owen’s Summer King Chronicles

One question: are you missing books with animal protagonists, in the style of Richard Adams’s Watership Down or Tad Williams’s Tailchaser’s Song? If that answer is yes, you have an entire new series to read. Jess E. Owen does for griffins what those authors did for rabbits and cats, and it is delightful.

The Summer King Chronicles start with Song of the Summer King. Shard is one of a conquered pride of gryfons dwelling on an island with a Nordic climate. He’s desperate to prove that he is loyal to the king despite being of the race of natives who fought against the incursion; he’s even wingbrother to the king’s son. But the king doesn’t trust him, and that mistrust drives everything that follows. Shard, it seems, has a secret… and he doesn’t even know what it is yet.

The next two books, Skyfire and A Shard of Sun, develop the world and the challenges Shard must move through if he is to become the destined Summer King of the series title. They are significant. They involve dragons, wolves, eagles, lions… and a lot of misunderstandings. There’s a lot of painful history to unravel, and it’s all up to Shard and his friends and family to figure out how to make things right again.

There are a lot of reasons to love these books. They’re billed as “all ages” fare, and they are in the best way: the kind of stories you might have read as a tween that you re-read as an adult and think, “Yeah, that still talks about the fundamental stuff that matters.” They are refreshingly clear-eyed about right and wrong; there are laws of nature, and we don’t get to fight them, and morality often involves the understanding that some things can’t be changed. The antagonists in the story are antagonists: they have reasons for what they do, and the chance for forgiveness and redemption lurks everywhere. And there are a multiplicity of wonderful relationships: family and chosen-family; parents and adoptive parents… romance comes to both youthful striplings and old folks who thought they were past such things, and deep friendships are as important as any of those other types of relationships.

The ecosystem is believably described too. If you hate books where the author doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about when evoking nature, here’s a series you can pick up for relief. Owen’s gryfons are also well-done: their body language, their habits, their biology, all of it is consistent. There’s never a moment where you’re jarred from the narrative because, say, a creature with paws has done something that requires hands.

In short, the only bad thing about this series is that it’s not finished yet. I read the first two books, both of which stop at really appalling points. But Book 3, which is launching in March, brings everything to a good pause before the series is due to conclude in Book 4… and each book has been better than the one before, so I’m confident in recommending them. Right now! So go get them! And here’s the author’s twitter and website, if after you’ve read you want to keep an eye out for Book 4.

Go forth, my friends, and binge-read! You will be rewarded. :)


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Hugo Eligibility

I have been nudged! Apparently, you can nominate a series if a book in it has been published in the eligible period… which means that Laisrathera‘s publication last year makes Her Instruments, the trilogy, eligible for this year’s Hugo. If you can nominate, you have until March 10th to weigh in!

Two of you have already prodded me about this, so I stand corrected. Please, do toss my name in the ring if you want to. :)

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February Exclusive Up at Patreon

This year I decided that Patreon patrons should get special content as a thank-you for their support, which I hugely appreciate. Every month those patrons pay a nice chunk of my business expenses; additionally, the decision of so many of you to go through Patreon, rather than sending in Paypal tips simplifies my accounting procedures so much that I’ve gone from spending several hours a month on inputing transactions to a couple of minutes! This time saved is as precious as the money, and frees me to write more (or spend more time resting, or with my family), and I am grateful.

This month’s exclusive just went up, wherein I discuss (with illustrations) the decades-long evolution of the setting of my new romance, Thief of Songs. I hope you all enjoy this sneak peek into the convoluted brain of the writer. :)

If you’d like to start receiving the Patreon exclusives, which include not only the monthly gift but the Jokka audiobook MP3s, dropping your coin in at my Patreon page will get you all of the previously uploaded content along with whatever’s coming up next!

As always, thank you all! You rock!

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Opinions Requested! on Themes

I am doing this marketing exercise, in which I am writing down all the common themes in my work; in essence, I am trying to answer ‘what makes a Jaguar book feel like a Jaguar book’ (or, ‘what do you know you’ll get when you read a Jaguar book, no matter what the story is ostensibly about’). I have some definite ideas, but they’re my ideas, and Lord knows the inside of anyone’s head is often different from reality. I’d like to check them against reality.

When I’ve got a good set of things/themes/etc together, it’ll end up on my website as a way to tell new readers what I’m all about, a sort of elevator pitch for me as an author. “Come for the aliens, stay for the chocolate!” Or something like that.

So I’m asking you all: help! What themes or repeated things do you expect to see in my work when you pick up something by me?

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All the News!

First, scheduling: Podcast tonight! I hope to see some of you all there! We shall have fun! The pre-show officially starts at 9 PM EST, but I’ll probably be camera-testing at 8:30. Watch twitter if you want to jump on it as soon as I start messing with theings.

Second, sales! February is Space Marine Liberation Month, and in honor of that Spots is half off at all retailers this week! Pick up a copy and see what started all the fuss, or buy some for friends/family! Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, B&N; for less than a cup of fancy fancy coffee, you can get several hours of action-packed entertainment.

Third, coloring book interim! While I’m still mulling the Pelted coloring book project, I miss drawing. So I’d like an interim coloring book concept. What would you like to see me do between now and the Pelted?

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Like most American children, I grew up celebrating Valentine’s Day by giving cards and candy to all my classmates–all of them, whether they were special best friends or not–so I don’t associate this holiday with romantic love. In fact, I am confused when I see people making fancy plans for it because I honestly think “Valentine’s? Isn’t that when we give candy to everyone?”

Love is bigger than romance. It’s the love of God, and of friends, and of family. It makes the world a community, and strangers your brethren.

So, in that spirit, I say: Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you have a little candy, and a great day.

Friends are a blessing.

(I made these a few years ago and put them up on Zazzle. Feel free to send the jpeg around to anyone you want to greet today! Spread the warm fuzzies!)


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