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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Reminders: Podcast and Website

Sunday evening, we’re having our podcast party! Join us at 9 PM EST to hear the next hour of the Shell audiobook! Remember, you can toss a buck at the Patreon and get all the existing hours for download!

Second: some of you have noticed my website is back! I am in the process of revamping and revitalizing and updating it. If you have suggestions or requests (or complaints, but be gentle, I know it’s two years out of date!), now’s the time to hit me with them. I’m in the process of consolidating a lot of pages, and streamlining, and a bunch of other stuff, but anything that might make the site more useable… well, I am all ears! *points at them*

 

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SFWA: Throwing My Hat in the Ring

I believe pretty strongly that you should be the change you want to see in the world, and while we don’t have the time to do that for everything in our lives, we should pick our battles and go at them with all our hearts and strength.

So I’m running for SFWA VP. Here’s my platform statement. Wish me luck!

 

  My name is Maggie and I’m running for the office of SFWA Vice President, because there has yet to be an officer like me in SFWA’s history.

I am an indie writer. My career is a product of the new era of publishing. Every one of my successes has come to me by braving the uncharted waters of an industry in the throes of revolution, and my methods have often been so novel that companies like Kickstarter and ACX have called me to pick my brain about what I’m doing. If there’s some new way to monetize fiction writing, I’m either on it or finding out about it from people who are doing it, and I was crowdfunding fiction on the internet before ‘crowdfunding’ was a buzzword.

These are tumultuous times, but there is unparalleled opportunity in them for genre writers. And overwhelmingly, I want to help my hybrid and trad-published peers find the success they deserve in the new climate. In the past, SFWA was the organization for serious professionals to turn to for advice, help, and companionship on the journey. I want to make SFWA that organization again, now that so many things have changed.

Too, my indie peers are poised to enter the organization, and they need to know they have a voice they can trust among the officers. I’m a known quantity in the indie community, and my election to the VP position will assure them that despite any missteps we’ve made in the past, we are committed to welcoming them into the organization and giving them a voice in its decisions. They know I served on the committee that helped draft the recommendations for the new indie and small press qualifications; I think they’d be favorably impressed to see SFWA put an indie on the Board.

My platform, then, can be reduced to a single goal: I want to help make SFWA the premiere organization for science fiction and fantasy professionals, no matter how they earn their checks. I want to build the initiatives that help our trad and hybrid authors find success in their indie ventures, and help our indies with their experiments in hybrid careers.

Other than my post in both iterations of SFWA’s self-publishing committee and the other volunteer work I’ve done, I have yet to hold any formal position. But my experience as an indie author is invaluable to an organization going through its own sea change, and I’ve been running my own business for over a decade. I’d like to put that entrepreneurial energy to work for you, and I hope you give me the chance to do it.

To the future—

M.C.A. Hogarth

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