Midsummer Check-in

Reading

All the Single Ladies. I wanted to like this, I truly did. Alas, it rubbed me the wrong way from Chapter 1 all the way through to the conclusion. It read like it started out being one book, and turned into a different one mid-development. The narrative rolled through a pinball machine of feminism-adjacent topics without focus. “Let’s kinda talk about women’s rights in a “then & now” way, but also a little here versus there, and oh, look, SQUIRREL.”

Also, despite nods to racial diversity, economic classism and intersectionality, the window dressing didn’t ring true for me. The author makes loads of sweeping sociological generalizations based on stories from a limited sample of her friends,  studies about people like them, and also some stories about people the editor evidently insisted on including for comparison.

Yes, I’m being mean and cynical. My blog, my interpretation. Did I mention how much I wanted to love this book? Betrayal makes me bitter. This should have been a PHENOMENAL read, but instead I walked away with this impression:

“Golly-gee-whiz, single [white upper-class, educated East Coast urban] women sure have faced a lot of obstacles throughout history and up to the present day! We’ve come a long way, baby, and marriage is a bummer for lots of women now. Go, independence!”

Um. Okay?

The text is packed with statistics, summaries of statistics, thumbnail historical sketches, and anecdotes. Despite the less-than-coherent development, it’s an excellent primer on feminism & politics for someone who knows absolutely nothing of women’s contributions to history or American society. Since I do know those things from other better sources (go ahead, ask me for a list)  I know important things were glossed over, and fast lost patience with the less-than mind-blowing message.

The heavy sprinkling of sub-conclusions like “Getting married messes up important supportive women’s friendships!” and “Male partners/societial pressures force women to make choices against their own best interests as individuals and professionals!” got on my last nerve.  <deep breath> SO DISAPPOINT.

Disclaimer: I have been married more than 30 years. Women’s legal rights were still fresh enough that I had to fight for a credit card and a bank account with only my name on them. I partnered a man who understood why I kept those accounts, bought a car, and paid all utilities in my name only.  Spouseman groks the struggle, and we support each other as equals.

My experience isn’t the norm for my generation, but neither am I a unicorn. The reasons more women are staying single are a lot more varied than this book admits, and most of those reasons are deeply rooted in old system failures rather than fresh new attitudes.

ANYWAY. Grr. Onward.

Empire of Shadows. Much more my thing. History of Yellowstone region written in that chatty, “I’ll spin the yarn in the narrative and stick the scholarly citations at he end” style I love so much.

I finished my All The Grace Burrowes Novels In Print project (she’s a delight, go read her, historical romance fans) and embarked on an Julia Quinn re-read.

Silverthorn. The next Jacey Bedford fantasy. I liked it. The developments are develop-y, the characters and dialogue are fun, and the world-building is neato-keen. Nuff said.

Watching:

  • Killjoys Season 2.
  • Dark Matter Season 2.
  • Finally watched all of Expanse Season 2.
  • I caught up to Daily Show, Samantha Bee & John Oliver (on Youtube) now & then.

STILL HAVEN’T SEEN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2. <many sniffles of self pity>

Spiderman: Homecoming. AKA Spiderman guest-starring Tony Stark & Happy Hogan. I loved it despite major doubts about yet another reboot. Best part? So many dialogue zingers, so many non-whitebread non-cliche characters. The plot was grounded in wonderfully-real teen problems too. Usually Peter Parker gets the Hollywood “sure, he’s a kid, but he’s super-smart, so of course he would behave logically and be taken seriously,” treatment, and I can assure you from personal experience that is not how it works. Best news of all: NOT ANOTHER ORIGIN STORY! WOOOOO!

Other Things:

I have tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers growing happily in my sorta-garden. Teeny cucumbers are popping up behind the blooms, and green tomatoes lurk inside the tomato cage.  The peppers are struggling along this year. The sage as taken over its bed, but the butter lettuce is fighting back. (Lettuce is adorable when it grows tall and bolts up pretty little flowers. Ditto radish plants. That’s a thing I learned this year.)

Mulch has been laid down, and more weed death has been sprayed. Call me Godzilla, stomper of weeds. Transplanting of wayward perennials will occur soon.

I have baked in the new oven, and it works. Blueberries are ripe, and I have socked away sour baking cherries this year too. Scones will definitely keep happening.

That’s all the news outside writing-world. In writing land…I’m getting there. I’m achieving a regular working schedule for the first time in months, and the progress is there on the pages of Heartwood. To ensure the regular butt-in-seat part, I am posting one of my older novels up to Wattpad (link: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger) as a serial, two to three chapters a week.

That’s all from this neck of the woods for now. Ta until later.


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

NOT a 2016 Year-End Post

No, really. It’s only my usual Things I Do lists. This one’s subtitle is “things I made last year,” but that doesn’t make it a year-end summary. It’s about the action, not the annuality. And yes, annuality is a real word.

So what did I do?

A. I published not one, not two, but THREE audiobooks. Both my Restoration novels and my first of my Rough Passages Tale are now in a listenable format. Yes, your library can buy these as well, or they can be downloaded from Audible.com. You can even get it free from Audible without a membership if you email a request to me (dawnrigger at gmail dot com) for a free gift download while supplies last.

B. I published a combined print edition of two novellas I released as ebooks in 2014 & 15. Only $9.99 for a full-length paperback if you want to buy one for someone or to complete
your collection– or you can just put in a purchase request at your local library.

C. I contracted with local graphic artist Nicole Grandinetti for a new Flight Plan cover, I reformatted the interiors, and hired local editor Lynn McAllister to do a final proofing edit. Then I uploaded the results to Kindle Publishing and Createspace. Ta-dah!

Restoration block

D. I made some of my lovely words available to people who only download iBooks or Nook books, or who read through services like Scribd. All my Rough Passages Tales and the Partners Omnibus are now available from a cross-platform distributor called Draft2Digital.

E. I put serious time into a photo manipulation program and designed a new cover for Nightmares so the series would have a more cohesive look. None of my home-designed covers will win any awards, and I loved the original Nightmares graphic, but the new one better represents the storyline.  That’s something, I hope.

RP in a row

But wait, there’s MORE!

F. I bought and registered a block of ISBNs to Dawnrigger Publishing and dove into the long, complicated, tedious process of entering my book information into the Bowker Books In Print database. I’m sure it’s a cakewalk for detail-oriented people, but oy, the details. Yes, it was expensive, but with 9 titles to register in multiple formats — and more to come for certain — it was time.

G. I finished the “final draft” of a novel I’d been fighting for nearly two years. It still needs revision, but it’s complete in more-or-less its final form, and that’s a point I’d nearly despaired of reaching.

H. And then I dug into the challenge of taking a story idea I was heavily invested in keeping short and letting it expand to become the length it wants to be. Heartwood will be at least a novella when it’s complete. I have no idea when I’ll finish it, but it will be finished next, whenever. One major lesson I have accepted this year: I can only aim my energy in one direction at a time.

When I look back, it was a busy year, but I never felt I was moving forward, never noticed the tally growing. Here we are running full tilt into the new year, and still it’s hard to believe. It’s a blind spot, what can I say?

It’s why  I pause to record life every so often to remind myself that I ACCOMPLISHED MORE THAN BREATHING, BY GOLLY. It’s a good feeling.


Postscript: I once did a whole post being clueless about where I’ve been until I look back at what I’ve escaped. 2016 was a year of ugh, yuck, blergh and meh, but it was better in some ways than 2015, which was marginally better than 2014.

Why? Because I started leaking mental sand in early 2014. (No logical explanation. No external causes to analyze. No trauma, no villain. No narrative. Hello, biochemistry. But I digress.)

Everything takes more effort when the brain sand starts spilling out. It’s like running in knee-high water or going up a down escalator. I can keep moving, I’ll make progress, but it’s slow and exhausting. I could think and feel and create when I also clung tight to all those slippery intellectual and emotional grains and pressed them into a functioning mind shape. But whenever I relaxed my guard or got distracted, the crumbling started all over again.

This year was a struggle and full of dire badness, but ideas began sticking together without so much extra daily work. A bright point. I’ll take it.  Hallelujah.

 

Hear it Here!

fp audio1.jpgI released an audiobook in June. It pleases me. It might delight you too. Want a chance to find out for free? Why not?

If you want to listen to my novel Flight Plan for zero dollars, send me a message and an email address through my Facebook page, personal account, Twitter DM or some other form of private contact. I  will gift you a FREE copy.  No Audible membership is required.

Free listening. No strings. Seriously. What’s not to love?

Would I like to see the audiobook reviewed on Audible? Pfft. Of course I would. Come on, I’m an author, and authors crave feedback like…ah, come up with your own comparison. Suffice to say reviews are peachy. But they’re not the point of this exercise.

The point is this: I have promo codes. When people use them I get credit for a read. So of course I want to use them up. I want give away the audiobook, nothing more. A review is not required nor even expected.

Help an author out. Get a free audiobook. Everyone wins. It’s that easy.

Here’s the short form:
1. Flight Plan is now on audio. Get a copy while it’s new, fresh and FREE.
2. Send me a DM on Twitter (@dawnrigger) or official Facebook page with an email
3. Claim your gift on Audible.com at your convenience.  No membership is required. 

PS: I have codes for Book 1: Controlled Descent, too. The books are readable separately, but if you would like a free copy of both so you can listen to them in order, that can be arranged. Just tell me you want both. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.

I even have instructions for how to redeem Audible gift codes. I want to see these babies go. There it is.

This offer lasts until I run out of codes.

So You Want To Make An Audiobook?

It’s easy, and if I can do it, anyone can. Read on, if you’re interested in the how-to.

The good news: I didn’t do the reading and recording. (If  you want to learn voice acting, and invest in equipment, great! I sure as hell didn’t, and I was damned sure no one wanted to listen to squeaky-nasal me read anything.) So I had to find a voice actor and learn how the audiobook creation process worked.

Recommendations from other indie writers pointed me to a site called ACX.com, which pairs up authors with people who want to do audio. (ACX calls them “producers.”) The site also sets up the production contract, distributes the final digital audio to assorted venues, and handles the financial side of the whole process, including royalties.

There are other ways to make audiobooks, I’m sure. If you make one some other way, ACX offers distribution options. There are undoubtedly other ways to distribute audio to sales channels. I can’t speak to those topics, because I liked what I saw at ACX, checked and found no huge red flags that said AVOID! AVOID! and signed up.

Note: ACX.com is one node of the many-tentacled monster known as Amazon, and so is the subscription/sales channel Audible.com. In case that’s a factor, pro or con.  Like Createspace and KDP, ACX offers exclusive or universal distribution options. Like them, it can be considered a great service or an exploitative one.  I respect those who choose to avoid Amazon on principle. Me, I gain enough from their exclusive services to accept the terms. Yes, I’ve done the math, and I’m good at math. I am not being exploited. I am an unknown independent author likely to forever remain obscure.  Gift horses and mouths, beggars and choosers, etc. Pick your saying.

ACX worked for me because they offer a contract option called “royalty-share.”  Instead of paying someone to deliver a finished product for a fee, which I would then own outright (aka “Work for hire”)  the producer makes an audio of the book on spec, and then the author & producer split profits for all sales of the finished product.

This admirably suited my lack of up-front budget. I couldn’t afford to make an audio if I had to pay for a reader and/or the after-reading production. Good narrators charge $50- $500 a finished hour, and my novels run 10+ hours.

Using ACX start to finish meant the whole process cost me no money. Let me emphasize that: the audiobook of my first novel cost me zero $$ out of pocket. I won’t say it was free, because I invested my valuable time in the process, and the loss of “potential profit” created by sharing sales equally with the producer is impossible to calculate. Not to mention that I haven’t bought an ISBN for this edition yet.

(Spare me the lecture on the importance of owning my own ISBNs and blah blah blah. I KNOW. I AGREE. I plan to buy my first 10-batch this year and put out new editions of my titles with my own owned-ISBNs. I will. BUT. When I first published, I didn’t know if I would ever bother doing a third ebook, much less multiple formats for multiple works. At that point–and for the first year of publishing–investing even $100 in ISBNs looked foolish, and having to buy them probably would’ve scared me away from publishing at all. But I digress. As one does, on a blog.)

Bottom line: I didn’t need to have cash on hand to open up a whole new market to my writing. That’s a thing.

And right now I want to run in circles and roll around on the floor like a cat high on catnip. See,  MY AUDIOBOOK IS LIVE!  Look, here’s a picture of the cover:

Controlled Descent Audiobook cover
Click me. Listen to me. I am awesome.

Pretty, isn’t it?  Okay, okay, I’m distracted. Back to how-to.
Two practical concerns for DIY’ers like me:
1. It’s square.
2. the narrator’s name is prominently displayed with mine, which means I couldn’t just squooze my book cover into the right dimensions and be done.
I won’t inflict a “how to make it” guide on anyone. Too much depends on the resolution and size of the book-shaped original, not to mention differing access to graphic manipulation programs and potential rights tussles over the cover imagery. But I will tell you what I did.

I read the ACX production guide to cover requirements, went to free graphics site Canva.com to make the text block, and used free graphic manipulation program GIMP to resize my ebook cover and add the new material. NOTE:  I own the cover design outright, which simplified that issue. Only use graphics you have the right to use commercially.

The cover doesn’t tell you anything about the contents, but a simple click sends you straight to the Audible.com page where prospective customers can read the same blurb they’ll find on Amazon.com and listen to a sample.

And that’s all the attention span I have for this edition of “What Contrarian Karen Does As An Independent Author.”  In a while I will revisit the topic with a Part 2 on how I wrote my ACX pitch, the joys of auditioning narrators, the fun of communicating with narrators, and the nitty-gritty of getting the final product up and running.

 


 

Meanwhile, if you want to read Controlled Descent with your ears rather than your eyes and might feel inclined to write an audiobook review, leave me a comment or a message with an email addy. Audble.com supplied me with freebie codes so I can entice people to listen and leave reviews. They even gave me specific how-to-redeem-your-freebie instructions for doling out along with the codes.

Fair warning: my narrator Brendan McKernan has a phenomenal voice.
And full disclaimer: if using the code from me makes you fall in love with Audible.com and you get suckered in buy a membership after the free trial, I get money out of the deal.