Categories
Authoring Cons & Appearances Writing Life

Come to Pittsburgh, it’ll Be FUN!

TL;DR summary: I’m going to Pittsburgh this week! Lots of amazing authors will be in Pittsburgh! You can meet them for free & get autographs!

Why Pittsburgh? So glad you asked. It’s the Nebula Awards Conference Weekend, a traveling event held annually by The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (aka SFWA)

There will be loads of professional development panels for authors and the big Nebula Awards Ceremony, but the reason I’m sharing  is that the event also has a super cool tradition called the Mass Autographing.

Open to the public. Here be all the official bits: https://nebulas.sfwa.org/autographing-event-sunday-may-20/

Basically if you’re within a distance of Pittsburgh where you can be at the Pittsburgh City Cetner Marriott Sunday May 20, 1-3, and you’re interested in excellent science fiction & fantasy books, you really should come to this event!

You can meet loads of authors–Nebula Award nominated, and Nebula Award WINNING authors–they’ll be there, and they’ll all have books available for purchase too.

Also there will be me. With my books. Not nominated books, and I’m not a SFWA member (not yet! SOMEDAY!) but I will be at the conference absorbing knowledge and maybe helping out if I can.

And so I will also have my excellent books for sale at the event Book Depot. In case anyone wants them.

What about next year? Will I go to the SFWA conference then? Maybe.  Depends on where it’s held, and even more it depends on whether I make enough sales to become a member. I’m not sure how long I can justify attending when I’m still not making enough sales to qualify as a member. Maybe forever? Maybe not. I get more self-conscious and nervous about it every year.

But that’s next year, and I’m not sure what next year will bring.  For sure it will be an adventure.

This year? PITTSBURGH, HERE I COME!

Categories
Authoring Promotion Writing Life

Books In Progress, And Other Happenings

Thing the First:

Rough Passages WILL be releasing as a collection this year. Hopefully at the end of October because I’d like to have copies for WindyCon (which I will once again be attending as a helper at the Games Plus table with a little display of my own books.)

First new book release in over two years means promoting said book on social media & elsewhere. It means begging for review readers. I means shouting this book’s praises to the rafters and the sky. It means asking brave, loyal, amazing fans, to go that step beyond reading it yourselves to sharing  it with more friends, co-workers, acquaintances, total strangers, and mortal enemies. It will mean talking to people. 

And that’s hard. I am not a Peppy Person. I don’t rally troops. Cheerful, pushy perkiness gives me hives.  I’ll ask nicely and often for support and sing my book’s praises with honest, passionate enthusiasm–but I know myself well enough to admit I’ll get crabby after banging my head against the apathy wall once too often.

Why mention that downer? Full disclosure. I do not paint smiley faces around slashes in my heart to make the pain look prettier.  I might cut off at the knees anyone who suggests I should minimize my troubles and “look at the bright side” instead. It isn’t a healthy coping strategy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Mute or disassociate as needed.

So I beg you, bear with me as I stumble through the trials of a New Release Phase in my own uncomfortable way, coping with sarcasm, bitter humor, and occasional flailing.

Thing the Second (a cheerier thing, I promise)

I’ve been keeping this one under my hat for almost a year.  I’m helping a friend publish some books she wrote for her grandchildren.  It’s taken 10 months of false starts and setbacks, but I finally feel confident enough about the project’s success to share a little bit about it.  <cue confetti & balloon drop>

The books range from simple 8-10 page picture books on topics like counting and animals to a couple of  delightful tales written at about the first-grade reading level.  They’re heartwarming and adorable, and –importantly–  beautifully written.

The sticky part was that the books were hand-written in journals or constructed with photocopies & stickers.  Cleaning digitizing the content alone  is no small challenge.  I gave formatting at try . (Mistake. Big mistake. HUGE.)  A artist friend with graphic design experience offered to help but got sidesiped by technology issues and job demands.

Serendipity stuck at Dragon Con. I met a wonderful book designer, we hit it off, and now she’s digitizing and polishing up Grandma Mitzie’s awesome words and illustrations to the shine needed for print publication. They’re going to be real books soon, available to the whole world for parents to buy & read and for kids to hold and enjoy.

Thing the Third

I aim to finish Heartwood by the end of October. Why set myself a dreaded deadline? Well, for one thing, I always set myself deadlines. I just ignore them when they fly by. For another thing –biggish news!

I have an outline for a new novel I plan to write during NaoNoWriMo this year.  Sort of. I don’t do word counts, so I can’t really NaNo. But I also don’t usually do outlining, so why not double-down on the wackiness? I’m tripling it, really, since I’m working with a writing partner on this project–a partner who gets final say on the story’s eventual shape. It’s not at all my usual “chip at the ideas until strands of story emerge and then weave them together” approach.

I figure why not tackle the new fresh thing in a new, fresh way? Yup, I’m stretching artistically.  New challenges. Excitement. Good times.

No, I haven’t been replaced with a pod person, I swear. I’ve wanted to do NaNo since its very first year.  Business travel and the demands of the retail cycle in general made it nigh-impossible the first few years, and after that NaNo started to feel like a big commercial enterprise defined by social interaction and burdened with an ever-increasing focus on metrics and reporting.  Metrics and reporting are not fun, socializing is hard work, and I have nothing to prove. Zero appeal.

Doing it my own way, writing with a simple end-of-month completion goal in the privacy of my own writing cave–that’ll be my kind of fun.

Now you’re up to speed on everything that’s going on in my authoring world.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers.

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! 

Categories
Whimsy Writing Life

If I Wrote A Bestseller…

If I wanted to write a story with broad appeal,  I would build characters from a shortlist of comfortable archetypes,  introduce them with defining backstory snapshots stapled to the text like operating instructions, and launch them into a familiar plot template front-loaded with action. I would trim the extra word weight out of every scene with the dedication of an ultralight backpacker cutting off toothbrush handles.

I could make my prose a hungry verb-driven creature ready to compete with the best soundbite journalism. If someone wants to pay me upfront to do that, I will. Seriously. Want me to write a thing? Give me the monies up front, set me a deadline, I will write a thing.

Left on my own,  I would rather explore the muddy ditches and swampy wilds of wording and see what I dig up there. I like to wander, to ponder, to chip ideas out of other ideas, and to  ravel up thready patterns of letters and sounds, ideas and emotions into narratives. When I do that long enough, magic sneaks up to nip at my creation, and the bits and pieces sparkle to life.

And hey, I’m on my own. So. Dirty excavations, rocky prose carving, and tapestry-story weaving it shall be. That’s all I have to say about that.

Categories
Authoring Writing Advice Writing Life

Exploring Beyond Amazon.

Two weeks?  Has it been two weeks since I dove into Draft2Digital and put a bunch of stories up for wide distribution? Are you sure? Wowza. Time flies when I’m feverish and sniveling. It feels like yesterday. Well, tis done, so I should write about doing it.

For the last two years all my ebooks were enrolled in the Kindle Select program and exclusively available from Amazon. Here’s why I broke up with my first e-publishing distributor, Smashwords, and went the Kindle Select route:

  1.  I call my authoring endeavors Dawnrigger Publishing. Selfish ego trip? Maybe, but names have power. Amazon let me list whoever I wanted as the publisher and doesn’t require an ISBN. (ISBNs are expensive in the US.) Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Lulu, and other ebook distributors all require authors to use exclusive ebook ISBNs. They all offer free ones, BUT they own those numbers and are listed as the publishers. Nope. Not doing it. I don’t like the idea.
  2.  Within Kindle Select my books can collect revenue from Kindle Unlimited reads as well as sales. I can also take advantage of Kindle Select exclusive promotion and sale-pricing opportunities.

And here’s why I branched out two weeks ago.

  1. I like pricing my short stories at 99 cents, but it disqualifies them from Kindle Select sales, and I’m only willing to run so many giveaways. Analysis showed I  wasn’t getting enough Unlimited reads to justify ignoring other markets.
  2. This spring I bit the bullet and bought my own ISBNs through myidentifiers.com.  (I’m surprised no one teaches a class on navigating that site. I would have dissolved in frustration on the first page if I wasn’t already well-versed in publishing industry jargon and standards.) But I digress. I saved my pennies so I could control my own publishing destiny, to use the sports cliche, and put that hurdle behind me.
  3. I published a combined edition of two novellas this year. I could make the story widely available in one form while keeping the originals as an exclusive.

The signs and portents were clear, so I removed  4 titles from Kindle Select and investigated Amazon alternatives.  Draft2Digital was my clear winner.  But–and I cannot stress this enough–YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.  Smashwords, Lulu, Ingram LightningSpark–they all have fine features.

So, why do I like D2D?  Universal short links, for one thing. D2D distributes through a web portal called Books2Read.com. It’s a clean, sweet site. Another sweet touch: the ability to download your formatted file as an epub, mobi & PDF as often as you want. The set-up process is clear and heavily netted with double-checks, the instructions are comprehensive and easily searched, and mistakes are easily corrected. (I make a lot of mistakes.)

Long story short, D2D uploading and conversion was easy & simple, the features are great, and approvals came through fast. I’m happy with the results.

Five fine books of mine are now available for purchase from multiple vendors. Amazon, Kobo, B&N and more, including a subscription reading service called Scribd. I made picture links. They’re at the bottom because WordPress did weird things when I tried to put them in-line with text. You can click ’em there.

Each link will take you to the book’s page at Books2Read.com, where you can choose a vendor and be directed to the proper sales website  for every country in the world. Or so I’m told. Being in the US and all, nothing changed for me. Look at all these cool icons you’ll be able choose from:

What next? Well, I posted to social media about the release. Now I’m announcing here. Onward to the fun of updating each book’s page on this site with excerpts and the universal links.

LOOK! LINK!

https://books2read.com/ap/xqvlwR/K-M-Herkes

 

Categories
Authoring excerpts Writing Life

Flash Fiction: “A Bloody Mess”

If anyone ever asks where my ideas come from, I’ll be able to say honestly, “Facebook posts plus illness-related sleep deprivation plus general depravity.” I’m blaming this one on a friend’s post about a dripping ceiling fan.  I have no idea if I’ll ever do more with it (or if it’s worth pursuing)  but I have the shape of the story jotted down, just in case.

Blood dripped from the bathroom ceiling, seeping through the edges of the light fixture to fall like dark tears onto a shiny tile floor.  Drop after drop plinked into a rippling puddle beside the clothes hamper, and the liquid pooling inside the lightshade  cast eerie crimson shadows over gore-splattered walls. The air reeked of iron and piss.

Before Joelle Petak entered the crime scene she applied a fresh layer of lip gloss and rolled it back and forth until the eucalyptus scent rose into her sinuses and dulled the stink.  The she lifted one sneaker-clad foot over the black, buzzing lump of flesh in the doorway and hopped a little to clear the obstacle. An irritable cloud of flies rose at her passing, then returned to their feasting. Joelle landed in the clear spot of floor beside the toilet and regarded the lump of meat in the bathtub. The second corpse was as much of a shredded, anonymous mass as the first.

A hot wash of fear and disgust caught at Joelle’s belly, loosened her insides until she had to clench every muscle to keep her bowels and bladder under control. This one was going to be bad. She had seen worse carnage than this only once, when a sorority pledge had been tasked to complete a Greater Demon summoning and actually cast it perfectly–on the open quad on a Saturday night during football season.

This case might be worse by the time all was said and done. This time, the monsters were still on the loose. She pushed aside those concerns and swung her big purse of holding around to the front. Good, bad, or ugly, her job didn’t change. She was here to make the past give up its secrets in the service of justice.

The snap closure on her purse popped open with a sharp noise, and Joelle froze as she caught a glimpse of motion in the hallway. Both patrol officers behind her had dropped their hands to their weapons belts. She slowly lifted her field recorder from the bag with two fingers. “Y’all aren’t gonna shoot me over a little razzle-dazzle, are you?”

“Sorry, ma’am,” the patrol officer on the right said. His dark face had a sickly grayish cast and gleamed with sweat. His female partner had her other hand over her mouth, and her fingers were trembling. She shrugged, and the dull pain in her eyes spoke volumes. She had lost someone to death here tonight. Joelle wondered how many first responders had gone down before the big guns were called in.

 She lifted her eyes to the ceiling and the blood now raining down from the dimmed fixture. “How many more, do you think?”

“We aren’t sure,” said the woman patrol officer. Her words had thick, rounded edges, as though she was forcing them out around some obstruction in her throat. “In some bedrooms there are piles—” a shallow breath, and another, and she finished, “There’s no way to tell.”

“I’d best get my mojo moving, then. There’ll be a lot of flashing light. Please don’t shoot me, ‘kay?” Joelle  raised the recorder and muttered the triggering spell.

 Glitter exploded from the device in her hands and spread in a rainbow sphere of sparkles that chimed bright melodies. The flecks of light clanged and rang in dissonant notes as they struck surfaces and reached the doorway.  The shimmering veil hung for a moment, then melted away, leaving behind pale residue on everything but Joelle herself. The buzz of the flies stopped. A pall of acrid smoke hung in the silence.

The recorder chirped its happy done-collecting-things tune, and Joelle brushed away an errant dead insect. “All righty, then. One room down. Twelve to go.”