Tag Archives: arthurian literature

Shadow of Stone FREE through tomorrow, May 24!

For the first time in years, I’m giving away one of my Big Fat Fantasies. Through tomorrow, you can get Shadow of Stone free on Amazon.

Shadow of Stone

Description:

For over ten years, there has been peace in Britain after Arthur and his warriors soundly defeated the Saxons at the battle of Caer Baddon. But sometimes peace is deceptive …

After a series of hard winters and famine, an alliance of dissatisfied northern kings attack the rich cities of Southern Britain. But in the years of peace, Arthur’s army has grown soft; jealousies and trivialities rip once strong alliances apart. Cador, who is mockingly referred to as “farmer king,” must go to war again. The threat to their way of life throws him together with Yseult, the woman he has secretly loved since he was a youth.

But can their politically expedient marriage help bring peace to Britain again? Or will it only lead to further conflict?

As betrayals both real and imagined shake the foundations of former British unity, Cador and Yseult must try to negotiate their own personal peace. Who will survive the upheavals to come? Will Britain rally once more behind a common leader to fight off the common threat?

If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — both novels are standalone stories, revolving around different Arthurian legends, and set in a more realistic historical setting than the more chivalric Arthurian tradition.

Enjoy and pass along! 🙂

On splitting up a big book: Turning Yseult into episodes

As many of you following this blog know, I started my career as an indie author after I got the rights back to the original English of my novel Yseult, which was published in German as Flamme und Harfe by Random House Germany in 2009.

Flamme und Harfe, Ruth Nestvold

I published the English original in January 2012 on my own with this cover from the talented Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers:

Yseult, Ruth Nestvold

Since the original publisher of Yseult / Flamme und Harfe, Random House Germany, told me they were interested in a sequel (which they decided they were not interested in after all), when I published Yseult, I already had the next doorstopper waiting in the wings, Shadow of Stone, which I published in June of 2012.

That too sold quite well, and I began to imagine that I was on my way to a wonderful career as an indie author.

Halt.

Readers started wanting to know when the next “installment” would be available. Of books that were both close to 200,000 words, or over 500 pages long. Unfortunately, I don’t write fast enough to produce novels of that size every year, and I lost readers.

I started writing a prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles, Ygerna, hoping to make it free and attract more readers that way, but I soon noticed that the story of Arthur’s mother was too complicated for me to finish off in a couple ten thousand words, and it ended up on the back burner. I do have a free short story from the second novel available, Gawain and Ragnell, and that has helped my sales somewhat, giving potential readers a taste of the world of The Pendragon Chronicles. So I know for a fact that permafree can help your sales.

Then at some point I started noticing something new happening in ebook publishing: it seemed as if a lot of the most successful indie authors were publishing their ebooks in episodes or as serials, in chunks from between 50 to 200 pages. Like with a TV show, each episode might bring a single plot thread to a conclusion, but there was also often some kind of cliffhanger to make sure the reader came back for the next installment. An added advantage of the episode format is that the author can make the first “book” of the novel free in order to entice readers to give it a try.

Slowly an experiment started to take shape in my mind. I had these two Big Fat Fantasies, after all, together close to 400,000 words. But in the era of ebooks, when the reader can’t judge a book by how heavy it is in her hand, books seem to be getting shorter. And while the true short story has yet to make a comeback, readers appear to be increasingly accepting of novella-length books. (This is all totally subjective and unscientific, so don’t quote me on it.)

Anyway, as a result of these observations, I have decided to launch an experiment. I am going to take the four books of Yseult apart — which, btw, is how I organized the novel long before the advent of ebooks — and offer them separately. I will try to make the first book free on Amazon as quickly as possible. Here is the pricing structure I’m considering for the serial version:

Part I: FREE
Part II: 99c (my take, 30c)
Part III: 2.99 (my take $2)
Part IV: 2.99 (my take $2)

My goal is not to make more money than with the complete novel, although that is what would happen if readers were only to buy the individual parts. But when I do this, I do not intend to unpublish Yseult. That will still be available for 4.99 for anyone who is enjoying the series enough to want to buy the novel. Mostly I’m just hoping that with parts 1 & 2 at free and 99c respectively, a few more readers will try out the series.

So recently I’ve been working on a template for the covers of the individual episodes. I wanted to use the cover of Yseult as a basis, to make sure that no one bought any of the episodes thinking it was a new story in The Pendragon Chronicles. At the same time, the covers should be distinctive enough to stand out from each other. Given those considerations, here’s the template I came up with for the series:

Yseult template

And here’s my first attempt at a single title:

Yseult-Part-1

My thought is to use different colors beneath the “celtic fringe” *g* on the left / west side of the cover as a visual signal of the differences between the books. And now, as I write this, it occurs to me that the color for the first book, which takes place in Ireland / Eriu, should be a dark green rather than the dark purple I have now. *g*

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts / feedback you have in the comments below!

I might land flat on my face with this experiment, but I’m not out of much more than a couple days worth of work making the new covers, formatting the individual sections, and uploading them to the various venues. Wish me luck. 🙂 And do please let me know what you think!

“Dragon Time” live as Countdown Deal, and “Gawain and Ragnell” finally free!

I posted yesterday about the new KDP Select “Countdown Deals” and my decision to give it a whirl with my YA short story collection, Dragon Time. It took a while, but the sale is now live:

Also, I am very happy to announce that today Amazon finally price-matched Gawain and Ragnell, and it is now permafree. Download! Tell your friends! Send links to everyone who enjoys Arthurian fiction! *g*

I want to thank everyone who tattled on me and helped to make this novelette free. Cross your fingers for me that it helps with sales of the other Pendragon Chronicles books. 🙂

A research dilemma: new archeological discoveries at Caerleon. (And an update).

I do love research. Collecting information and brainstorming plot elements that will fit what I’ve found is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing for me. And now that I’m back to The Pendragon Chronicles with A Wasted Land, I’ve been collecting new research gems and brushing up on old, creating a visual mosaic using Pinterest.

This last week, while I was googling visuals for the various settings of the novel, I stumbled across a fascinating link to new archeological discoveries in Caerleon, the Caer Leon of my novels. A complete building complex outside of the walls of the original Roman fortress, unknown of until just a few years ago, had been excavated and is being analyzed.

Archeologists are now debating whether Caerleon might have been much more important than previously presumed. While I absolutely love historical mysteries like this and the way they change the past we think we know, it presents me with a bit of a problem: when I was writing Yseult, no one knew about the existence of these “new” buildings, and so they are not a part of my descriptions of Caer Leon. I completed Yseult around 2004-2005, and these excavations did not take place until 2011. Theoretically, I could have read about these new developments while I was working on Shadow of Stone, since the geophysical surveys on which the excavations were based were conducted between 2006 and 2011. (I completed the first draft of Shadow of Stone in 2010.) But while I was writing the second book of The Pendragon Chronicles, I was under pressure to finish the book quickly, and I was relying heavily on previous research for the first book.

Now I am sorely tempted to go back and add a sentence of description here or there in the first two books, integrating the additional buildings into the setting. I realize that few readers will be aware that buildings are missing in my description, but, well, I want to get it right, you know? At the same time, I know there is no direct evidence that Caerleon was even occupied during the period I am writing about, Sub-Roman Britain and the Dark Ages. Except: the name Caerleon (Caer Leon) is derived from Welsh “fortress of the legion,” which seems a pretty clear indication that the location was regarded as a military site for some time. Also, it’s surprising how several of the streets of the present-day town are on a similar grid with the northern half of the former Roman garrison. Common sense would seem to indicate ongoing occupation, given those details, but of course, common sense is not scientific. I’m writing fiction, though, and it’s details like that which inspire me to create my own fantastic version of history.

Which I might now have to change …

* * *

Progress this week has continued to go well. Yesterday was a family day, so I only got a few hundred words of research and notes in, but today, I wrote about another 1500 words on A Wasted Land — despite more research and note-taking. The birds in the garden have no respect for my notes, however — at one point, I had to wipe a rather unseemly blotch off the papers. But better that than the keyboard of my netbook, I guess.

Anyway, A Wasted Land in now over 10,000 words, putting me at almost 7,000 words for the week. Still not breaking any records, but for me this is very good progress, especially without experiencing any kind of stress to speak of.

Next week, however, there will be a lot to do for the upcoming trip, so I’m not expecting the same kind of progress. Then Iceland and the Pacific Northwest, and this blog will temporarily become more of a travel blog. 🙂