Tag Archives: glassmakers

Shards of Glass for #WIPpet Wednesday, and a request for feedback on the cover

Hi again, everyone! Long time, no read. 🙂

While I was off visiting relatives, assisting with deck building, doing garden work in the garden of my daughter’s new house, and eating fresh crab, the nearly final cover of the third Glassmakers book arrived in my inbox.

Shards of Glass cover

I’m pretty happy with how it looks, but my cover designer agreed to allow me to run it past my readers on my blog and Facebook before finalizing it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging in the last few weeks, and am only now getting around to it now that we are back in Germany. So what do you guys think? The basic design will stay the same, but if you have any suggestions for tweaking, I would be happy to hear them!

Since I’m running the cover for the last book in the trilogy by y’all, I thought I would jump forward in fictional time and give you a first excerpt from Shards of Glass for my return to WIPpet Wednesday. Math: 6 short paragraphs for the sixth day of the month:

Dowager Princess Zilia of House Foscari was in a bad mood. Her morning chocolate tasted like dust, even though she was sure the cook had prepared it exactly to her liking, just as he always did.
No, it was not the cook’s fault that nothing could please her this morning — even though the sun shone bright through the tall arched windows and the reports she was reading were full of positive news regarding increases in Venetian exports of glass, silk and spices. All of which would mean sorely needed tax revenues for the ruling families of Venice.
Unfortunately, Zilia couldn’t enjoy it — not the chocolate, not the sun, not the news. All she could think about was her recent defeat. Not only had her plan to bring the traitorous glassmakers back to Venice been foiled, the magic mirror that had found them had been stolen.
Zilia was not used to being crossed. She was used to having her every wish fulfilled.
She put aside the reports and rose. Perhaps she needed to take a day off from her duties as mother of the most powerful prince in Venice. She would go to Lido, spend the day in the Foscari villa there, far from responsibilities and disappointments.
The Dowager Princess threw open the doors to her retiring room — and noticed that her favorite, Gaetano, was not one of the guards standing at attention on either side of her sanctuary. His absence had escaped her when she came down from her bedchamber, enshrouded in her bad mood.

Rough stuff still, very much first draft — any and all comments welcome!

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

As to progress, maybe I should offer you this:


Deck underway

And this:

Deck completed
Deck completed

That was our big accomplishment on our vacation. I didn’t actually work that much on the deck for my daughter’s new house, but I did do a lot of gardening, dirt shoveling, ugly shrub extinction, and planting while we were there.

Other than that, I was driving up and down the west coast between Eugene and Seattle and visiting relatives and friends I only rarely see. I did a little bit of translation, a little bit of brainstorming, and even less writing. But over the years, I have come to believe that it is okay to take a vacation from writing. I write 5 days a week on a regular basis, usually more, and I manage consistent word counts that I compensate for on days when the writing doesn’t go as well. Given those circumstances, I think I deserve a vacation now and then. 🙂

I may still blog in more detail about our trip, given time and opportunity, but I’m not promising anything. The incident with the lost camera would definitely deserve a post, if I can manage it! Not to mention my husband’s collision with a chainsaw …

Hope everyone has been doing great while I’ve been mostly absent. 🙂

Villa Diodati 14 (and 13 too … )

VD14

A little over a week before we flew to the States to visit relatives, I got back from the most recent incarnation of the Villa Diodati workshop. VD14 was once again in southern Spain, but probably for the last time, since we are losing our venue, unfortunately. Ah well. We will find other cool places to meet, I am sure.

This workshop was one of the biggest we’ve had, with ten participants.

Group shot VD14
Front row: Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Ruth Nestvold, Grayson Morris, Christian Walter, Jeremy Sim
Back row: Frances Silversmith, Bo Balder, Floris Kleinje, Jeff Spock, Stephen Gaskell

It was also one of the most reading intensive. We put a cap on submissions for critique at 10,000 words, and usually most participants play by the rules. This time, four out of ten submitted works that exceeded the 10,000 word limit, which meant a lot more reading and critiquing than usual. I think in future I will have to exert my dictatorial powers more effectively, and create truncated versions of the works submitted for critique that conform to the rules. 🙂

Critique session
Critique session

Despite all the reading and critiquing, we still had time for other exercises and discussions. Among other things, we had a long talk on marketing. I was encouraged to submit a novella I wrote with Jay Lake (and was revising when he died) to Analog, which is where it is now. I also got some ideas from the group mind as to where “Pool of Souls” would fit, the short story I brought to the workshop. Unfortunately, that is not yet out, since I haven’t had time to address the critiques I got at VD14.

We also did a wonderful brainstorming session around the pool, where a number of us tossed out ideas we had for input from the group mind, or described stories that were flailing and might need some outside input. Sylvia and I got some great ideas on where to go with a collaboration we’ve written.


Brainstorming around the pool

We even got a chance to play the Surreal Oracle game again!

And of course we ate, and ate well, like we always do at Villa Diodati workshops. 🙂

Eating well
Eating well

VD13

The autumn 2014 workshop took place in Picardy, France. When I got home, we had a bit of a family medical emergency, which was why I never got around to posting a report. I figured the report for VD14 would be a good opportunity to make up for that. 🙂

The fall workshop in France was much smaller than VD14, with only six attendants. Here in the group shot you see only five of us, since Sylvia Spruck Wrigley wasn’t feeling well when we took the pictures. At least her crocheted Cthulhu made it in (next to my knee):

Group shot VD13
Ruth Nestvold, Aliette de Bodard, Jeff Sock, Nancy Fulda, Grayson Morris

We did many of the same awesome things we usually do besides critiquing, such as brainstorming and market discussions. Jeff also gave a talk on creativity.

During the brainstorming, I got some excellent ideas on how to continue with the Glassmakers trilogy. Not only that, since Sylvia was crocheting her amazing Cthulhus while we did critiques, she promised me and Nancy our own personal monsters if we could finish the novels we were working on by the end of January.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7598/16858900837_464e6e6aba.jpg
Critiquing and Cthulhu-making

Since things got very complicated at home for a while after I got back, it was an incredible incentive for me to return to writing and finish the first draft of Facets of Glass by January 31. Nancy finished her novel as well. After all, who doesn’t want their own cuddly monster?

I think we really should consider adding incentives for each other to our regular agenda of activities. An outside deadline can be an incredible motivator.

Results of recent promos, and more with Minerva for #WIPpet Wednesday

I’m exhausted. I’ve been running around with granddaughters all day today, and I am definitely noticing in my bones that I’m not as young as I used to be. They have Fasching vacation right now (the German Mardi Gras), and we have them overnight. I took them to the first really huge mall here, which opened in November, making good on a Christmas present I gave them. My feet hurt.

I wasn’t really feeling like posting as a result, but I didn’t post last week either — also because of various stuff taking up my time — but I don’t want to get that much out of the habit. Besides, I have some pretty good results from recent promos to report. Not to forget the words, and WIPpet Wednesday. 🙂

My word count dropped down again last week, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Much of what I was doing was brainstorming the next book in the Glassmakers trilogy. In my experience, the real word counts come when the book is pretty much worked out in my mind, and all I have to do is fill in the details. That is not the case with Shards of Glass. I have the general idea, but the specific plot points are vague. As a result, I only got 4300 words done last week, compared to 6200 the week before, and 8000 the week before that.

Another thing that has put a crimp in the word counts has been some renewed tests of marketing strategies — which also require thought and time. At least I can announce that this weeks’ promos have been going amazingly well.

1) Yesterday, Bknights (Fiverr) promoted the free first book of Yseult, Two Women, from my new, episodic version of my monster novel. Since then, Yseult I has gotten over 300 downloads, when it usually gets 10 – 15 a day. There have been 4 new sales of parts 2 & 3, only one day later, which nearly earn out the whopping $5.50 I paid for the Fiverr ad to give the series a boost.

The ranking for Yseult, Two Women is now as follows:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #911 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

2) I did a 3 day free run of Looking Through Lace this week, ending today, using only the free sites listed on my updated blog post on where to promote a free run. LTL has had over 700 downloads on Amazon.com alone as a result, and Book 2, Beyond the Waters of the World, has also had a couple more sales than usual. Here the present ranking of LTL:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > First Contact
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Exploration

Of course, all this proves for certain right now is that I know how to give a lot of books away without spending too much money. *g* But those rankings provide visibility, and visibility is one of the main things that sell books. And one day after the ad, I have nearly nearly out the cost through sales of subsequent books in the “series.” *g*

With that update, on to WIPpet Wednesday! The end of January, I finished the rough draft of Facets of Glass, Book 2 of the Glassmakers trilogy. But right now, I have FoG and Shards of Glass (Book 3) in one Scrivener file, so that I can skip back and forth when I notice that an idea I come up with for SoG requires some tweaking in FoG. So I will probably continue to post from Facets of Glass until I actually publish it. 🙂

This snippet comes directly after the one I gave you two weeks ago. 7 paragraphs, 8 – 1 from the day of the month:

He tossed the wine she’d given him back as if it were water and put the glass on the tray Guilia held. Minerva nodded, and the serving girl turned and left with the empty glass.
“Thank you for the refreshment, Signorina,” the footman said. “Would you care to take your gift now so that I may return to my employer?”
She grimaced. “You are right to admonish me. I should not tease so. Everyone tells me that, yet I cannot seem to resist.” She accepted the gift box and opened the lid.
When she saw the glass apple nestled in the wood shavings, she almost dropped the box. One hand went to the heart pendant she wore on a chain around her neck — the work of her step-sister, Chiara. Was this glass apple also from Chiara’s hand? If so, what did it mean? Chiara would never send anything to Minerva directly, it would be too much of a risk.
Carefully, Minerva lifted the apple out and laid the box aside. The leaves, the stem, the fading of the glass from red to green, all showed great artistry and attention to detail. She had seen many examples of Chiara’s work since they became step-sisters, and she liked to imagine she would recognize it anywhere.
Then she turned the apple over and saw the wormhole — and she was sure. This was from Chiara’s hand.
She clutched the apple to her chest and looked up at the man who had brought the gift, suddenly realizing where she had seen him before. “You! What are you doing dressed like a footman and bringing this to me? You are one of the personal guards of Dowager Princess Zilia!”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Arguing with a magic mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

Last week, I got a surprising amount of wordage written, despite all the preparations for the launch of Island of Glass. (Thank you all very much for your help!) Anyway, the book is now published, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things regarding marketing my fiction, and last week I added a total of 6,000 words to various projects.

I’m still undecided whether I will try to do Nano this year. I have so many projects going right now, I don’t really want to abandon any of them. Well, I still have a couple of days to decide.

I also wanted to mention that with Halloween coming up, I’m going to be giving away my short story, “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife” from Oct. 30 – Nov. 3 FREE on Amazon. So if you don’t have it yet, grab yourself a copy!

After that brief update, let’s continue on to WIPpet Wednesday. Dowager Princess Zilia has just dismissed the witch Vanna and is very irritated with the magic mirror for not performing for her as it did for the witch. For Oct. 29, I give you 7 short paragraphs for the day of the month (9-2):

She put the precious apple on a side table and drew a deep breath, then another, and another. She had the magic mirror, and she could call on Vanna’s services at any time. She did not need to control the magic herself — she had a monopoly on the purveyors of magic in Venice.
The only person she could truly trust was herself. She much preferred to have the reins in her own hands.
On the other hand, while a witch or an alchemist was perfectly capable of deception, what was the case with a magic mirror? Zilia had seen the mirror’s answers with her own eyes, after all, and they were quite clear.
The dowager princess turned back to the mirror. “So, Mirror, can you lie like the rest of us? Or must you always tell the truth?”
The mirror remained silent, the images it reflected unchanging.
Zilia began to pace her retiring room, forcing the mirror to follow her lead. “Perhaps I should return you to Vanna after all,” she said to the mirror. “Seeing as you are useless to me without her. But no, it is as I told the witch, I do not want anyone else accessing your magic at this time.”
The mirror followed her movements patiently.


Another mirror, just because it’s so pretty

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Cover reveal for Island of Glass

My YA fantasy novella, Island of Glass, is now available for pre-order for only 99c! It will come out on October 28, 2014.

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.
Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy.

Excerpt

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”
Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.
“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”
She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.
He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”
She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”
He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”
Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.
He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.
Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Cover drafts for Facets of Glass, the second book of The Glassmakers

Yesterday, I got the initial cover designs for the second book of the Glassmakers trilogy back from my cover artist, the lovely and talented Rachel Cole of Littera Designs. For the first book in the series, I bought a beautiful pre-made cover:

IslandofGlass

Since I want the other books to have the same look and design, I recently hired Rachel to do covers for Facets of Glass and Shards of Glass, even though they are still only in the brainstorming phase. Here are her drafts for the second novella in the trilogy:

Just a little bit of background: the novellas are YA historical fantasy set in an alternate baroque era with magic, revolving around the fate of the Italian glassmaker Chiara. The first book is set in Murano, Venice and Lido, and the second book in Bohemia and its capital, Prague.

So without revealing anything about my own preferences, I want to ask my wonderful readers what they think. 🙂

Cover reveal for Island of Glass and progress report

I have my final cover for Island of Glass. Now all I have to do is revise, send it off to beta readers, find an available editor, revise again, format, and publish …

Right. Anyway, here’s the amazing cover by Rachel Cole:

If anyone is inclined to be a beta reader for a fantasy novella set in an alternate seventeenth century Venice and revolving around the glassmakers of Murano, please let me know! Right now, it’s in dormancy, an important step in my creative process, but I think after about another month, I’ll be ready to revise and then send off to my first readers.

Progress on Chameleon in a Mirror: I’ve completed revisions through chapter 13, of 31, which means I’m almost halfway through. Aphra Behn has just experienced the slave rebellion in Surinam that was the basis of her short novel Oroonoko, and is on her way back to England. My critique partner won’t have time to read it until April, but I still want to finish it as soon as possible, so that I have the whole book in mind while I do this pass.

The group promo this week was a lot more successful than the last one, but I’m not seeing much of a post-promo sales bump. At least I finally had some sales on Kobo and B&N. At some point, I will probably have some thoughts on things that could contribute to a successful group promo, but not today. 🙂

First draft of Island of Glass finished!

This incarnation of Island of Glass is finished!

But very definitely a first draft, so there is still work to do. In its present state, it is coming in at just over 16,000 words, so not quite novella length yet, but this version still has several “placeholders” — notes to myself where I need more description or whatever. So I am reasonably confident that the final draft will at least make it to the SFWA definition of novella (17,500 words).

Just for fun, I’ll share the beginning:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief; a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice. The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. It was the basis of their riches — and their curse. The laws of La Serenissima decreed that the glassmakers of Murano were never to leave the few islands that comprised the small city-state. Murano glass was more precious than gold. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

Anyway, besides organizing the next group promo, that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days. Speaking of which, this is the LAST DAY of the Dollar Daze group promo! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter for lots of cool prizes. 🙂

Now that Island of Glass is done, I will set it aside for a while and do revisions on Chameleon in a Mirror, the time travel based on the life of Aphra Behn that I was working on last year. Then off that one goes to first readers, and I can get back to Island of Glass and polish it for external eyes.

I sincerely doubt if I will ever run out of projects. It’s more like — no way I will ever finish them all before I die. Every time someone asks me if I’m working on something new, what I really want to say is, “Duh!” But I’m too polite for that. 🙂

Wishing everyone a wonderful week and great progress on whatever you’re working on!