Tag Archives: king arthur

Ygerna a Hot New Release!

Yes! I haven’t even started the big ad push for Ygerna yet, and it is already a Hot New Release in Arthurian Fiction on Amazon! Here’s the screen shot to prove it:

Ygerna Hot New Release

And you saw right — that is Stephen King behind me. 😀

I was a bit worried about this one, given that the material is not exactly easy. But the description makes it clear enough that Ygerna’s journey from victim to warrior begins with rape, so hopefully those who do not want to deal with that kind of darkness will stay away. Many of us have had to live through that experience, though, and I wanted to tell the story of a woman who learns to become the hero of her own life, despite having been a victim.

Of course, once again I was unable to write something that would be easy on potential readers …

I have another project up my sleeve for Nanowrimo, where I’m hoping to restrain my dark side a bit more than I usually do. More on that in a few weeks. And yes, I’m trying to bend my imagination to the more commercial. Eventually I want to make a real living from this writing gig, after all. And I have slowly come to the conclusion that the kinds of books I most want to write (and read) aren’t going to do it.

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Ygerna Available for Pre-order!

I am thrilled to announce that Ygerna has been approved for pre-order on Amazon — in record time! It will be available for a special launch price of only 99c through October. After that, it will go up to $2.99.

Ygerna

Uthyr destroyed her life. Now she wants revenge.

When young Ygerna first meets Uthyr, Pendragon of Britain, she is dazzled by the handsome and famous warrior. But when Uthyr interprets admiration as consent and takes her by force, Ygerna’s hero worship turns to hatred.
And she will do anything to get revenge on the man who got her with child and ruined her life.

It will officially be published on Amazon on Oct. 2. I did that to have a bit more time to arrange for some additional publicity in October, since it would be cool to have a Hot New Release again. 🙂

Strangely enough, other venues have been much slower publishing. The only other one I have so far is Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/en-us/ebook/ygerna

I have not yet done the extra work to make it available for print — which also involves getting a new version of the wraparound cover from my cover artist once I have the PDF done. I have to see if it’s possible to test the Vellum print add-on — otherwise it’s cut and paste into my print template …

I would be very grateful for shares and tweets and reblogs! There’s too much going on at the moment for me to invest the time in anything like a Facebook launch party, so ads and word of mouth are all I have to rely on.

But one very nice thing — before I even noticed that it was already available, Ygerna had its first pre-order. 🙂

Ygerna

An Initial Attempt at Rebranding: A New Cover for Yseult

As much as I like the cover I already have for Yseult, the conversion rate for my ads is going from quite respectable to abysmal. Not completely understandable, since I haven’t changed the book description or cover for a long time, but given how many clicks I’ve been getting recently without sales, I decided it was time to experiment again. So without further ado, here is the first cover experiment for Yseult:

Yseult

The idea for this cover is that it maybe / hopefully fits the epic fantasy conventions better, which often have one decisive image rather than an illustration, like the original cover had. The other consideration is that the first cover might be too romantic in tone to draw the right readers. While Yseult is based on a tragic love story, there is a lot of political intrigue and loads of battles. A bad-ass sword just might be the better image for that than a gal and a moon, even if there is a sword on that cover too. But most people don’t notice it until I point it out to them.

Anyway, wish me luck. This may not be the first, since I’m determined to work on this until I get a better conversion rate for my ads. 🙂

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!

Winchester / Venta

Winchester Castle
Winchester Castle

Originally, I was intending to do Calleva on Sunday, but my train was five minutes late into Basingstoke. That is exactly the amount of time I had to change — five minutes — and by the time I got to the track, the train was gone. The next train to Mortimer, the closest stop to the Roman ruins of Silchester, wouldn’t be leaving for another hour. So I checked the train schedules and saw that there would be a train to Winchester in only fifteen minutes. I changed my plans, and soon I was heading south.

It turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t try to do both in one day. Once I’d walked all the way around the old town of Winchester, my feet were killing me, and I was developing a blister on my little toe.

A blister in Winchester

But Winchester was great. The first place I visited was Winchester Castle, on the hill close to the train station. All that remains of the medieval castle is the hall where the famous “Round Table of King Arthur” hangs.

Winchester Castle
The Great Hall in Winchester Castle

Of course, the impressive decoration has nothing to do with fifth and sixth century Britain and the battles that were being fought against the Saxons and other Germanic tribes (and their allies) at that time. That’s the setting of The Pendragon Chronicles, and not the chivalric version of Arthurian myth created by the writers of the middle ages. The Winchester round table has been dated to the thirteenth century. Although it has nothing to do with the historical figure of Arthur (if he even existed), the round table has everything to do with the Arthurian legends and how significant they had become by the high middle ages. By that time, the Normans were in power in England, and even though they fought the Celtic kingdoms on their fringes, they appropriated a Romano-British hero into their mythology of kingship.

After walking all over the city, I’m pretty sure Chris and I skipped it on our England trip a dozen years ago when we did so many of the other sites of Yseult. I walked along the perimeters of the southern and eastern parts of what was once Venta Belgarum, and it certainly gave me an impression of how big the Roman city had been. In the south-eastern corner, there is still a long stretch of the Roman wall. In The Pendragon Chronicles, I refer to the city as Venta rather than by its full Roman name of “Venta Belgarum.” That’s quite a mouthful, after all. I figure that, much in the same way Sorviodunum became Sarum or Londinium became London, Venta Belgarum was probably shortened to Venta. “Venta” was integrated into the Germanic name for the city, Winchester, whereas “Belgarum” has disappeared — except in names of businesses in Winchester.

Roman wall in Winchester
Part of the Roman wall in Winchester

I also visited Wolvesey Castle, the ruins of the former bishop’s seat. I originally intended to have Cerdic’s seat located there in A Wasted Land, but I might change that. The western edge of the former Roman city, where the medieval castle stood, is much higher in elevation than the eastern, which is next to the river. Cerdic strikes me as the kind of guy who would equate elevation with status. I will have to see if anything is known of what might have stood there in Roman times. Seeing as the site has been continuously occupied for millennia, there has been very little archeological work done in Winchester, and only a few Roman buildings have been excavated, prior to modern construction work.

Wolvesey Castle
Wolvesey Castle

Nonetheless, seeing Winchester was great for giving me a feel of the lay of the land for the scene I’ve been posting recently for WIPpet Wednesdays. Perhaps with my new knowledge, I’ll try a rewrite of one of the scenes and repost, just for sh*ts and giggles.

Aside from details pertinent to the WIP, I also saw lots of half-timbered houses, the cathedral, gardens, and the house where Jane Austen lived in the weeks before she died. A very nice day, even if it didn’t turn out quite as planned.

Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral

You can see all of my pictures of Winchester here.

Other posts from my research trip:
Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury
Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral
Old Sarum

Singing a song of Arthur for #WIPpet Wednesday

I skipped #WIPpet Wednesday entirely last week, knowing I just didn’t have the energy for visiting lots of blogs. I think I’m slowly shaking my lethargy now, and I will try to be a good fellow blogger this week. 🙂

For this excerpt, I’m returning to A Wasted Land and Kustennin, the new Dux Bellorum of Britain. When I last posted an excerpt from his story, he and Taliesin were posing as minstrels to scout out Venta / Winchester, the capital of Cerdic, their enemy in the recent wars. This snippet follows shortly thereafter. I am giving you 25 sentences for the 25th day of the month:

They wandered between the stalls until they found an empty spot where they could begin to play for coin or gifts of food.
Taliesin pulled the strap of his lute around so that the instrument was draped comfortably in front of him and began to pick out a melody on the strings. The other two soldiers who were of their party got out their own instruments, a flute and a lyre. Kustennin was still taking the tambourine and the small drum out of his bag when Taliesin launched into a ballad dedicated to Arthur, Dux Bellorum — and spurring Kustennin to try to reach him with his mind.
Do you know what you’re doing, Taliesin? This is not a city to sing Arthur’s praises!
Of course I know what I’m doing, Young King. We want to gain an audience with Cerdic, do we not? What better way than to praise his enemy!
It will get us thrown out of the city, more like. Assuming we survive the ordeal.

All the while they were arguing in their minds, Taliesin sang of how Arthur defeated the famous Frankish king Chlodowech and saved Roman Britain. People began to gather in front of them, dressed in both British and Saxon garments, and murmuring amongst themselves.
Come, Kustennin, add a little rhythm to the ballad. And smile!
Kustennin knew his expression must be more of a grimace than a grin, but he dutifully began to shake the tambourine and hit it against the heel of his hand, just as he’d been practicing in recent days.
A woman with copper hair stepped up to him. “In these parts, that is not a wise choice as a song to sing. I think you should tell your friend to stop.”
He shrugged. “He’s the leader of our group.”
By now, a number of the spectators were clapping to the rhythm Kustennin beat out, a marching beat to verses of riding in the defense of Diablintis. A battle Kustennin remembered well, a decisive victory during their campaign in Gaul.
And now here he was taking orders from a bard. Kustennin shook his head, smiling. If they came out of this alive, this trip might go far to helping him get his sense of humor back.

Minstrels on stage

Leaving you all with a picture of minstrels at the Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market. 🙂

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.