Tag Archives: Shadow of Stone

Back to Shadow of Stone again for #WIPpet Wednesday, and a Nano update – kinda

Yesterday and today, I had to take a break from Nano-ing in order to finish the final editing pass of Shadow of Stone. On my personal list of priorities, it’s more important to me that I make the paperback version of SoS available before Christmas than it is that I “win” Nano. So now I am going through the interior reviewer app provided by CreateSpace to make sure that the formatting really is as good as it looked in my DOC and PDF files. When I made the book of my dad’s memoirs this summer, there was a very odd glitch with several lines written over each other that wasn’t there in my files. So it’s important that I at least glance at each page. With 500+ pages, that takes a while.

I’ve also been a bit slowed down by some additional research that I need to do for A Wasted Land. Some of the settings are ones I haven’t used before. And while I’ve been to Old Sarum on a wonderful research trip I took with my hubby while I was working on Yseult, that’s a very long time ago now, and my memory needs some refreshing.

Old Sarum by John Constable

So right now, I’m only at about 6500 words for the month.

Anyway, since I’m caught up in Shadow of Stone again, you get another excerpt from that this week. After today, I should (mostly) be back to A Wasted Land for the rest of the month. Maybe I will even be able to catch up and get my 50,000 words written!

Today’s date is 11/6, so I am going to chapter 11 to give you 6 paragraphs, from the pov of the boy who will grow up to be St. Gildas:

Every day Gildas spent at the monastery was another day he hated Cador and Kustennin more. The only problem was, he couldn’t hate Cador, because his foster father had probably saved his life. But he wanted to, because Cador was the reason he was in this miserable monastery in the first place.
He would just have to be content with hating Kustennin.
From what he heard, Kustennin was now fighting for Arthur, making a hero of himself. He’d helped take back Dyn Tagell from a traitorous sub-king and the “Sons of Caw,” and now he was earning more praise and glory in battles along the Sabrina Estuary.
While Gildas had spent the last months in a pig sty.
He threw the slops over the fence into the pen, and the pigs began grunting happily at the leftovers. Gildas hated their squealing, the way it went from bass low to hysterical high, hated the way they wallowed in their own offal, hated their smell and their obesity; most of all, he hated that he had to feed them. His life in the villa outside of Lindinis with Cador had not been pleasant, not like his early childhood in Bro Leon with his mother, where his every wish was tended to, sometimes before he even voiced it. At least in Lindinis he had not been lowered to feeding the pigs.
Arthur was the one he should hate, he knew that well enough. But he’d only met Arthur a handful of times, and on those occasions the Dux Bellorum never did anything more than pat Gildas on the shoulder. It was hard to hate someone who had no more feelings for you than a pat.

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. 🙂

Formatting Shadow of Stone for CreateSpace, & and an excerpt for #WIPpet Wedneday

The last couple of days, I’ve been spending most of my “writing” time putting together the PDF file of Shadow of Stone for the paperback version. I’ve been meaning to do this for much too long, but now with Christmas coming up, I really need to get it done. And the last couple of days before the craziness of Nano sets in seem to be a perfect opportunity.

The reason I keep putting off getting my books ready for paperback is all the work involved. Although I have to admit, Shadow of Stone ended up being a lot easier than Yseult, requiring maybe 10 hours of work, rather than 20 or 30 (I don’t really remember anymore, I just know it was a lot.) I also had to make a black and white version of the color map I have in the ebook:

Britain in ~500 AD

That was complicated by the fact that my ancient version of Photoshop decided to go on strike the first go ’round, refusing to save my changes and claiming I didn’t have enough RAM. Hmph. It did work on the second try after closing pretty much all my other programs — and my computer is not all that old or that wimpy. My version of Photoshop is a lot older. Moody software.

But for the actual formatting of the interior, I took a shortcut which helped a lot. Instead of starting from scratch with a doc file exported from Scrivener, I started with the version of Yseult already formatted for print and poured the chapters one by one into that file, replacing the text of Yseult. That had the big advantage that the chapter headers etc. were already formatted. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself:

So since my last post, the only thing I’ve worked on is Shadow of Stone, which is not strictly a WIP. But since I did find a couple of random typos that had slipped past all my beta readers and the editor I hired and the extra editing passes I did myself, AND it happens to be what’s open on my desktop right now, it’s the book you’re going to get an excerpt from, dagnabbit! Here’s how my math works this time around: since we have 10-30-13, I’m splitting it up 103-013 and giving your 13 lines from page 103. In this scene, Arthur and his advisers have just suggested to Cador and Yseult that they wed for political reasons, to strengthen the kingdom of Dumnonia in southern Britain:

“Would you have any objections to such a match, Cador?” Arthur asked.
Only that it is what I have dreamt of since I started dreaming of such things. Only that if Yseult were my wife, she might no longer be my friend. Only that she has a lover who is also my friend. Only that having a dream so close within my reach scares me more than an army of Saxons on the other side of a valley.
“No,” he said. “The thought has crossed my mind that Kustennin would be the best choice as my heir – if it were possible. But I have no interest in pressuring Yseult into a marriage she does not want.”
“Think on it,” Arthur said, rolling up the map. “And now I suspect the two of you may want to discuss the idea alone. Myrddin, Modrun?”
The Queen of Gower turned to Yseult, practically ignoring Cador. “I cannot claim that my instinct is always right in these matters,” Modrun said. “But I suspect the two of you could be happy together.”
“Perhaps even happier than most,” Myrddin said with a smile.
With that, the Dux Bellorum and his advisors departed, leaving Cador and Yseult to their silence and their thoughts. His gaze caught on one of the ceremonial swords decorating the walls of the hall, a mosaic of bright stones in its hilt. As stunning and useless as Arthur’s suggestion. Yseult would never agree to marry him, he knew.

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. 🙂

The recent Amazon category revolution, and what it means for you

As many writers have noticed by now, this month Amazon has been playing merry with its browse categories, deleting a couple, and adding a whole lot more. In the long run, this might well be good for writers, giving us more chances for exposure, but what a lot of us saw was an immediate and dramatic decline in sales. I think this mostly applies to those who had books in categories that were deleted, or whose books were reassigned to new categories, not necessarily the best or most appropriate. For example, at least one of my novels was being listed for a while under the category nonfiction/history!

If this kind of mix-up has happened to you, you might want to try changing your categories.

The new categories that Amazon assigned to books seem to be based on the keywords you enter when you publish on KDP. India Drummond has already written an excellent article about how to get your categories reassigned by changing your keywords, which you can read here. Another possibility is to contact Amazon directly with the information on which new categories you would like your book to be listed in. I have a longer post about doing this here, but if all you want is the direct link, that’s here.

As I mentioned in the older post linked to above, if your books aren’t exactly in the dozen sales a day plus realm, it makes sense to get them into categories with less competition. Check out this recent screenshot with the new fantasy categories:

See how many books are in “Paranormal & Urban”? And how many are in “Dark Fantasy”? If you’re not one of those kinds of writers capable of getting on top 100 lists against tens of thousands of other books, you might want to try and get your books into some of those smaller categories — assuming they fit, of course. Despite the lack of competition, I don’t think the “TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations” would prove very effective for my Pendragon Chronicles novels. 🙂

Recently, a number of writers who have used the direct approach to KDP support have had problems with responses insisting they should change their categories through their Bookshelf — even when the category they want to be included in isn’t available through the Bookshelf. So these days when I request a category change directly, I always include the following sentence:

“These categories are not categories I can choose through my KDP bookshelf.”

One more thing to note, however (learn from my mistakes): it is not wise to try to contact Amazon directly regarding category changes for a lot of books at once. A number of my books were affected by the recent category changes, and trying to be efficient, I sent four posts to Amazon in one day. (For all of the books, I wanted at least one category that couldn’t be chosen through the KDP Dashboard.)

While writing a blog post a few days later, I noticed that these were the categories for Yseult, a historical fantasy set in the fifth century and based on the legend of Tristan and Isolde:

#17 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#56 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Space Exploration
#60 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > First Contact

Needless to say, I did not request to have Yseult changed to “First Contact” — that was for Looking Through Lace. But I sent the requests on the same day, and Amazon support lumped them all together under one author, and I ended up with two epic historical fantasies listed in SF categories. Sigh.

I have since tried to correct the situation, and while I did get Yseult and Shadow of Stone into more appropriate categories, they are also still being listed in the science fiction categories I intended for Looking Through Lace and Beyond the Waters of the World. Here’s the current ranking for Yseult, for example:

#2 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Fantasy > Arthurian
#31 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > First Contact

Yes, it is back in Arthurian now, but it is still listed under First Contact. While on one level that might fit thematically, since Yseult is forced to move to a completely foreign culture, the novel is still not exactly science fiction. 😦

So if, like me, you write in multiple genres or even sub-genres, don’t try try to change too many books in different categories in one day by contacting KDP directly. That is apparently too taxing for the Amazon support folks.

I HAS HARD COPY! *g* Yseult published to CreateSpace

After weeks of work, and ten days waiting for the proof, Yseult arrived in Germany today — and it looks gorgeous! See for yourself:

Ok, that last is a bit dusty, I admit. 🙂

Right now, I’m happy I went ahead and took so much time to get this book right, and that I spent the money on one of Joel Friedlander’s templates for the interior. It was still a heck of a lot of work, but here’s what it looks like:

I’m ridiculously proud of myself. *g* So off I went to CreateSpace to approve the proof. Yseult should be available on Amazon in 5-7 days. (As I mentioned in a previous post, I opted out of Expanded Distribution because it would have put the minimum price of Yseult at over $20!)

Just for fun, I also took a pic of all the traditional publications of Yseult, the translations into German, Dutch and Italian. I really think the do-it-yourself version is quite decent in comparison!

Now that I know all the work paid off, I will post at length about the process, seeing as (as far as I’m concerned) it was a success. But since this is primarily an update post, I’ll leave it at the pretty pictures for now. 🙂

The beginning of this week, I got a really bad cold or really bad allergies (this time of year, I can’t always tell which), and that has slowed my progress on Island of Glass somewhat. I feel more like a person again today, but the creeping crud is still giving me some problems. I’m up to chapter six on the revisions now. Adding a foil for Chiara means a lot more new writing than just a read-through, so it’s taking longer than an editing pass would. But I think this will make the book a lot stronger.

And for those who don’t yet have it, Shadow of Stone is FREE through Friday, May 31. Enjoy!

Getting back to the writing: Revisions on Island of Glass

Not a lot of progress on Island of Glass to report for the week, since revisions are hard to quantify. What I can say is that I’m in the middle of chapter four now (of ten), and during this rewrite, I’ve added an additional character as a foil for Chiara. That has resulted in about another 2500 words to Island of Glass, which is now coming in at just under 20,000 words.

It might not be a lot of words for the week, but I don’t think it’s smart to count words while revising. I’m just mentioning them for the record. Sometimes, the best revision is measured in words cut. If memory serves, when I was working on the final draft of Shadow of Stone, I cut at least 10,000 words — but that, admittedly, from an initial manuscript of about 190,000 words. And the cuts happened over a revision lasting weeks. Which means my “progress” during the revision stage was about -2000 words a week. I dare someone to top that! *g*

Before I close, just another reminder to check out the Epic Fantasy Ebook Sale Party!

I wish everyone a wonderful week. 🙂

Epic Fantasy Ebook Sale Party!

Just yesterday, I found out about a group promo for epic fantasy, being organized by Vera Nazarian on the Kindle Boards. It started today, but Vera was still accepting participants, so I decided to jump right in. If Yseult and Shadow of Stone aren’t epic fantasy, both coming in at close to 200,000 words, I don’t know what is! I have a freebie scheduled this week for Shadow of Stone, so that wouldn’t qualify — the promo is for sale books between 99c and 2.99. So I reduced the price of Yseult to 2.99 for the rest of this week. Nice to get involved in a promo again where I don’t have to do the lion’s share of the work. 🙂

Anyway, here are some of the books on sale during the Epic Fantasy Party:

Vera Nazarian, Lords of Rainbow, on sale for 1.99

Elizabeth Baxter, Everwinter (The Wrath of the Northmen), on sale for 99c

Nicholas Andrews, The Adventure Tournament (The Adventurers), on sale for 2.99

Enjoy!

Brief update: new version of book trailer and a few more chapters revised

I was in bed pretty much all day Monday with a fever, and not in the greatest shape Sunday or Tuesday either, so I got a lot less done than I wanted to. But I did get a new version of the book trailer for The Pendragon Chronicles made. Only minor changes, mostly having to do with the ending, since the main complaint was that the web page wasn’t visible long enough. Here’s the new version:

I’ve declared it final (for the time being *g*) since I needed to send the link for a promotion I’m doing for Shadow of Stone the beginning of May.

On the writing front, I’m only up to chapter 17 of Chameleon in a Mirror — on what was supposed to be a fast read-through before I send it to my critique partner. Oh well. Not the first time I’ve misjudged how long something will take. 🙂

Wonderful words to everyone, be they read or written or both!

Real life distractions and a bunch of unannounced freebies

I have a translation deadline for 10 am tomorrow, and seeing that I’m a night owl and that’s about the time I get up in the morning (one of the joys of being a freelancer), I had to finish tonight. It’s now off, and I can finally get around to an update.

Given the developments of the last few days, I really will be eating my words and keeping Shadow of Stone in KDP Select for another round. In the last three days, I’ve made nearly as much in borrows on SoS as I made on Yseult in all other venues in the last two months since I took it out of KDP Select. And that’s not counting the additional sales of Yseult in the last few days on Amazon.

While I understand the haters being against Amazon’s dominance of the market, this is a purely self-centered, marketing decision on my part, based on my own sales data.

At the same time, while it might possibly be more lucrative for me to put Yseult back into KDP Select, I won’t. From what I’ve heard and read, the other ebook markets out there need a lot longer to take off, but the reward is more staying power. I haven’t been in the alternate markets long enough to confirm that, but I think it’s worth it to stick around a bit longer to see if it will work.

Just for the fun, and to reward my blog readers, I set up a bunch of spontaneous freebies that I’m not going to announce anywhere else:

Free from March 4-6, The Future, Imperfect: Six Dystopian Short Stories

Free from March 6-7, Beyond the Waters of the World

Free from March 4-6, Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife

Free from March 5-6, In the Middle of Nowhere With Company

And please note my new ebook short story, “The Leaving Sweater,” which is free on Kobo but has yet to be price-matched on Amazon:

The Leaving Sweater

In other news, I finished this revision pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Since my critique partner doesn’t have time to read it until April, I’d like to still do another fast read-through before I send it along.

Wow, what a week. I think I need a break. 🙂

Luck and skill to everyone!