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I am sharing a tiny tiny squee or two today! I got my ISBN account information (which makes all of this just a little bit more real). I received notice that I will be getting my first royalty payments, and I got North Watch Keep published to Kobo.
I am excited to finally get all the things moving through the process so you can get your hands on things. Really, the hard part about all of this is not the writing. It is keeping track of the pieces and bits, sorting out the flow of the process to move from idea to story to published work, and making sure that you, dear reader, get the chance to get your hands on my work in all the venues you would like to find the words.
In celebration of all that good stuff, North Watch Keep is dropping to 99 cents. Pre-orders for the next episode in the series will also open on Friday! Thanks for being here, and for listening.
Hello Dear Reader!
It has been a good week but a tiring week. My classes got through the first half of their assessments (yay) which means I have lots of marking and planning to do. Our employer walked away from bargaining (boo). They did not make similar offers to us like they did other unions (double boo) or deal with the class cap issues, which means we go to level three of strike action and if nothing gets sorted out we start rotating strikes October 1.
The thought of rotating strikes chills my soul.
No one becomes a teacher for the money or the glory, particularly not an elementary second language teacher. You are there because of the kids. My students have books to read because I bought them. Almost all the materials used in my classroom I purchased myself. I say classroom very loosely: I don’t have a classroom. I am the run from room to room French teacher and I teach nearly a third of the students at my school. I am not complaining–my students are great and I love my job. But, the thought of ‘no class size cap’ chills me. Imagine 32 three and four year olds with one teacher and you will totally understand my concern. I am a tiny peg in a huge union and I have no control over what is happening. I can only control my responses and keep my kids happy to be in my classes. My stress management approach is to write and try to do exercise in the mornings. The writing is going well. The exercise? Ha.
I have been trying a new morning routine. I get up before school and write for half an hour or so. So far, I have written every day since school started (and I have only been late to leave once). Sometimes the words come easily and sometimes they are stilted and horrible but there are words on the page. The story that is coming out is awesome. Actually both stories are fun. My sequel to The Dragons’ Court is super fun, and the rewrite of Super School is streaming out in great enthusiasm.
When I changed the starting age of my main character to an older child in Super School, she developed such an interesting voice. And there are logical reasons for some of her issues and how she develops as a person. There is a particularly wonderful scene when Paul and his brothers arrive to fix their house after a home invasion and Jonas carries in the new fridge by himself that made me laugh out loud. When I read the story to Hubie, he can tell me where we left off last time (memorable narrative, check) and as I read he keeps saying–go on, go on. When I get to the end of the narration, he mutters a bit about how I should go write some more. That is a very good sign. I don’t normally write things that hold his attention quite like this story. Or I use too many commas. Or both. But I am happy with the story and he is happy with the story.
I am feeling like a flake with the freebie. I get halfway through the process of getting it to you, dear reader, and I get stuck on some stupid esoteric administrative question that I have no idea how to answer. The same with releasing North Watch Keep on Kobo. Some of the hold up is ISBN numbers. I have applied for and finally gotten an answer from the people in charge asking for more information. Hopefully my answer back to them will make them happy and all will be well and I will have access to numbers next week. I know I should be doing things like pre-release hype, pre-orders for the book, and all that jazz. Or sending out emails and asking if you want to become part of my special release team, but, I am going to be honest. I am not quite at that point. I will be, but I am not there yet. If I get the freebie to work automagically this week, I will be happy. The next step, releasing Dragons’ Court, will not happen until You, dear reader, get the freebie. I will master this issue. I will get through this. You will profit from my managing the challenges. In the meantime, I am just going to keep writing.
I just finished the first week of school. That first week is always a challenge, but this year it was a bit of a madhouse. My school was reorganized five times in the two weeks before school started. The last reorganization was Friday afternoon before the long weekend. I didn’t get my schedule or subjects I would be covering until Monday morning and school started Tuesday. Needless to say, all those things teachers do in the weeks leading up to school didn’t get done until Monday afternoon. Even so, so far, so good. I have a lot of students (and a lot of different classes because one of my French classes became coverages) but I am not so stressed about that. I like my job. I have already had several people in observing students and one of their comments to me was that I was a very dynamic and engaging teacher. All to the good.
My writer’s ADHD has kicked in big time.
I’m working on a rewrite of Super School. I woke up three days ago with what I think is a ‘simple’ way to solve my character challenges. (Are any of them ever really simple?) The new version has a better focus at the beginning and a tighter problem sequence. I think I am going to be able to use most of the second half of the first draft with this new characterization of Marietta, but we will see as things get rolling. I changed the beginning from ‘little kid’ to ‘almost sixteen year old who has hopped around the world with her dad and now is back in her home town for the first time since her mom died when she was six’. The change is making the story work a lot better. I have done some world building, and some character sheets. I am dialing up the conflicts, and creating a better setup for the end by introducing a character who causes chaos much much earlier in the story. And, as you roll through, you suddenly start to see how the super heroes are hanging around Los Domos in a subtle but powerful group. Not quite hiding, but definitely not in plain sight either.
I am also working on the story after The Dragon’s Court. It doesn’t really have a title yet, but it will pull together the stories from The King’s Son, North Watch Keep, and the Dragon’s Court, and add a new element. I’m enjoying watching the characters develop. I don’t know if I will write myself into a corner because I haven’t plotted out the story except–everything comes out right in the end. I seem to be able to plan out about five scenes before my muse digs in her heels and refuses to play along, so I am going to keep rolling with that and hope for the best.
Good stories come out in good editing, right?
The Finder is at a stand still. I need to find some beta readers who will listen as I read the story out loud or who will enjoy reading the story in smaller chunks. My husband and children balked at the box of body parts left on the desk and the finger attached to the roses in the vase. I don’t blame them but because my usual primary audience is going’ lalala I’m not listening’ with fingers in their ears, I need to find another group to read and comment.
On the marketing and communication front, I spent three hours the night before school watching my lovely web designer fix the mess I had made of my new website when I installed the Author’s Theme. The mess was caused by a combination of things: I want a big landing page with a get a free book button on the very front top of the home page (there has to be a work around in that theme for this, but neither of us could figure it out); I want a store that works (eventually lol) and I want a bookshelf where you, dear reader, can go and buy my books in the format you want. So far, I have a book shelf that mostly works, and a lot of stuff behind the scenes that will eventually become the store and the landing page. But, at least, the website works and it is pretty. My designer does not like lots of stuff, so pages got deleted and renamed and reworked all of which was cool. And, in the end?
It looked like my old website page! Nice to know I have good taste when all is said and done.
I am still fighting with the ‘free book’ set up (but I will figure it out, I promise). I am debating about the whole ‘perma-free’ book thing. Right now I have one book published, one almost ready to go, and a short story for the subscribers to my newsletter. I would change North Watch Keep to a permanently free book but I worry that my readers who have already bought my book will be upset. So, I am wondering how to handle this issue with grace and style. I am leaning towards asking readers to provide ‘proof of purchase’ so that I can send them book two for free. Which, is a great theory if I can figure out how to get everything to work for a reader to download. Which is where I am stuck on the technology. Technology is my …friend….. really. If you sign up for the newsletter, you will get Son of the King for free.
If you are willing to write a review for The Dragon’s Court I would be happy to send you a review copy. Just email me at eli dot winfield at gmail dot com and let me know. Reviews help others find my work.
In the end, this is all about sharing stories.
Oh, Dear Reader,
So when you are a ‘real professional’ are you allowed to tell your readers that you are struggling to get all the pieces to play nicely together or are you supposed to be the quiet upper lip type who just doesn’t fulfill promises? If I had not promised a blog that actually documented the real progress of an author’s journey, I think I would be in the ‘stiff upper lip’ camp. But this is not that blog, and I am not that writer. The truth is lots of people will tell you it is easy. Sometimes it is. The story usually is easy. The rest of the pieces? Ha! Remember how I said I was going to get this all working by the 1st of September assuming technology plays nicely?
Well, I have all the pieces.
Free book for subscribers–check. (It is short book but it is a complete story. I will never be one of those authors who gives you three chapters and then says–go buy the book! No, this one is a whole finished story. And Marsh is that character that is not your ‘typical knight in shining armor’ dude. And I talked to my friend Paul and let him know his name is in the front of that book yesterday. Because if ever there was a guy who is not your typical ‘knight in shining armor’ it is Paul Z.).
Formatted for Kindle and Kobo and pdf–check.
Loaded to a space in cyberspace where you can all get it from–check, but with some difficulty. Amazon S3 suffers from serious technobabble. I am sure it makes sense to someone.
List for the subscribers to sign up to–check
Pretty cover for the book–check
Page written that tells you I will not spam you and please tell me where to send you the free book–check
I also have a bookshelf that will direct you to buy books at your site of choice, and my own shopping cart so you can buy things here.
But …the technobabble, dear reader, the technobabble!
I am defeated by the computer geeks version of clear speaking which is why you are still looking at the tumbling egg timer of websites. I must have a plug in or a piece or something that does not play nicely with something else. I do not know how to fix it so it all plays nicely together, Today I am back to my full time work. Tonight or tomorrow I will hopefully find someone else who can help me make it all work together. I might go back to a different format of website until I can get the Author theme (which I like!) to play nicely with my cart and my email sign up page.
In the meantime, I am going to go back to my writing and getting words on the page. At least Carl is cooperating better than my website.
Welcome, dear Reader!
I hope you enjoy my new home in the internet. For the last few days I’ve been polishing the story that is only available for subscribers to my newsletter. It is the story of how North Watch Keep came into existence, and the favor that Rockton Marsh (an unlikely hero) did for the daughter of the King of the Fae. I hope you enjoy it.
The rest of this week I will be working on moving posts and adding the pieces so that the purchase buttons will work here too. I need to have everything in place before school starts in a week. It will be a lot of work, but I am a teacher. I am used to hard work.
Today’s excitement? I finally mastered Scrivner compile. I managed to produce both Kindle and epub versions of Son of a King. (The first time! Go me! Research and stubborn for the win! I am really my father’s daughter). So, if you have not thrown your name onto the mailing list, you should do it. Everyone on the mailing list before the auto-magic list pieces go live will get the story, too. And, anyone on the mailing list will get a chance for preview copies of work and coupon codes for the new book: Dragons’ Court.
Welcome, dear Reader! I am excited to see you here, peaking at the bones of this empty building. Right now the rafters are empty. The bookshelves need filling, and someone needs to fix the cash register. But, it is still mine.
If you didn’t realize it, right now everything is still under construction.
At the moment, the newsletter sign up page needs some help. (Sorry, Learning curve ahead). If you do not get an opt-in email when you sign up for the newsletter it means I did not manage to fix the problem. Please let me know at email@example.com. I am working on it, and I will let you know when it goes live.
I will be offering book purchases on this site for all the different formats, including KOBO (just for you, Auntie EJ), Kindle, iBooks and PDF. We just have to make sure the buttons all work.
There will also be an awesome ‘members only’ space just for subscribers to the email list. Members will get to preview the first parts of the novellas and novels, read a few stories from story collections for a week or two, find some of my character art and other cool things. This area is still under construction (and under wraps until the store opens).
The plan is for me to move everything here by September 1. Subscribers to my newsletter will get a bonus (yes, an awesome freebie!), advance notice for my new book releases and maybe even a coupon code or two…..
This past week has been a lot of crazy up and down. I am still trying to juggle all the writing as a career pieces–publishing, marketing, editing, writing and more writing–along with the stuff of life: keeping the jungle in the back yard from taking over again, running youngest to physiotherapy, work, and appointments, doing housework, and attempting to get the house back to go before school.
So far, the results are mixed. The back yard is not a ten foot high jungle like last summer; it is only a half a wild jungle. The house is kind of OK. I’ve been doing things like putting in new lighting in the bathrooms, and then convincing my dad to come fix the mess I made trying to wire in the safe plugs. The living room is full of stuff. I tell myself this is because youngest has started to sort her things to take back to school and has nothing to do with the fact I worked my way through one and a half courses on writing and marketing (knitting the whole time), transcribed a novella and another story, made a new website and figured out how to set things up to sell my books on Kobo and iBooks. Youngest and her stuff are my excuses and I am sticking to it.
I am pretty sure my muse is running from project to project because she cannot quite believe that I really mean I am going to keep letting her play. She isn’t convinced even though the plan is five shorter pieces and two novels in the next year.
The novella I stuffed into the word processor is set in the same universe as the last novella about a hundred years later and has dragons, psychics with the overlord gifts, and magic. I started thinking about character arcs and how the characters develop through the story to a satisfying end point. Then my Inner Hundred Pound Editor started asking those pesky why questions. Why would the male protagonist kidnap his bride instead of asking her to come along? Why would the dragons appear out of nowhere? Why do I say the main characters love each other, but not show it? Why don’t the dragons show up at the beginning of the story? The more questions my inner editor asked, the more I realized I needed to add scenes and change details to make the story clear and coherent. My inner editor threw the whole timing piece out the window.
At the beginning of the week my plan looked like this: share the novella with the editorial team on Monday. Work through suggested edits next weekend, plan a launch for the first week in September. Truthfully? I have added almost 5K words to the novella in the last two days and I am not quite done. I am not sure the manuscript will manage to get to the editor by Monday. I am still going to do my level best to ‘make it so’ but I have at least that much more to go of new stuff before I get to the edits of the work that is there now. Since my brain will only write for so long every day the two story collections and the Cardonne episode are currently languishing as the novella takes up my muse’s play time. It is all about balance, right?
On the marketing side, I finished Michael Hyatt’s Get Published. (excellent with a lot of great food for thought, and started on ‘Your first 10 000 readers.’ Your first 10 K Readers is about marketing in a smart, friendly way. It is the first course of its kind I’ve found that works through the marketing of Fiction in a way I can handle. Honestly? There are all these people who are telling you that they can help you make lots of money writing. They all have this amazing system that makes money without a lot of work (that they will sell you for lots of money, sometimes making me wonder if that is really how they are making their money). The cynic in me discounts the words ‘easy and fast’ pretty quickly.
I am halfway through 10K. I have gotten farther than I have ever gotten with setting up the things I need for marketing. His step by step lessons are thorough, logical and helpful. My author website is set up,. I created a mailing list (with a subscribe page even) and I started to work through some of the systems that need to be in place for marketing. I even know what my sign up bonus will be for my subscribers.
This means, dear Reader, you will soon find me over at eliwinfieldauthor.com.
In September I will blogging about writing at my own little piece of the internet universe. If you want to watch all the changes as my author website gets set up, please come on over to Eli Winfield Author and follow me there. I am excited and a little bit scared. This blog feels like home. I don’t know if I can figure out how to migrate all my blog posts from here to there. But my new website has a proper book shelf page and subscribe buttons and all these other awesome things. And it is mine.
Still, my bottom line is all about story. No matter how much I learn about marketing, about finding and connecting with readers, and writing as a career, none of it will make a difference if I don’t have any stories to sell. Published authors, authors I admire and read and reread, have more than one book to sell. This mean I need to do all the things to have books available for you, dear Reader, to buy. Which means I need to write, edit, launch, release and repeat…
There are people who make money at this crazy thing called writing. In my first month with book 1, I have done pretty well all things considered. With book 1, I did not do all the things I know that will help sell more books–like creating a proper launch, finding the right key words, having a mailing list, doing advertising, and all that jazz. But, I still made enough to have pizza a few times a month. With youngest becoming an engineer on my penny, I need to write and sell enough to make decent money but my bottom line is the story.
I want to write and share stories that I love. It is fun to have others enjoy playing with my imaginary friends. We all know my muse jumps from story to story with glee, picking up and dropping her toys across the floor faster than I can usually keep up. I will not promise to put all the books I write in one universe. I will never be that writer who writes forty-five books in a series with the same characters, but I will try to keep the first few in the same universe. A hundred years apart or so, but in the same universe, with dragons and psychics and magic…
What I am learning about writing is that there is always something else to do. This is very true because I am trying to stuff creating the vast majority of my ‘author website’ development in before I get back to school and life interferes with the writing schedule.
This week, my list is a little bit crazy in a good way. I am trying to get through:
That is not counting all those life things like taking youngest to physiotherapy and work, weeding the garden, cleaning the house, painting, organizing the insane amount of stuff that got moved but never got unpacked and thinking about knitting. You know, life.
Right now, I am super proud of myself because I just finished making my basic author website (under my name even!) with a sign up form. Of course, now I get to figure out how to get all the things from here to there but I can do that. It isn’t ready for visitors quite yet
Bottom line: if you have not investigated ‘Your First 10000 Readers’ and you are an author that wants to have an online presence that is managed in a thoughtful way, you should really check out this course. I’ve tried several different ways to get myself over the online presence hurdle (set up a proper website with purchase my books buttons, and a sign up/email list button) since I started trying to become a serious author. This course is the course that got me there, and I am only half way through.
Excited cannot begin to cover it!
The first draft of the newest novella is done!
With the help of Nayor, a black dragon, Anary and Flax try to stop Jentha from overrunning Fairhaven.
And the book description:
The Overlords were once called the Speakers of the Dragons but no one in Fairhaven thinks dragons exist. Lord Flax, General of Fairhaven, is caught between the ‘Cleansing’ of the peasants and the war with Jentha. Now his dreams are being invaded by Anary, a beautiful peasant with a powerful overlord gift who hears dragons. But even with the help of Nayor, a black dragon, can Anary and Flax save Fairhaven?
The novella’s current working title is Lord Flax’s Lady, but I am not sure if this is the right one. Other titles I’ve come up with include The Dragon’s Court; Flax and the Dragons; Speaker for the Dragons or Anary, Sword of Justice.
Anyone have a preference?
Do any of you struggle with picking a book title?