Why Kickstart Nothing

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Hitting the launch button for the kickstarter for The Nothing is one of the scariest things I’ve done as a writer, but it feels damned good all the same.

When I first got the news that my publisher had decided not to pick up the third book of the trilogy, I was devastated. Sure, they’d dropped a lot of hints about sales for Between and Wakeworld being less than noteworthy. And they’d said they wanted to wait and see what the sales on Wakeworld turned into before making a decision on whether they wanted to pick up The Nothing or not. But hope is insidious and pervasive and somewhere in the back of my mind I was maybe expecting a tiny little miracle.

Yeah. Not so much with the miracle. Apparently my miracle quota got all used up in the flurry of excitement around the deal with the first two books. So I moped a bit. My self confidence took a dive. I doubted myself and the books and my writing and my reason for existing. That said, there was never any doubt that I was going to finish writing The Nothing. Or that I was going to get it out to readers in some form or another.

But I also knew I was going to need help in order to deliver a quality product. Editing, for example. It’s impossible to edit your own work well since the brain does this really cool trick of superimposing what it knows (or thinks it knows) over what is actually on the page. Not to mention a cover and a little marketing to make the book visible to readers once it comes out.

So I started reaching out to editors and found my way in the end to highly recommended copy editor Richard Shealy. We were discussing my plans and that I thought I was going to have to skip a developmental edit because of funds, when he said, “You should try a kickstarter.”

Um, yeah. That. Putting the book out there and asking people to support the project. With money. What if nobody backs the project? What if the first two books didn’t sell a million copies because they SUCK? Not to mention the fact that kickstarters all must begin with the project creator appearing on a  FREAKING VIDEO.

(Excuse me for a minute, while I wipe the sweat from my brow and settle my shaking fingers.)

I caught myself typing these words in response to Richard’s suggestion: “I’m scared to do a kickstarter.”

And then I said to myself, “Oh, shit, now I have to do it.”

Once upon a time, when I first began to venture into moving my writing from the desk drawer and computer screen into the big wide world,  I made a rule for myself. It’s this: if I’m scared to do something, then I have to do it. (I exclude truly life threatening activities from this list. Like, say, sky diving and bungee jumping. Hey, my life. My rules.) But a kickstarter can’t hurt anything but my ego, and rules are rules.

So I set up the project over at kickstarter.com. I got a video together thanks to some serious bullying by my Viking, video editing from my eldest son, Ryan, and some awesome cameo appearances by friends (bushels of thanks to Ara Gigorian, Chris, Susan Spann and Jennifer Spiller).

And thus it is that Monday morning, October 13th, I’m launching a kickstarter in a quest to produce a quality version of The Nothing.  Whether the project funds or not, I will have ventured where I feared to go. That, my friends, is a success in itself.

Interested in Supporting the Kickstarter?

You can get involved in backing the project for as little as a $2 investment. Helping with buzz is also immensely valuable. Any tweet or FB post you can spare, any friends you care to invite, can help this project succeed – #kickstartnothing is the official hashtag. I’ll be posting updates here, on Twitter and Facebook. Watch for updates!

Thank you in advance for your support.

UPDATE: I hit the launch button. The kickstarter is LIVE at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/574989945/the-nothing-is-comingdream-if-you-dare

 

 

 

Dust and Light – Love This Book

Carol Berg is rapidly morphing into my favorite fantasy author. I did a binge read of the Collegia Magica trilogy, relishing the strong characters, original magic, deep world building, and the strong mystery element that ran throughout.

Dust and Light manages to be equally good while being new and different. First off, there is that gorgeous cover. I buy paper books for a lot of reasons. One of these is that the book itself is part of the reading equation. Covers are art, and a spectacular cover like this one magnifies the pleasure for me:

dust and light

As for the story – well, we’ve got a whole new complex (and wonderful) magic system. A young hero who discovers that his entire way of life is built on a lie, and that this knowledge could cost not only his own life but those of anybody he cares for. All of this, within a complex plot that unravels clues like a mystery, one at a time. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption…. 
How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Don’t miss it!

God’s Pocket – Movie to Book

Every weekend the Viking and I pick up a couple of movies from the local Safeway since our satellite internet connection doesn’t allow for streaming movies and downloads. Sometimes the Safeway pickings are slim and we resort to films we might otherwise bypass. God’s Pocket is one of these, although it did intrigue me for a couple of reasons – the biggest being Philip Seymour Hoffman. I always liked Hoffman as an actor, and now that he’s dead there’s a special significance to seeing him in one of his last flicks.

But what a deeply dark and depressing world this movie took us to. Hoffman does a great job in the role of Mickey, a basically decent guy who is stuck in a bleak world where he can’t win for losing. Here’s the blurb:

When Mickey’s crazy step-son Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body, but when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please and a debt he can’t pay.

Written by I.F.C. Films

As we watched, the Viking kept looking at me and saying, “God, what a horrible life.” Most of the characters are unpleasant, and the only ones I found myself cheering for were the guy who kills the step-son, the crew boss who covers up what really happened, and the elderly florist who knows how to take care of herself.

That said, I don’t regret the time spent watching. The story sparked some thought for me about human nature, as well as serious gratitude for my own life and the good people around me.

Also, as it turns out, the movie is based on a book.

A few minutes research on Amazon revealed that the Kindle edition of God’s Pocket by Pete Dexter came out in May of this year. Apparently the paperback is coming out in November. Out of curiosity I had a peek inside the book and will definitely be reading, despite my usual reluctance to read books that are set in the dark and depressing. Dexter can write, though, and I’m prepared to follow him into bleakness for little gems like this:

“Mickey Scarpatto was forty-five years old and did not understand women. It wasn’t the way bartenders or comedians didn’t understand women, it was the way poor people didn’t understand the economy.”

Definitely worth a read, I think.

 

The Frost is on the Pumpkin

In truth, I have no pumpkins. But the frost is on the windshield this morning.

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And last night, just past dusk, I heard wild geese flying overhead. That call always gets me, especially in the fall. It makes me restless, itchy in my own skin. I want to do things, go places, get things done.

Which means, in this case, that I’ve spent my morning doing everything but writing. Paying bills, minimizing the chaos that’s built up around me while I’ve been buried in writing stories.

Maybe it’s instinct kicking in. Winter’s coming. Get ready. Batten the hatches, bring in the firewood, make sure there’s plenty of food in the pantry.

Funny how that works. Yesterday I was still in summer land and decidedly wanting to stay there. Today I woke up feeling energized, as if the smell of snow and frost woke up the Viking ancestry sleeping in my blood.

As it turns out, I’ve never really read the Frost is on the Pumpkin poem, which I thought was by Robert Frost. According to Google I’m wrong about mostly everything. Here’s the first verse:

“WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

The poet is a gentleman named James Whitcomb Riley, 1853-1916. Although I can’t say that I an enamored with this style of poetry, I will admit he sort of caught the way I feel. But the poet who really nails it for me is Bliss Carmen, with Vagabond Song:

“THERE is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name. ”

Anybody else have an autumn poem or song that stirs your blood?

I’ve Got a Secret…

I have exciting news to share with you.

But I’m not going to share it now. I’ve decided that the subscribers to my What’s Up in the Between newsletter should get first dibs on all of the news and gossip related to my books, so I’m going to tell them first.

News and Newsletters go together like coffee and cream, chocolate and peanut butter, Kahlua and – well, Kahlua goes with pretty much everything. I’ve been meaning to try it in my oatmeal one of these mornings but when it comes right down to it I never quite finish the pour. Anyway, back to the news that I am not sharing right now.

The good news is that I’m going to hold off a bit, so everybody who wants to can get in on the fun. If you’re not already hooked up to What’s Up in the Between there is a very simple solution to the problem.

Just Click Here

What happens if you click the link? (I know. It feels a little bit like Neo choosing whether to take that pill or not…)

neopill

Don’t worry. You’re not going to wake up to discover that civilization as you know it is actually a giant computer program. And you won’t get sucked into the Between. (Well, probably. I can’t make guarantees about the Between, because the doors are everywhere.)

So even though I can’t predict everything that might happen, I can tell you three things are highly likely.

1. You get to hear news and announcements and see book covers and other fun and exciting things before everybody else.

2. You get to read exclusive excerpts from unpublished projects, as well as some fun outtakes from my “Darlings” file.

3. Every month you will get entered into a drawing for free books and other fun prizes.

If you just don’t want to mess around with one more email showing up in your inbox, no worries. I completely understand and I promise I will still tell you what’s going on.

Eventually.

Free for the Fourth

This sounds like it’s going to be some sort of post on Freedom and Liberty and all of that stuff.

It’s not.

While I am grateful, daily and always, for the freedom and liberty and lovely life I’ve been able to have in both my native Canada and adopted USA, I’m talking about Free Books.

Why?

Because I feel like giving things away, and because what better time is there to do that than the Fourth of July? Especially since Canada Day just also happened, and that is two celebration days for me in one week!

I’m also in the mood to make things match. So here’s the deal:

Over the next 4 days, beginning today on the 4th, I’m giving away 4 books (total). Each winner can choose one copy of Between or Wakeworld. US and Canadian peeps only this time, please.  You can play along here at the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, or all of the above!

To enter here, just leave me a comment about something positive and good going on in your world. This could be anything from fresh tomatoes to winning the lottery. I’d just like to know what’s making you smile these days. Closing down the comments by midnight my time on the 7th. Bonus entry if you send somebody else this direction, just make sure they let me know who sent them so I can give you credit.

Now – Go!

What makes you happy?

 

Share the Book Love – and Win!

Many readers don’t realize how important reviews of books are to the people who write them.

For starters, it just makes a writer immeasurably happy to know that some reader out there who isn’t a friend or family member actually took the time to read and love the book.

Also, reader reviews help to sell more books. This is gospel truth. Nothing helps an author sell more books than enthusiastic love from another reader.

Another little known fact is that reader reviews actually influence publishing contracts. Publishers are more likely to contract with a writer for another book if they know there is a reader group out there who is waiting for more.

At the same time, I know it’s a hassle to go and leave a review. Personally, I hate doing it and am very guilty of loving books and not taking the time to leave a review. There’s all those stars and the “what do I say?” part, not to mention the flashbacks to the much hated book reports I had to do in school.

But here’s the thing – reviews can be as short as “I totally inhaled this book and can’t wait for the next one.” In fact, sometimes I think those are better. I’m challenging myself to take the time to review the books I love, and I’m challenging you to do the same.

Only – there’s a bonus in this for you!!

1. Leave a review on Amazon of WAKEWORLD or any other living author’s book sometime before Sunday at midnight (my time, which is PST) and I’ll enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card. It’s that simple, and you’ll make a writer really happy. (HINT: choose a book you love, or at least like. Scathing reviews do not make authors happy. Trust me.)

2. Leave a comment here with a link to your review – that way you share what you love and I know to enter you.

3. Enter as many times as you wish. The more reviews out there the better!

Happy reading.

 

Ten Reasons to Read the Mindspace Investigations Series

I have a visitor here on the blog today – the fabulously talented Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations Series. The latest installment is called Marked, and I’ve been going around telling everybody you need to read this book.  In fact, I’m so excited about the release of Marked that I’m giving a copy away!

What makes this series so fabulous? Funny you should ask. Alex has stopped by to give you ten good reasons why you should read Marked and the rest of the Mindspace Investigations Novels.

I feel like we need a drum roll here. Just so you know, I’m picturing Animal from the muppets providing a little intro. Okay. Ready? Take it away Alex:

10 Reasons to Read the Mindspace Investigations Series

1. A flawed hero you’ll love to root for, even when he screws up.

2. Flying cars.

3. Cool telepathy used to get the truth from suspects.

4. A cranky (but awesome) female homicide detective who gets the job done, no matter what it takes.

5. Seeing emotions people left behind in Mindspace. At crime scenes, that means finding clues

6. Interesting murder cases and mysteries.

7. A guy fighting to redeem himself from a dark past and do the right thing in the present.

8. A cast of minor characters you’ll love to follow.

9. The mysterious and foreboding Telepath’s Guild, who has its own agenda and the power to enforce it.

10. Scifi world like ours… with a twist. No computers (since we’re post-Tech Wars) but plenty of other futuristic stuff like antigravity, magnetic air conditioning, and artificial organs.

Convinced? Need more? Here comes the cover and the blurb. And if that’s not enough, stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom!

Marked

FORESEE NO EVIL.

Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…

 

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers

When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers

The Disaster That Has Befallen

Let me get right to the point.

My dear friend and awesome writer Julie Butcher has landed in a spot of trouble.

Last Sunday her husband got on the wrong side of a chainsaw. What this means, for those of you unfamiliar with chainsaws, is that he’s in the hospital with a leg that looks, I’m told, like it’s been mauled by a grizzly. He’s had two surgeries and will need another. He’s also not likely to be working for quite awhile to come.

If you don’t know Julie, you are missing something. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is also the sort of person who will stay up half the night ferrying stragglers to and fro from the airport to the writer’s conference, critiquing manuscripts with great skill and daring for those of us struggling with plot and structure, not to mention managing her six kids and volunteering at soup kitchens and, and, and….

In short, only good things should happen to Julie.
Since the chainsaw disaster has befallen, however, the Powers that Be over at the Evil League of Evil Writers are putting together an extravaganza of a fundraiser to help Julie and family out with medical bills and expenses. The fundraiser will be run through a crowd funding site and will go live on April 1st.

How can you help?


Bless you, I knew that would be your first question. So let me count the ways.

1. Contribute goods and services. 

Between now and April 1st we are collecting items to offer up as perks and incentives. We are open to all sorts of objects such as handmade arts and crafts or copies of your books, as well as services like critiques, time with you at a convention, online chat time – whatever you have to offer that readers, writers, or the population at large might find of value.

2. Donate

When the fundraiser goes live, have a look around for perks that appeal to you and donate to the cause. You’ll get something awesome in return for helping out a fellow writer in a tough spot. Win/Win all round.

3. Share the Love

Let everybody know. Share the word with your connections and ask them to pass it along. The more people  that know about this, the more money we can raise. Even if you’re too busy or too broke to be able to pitch in with Contributing or Donating, if you can find a minute to retweet or repost you are definitely helping out the cause.

To make it easy for those of you who would like to contribute goods and/or services, here is a handy dandy form that will get your info directly to the Evil Goddesses who are running this show. Questions? Please ask. We will do our best to answer.

Baton Blog Hop

This morning’s Monday Blessing post has been bumped by an invitation to play  a game called Baton Blog Hop. The idea is sort of a blog relay. I was tagged  by the ever so lovely and talented Silver James. She writes sizzling Romance and Paranormal Romance and you should definitely hop on over and check out her blog HERE. Go ahead – we’ll wait.

Okay. My part in this gig is to answer four questions about my writing process, and then to introduce you to three other fabulous writers out there who will do the same thing next Monday.

Ready? Here we go:

1. What am I working on?

At the moment I’m in revisions on a Paranormal Mystery/Thriller called Dead Before Dying, in which an aging paranormal investigator goes undercover in a Senior Citizen’s community. There are some particularly vicious supernatural beasties floating around in this one, but plenty of dark humor and some kick ass fun.

I’m also drafting the 3rd book of the Books of the Between.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most female leads in Paranormal or Urban Fantasy books are young and kick ass. Maureen, the heroine of Dead Before Dying is about to turn sixty and is recovering from some injuries that limit her physically. However, her spirit is about as kick ass as you can get, and she’s got plenty of life in her yet. The book combines some elements of horror with dark humor and has a bit of a hard boiled mystery feel.
As for the Books of the Between – there aren’t a lot of penguins in fantasy novels, so there is that. The series also blends elements of Urban Fantasy with more traditional Fantasy.
3. Why do I write what I do?
These are the stories that talk to me, the ones that are able to drag me out of bed in the morning to make the time to write.  I’ve tried to write fiction without fantastical elements and I got bored. The fantasy creeps in willy nilly, so I figure I might as well embrace it. On the other hand, I love to play in the weird spaces, which seems to require the meeting of reality and fantasy.
4. How does your writing process work?
Every book is different. Some books require more plotting and planning than others. Some seem to write themselves. Usually, I get the seed of an idea like “What if there was a geriatric vampire?” and it all develops from there. Usually I write a rough draft in which I explore the ideas and the characters and try to develop a plot. And then I revise for — like — forever. I’m not kidding. By the time I’m done I often have nearly as many words in my discard file as in the finished product. I chase rabbit trails and I play with ideas. And then I cut and cut and cut, and rewrite, and polish, until I end up with a manuscript that looks more or less like a book.
Now, let me introduce to you the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to post next Monday.
Mia Marshall writes Urban Fantasy, and is the author of the Elements series. Shifting Selves was nominated for a 2013 RT Reviewers Choice award.
Susan Spann is the author of Claws of the Cat, a mystery set in medieval Japan and featuring shinobi Hiro Hattori as the investigator. The sequel, Blade of the Samurai, will be out in July
Derick William Dalton is the author of the SciFi novel Houses of Common. I haven’t read this yet but it looks awesome and here’s the really fun fact – Derick is a co-worker and I didn’t even know he was a writer!! Such a small and sometimes wonderful world.
Please check out the blogs of these wonderful writers and stay tuned for their posts next Monday!