Thursday, 20 October 2016

Book Bingeing & Ghosts of Fire

I love finding new authors. What I love even more is finding they've already published several books, meaning I can binge read their work. It's like discovering an amazing television series after it ends and being able to watch back-to-back episodes whenever you wish. Last year I downloaded a free copy of Legacy Code by Autumn Kalquist. I was so entranced by the characters and the premise, I'd downloaded and read all five books within a month.

There are of course drawbacks to book bingeing, like matching up print editions when they've gone out of print. In 2012, I read Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett's The Long Earth. While I adored the hardback cover, I was disappointed in the book and decided not to read the subsequent releases. The problem was I fell in love with each book cover as it was released. In August this year, I finally caved and decided to read the second book in the series, The Long War. Being somewhat of a completest, I had to get it in hardback even though it was out of print. It took a while, but I found one in a reasonable condition.

The Long War was, in my opinion, a far better than the The Long Earth. So much so, I've decided to read all five books in the series. Getting hold of the matching hardbacks has taken time and much searching. Thankfully, as you can see above, I now have books one to four and five is still in print.

The same thing can't be said of my Pittacus Lore books. I have books two through five in hardback. I cannot find a hardback copy of number one or six. Number seven is still in print. I hate that they don't match. I guess the lesson to be learned from this is to buy books when they're released, not a few years afterwards.

Talking of releases, I have one to share. The third Elements of Untethered Realms anthology, Ghosts of Fire, has been released. If you've read one or more of the first two anthologies or any of the authors featured, you'll know what a thrill this speculative fiction anthology will be to read.

From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Ghosts of Fire, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet paranormal detectives, imprisoned dragons, dark demons, cursed jewels, and handsome prophets. Explore shifting realms trapped in mirrors and a disturbing future where a president aims to rid the world of Otherkind. Ghosts of Fire is the third, long-awaited Elements story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

"The Flaming Emerald" by Jeff Chapman: When Orville finds an emerald in a pawnshop, Jimmy suspects there's trouble ahead, which is precisely what they encounter, trouble of a very weird and supernatural kind. Will they rid themselves of the cursed jewel before the flames scorch them? This is another story in Chapman's Huckster Tales series.

"The Cost of Greatness" by Meradeth Houston: The newly elected President swears that he will rid the country of Otherkind, no matter the cost. When violence breaks out, one question must be answered: what is the cost of peace?

"On Day 168" by Cherie Reich: For 168 days, a dragon imprisoned Astryd in his cave, but the chieftain's daughter has escaped to discover the dragon may not be her only enemy. This story takes place several hundred years before Reich's series The Fate Challenges.

"The Vagaries of Eloise Stanton" by M. Pax: Lucy's family disappeared when she was a child, lost in a world of mirror. No one believed her, yet the reflections of her family's faces haunt her, plead with her for rescue. On the verge of at last being reunited, Lucy must battle the cruel woman, who isn't quite human, standing as a barrier between the two realms.

"Mind the Gap" by Gwen Gardner: Carl James wants to impress the lovely Detective Inspector Madison Perry by helping her catch an international art thief. Little does he know how his world will change when he steps through the ancient standing stones and finds himself an unintentional Gap Walker.

"Ryan" by Misha Gerrick: As the oldest griffon in existence, nothing thrills Ryan more than hunting down Aleria, the most powerful phoenix alive. But when the blitz traps both immortals in a struggle for life and death, he discovers she might be more than his prey. She might be his salvation. Ryan and Aleria's stories continue in Endless.

"Rollerskate Boys" by Catherine Stine: An old shoe warehouse seems like the perfect place for artist Lily to set up a studio. But after moving in, she is tormented by startling clatters in the hall and the ghostly trails of boys on roller skates. When a deadly fire erupts, she's no longer sure of what is real and what's a figment of her nightmares.

"The Torchbearer" by Christine Rains: Sent to a dark crossroads by Hekate's command, Desma must listen to the words of a handsome prophet whose ominous message mystifies her as much as he captivates her.

"In Plain Sight" by Angela Brown: Kazel and Amandine are best friends with their own little secrets to hide. When a boring study session at the library comes to a screeching halt, it forces them to put all their cards on the table and into plain sight. Readers of Neverloveand Frailties of the Bond will enjoy the return to the Shadow Jumpers and NEO worlds.

"Demon in the Basement" by River Fairchild: A man returns to his childhood home, determined to destroy the evil residing within it... or die trying.

Do you book binge or prefer to read books with the natural gap in between? Does it annoy you if you can't get matching sets of books? Have you added Ghosts of Fire or one of the other anthologies to your ebook reader?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

IWSG: When Do You Know Your Story is Ready?

Another month has passed, which means it's time for another IWSG post. 
The brainchild of the always supportive Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group's purpose is to share and encourage. A place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Now for October's IWSG question: 

When do you know your story is ready?

I can answer this question with three words: I don't know.

From the first draft to beta-readers, there is never a point when I can say a story is ready. There is only I hope it's ready. At some point I have to let go and trust it will be good enough. I wish I could have answered this month's question with something more insightful or profound, though I suspect I'm not the only one who will answer the question in this way. As always, I'm curious as to how or when you decide a story is ready. 

While I've got your attention focused on IWSG, did you know they've announced their second anthology competition?

This year's chosen genre is fantasy, and the theme Hero Lost. The competition is open to any member of the group, so start sharpening those pencils! Full details can be found here

You can read the 2015 winning entries in Parallels, Felix Was Here.

That's it for this month's IWSG post. Time to visit some fellow members.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Helping Writers One Story At A Time

Writing is a struggle. Not just creatively, but financially. Unless you're lucky enough to have a rich patreon as Harper Lee did, you'll be balancing the cost of writing alongside all the daily expenses of living. There are times when there is nothing left. We writers have to become creative in raising the funds needed to publish and to get our name out there. We have to find ways to pay for editing, cover art, promotion, and so on, while we wait for the book, the one which will sell thousands of copies and fund future releases.

How do we raise the funds needed? Fellow Untethered Realms member Misha Gericke is trying to answer that question by taking two very different routes - fiverr and Patreon. 

I love Fiverr. If you need something done at an affordable rate, it's the place to look. When I purchased new covers for my short story collections, I bought them from a pre-made book cover site. They weren't expensive, and I was not charged extra for a few minor tweaks. When I realised I needed 3D renders, and the same site charged $30 per cover, I knew I had to find an alternative. One quick fiverr search and I found someone who would do all three for $15. It wasn't a tough choice.

Apart from the obvious cost-saving element of fiverr, I've often wondered if it's a viable way to earn money myself. There are of course well established members offering everything from cover design to editing. But like any new starter, they would have started at zero and built their reputation from there. So, Misha joining fiverr has given me the perfect opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed. I will be following her progress with keen interest.

Misha is a talented writer and driven in her desire to succeed. If you use one of her services, from beta reading to mentoring, you'll get the very best she can offer. Drop by her fiverr page and take a look at what she's offering. If you need any of those services and you'd like to help another writer in the process, why not give Misha a chance? 

The second route she's taken is Patreon.

Patreon is radically different to fiverr. Much like Go Fund Me and Kickstarter, it's a crowd-funding site. However, there's a big difference. Rather than trying to raise a fixed amount for one big project, patreons pledge ongoing monthly amounts. Pledges can be as little as $1. Misha does a great job of explaining how it works and why she's joined here. In short, it's not so much about the money, but about getting her name out there. 

Over the years, I've read some scathing attacks on authors using crowd funding sites to raise the money needed to publish. There are those writers who believe it's lazy and bad form to ask for help. Writers should shed blood and tears to raise the money needed to publish! While I appreciate their perspective, there are writers like Misha who are already working a day job, another job offering writing services, as well as trying to find the time to write themselves alongside the milieu of daily life. In the end, they don't have any time left to earn extra money or promote their books. Should these writers give up their dream because they fall just short of what they need? I'm sure you'll have already worked out my answer.

I'm keeping everything crossed for Misha. It's time all her hard work paid off.