Charlotte English is running a giveaway for her Drifting Isle Chronicles book Black Mercury. Chronologically, it's the first Drifting Isle book, while The Machine God is the last (of the initial run). Go get 'em!
I just got the blindingly obvious idea that I should write author's notes on serial episodes. So I'm going to do that, starting with The Machine God. I may even go back and do some on the first two History books, in fact, it'd probably be good review for book three. So watch for those. They'll be in the comments section, and I'll try to have them at the top as the first comment or close to it.
I am incredibly hard to photograph. I don't know why, I just do not take good pictures. I either look like I'm 75, or haven't slept in a month, or weigh 500 pounds, or all of the above. It's not good. But I need a headshot, have done for a few years now, and all my attempts at getting one have fallen through on time or money problems.
Today the need became urgent, and luckily for me, my friend Colleen needed to get away for a bit. So voila, new headshot!
Now you know what I look like.
I've decided to stay true to my roots and serialize The Machine God and any subsequent books. This means potential conflict with about ten of my Kickstarter backers, who voted against it. I don't recognize any of their names, which is good in that I've attracted new readers, and sad in that I worry they'll feel swindled.
For those who voted against it, I'm going to give the option of leaving their pledges as they are, getting the cost of the ebook back, or a coupon here for a different ebook. From now on I'll be making it clear in any Kickstarter presales I do that the book will serialize. It's how I started, it serves as a book club, and it's who I am.
I'm preparing "The Machine God" for the typographer, after getting clearance from the rest of the Drifting Isle Chronicles team. Three of the books will be coming out more or less simultaneously and a fourth (Kat Parrish's "Starcaster") later this year. At least one more book from me in the series will be coming out, probably next year, and there are plans to open the universe for other writers as well.
Note: the following link is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. DO YOU HEAR ME? NOT SAFE FOR WORK!
So my friend Nobilis posted this today on Twitter and all I could think was, holy carp! It's Anda!
Boobs could be a little bigger, hair a lot longer, but otherwise, it's her! What do you think?
Did you see Amanda Palmer's awesome TED talk? Go watch it and come back.
Done? OK. I have asked you guys to financially support my work since I started freely posting it in February, 2008. From that very first day you've stepped up (I'm looking at you, JN). I had been considering stopping the serialization of my main series, "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom," with book two since donations have virtually stopped. I figured, well, I guess ebook sales are how I'm going to get support from now on, so maybe I should get with the scarcity paradigm. (Everyone else is. Yay, austerity.)
Seeing that talk changed my mind.
There's a reason I release everything through Creative Commons (attribution/noncommercial/no derivative--for now) with no DRM. I can't stop pirates, and I believe that if you ask people to pay, they will.That faith has been rewarded, but it's flagged recently, even with two successful Kickstarter campaigns under my belt. Why? My ebooks sales are drastically down.
Think about that for a moment. I was considering curtailing access to my work because paid ebook sales are down.
That feels backwards now.
I am not someone who "just wants to be read." I want to be supported, too. But I have always known I don't have a right to be supported. I can only ask. You have no idea how much your support has meant to me.
But I am asking you for something. I'm asking for your support in getting the word out about my work.
The thing I like about serializing is that it acts as an online book club, where people can discuss the book as they read or re-read it together. When my work was strictly a webserial, dozens of comments appeared on story segments; people had deep discussions. I would love to get back to that, to the sense of community my website once had. It dried up once I switched to the ebook paradigm, even though I really had to make that change.
If you're new to my work--and I think a lot of you are this time around--check out the rest of what I've done. Almost all of it is on my site, freely available, and when I get the subscriptions out to you for the premium area, pretty much everything will be available to you. I'm asking you to discuss what you read, and tell people you think I'm worth both reading and supporting.
It's a new world for creatives. The old ways of paying for our work no longer apply, and neither do the old ways of reaching potential viewers, listeners and readers. Advertising doesn't work, blog tours don't work, discounts don't work. Word of mouth is all that matters.
What works is you adding my books to Goodreads, fairly reviewing them at ebook retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and telling your friends about my work--yes, even giving a copy to a friend. If your friend likes it, ask him or her to send me a buck or two if so moved. These things matter as much as your (deeply appreciated) financial support, and I'm asking for them as well.
Those of you who've been part of my community here know Chu. Well, she's in the hospital having her son right now. He may already be here! I'll keep you updated as I hear myself. EEEEE!
ETA: He's here!!
Narrator MacAllister Lee has done a beautiful job interpreting my erotic paranormal Jane Austen mash-up The Amber Cross, and now you can hear it yourself! Yes, "erotic paranormal Jane Austen mash-up" makes me feel and sound ridiculous, but this thing was really fun to write. I did my best to stay true to "Mansfield Park," its source material, whilst playing very fast and very loose with it at the same time. MacAllister has brought out the humor both in the original writing and my own. You can get it free when you become an Audible member. I've been a member for nearly ten years now, and I love it.
The first accidental, obvious lesson Neil Gaiman taught me six or so years ago was this: Everyone gets ideas. Writers write them down. Idle observations, daydreams, they're ideas. I don't know where I thought ideas came from, but that? Was too obvious. Couldn't be so. But it is.
Here is the second.
Neil is doing this Blackberry-sponsored project called A Calendar of Tales. He's writing flash fiction (very short stories) based on answers to questions he asked on twitter, one for each month. For instance: what's the best present you ever got in April?
For November he asked: what would you burn in November? I answered immediately and without thinking: my medical records, but only if it would make it all go away. To my surprise, he favorited it. If you're not familiar with twitter, you can "favorite" someone's tweet, rather like bookmarking it, and when someone favorites something of yours you get a notification. Then he retweeted it--he was RT'ing a lot of these--and a bunch of people responded "OMG I love that." And then Blackberry wrote and said my tweet had been chosen.
All it really means is Neil is using that tweet as a prompt to write the November story, which it looks like he wrote yesterday or so he told us all on twitter. For this honor (and I do count it as one), I had to sign a three page "YOU OWN NOTHING OF THIS, DO YOU HEAR? NOTHING!" agreement with Blackberry. I suppose there really are people out there who would try to claim ownership of something based on a tweet, which is a fantastical story in and of itself.
I scratched my head about it all. Why did he see a story in that, why did so many other people see a story in that and I didn't? The last ten years or so we've struggled with my health. It's like being followed around by a giant, be-sneaker'd centipede; we keep waiting for yet another shoe to fall. We try to find Ma Ingalls' "some small gain" among the great losses. Beginning to write fiction was one small gain. But teeter long enough on the edge of death and bankruptcy and it gets old. It was just the bald truth, the very first thing I thought and blurted out.
Which is the second, accidental, obvious lesson Mr. Gaiman's given me: the truth, bald and blurted, is always the best prompt. No matter how fantastical the story. So even if I don't get to go to Clarion West this summer, he's taught me something this year anyway. What I really want to learn next is how best to exercise that muscle, the one that recognizes truths strong enough to hang a story on.
(The title of this comes from one of the other "prompters," who introduced himself on twitter as Mr. August and referred to me as Miss November.)
Elsa Kroese has delivered the final cover for the book and it's a doozy. I'm so happy with it!
If you've got the ARC, don't forget to send me typo/inconsistency reports. It's been vetted pretty thoroughly but stuff always creeps in. Thank you thank you!
Yay! Stretch goal! All backers at $45 and up now get a year's access to the premium area of my site! This is a $60 value. There are less than 48 hours to go in this presale. Thank you to everyone who's backed me so far! It's given me the courage to apply to Clarion West in Seattle. I sent them "Dalston Junction," I'll find out some time in March if I get to go. Thank you!
The Kickstarter campaign to produce The Machine God has been super successful! But with four days left, I don't think we're going to reach the $4,000 audiobook stretch goal.
So here is a new one: if we reach $3,500, which I'm fairly sure we can since it's almost at $3,200 now, everyone above $45 receives a year-long subscription to the premium section of the website. Subscribers get access to the old web serial as well as free ebooks of my short stories and novellas. I have at least two new ones coming out in the next four months.
Cool thing about the Kickstarter: more of my backers came from seeing me on Kickstarter than from any place else. That means new readers! That's a great thing, though it's even more exciting to see the familiar names in the list.
The Kickstarter is plugging along. It's just shy of $2000, and the first stretch goal is at $2500. That's a new story in the Drifting Isle universe for all contributors. At $4000 I'll be able to outright hire an audiobook narrator and give everyone at $45 and over a copy of the finished book. Yay! I really prefer hiring narrators outright; with revenue share, the narrator is taking a real risk.
Some interesting trends emerging in this round. About forty percent of purchasers this time around are coming from Kickstarter itself, as opposed to my already-established fan base. I don't recognize all the names. That means I'm actually getting some exposure from Kickstarter as well as the presale monies. Last time, for reference, less than twenty percent of presales came from Kickstarter's pages, even though both times I've been a Staff Pick. TMG was a Staff Pick almost from day one, which makes me wonder if some over there reads me.
The Kickstarter runs through January 28th. There are two more opportunities to name a minor character after yourself or someone you care about, plenty of coffee packages, and more. Everyone's favorite seems to be the entire set of ebooks for $25. Thanks to everyone for contributing, and don't forget to share it with your reading friends!
Happiest of days to one of the community's stalwarts, our own Gudy. All das Beste zum Geburtstag!
Here t'is, my latest book The Machine God! This Kickstarter is for $1500 and funds the editing and production of the ebook and paperback. Here's the book description:
Once upon a time, I built myself a God...
Professor Oladel Adewole has lost tenure, and his much-younger sister has died. With no reason to stay, he leaves his homeland for the University of Eisenstadt.
One thing makes life there bearable: the island floating a mile above the city. No one's ever been there, nor knows how it got there. Every culture in the world tells stories about it, and Adewole specializes in them.
When an inventor makes it there in her new autogyro, the government sends Adewole up with its first survey team. The expedition finds people, but Adewole finds a powerful, forbidden fusion of magic and metal: the Machine God.
The government wants it. So does a sociopath bent on ruling Eisenstadt. But when Adewole discovers who the Machine God is--and what it can do--he must risk his life to protect the Machine God from the world, and the world from the Machine God.
The Machine God is part of The Drifting Isle Chronicles, stories set in a universe created by fantasy writers Joseph Robert Lewis, Charlotte E. English, Katherine Tomlinson and MeiLin Miranda.
This is a "lightning round" Kickstarter--only 20 days long. Some of the backer rewards are what you might expect. Autographed paperbacks and so on. But some of them are unexpected: Coffee from Portland's Cellar Door Coffee Roasters, our favorite cuppa. Coffee is of desperate importance to the main character, and that gift comes with instructions on how to make it like he does (a lot like Turkish coffee).
Thanks for buying The Machine God during this presale!
This weekend I will begin a lightning round Kickstarter: $1500 in 20 days.
It goes to fund production of The Machine God, my entry in the four-novel shared universe series The Drifting Isle Chronicles. I finished Release Candidate 1 and shipped it to the beta readers moments ago. Now to do the KS video. My microphone decided to die on me this week, so the video will be...creative. Well, probably not.
Here, by artist Elsa Kroese, is the concept art for the cover of The Machine God:
The typography is placeholder. Kickstarter up soon!
I'm sitting here befor the fire in my bathrobe eating the hubby's best ham and potato hash ever and thinking about how lucky I've been this year. I hope your 2012 was wonderful and that your 2013 will be twice as good!
My plans for next year include book three of the History (which may actually be books three and four since I'm having trouble wedging both Sedra's and Temmin's storylines into one book--we'll see) and the Drifting Isle Chronicles: The Machine God, which is already written. Just got the cover concept last Saturday, and I'll be doing the Kickstarter for it probably starting next week.
I'm working on the "Whithorse" prequel short story collection from the last Kickstarter as well; the trueing up has turned into a total rewrite, to the point it may turn into a novella. In either case, I'll be packaging it with "Accounts" into an omnibus ebook and paperback, in addition to releasing it as an ebook standalone.
I also will be writing straight-up (though not necessarily straight) erotica under the Aria Afton pen name and another erotic romance under this name in the Aria Afton Presents line. Then it, The Mage's Toy and The Amber Cross will be omnibus ebook and paperback. Until the History finds it larger audience, I need to make some money.
FINALLY! I hope to bring back Scryer's Gulch. Needless to say, I'm working on increasing my output next year. I did this year, and I'm gonna go for more next year.
With all that, my heart remains with the History, and I'll be prioritizing it. I know that's mainly why you're here.
I love you all madly!
I'm a member of Broad Universe, an organization dedicated to promoting women in science fiction, fantasy and horror. We've just put out a sampler anthology of short stories and excerpts and it's live now at Amazon (99 cents) and free at Smashwords in a zillion formats. I have a flash fiction piece in it. The twenty-nine samples in the book are well worth checking out!
I will be at Orycon November 2-4th here in Portland, OR. Usually we do a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, but snafus between me and the programming committee mean we are not on the schedule this year. I'm easy to find, though. Just stand in the lobby and yell, "HEY MEI!"
Actually, I'll be in the green room helping out most of Friday, and there's a tentative BPAL meetup early Friday night in the lobby. Otherwise, I'll be wandering the con.
My book in a library, when I didn't arrange for it to be put there:
I'm floored. I know, just one book on one library shelf, but I'm an indie. That usually doesn't happen for us, especially if we don't push for it.
Jeff Shear has interviewed me as part of his Writers Speak series! We'll be doing a Skype chat soon and he'll be adding that to the interview in a few days. Leave comments there.
And no sooner do I send this out than I get a note that Scott Walker has put up his interview with me over at Shared Story Worlds.
ACX is a great service. It matches up actors and writers to produce audiobooks together. Its best feature for indies like me is that it allows royalty share; the actor can agree to share 50% of the royalties for the audiobook instead of an up-front per-hour payment. ACX handles the split for you.
Here's how ACX works:
When you find the actor you want and s/he submits an audition you like, you send him/her an offer with deadlines for when you want the first 15 minutes and when you want the entire audiobook finished. The offer is accepted, and you wait for the first 15. When you get that, you're supposed to give feedback to the actor if you're not quite happy--wrong tone, character voice needs to be higher, pronunciation of a name is off (though I try to give those right off the bat), and so on--or tell the actor everything's awesome and he can get on to the rest of the audiobook. When the final audiobook is submitted, the same thing is supposed to happen. Some actors will even send you unofficial off-ACX chunks so you can give feedback as needed, or they'll at least ask questions.
The voice actor I approached for "The Mage's Toy" will go unnamed. He has a great voice and his samples showed great talent. I thought he would be perfect for it, I approached him, he submitted an audition. I gave him some feedback on it--not so serious, it's a light-hearted romp, here are the correct pronunciations--and offered him the production contract. He accepted. I was really excited.
A few weeks later (weeks in which I had not heard from him, which was totally fine and expected), I realized the front of the story is really info-dumpy. I wrote and asked him if he'd started yet, and if not to hold off, please, so I could make some quick revisions--less than a day's work. I got back a snippy reply that HE'D ALREADY RECORDED THE ENTIRE THING, that he had other projects to get to, and that I shouldn't submit projects to ACX unless they were finished. It was finished, it just could have been a little better. I was willing to live with what I'd done; I'm not George Lucas, generally speaking. I made that clear, and said carry on, sorry for the trouble.
That he'd recorded the whole thing should have been my warning.
Last night (a few weeks after that conversation) I got the first 15, and the tone had not changed in the least; he hadn't taken my audition feedback into consideration at all. It was really serious, really REALLY serious. If you've read The Mage's Toy, you know it's nonsense for the most part. Yes, the heroine is escaping a near-rape at the beginning, but from there on out it's very fun and light and hopefully sexy. And he'd put the entire thing in the can, with no further feedback from me and ignoring the feedback I'd already given; if that were the tone he maintained throughout, and I can only assume it was, he'd have to re-record the entire thing.
At first I felt really bad about it. He'd done all the work already, for free even. I should just accept it, sigh that it wasn't the way I wanted it, and move on to the next project. I was afraid he'd be angry, and basically I'm a coward. Then one of my twitter friends said, these are your words.
As the night wore on, I kept thinking about that: they're my words. I deserve to have them at least close to the way they were intended. So I wrote a respectful note back saying that I appreciated his work, his voice was great, and the tone was wrong. It was far too serious.
He sent back a really angry letter, said he'd done all this work for free and obviously he wasn't the right guy for the project (he was right on that point apparently). And then he quit. "Lesson learned." Yeah, he learned a lesson but it wasn't the right one. The lesson wasn't "Don't work on royalty share," the lesson was "Don't record the whole damn thing without giving the author a chance for feedback."
They're my words. I don't have the right to nitpick an actor to death, especially on royalty share, but I do have the right to give reasonable feedback and at least have it discussed if not respected. I'm glad now he quit; he didn't respect me enough to work with me as a team. (And now I get to revise the beginning a little.)
The whole experience made me so grateful for Nicole Quinn, the actress who recorded Dalston Junction, that I sent her a thank-you note. I'm currently working with another actress on "The Amber Cross," and so far she's been just as professional. In fact, she sent me a snippet to get my opinion on character voices and tone last week--just as she should, if she wanted to avoid having to record the entire novella over again. If "The Amber Cross" turns out as well as I think it's going to (and I think it's going to be terrific), I'm going to offer the same actress "The Mage's Toy."
Actor and writer are a professional team. Each has the right to expect the other to behave like it. If you're going to take your book to ACX, make sure you give respectful, appropriate feedback--and then make sure your actor's listening. It'll save you both time.