Writing vs. Publishing

I need to be two people!

One me would write my new novel, a sequel to The Tally Master.

The other me would ready the latest book in The Lodestone Tales for publication in March 2019.

Actually I need a third me, who would write blog posts, create cool visuals to appear in BookBub’s newsletter, compose emails to send to those of you subscribed to my newsletter, and do all the other things involved in communicating with the wonderful people who read and enjoy my books.

Since I have only the one me, I’m attempting to strike a balance each day between these three different hats that I wear.

In the past, I’ve not tried to wear all three hats on any one day. I’d spend 3 to 8 months wearing the writer hat and writing a story. Then I’d move into revising. After that came the publishing mode: proofreading, formatting the manuscript as an ebook, creating the cover, uploading the files, etc. And then I’d blog about the book and try to get the word out.

The thing about doing it that way is that it leads to long gaps between the writing of my stories. The gaps are long enough that I start to pine for the writing.

So, over the years, I’ve worked to reduce the gap between writing stints.

Combining the publishing and communicating modes happened pretty readily and easily. They go together, in my brain at least.

I also learned that I need not wait until my first and second readers were done with my previous book in order for me to start on the next book.

But right now I am attempting to write The Sovereign’s Labyrinth in the mornings, while I work on publishing tasks for Lodestone Tales 5 and marketing Fate’s Door in the afternoons.

It’s a wobbly balance, but I’m doing it!

Some days I don’t get the writing in. Other days I don’t manage any publishing tasks. But it feels great to be writing, and I feel confidant that I will get everything done for publishing on time.

So how are things progressing under each of my hats?

I’m so glad you asked! 😉

Lodestone Tales 5

I still have not settled on a title for this book!

But that is not stopping me. I’m progressing steadily in the very last stage of getting the manuscript ready both to format as an ebook and to create the paperback edition.

This last stage involves listening to my computer read the story aloud.

The computer does a pretty good job of reading, so it’s kinda fun listening. But it’s an essential step, because I find the last teeny-tiny glitches that need to be fixed. In this particular manuscript, there were several instances of ‘though’ that needed to be ‘through,’ and two places where ‘through’ needed to be ‘thorough,’ plus two spots missing a ‘the.’ But they are all fixed now.

I’m two-thirds of the way through this audio proofing, and it is going well.

I’ve also been making a list of phrases from the manuscript that might make good titles. Want to see what I’ve got so far? You know I want to share! 😉

Reaching Refuge False Refuge Strangling Thorns
Rife with Hiding Places Held Breath Choose to Open
Choose to Unchain Not Just Fear Fighting Retreat
No More Doubt Other Doors Worse than Dying
Death by Beneficence Say Nothing of Me Word of Silence
Word of Solitude Before They Kill Me Pinching the Pendant
Sundered Radices Sundering Hope Unblessed Solitude
Fortunate Trespass Benevolent Trespass Honorable Trespass
Trespasser’s Surprise Long Secrecy Bequeath Doom
Approach with Courage Alluring Shadows Push Back the Darkness
Hallowed Beast Hallowed Secret Promises Kept
Promises Unwise Venture Beyond Let the Curtain Fall
Let the Curtain Rise Benevolent Illumination Intriguing Legend
Healing Knowledge Prelude to Friendship Magical Gift
Magical Talisman Occupy the Shadows Occupy the Edges
Enigmatic Magic Enigmatic Hunt Without Even a Knock
A Trespass Most Generous

Are any of these serious contenders? Well, no. But I have another third of the book to read. Maybe the perfect phrase is waiting there for me to find it.

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth

I’m super excited about my new work in progress, the sequel to The Tally Master!

I’m thrilled to be hanging out with Gael and Keir again. And I think the adventure facing them is way cool! I’ve got only the first scene written so far, but my plans for what comes next have me jumping metaphorically up and down in excitement.

Gael and Keir have arrived in Hantida, a city-state far to the west and south of Belzetarn. They’ve just witnessed a very peculiar failed arrest, and it is clear that ALL IS NOT WELL here. 😀

Oh! I can’t wait!

I need to do a quickly sketched floor plan of the house where they are headed to treat a badly burned girl, and then I can get on with writing the next scene. (After I finish this blog post, of course. See what I mean about those three hats!)

Fate’s Door Is On Sale

These days, getting the word out about one’s books is key. If you don’t do it, no one knows they exist. Which means no one buys them and reads them.

::J.M. shudders::

The idea of no one reading my books horrifies me!

I had great success last spring when I put Troll-magic on sale and created an image announcing the sale to appear in BookBub’s newsletter. Lots more readers than usual picked up a copy, and that heightened visibility continued for a full 2 months after the BookBub mention.

Naturally I’m trying to replicate that experience with my other books! But it’s tricky, and there is much to learn.

I didn’t get the same results when I tried this for Blood Silver, which did about half as well as Troll-magic. But I’m continuing to experiment, and now Fate’s Door is receiving its turn in the sunshine. I’ll be able to assess the results sometime next week.

In the meantime, the ebook edition of Fate’s Door is available at a discount on Amazon, so do pick up your copy!

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That’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I have a bunch of blog posts I want to write about the world of Lodestone Tales 5. Plus I still want to share some of the Whole30 menus that I devised. Watch this space! 😉

(Maybe I need to be four people!)

 

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Stymied for a Title

I’m still stuck! I need a title, and I don’t have one.

To Thread the Labyrinth

To Thread the Labyrinth was the working title, and it seemed perfect all through the writing of the novel. A physical labyrinth fills part of the mansion’s cellar. A metaphysical labyrinth troubles my heroine. And the allusion to Theseus and the Minotaur is simply fun.

I loved it that I had a good title from the very beginning of writing my story.

But, but, but! My first reader didn’t like the title at all (too languid, no punch). My second reader didn’t think it was right either. (Implication of confusion, choosing, and picking one’s way, when the story is really about courage.) Neither was my husband much smitten with it. With so many against me, I caved.

A Legacy Arcane

Two legacies form the twin hearts of the story. One is a curse, afflicting the woman who inherited it. The other is a blessing, a cultural creation forgotten and abandoned amidst the vicissitudes of history. Both are secret and understood by few. Plus…who isn’t intrigued by the arcane and compelled by the promise of a legacy? Good hook!

I was sure I now had my title.

Once again I encountered resistance to my choice. My husband liked this one, but my first reader felt it was too dark for the golden-summer-evening mood of my story. My second reader felt that the essence of the story is not about legacies. And one very intelligent teen didn’t know what the word ‘arcane’ meant.

I could see all the points made by the dissenting opinions.

Talisman’s Reach

The inheritance that plagues my heroine is a talisman of old, forged by a brilliant inventor, and tumbling down through the ages to trouble all who tangle with it. It reaches through time. Thus we have Talisman’s Reach. My first reader generously devised this one and donated it to the cause. My son liked it. My daughter liked it. I liked it!

My husband thought it sounded like a place name: Howard’s End, King’s Cliffe, Skye’s Reach, etc.

Well, that rather tarnished the possibility for me.
 

Brainstorming

I decided to write down every idea I could come up with, censoring nothing, no matter how absurd. Somewhere amongst the dross there might be gold.

Her Labyrinth
Labyrinth Intangible
Labyrinth of Legend
Defy the Labyrinth
A Twist of Trouble and Truth
The Talisman Legacy
Talisman’s Tontine
Labyrinth Within, Labyrinth Without
Talisman’s Tribute
Talisman’s Travail
Talisman’s Trump
Legacy of Legend
Talisman of Ages
Talisman of Old
Magic’s Legend

There were many more than those I’ve listed above, but all of them failed to evoke my enthusiasm.

Poetry as Inspiration

My first reader suggested I visit the poets of the past for ideas. I’d watched her develop some brilliant titles for her own books using this method. Could it work for me?

Strange Charm
Ghost of an Ancient Legend
Child of Silence
Forgotten Mornings
Legends Old
Fear Made Manifest
Mortal Daring
Ascending Jubilant
Hallowed Relic
Grow Her Wings
Adamantine Chains
In Wand’ring Mazes Lost
This Pendant World
Wandering the Labyrinth
In Secret Kept
Won by Courage
Legacy Forgotten
Let Daylight In
Unbidden Guest
Taught to Conceal
Charm’s Wound
Ancient Alchemy

Well…these were better than my brainstorming efforts, but they were not better than any of the three titles I had first considered seriously.

What to do? What to do?

Images as Inspiration

I decided to play to my strengths. I’m good with visuals, practiced with graphics. And a title does not stand alone. It appears on the book cover, and the impression created by the title is heavily influenced by the imagery of the art.

Now, I have booked a spot with Deranged Doctor Design for my cover. They created the cover for The Tally Master, which a sister author was so kind as to call “magnificent.” I feel confident that DDD will create something equally marvelous for this book…once I have a title. 😀

But, I figured that I could try my top three contenders within the milieu of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites and those influenced by them. Seeing my titles within the context of art might clarify the issue for me.

Where Do I Stand Now?

I’m still undecided. But I have two more resources to consult.

1) I plan to read through the story v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y looking for a phrase in the text that will be perfect.

2) My son is my final reader, the one who gets the story after all the revisons and corrections have been made, so as to give it either a thumb’s up or the reverse. He just bopped into my room to tell me that he’s halfway through and to gush. He’s really, really liking it. And he has an opinion about the title that stems directly and immediately from his experience. That opinion…is carrying weight!

No, I’m not going to share it with you quite yet.

I know, I’m bad! 😉

But I’d love to hear your opinion!

Edited to Add: My son was halfway through when I wrote this post. Now, on the day it is going live, my son has finished his read-through. His verdict? He loved it, and he’s demanding a sequel.

He’ll probably get it, too, since every person who has read the novel thus far pleaded for a sequel. They want more adventures with Lealle and Gaetan. This makes me happy. 😀

 

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Progress on a Work in Progress

It’s rather difficult to report on a book that does not yet have a title. How do I specify the book I mean?

The working title was To Thread the Labyrinth. When I completed my first draft, I thought I might drop the “To” and call it Thread the Labyrinth. (The story does feature a physical labyrinth, as well as a metaphysical one). But my second reader pointed out some cogent reasons why highlighting the labyrinth in the title might not be a good idea.

My next idea for the title was A Legacy Arcane, but my first reader found that overly dark, while my second reader felt that the legacy reference was too oblique.

My first reader then suggested Talisman’s Reach, and I liked it. I liked it a lot! So did my son and my daughter. I thought I had my title! But then it was pointed out to me that the talisman in my story is never once referred to by that word. So now I am cast into confusion again.

Be that as it may, I do have progress to report!

My first revision pass in September was the most extensive, following the excellent feedback I received from my first reader. My second revision pass in October caught some really important details pointed out by my equally excellent second reader.

This week I fixed all of the typos plus a few other telling specifics found by my superb proofreader.

The book is ready to enter the production process that will make it into both an ebook and a paperback!

But I need a title first.

::puts thinking cap back on:: 😀

 

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Meeting and Greeting

The library in my town has a copy of The Tally Master in its Local Voices collection. I’m glad my book is there, and I hope that a few readers have checked it out, read it, and enjoyed it.

Just last weekend, my book’s presence on the library shelves led to something more. The library was holding its second ever Local Voices Book Fair, and I was invited to participate!

The event was held in a large ballroom on the third floor. Two authors gave readings, and roughly forty authors manned tables where their books were on offer.

I was impressed with my fellow indies! They seemed a fearsomely intelligent bunch with professionally done books featuring excellent covers. I gathered enough social courage to walk by all the tables and to stop and chat with every author who gave me the least of an opening. I had some interesting conversations, because of course we talked about their books! 😀

Meanwhile, my son generously manned my table and sold a copy of The Tally Master to the one fantasy fan present. (I was the only fantasy author there, so fantasy readers were a bit thin on the ground.)

I enjoyed getting out of my writing cave, and I learned from one of my fellow authors that bookstores in my town are actually very indie friendly. They are interested in hosting book signings by local authors. Furthermore, even unknowns can actually sell books at these signings, because the local readers like discovering local “hidden gems.” Clearly I should look into this!

I gave away bookmarks (image at right) to everyone who came anywhere near me, and I received two new subscribers to my newsletter.

The next day, the librarian who manages the library’s YA collection contacted me to ask if I would speak on an author panel geared toward National Novel Writing Month. (The manager of the Local Voices collection had recommended me to her.) I said yes!

I’m unexpectedly finding the public author shtick to be fun!

 

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“Twists and Turns”

If 1000 readers read a book, how many will write a review on Amazon or Kobo or GoodReads?

I’ve heard answers to that question that range all over the map. One person will say one hundred, while another claims just one. I suspect we’re all guessing, but here’s a thing that seems to be true: most writers wish that more readers would leave reviews!

The current solution is to sign your book with a reviewing service. I tried Hidden Gems with my novella Blood Silver and was pleased with the results. Their readers are an intelligent, insightful bunch and they really do write reviews.

That was one of my worries…

Of the 30 readers who signed up to read Blood Silver, how many would actually review it?

I needn’t have worried. The tally currently stands at 24, exactly the 80% that Hidden Gems states is their average review rate.

Of course, the other worry is one that is always out of the writer’s control when the reviews are honest. What will these strangers think of my book? Will they like it? What if they hate it? What if they all leave 1-star reviews?

I did get a few 3-star reviews for Blood Silver, and not every review was glowing. But most of the Hidden Gems reviewers seemed to enjoy it.

I was emboldened to sign up The Tally Master for the service. Not as many HG readers selected it to read—just 15—but 11 of them have now written reviews.

“What a creative and unique setting! Tally Master is richly developed with great story arcs…” —Sassette

“A fun unique read…a standout read.” —James Haydon

“As a detective story I think the author did a great job there are so many twists and turns, a zig here and a zag there… The characters were quite complex… The scenery was very descriptive and you feel the dank, dark, oppression of the halls the trolls called home.” —Tricia Schiro

“…wonderfully entertaining. With great character development, and a wonderful and detailed world.” —Z. White

“…the descriptions were vivid like you were there. The characters were really developed and it just brought it all together. A great story!” —Marilyn Smith

“A FINE READ INDEED. CAN’T WAIT FOR BOOK TWO.” —James J Duffy

I’m beaming! 😀

There are more reviews on Tally’s page on Amazon than I’ve quoted above, but I suspect that my appetite for reading reviews is larger than yours. LOL!

 

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Arriving at the Finish

If you’ve been watching the progress indicator in the side bar, you’ll have noticed it creeping upward over the last few weeks. 500 words here, 800 there, and during the last seven days, frequent spurts up into 1,700+ territory.

The novel I’ve been working on is tentatively titled To Thread the Labyrinth, and I’ve been fully immersed in its setting, the characters, and the story.

Indeed, some part of me feels as though I should be able to go to Gate Nine-and-Three-Quarters at the airport and catch a plane to the small “French” country of Pavelle. Once there, I’d hire a carriage to take me from its capital city out into the countryside, where I would find the charming town of Claireau. That’s how real it all seems. 😉

When I first started developing the concept for To Thread the Labyrinth, I’d imagined that it might be a short story that would accompany my coloring book. There would be mention of magic, perhaps a young protagonist learning antiphony, and the intricate designs I’d been drawing for the coloring book would represent the complex patterns required for the antiphonic energy that powers magic in my North-lands.

Naturally, my story grew considerably from there, acquiring an older protagonist in addition to the young one, as well as an annoying little brother, a crowd of bullies, civil disorder, a troll executioner (sort of), and more. By the time I was done brainstorming, I retained no illusions about the supposed shortness of my story. Not only would it not be short, it wouldn’t even squeeze into a novella. This was a full-fledged novel!

Today was my longest sprint of writing in a long time. I wrote fully 3,500 words at my top speed. The scenes were flowing out of mind and through my fingertips on the keyboard as though I were a stream in flood. And when I finally stopped, I’d reached the finish of my story.

I was so excited, I wanted to run to the top of a mountain, yelling, “I did it! I did it!” I suspect that the long hiatus that occurred in the middle of this novel (from October through December I wrote nothing; and from January through May I wrote Blood Silver) made completing To Thread the Labyrinth extra special.

So…how long is the story? I’d estimated it would be 60,000 words. But as I approached the end, I kept having to add a few thousand more to my estimate. 62,000. No, 65,000. No, 70,000. The final count was 77,697.

What happens next?

I clean up a few little odds and ends (like making up a name for that armiger—a policeman—who needs one, but that I skipped over because I was too intent on the scene to stop for him). Then I send the manuscript off to my first reader for her discerning feedback.

You must understand…my revisions usually add words to my stories, because I am far more likely to leave-things-out-that need-to-go-in than I am to put-things-in-that-shouldn’t-be-there. That’s just how I roll. But given that my readers usually say, “Oh! I wish it were longer!” when they finish one of my books, I suspect how I roll is fine.

Did I say I that I’m excited about To Thread the Labyrinth?

I’m excited! 😉

 

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Blood Silver Is Here!

I’m so excited about this!

Somehow the pre-publication tasks for this book felt a little more complex than usual, no doubt because I’ve been trying a few new things. But they are all done now! (Or most of them.)

One of the new things has been the use of an advance review service. I chose Hidden Gems. (Love it that my book is one of the hidden gems they showcase.)

The way the process works is:

1Upload the book’s file to the Hidden Gems website—in three different formats: epub, mobi, and pdf—along with some information about the book

2Await results as they solicit interest from their reviewers from amongst those who enjoy the book’s genre

3Pay the Hidden Gems fee

4Following the date when Hidden Gems distributes the book to its reviewers, watch in wonder while reviews accumulate on the book’s Amazon page 😀

The idea is that these reviews give prospective buyers more information on which to judge whether or not the book is something said buyer might like.

As I write this post, Blood Silver has 23 reviews! It’s been a bit of a thrill to watch them appear. And it’s been lovely to read so much praise for one of my books!

Of course, not every Hidden Gems reviewer loved Blood Silver. But a lot of them did. Here’s a sampling from a handful of the reviews:

“…a nice quick little read. Great characters, interesting story line, good pacing, and well written.” JMD

“…I couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of Le Morte d’Arthur and Mists of Avalon even though it has nothing to do with the King Arthur legend. This author just brought back those feelings…” Tricia Schiro

“…simple and thought-provoking in a beautiful way. …smart and wise. It’s peaceful and otherworldly. I felt like a new fairy tale had been written and that gave me a lot of joy.” Ambrose Crotts

“The characters felt real, like they could step out of the pages…” Stephanie Wachter

“It felt familiar like an old fairy tale, but was also very fresh and new.” Erin K.

So what’s Blood Silver about?

Faie knight Tahaern loves the bright world of mortals, but the darkness of the faie realm under the knowe relinquishes its denizens but rarely.

To learn more, check out the book’s webpage on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, or Books2Read.

Blood Silver currently has the low price of 99 cents especially for its release. After the weekend, this will go up to its normal list price of $3.99.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the deal and immerse yourself in a story of knightly chivalry, faie trickery, and the beguiling beauty of the bright world.

Amazon I B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords I Universal Link

Note: The promotion with its sale price is over now, but many, many of you snapped up a copy for 99 cents. May the story bring you delight! 😀

 

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Kaunis Clan Saga at a Discount

One young woman challenges the shibboleths that threaten her particular bright dream. Two others follow in her daring footsteps…

Edited to add: The sale is over now. I hope those of you who purchased books enjoy reading them! 😀

I’m running a quick sale on my Kaunis Clan trilogy this weekend. If you’ve been toying with the notion of giving the books a read, you can pick up your copies at a lower-than-usual price today and tomorrow.

Sarvet’s Wanderyar is marked down from $3.99 to $0.99, and Livli’s Gift is down from $4.99 to $2.99.

Winter Glory is free on Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. Amazon won’t let me make it free on their site (and has declined to price-match the other sites), but it is only $0.99.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the deal and dive into the Hammarleeding saga with its remote mountain people, tribal magic, and determined protagonists.

The links below will guide you to your preferred e-tailer.
Sarvet’s Wanderyar
Livli’s Gift
Winter Glory

 

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Here Be Monsters

The Here Be Monsters bundle is appropriately of a monstrous size—that is, it possesses 19 titles, which is huge for a bundle. Bundles usually have 10 – 12, at most.

I’m looking forward to Here Be Monsters myself, because I checked Amazon’s Look Inside for every story that had one, and nearly every title seems to be one I want to read! It will be a wonderful cornucopia for my summer.

Of course, one of the Monsters titles is my own, A Knot of Trolls. In previous posts about bundles, I’ve included a little bit about my own contribution, but I think I won’t this time. There are too many choices that aren’t mine that I want to feature, for me to spend space on Knot. If you want to learn more about Knot, check it out here. I will just mention that it’s a collection, with 7 shorts/novellas.

I did say that Monsters has a lot of reading, didn’t I? 😉 With 19 titles, one of which collects 7 titles together (mine), that’s 25 total, consisting of a mix of shorts, novellas, and novels. Perfect for a lazy day on the beach or lounging in a hammock in the shade or staying up too late of a summer night.

Edited to Add: No, I was wrong. A Murder of Crows is also a collection. Since it contains 16 tales, that makes 40 total in Here Be Monsters. Good grief! What are we waiting for?! Go click that buy button!

Check out the 8 titles below (of 40), and then go snap up your copy of Monsters. Links follow.

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A young woman discovers her own brand of magic in a pre-World War II Budapest teeming with monsters, vampires, and demons…

Eva Farkas has managed to survive in fascist Budapest despite her heritage and her congenital lack of magic. But after seeking the help of the Vampire Lord of Budapest, Eva comes to realize that mere survival isn’t enough. She must find the magic hidden inside of her, and not just survive, but fly.

The Magic of Fabulous is a novella set in the world of the Lady Lazarus historical fantasy series, and contains both an afterword by the author and excerpts from the other books in the series.

When the deck is stacked against you, how will you play the game?

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A collection of short horror, ghost, and dark fantasy stories for adults, woven together by a flock of crows, telling stories to entertain a girl trying to survive a tragedy…

“It was we crows who took your daughter, in case you were wondering. She didn’t run away. We had—I had—been watching her for some time, listening to her tell stories in the grass behind the house. She would sit near the chicken coop and watch the white chickens pick at the dirt, pulling up fat worms and clipping grasshoppers out of the air as they jumped toward the fields.

“Some of them were good stories. Some of them were bad. But that’s what decided it, even more than any issue of mercy or salvation or anything else. Crows are, for one, possessive of stories.”

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Reaper Hawk—mightiest warrior in all Lysandria—tells the true tale of the minotaur in this gripping adventure of sword and sorcery, monsters and mayhem. Questing for adventure in the far east, Reaper meets the minotaur and becomes embroiled in his quest to recover his stolen humanity and reunite with his lost love. Before they are done, they’ll have to fight wizards and wyrms and overcome their own greatest fears, but if they’re successful, they’ll turn back the tide of chaos and restore order to the world.
 
 
 

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Monsters hide among the suburbs. Roland McReedy knows because he works for one, under duress. “The Rajah.” Roland and his partner Nelson hunt down occult oddities under threat of death for themselves, and worse for their families. Roland and Nelson face the night with only their knives, billy clubs, and wits to protect them.

But the Rajah’s latest demand pits Roland and Nelson against the foulest creatures in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a horror older than time itself.

In a world full of monsters how can mere humans survive?

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Magic has a cost. Sarah Beauhall, blacksmith and dragon slayer doesn’t know just how high. Her lover, Katie Cornett, has finally been overwhelmed by this spiraling cost and her spirit is blasted from her body and flung into a world of nightmares and monsters.

As Katie’s coma deepens and her chances of survival fade, Sarah’s spirit must make a journey of its own through a world of crystalline eaters and malevolent spirits who exist only to hunt and to consume.

Night after night Sarah delves beyond the hidden paths, going from crystalline landscapes into the wild lands and lost worlds far beyond the great sea of dreams.

When the spirit of a long dead murderer—known only as the Bowler Hat man—begins gathering an army in the forgotten lands, Sarah discovers that more than eaters and feeders pursue her.

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Dani’s family is unusual. She’s the youngest—and only girl—of seven. Being the lone female, her family would like her to be all girly and sweet like her best friend Allie. But Dani is a tomboy born and bred, and on her fourteenth birthday she discovers why.

Life is about to get decidedly strange!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Scylla is caught by surprise when her mother, the river nymph Crataeis, shows up unexpectedly. Mother’s infrequent visits are welcome, but also serve as a painful reminder of what Scylla’s life had been like before the evil witch Circe turned her into a hideous, people-eating monster.

The cliff Scylla lives on juts out into a narrow straight of water; an arrow-shot away lives the monster Charybdis, who sucks water – and any ships unfortunate enough to be close by – down a whirlpool and into her great maw several times a day. Mother asks Scylla to allow a ship that belongs to a young man named Odysseus to pass by unharmed a few days hence; that way his boat won’t have to venture too close to the whirlpool. Scylla agrees, on the condition that her mother go to Circe and plead with her to return Scylla to her normal human form.

But when Odysseus’ ship appears, Scylla realizes that perhaps things are not as they seem…

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Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago—where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord—who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Perfect for fans of Doctor Who, Once Upon A Time, Indiana Jones, or The Dresden Files, the Beaumont and Beasley series features high adventure in a world where fairy tales are history.

We love to fear them and fight them. Monsters come in many forms, from the monsters within to the monsters outside and under the bed. Dare you venture into the caverns and the castles? Dare you enter the darkness of an accursed soul?

An eclectic collection of dark creatures and those who confront them. You have been warned.

Here Be Monsters features 19 tales (really 40) of myths, monsters, and mayhem.

The Here Be Monsters bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

 

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New Design for My Landing Page

I’ve felt a growing unease about the content of the landing page for my website. Something just wasn’t right.

What is a landing page?

It’s the page where weary wanderers of the web arrive after a search yields up jmney-grimm.com as the answer to their question. 😀

And my landing page felt static, maybe even dull. It seemed to conceal, rather than reveal, all the riches I’ve gathered here over the years.

What to do?

For a while, I was really enamored of putting a slider on my landing page.

What is a slider? It’s a slideshow that plays automatically.

I love the slider on the BundleRabbit site. It’s so clean, so big, and features some eye-catching images. I went so far as to ask Chuck Heintzelman, the proprietor of BundleRabbit, if his slider was generated by a plug-in, and if so which one. He answered me most kindly, and if I were to use a slider, I’d use that one (the Revolution Slider).

But in my search to identify the best slider, I encountered several articles about the pros and cons of using them at all.

Some situations are clearly tailor-made for a slider. I think the BundleRabbit site is one of them. It’s got a ton of great bundles available for purchase, and the slider gives the browsing reader a fun taste of what’s on offer.

You can check out the BundleRabbit slider here.

But many people use sliders because they lack a sense of the priorities for the content on their site. They just can’t decide, so they throw a little bit of everything into a slider, and then they don’t have to decide.

I suspected my desire for a slider might well be due to my own confusion. Not good.

Even more pertinent: there’s a fair bit of data indicating that visitors to a site rarely click on any of the images served up by a slider.

That decided me. My idea for a slider on my landing page was that visitors would be intrigued by the images and want to go check them out. If that was unlikely to happen, there was no point in having a slider.

So I did some thinking about what I really wanted for my landing page.

1I’m in a lot of bundles, and some of them are pretty cool. I’d like my visitors to know that these bundles are available.

2When I release a new book, I definitely want to shout from the rooftops about it. That’s an exciting moment for me, and I want to tell everyone. 😀

3But I have a lot of books out at this stage in my career, and I think my backlist tends to get buried on my website. Few people go digging through all 20 book pages. So I’d like to draw attention to my backlist.

4Speaking of backlist, I also have a lot of “backlist” posts on my blog, and most of them are of the evergreen variety. They’re not news posts that go stale. They’re maps and lore from my book worlds. They’re book recs. They’re health tips, design tips, and favorite recipes.

But there are 346 of them as I write this post, which will be number 347. How would a visitor ever find any one post among so many?

My landing page felt like an opportunity to address all of that.

Nor did I have to devise how I would go about it from scratch. In my own browsing of the web, I’ve seen plenty of landing pages. And amongst them all, there was one design that consistently pleased me. It featured four images arranged in a foursquare.

That was just enough to give a good sense of what was on the site, just enough to intrigue me, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed. I tended to then happily explore. Perfect!

So I’ve adopted the foursquare presentation for my own website, and I’ll change its individual components every week or so, showcasing different elements from my site over time.

Go check out what I’ve got there now! Here’s the link.

I’ll show you what is there (below) as I write this post. But by next week, the array will already have changed! (Plus the images on my landing page are clickable, while the copy below isn’t.)

I’m happy and excited about this ever-changing array. I think I’m going to have some fun with it. And I hope that my visitors will find it fun, too. 😀

For more about websites and blogging, see:
Slow Blogging and Other Variations
Why Create a Site Map?
SPAM Deluge
Copyright Statement for My Website
Your Data Is Protected

 

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