Friday, November 28, 2014

Do You Have Goals?

Do You Have Goals? is hosted by Misha and Beth and has been a huge help for me this year. I've been encouraged by this great group, and I've discovered that even in my meandering months where it feels like I'm getting nothing done, I actually have made progress.

Next month, I plan to do a whole year wrap up.

For now . . .


For some reason, just writing the month name and saying it in my head seems to say it all. But then, I realize that no one reading this lived my November with me.

So . . . lots of family stuff (good and bad), changes in schedule, holidays, and planning for holiday events . . .

NaNoWriMo Attempt - AGH! I did want to win. I had a plan. Then, I had a plan B. Then, I had a plan C, then D, then . . . well, it didn't happen.

There is a part of me that loves NaNoWriMo, but the last few years have chocked up fails for me. I wish that it were some other month, like . . . well, ok, maybe March? I don't know.

However, I did get around 30,000 words written on various projects - Champion's Destiny, Captain Wrath, "The Clover Wars: A Seedling Story," a hint fiction story that I wrote and subbed for Write 1 Sub 1, and some world building notes for all of those plus others. I actually have this weird, massive idea of trying to world-build a bunch of different story ideas together . . . in some kind of crazy series. I'm not sure that will happen or not.

Then, I outlined a romance story about a skier and a snowboarder . . . kind of a star-crossed lovers idea that I've had ever since I picked up a funny postcard with Romeo and Juliet misquoted by a girl skier and a guy snowboarder. The "angst" between the two groups has gotten better, but it's still there. I know this because I'm a skier (who has snowboarded) married to a snowboarder (who used to be a skier), and there are people we meet who really think that's there's some kind of problem with that . . . which is just weird to me.

Basically, I planned to win NaNo and my brain and my life said, "Squirrel!" over and over again.

How did your November go? Have any crazy ideas or "squirrel!" moments?

#FridayFreebies -  Dragonfold and Other Adventures and "The Bridge Snap."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving!

My list of Thankfulness for this Thanksgiving could fill pages! God is so good all the time, even in the tough times of life, and I am so thankful for His presence at all times; even when I'm not paying attention very much and am waay distracted, He's still with me.

So, I'm going to go with my tried and true A to Z Thanksgiving list (borrowed from an old Pastor friend of mine - Thanks, Pastor Paul!)

A - Anna, Amanda, Alan, and apple turnovers made by my daughter - allergy free (this is complicated), but oh, so good. :)

B - Brandon, bicycles, and beauty everywhere - in nature, in the lines of people's faces, in the sound of cars humming by on a rain-wet street

C - cuddles, canoeing, cats (not together!)

D - Dads, Darren, Duane, Dane, Despina, dashes, dogs

E - elephant feet :), ergonomic keyboards

F - faith, fantasy, fiction, family, friends

G - God, Grandparents, Gail

H - Holy spirit, huddles, Holly

I - Immanuel (aka Jesus), icicles

J - John, Jessica, Jacob, Jason, Jim, Julie - all wonderful family!

K - kites, Kathleen, Kathryn, Kelly, Ken

L - Light, Love, Laughter, Logan, Linda

M - Moms, Mary, Myron, music

N - newts, night-time

O - oxygen, oceans, and octopi

P - playfulness, prayer

Q - quirkiness, quilts

R - rest, Ryan, reason

S - Stephanie, Sidney, sunshine, snow, skiing, snowboarding

T- Trisha, Terry, Tom, turkeys, truffles, and tigers

U - unicycles, unlikely heroes

V - vespers, vests, and violas

W - water, writing, waves

X - x-men heroes, x-rays, and xylophones (why not?)

Y - Yoda and yellow (but not yellow snow)

Z - zippers, and zest

And, you!!! If you are reading this, feel free to insert your name into this list! Thank you for being you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Early Celebration for Friday

Today, I'm giving thanks for:

1. An amazing book signing at Harbor Christian Homeschool Co-op (where I teach and my kids take a few classes one day a week)! - HCHC represents my largest, most encouraging, off-line group of readers and supporters.

2. The organizational skills of my youngest daughter. I paid her for some of her "personal office assistant" help she gave me this week - organizing boxes of books to go to signings, helping me learn how to use square (too late for the first signing, but on time of the second), and helping me with my bookmark creation.

3. The sage advice of my Commercial Fiction writing teacher, Pamela Goodfellow, from back in 2001 - Just Smile and Nod. This came in handy at my second book signing of the week. I might, just might, write a post of what I mean by that phrase.

4. The time I was able to spend encouraging a young teen writer and a busy-mom-of-toddlers-writer on Wednesday. Time spent with fellow writers is always time well spent. :)

5. I won a critique from Sharon Mayhew through a contest held at Diane K. Salerni's blog. Woohoo! I sent her the first 500 pages of my current version of Captain Wrath.

6. I had great comments on my last post about the "business" of self-publishing - thank you all!

Early #fridayfreebie news:

This Friday, "The Bridge Snap" will be free again. Enjoy! The sale starts sometime in the a.m. on Friday. Next week, I'll have 2-3 titles for free for Black Friday.

And, finally, many thanks to the Celebrate the Small Things group!!! You rock!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The "Business" of Self-Publishing, Part 1

Way back in 2012, I researched publishing options for my novel, Champion in the Darkness. I researched agents and publishing houses online and in Writer's Markets; I looked at the publishing houses of the books that I found were most like mine; I researched small presses; I read articles about self-publishing.

I thought, from what I had learned, that only those with a foot already in the door of publishing could get Christian fantasy fiction published. Every author I read in that genre had books published in different genres first. Every agent I found seem to state that they didn't accept Christian fantasy as a genre unless the author already had something published in something like Amish Romance fiction, or Christian Thriller fiction, or secular Fantasy fiction.

Yet, I still wanted to get my book into the hands of readers. I started researching self-publishing, and after six months of research, I thought I knew how to go-ahead.

I didn't.

Well, obviously, I figured out some of it because I went ahead and self-published Champion in the Darkness in February 2013 under my own publishing company name, Wings of Light Publishing.

Since then, I have learned a huge amount. It's been a steep learning curve, and I've often slid back down the slippery slope. I'm no Hugh Howey of success. But, if I can help others who have chosen self-publishing, then I would like to do that.

My very first tip: Set aside at least one full year to research self-publishing. Keep writing during that time, but dig into the subject deep. Read articles and books on self-publishing - both from the cheerleaders and the naysayers. Filter the ultra-positive and the ultra-negative out. Read books by successful authors who are self-published. Study their covers. Study the length of their books. Study the way that they've released their books. Stalk their blogs for advice and information.

Here are four places I suggest to start with:

Susan Kaye Quinn - To celebrate her third Indie-anniversary, she's giving away a free indie publishing consultation. However, even if you don't get that, her site is chock full of information for writers and independent publishers. Sign up for her newsletter, stalk her blog, and learn.

Hugh Howey - Hugh Howey is "the name" in the independent publishing industry. Sign up for his newsletter, stalk his blog, and learn. Also, pay careful attention to the way he released his bestselling Wool series. (More about this in a later post of this series.)

Insecure Writer's Support Group's Self-Publishing Page - IWSG is helpful for every writer. Their page on Self-Publishing has tons of useful links. A collective of writers has created this page, so it's a great place to get a great combination of ideas and thoughts.

M Pax is an indie author who often has insightful posts on self-publishing, marketing, and everything it takes to write and publish.

If a year seems like far too long to research the subject of self-publishing, then I suggest looking at other options. Self-publishing is hard, patient work. Any kind of publishing is hard, patient work. Writing a novel is an accomplishment, and if you are finished, celebrate. But then, know that the publishing side of writing is going to be just as involved and just as much of an accomplishment as writing a novel.

Friday, November 14, 2014

So Thankful, Part Deux

Double #fridayfreebie today! Download my flash story "The Bridge Snap" or "Seedling" today for free at amazon!

I've decided belatedly to run a series of "so thankful" posts for November. It's not a cool blog hop, or a sweet meme, but if you are reading this, feel welcome to join in giving thanks!

Today, I'm so thankful for:

1. Sunshine. It's cold this week, but we have sun!

2. New tennis shoes (running shoes/walking shoes/gym shoes - am I showing my age by calling them tennis shoes when I'll never play tennis in them?)

3. Zoboomafoo - RIP Jovian, the lemur star - but the news reminded me of some fun memories of leaping around the living room with my oldest daughter in the mornings while watching this show when she was tiny and all things animal were fascinating. :)

4. A book win through the Realms Faire! Thank you M Pax and Dean K Miller!

5. A second, more in-depth look at Yakuza Territory by Milo James Fowler. (I haven't read it yet, but I know it's good because I've liked everything else about this series, and I like Milo's writing.)

A detective with no way out.

A telepath with something to prove...


World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle.

What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison's past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out?

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he's outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.


Available from Musa Publishing

Add Yakuza Territory to your Goodreads bookshelf





Maybe checking in on Sergeant Douglass late that night hadn’t been the best idea. I should have paid more attention to the warning signs right off; things weren’t exactly business as usual at the precinct. The pencil-necked clerk wasn’t at his post, and an eerie quiet held the foyer as still as a morgue. No cops, uniformed or otherwise, to be seen. In a city that never slept, one expected its law enforcement personnel to share the same god-awful insomnia—graveyard shift or no.

The vacant front desk didn’t sway me from my course, though. Little glitches out of the ordinary seldom did. I’d trained myself over the years to file them away, but not focus on them too much. As a detective, it was easy to get distracted by particulars while going after the big picture. Besides, I was suspicious by nature. I questioned everything as a matter of course. But as far as I knew, everybody on duty was partying in back, throwing Douglass a well-deserved soirĂ©e after his recent ordeal and return to the land of the visible.

I paused at the unlocked door leading into the bullpen—an open-concept area with clusters of desks for everybody ranked lower than lieutenant. Access into the station’s inner workings wasn’t usually so free and easy. As I quietly stepped inside, I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

The whole room lay empty except for five guys standing in the middle with assault weapons slung over their shoulders—AK-12s and SIG MPXs by the looks of them. Not what your average citizens usually carried around concealed on their person.

“Hey.” I saluted the first one to notice me. “Am I late to the party?”

He glared my way, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was back in high school; once again, I’d forgotten the beer. They weren’t in uniform—unless black nubuck jackets and jeans counted, not to mention the scruffy stubble, slick hair, and stocky frames. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the look of your standard-issue thug for hire these days.

“Charlie—get down!”

I would have recognized that Scottish brogue anywhere. I’d already assembled a good enough picture of the situation to know it was in my best interest to hit the floor a split second before the deafening staccato of weapons fire and a hail of bullets headed my way. The rounds blasted straight through computer monitors and potted plants on desks; sparks flew upward along with shards of clay and clouds of potting soil. Chairs disintegrated as I cringed behind a solid steel desk and drew the snubnosed Smith & Wesson from my shoulder holster.

“Sarge, you all right?” I barely heard myself over the stampede of slugs plowing into the steel that sheltered me. The rounds were making some serious dents, but none had punctured through—yet. It was only a matter of time.

I wouldn’t be able to stay put for long.


Get to know the man behind the book:


1. When did you start seriously pursuing writing as a career?

I've been writing since I was a kid, but I started submitting my work for publication in the summer of 2009. I'd always thought I would pursue publication at some point—probably after I retired from teaching or turned 40. My first story was published in January 2010, and I've had another 96 accepted for publication since then. I won't turn 40 for a couple more years, and I'm still teaching full-time. Doesn't look like I'll be retiring anytime soon!

2. How did you create the character Charlie Madison?

When I was a kid, I learned to type on an old-school manual typewriter. That's where I learned to write, too. My first novels were messy, full of typos and plot holes. But they were fun. And at age 15, that's what it was all about for me. Private eye Charlie Madison was one of the first characters I created, based on Box 13 and Dixon Hill, and The Double Murder was his big debut. By the end of it, I had over a hundred pages of snappy banter, mob hits, double-crossing dames, car chases, and even some alligators on leashes. It was a horrible parody, and I knew it.

Halfway through Write1Sub1 2011, I came up with the first Charlie Madison story I'd written in decades: Girl of Great Price. It wasn't anything like his original case, but he was the same quick-witted, intrepid detective I'd known before. I transplanted him into a more serious and gritty "future noir" sci-fi setting, and once I'd envisioned that world, I knew I'd be back. Immaterial Evidence soon followed, and Yakuza Territory will be available from Musa Publishing on November 7th.

3. Are you working on more Charlie Madison stories?

I'm outlining the follow-up to Yakuza Territory, and it's going to be full of assassinations, kidnappings, killer robots, and maybe even a mad scientist. The working title is The Gifted Ones, and it follows the origins of the mysterious suprahumans who have appeared in all three Charlie Madison detective stories so far.


Author Bio:


Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. He is an active SFWA member, and his work has appeared in more than 90 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology.

Visit and join The Crew for updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions.

Monday, November 10, 2014

So Thankful!

First, I want to say thank you to all the Veterans of the USA military. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. And, thank you family members of those veterans - you have served and sacrificed too. Thank you for your dedication.

I'm also thankful for  an amazing weekend watching my daughters at Frostbite Camp. Olympic level coaching, international and national athletes, and cold weather made for an exciting but tough combination for the weekend, and my daughters learned huge amounts and grew in skill and technique. They also amazed me with their tenacity and dedication, as did all the athletes there. It takes determination to go out on a Sunday afternoon in 40-50 degree Fahrenheit weather, have it go from drizzling to pouring rain with wind, and still stick it out.

I am so thankful that my daughters have become a part of Flat-water Sprint Canoeing and Kayaking.  I'm kind of blown away by the opportunity that my daughters have had to do this really cool sport. It's one of those Olympic Sports that kind of goes "under the radar" of televised American sports because our last Olympian medaled in 1988 - my kids had the privilege of racing with him a few weeks ago at another race (although they were nowhere near him on the course, it was still cool).

Here's a bit of what the high level junior women's canoe looks like:

In addition to that, I am thankful for my new shipment of books coming safely and soundly in the mail from Createspace.

I'm also thankful for a friend who is helping me with bookmarks. I'm almost ready to go with two book signing events for next week. I've learned a few things like how to create QR codes, and I've been happy to learn that it's doable even for non-techies like me.

Also, an anonymous amazon customer reviewed Champion in Flight! It's the first review for my second book, and I am thankful for that too. :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Celebrating Authors, Realms Faire, A New Cover, NaNo, and the Friday Freebie

Today I'm celebrating:

Cathrina Constantine's Newest Book and Giveaway:
Wickedly They Dream
Genre: Paranormal Thriller/Fantasy
Publisher: Black Opal Books Grab it today for only 99 cents!  HERE How Far Will Jordan go to rescue her mother. It will cost her everything--even her angel, Markus!

Buy Links: Amazon
Author Cathrina Constantine resides in Western New York. When not with her family, you'll find her in the forest behind her house walking the dogs and conjuring a new tale.
You can find Cathy Here:

And I'm celebrating:
Milo James Fowler's book:
A detective with no way out. A telepath with something to prove... World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle. What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison's past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out? Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he's outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.

Musa Publishing

And I'm celebrating:

With nine super fun events and an amazing stash of books for the giveaway, this Realms Faire promises to be the best yet!!!  To start exploring the event, go here!

Lastly, I have these celebrations:
1. The new paperback cover for Champion in the Darkness is done! Yay!
2. NaNoWriMo is both crazy and good so far - I'm working two projects at once.
3. My two daughters are attending Frostbite Camp this weekend - a flat-water sprint canoe and kayak camp hosted by the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club.
4. I have awesome IWSG friends! Thank you for your encouragement!

#FridayFreebie: Dragonfold and Other Adventures this week again for kindle readers and apps!
Next week it will be: "Seedling." The week after that it will be: "The Bridge Snap."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG: Running in Sand Circles

Have you ever run in sand and experienced how it sinks beneath your feet so that every step takes extra effort?

Have you ever felt like you've been running in circles?

Now, imagine that you are running in sand in a never-ending circle.

This is what my marketing strategies feel like to me: running in a never-ending circle in sinking sand.

That's right; I pretty much suck at marketing. I've tried giveaways, four paid services (not the hugely expensive ones), twitter posts, limited time only type sales, and just being plain obnoxious.

All of these have either drained me of time or money, or both.

Despite the fact that my profit margin is nil when I consider expenses and it's only coffee money when I don't consider expenses, I am still writing. I am still submitting short work out there. I'm still noveling. I'm still re-pubbing short stories that I plan to use as kindle select giveaways.

I keep hoping that this is my strength training time, that eventually, my writing muscles and my marketing muscles will be hardened enough to head down the actual beach of semi-success.

This month, I have two book signings scheduled.

So, I'm still working at it. I'm not giving up, even though on some days, I think about quitting. It's part of the reason I've been having trouble finishing Champion's Destiny. Despite a 4.6 star average rating at Amazon, I'm beginning to wonder if my trilogy totally sucks.

What about you? What does writing/marketing feel like to you this month? And do you have some super secret amazing marketing advice to share?

Oh, and do you think that offering the first book in a trilogy permafree is a good idea if the last, third book isn't out yet? Or, should I wait until the third book is out? Or, should I not do this at all? Please, please, give me your wisdom.

Meanwhile, I'm off to  finish that trilogy . . . for the twenty dedicated fans who have been asking me to. And, on my crabby days, I'm spending some time with Captain Wrath because his attitude makes me happy in those moments.