I've been wanting to blog about a particular topic for some time now. It's been weighing heavily on me, but I haven't, to be honest, been able to figure out how to approach it without sounding like a whiner.
The topic is the Book Blogger Bubble.
I knew from the very beginning that small press publishing meant not having my book in bookstores. So I'm not in Barnes & Noble--I can live with that. Most people shop for books on Amazon these days anyway, and with ebook sales on the constant rise, I know my book doesn't suffer from lack of availability.
What it suffers from is lack of exposure.
So I tried finding book bloggers. People who review gobs and gobs of books on blogs with gobs and gobs of followers. Sounds like a great idea, huh? Except guess what? I'm discovering that a lot of those bloggers are all following each other. And their reason for that is they've banded together to make it look like they have a big audience so they can get free books from the big publishers. Highly sought titles to stock their personal shelves, with no cost but a quick post.
I know this is true because I joined a book blogger network in order to hopefully get some reviews of Finding Angel. What is posted all over that network are links to review blogs with, "Follow me and I'll follow you!" and discussions about how to gain followers so you can get the hottest titles.
I'm not saying all the bloggers are hooked up, but enough to make it frustrating. Too many are only shouting out to each other. Granted, a lot of those reviews also get posted on Amazon...
Haven't you noticed how the books by big presses often have a slew of reviews on Amazon before the book even releases? It's because of the book bloggers and Amazon vine and other such programs. Big presses send out hundreds of free copies all the time in order to build buzz and rack up online reviews.
Yes, you heard me right. Big presses send out hundreds of copies, at no cost to the author. How do small presses compete with that, especially when the big publisher freebies being offered are titles the bloggers are drooling over? We don't have a chance.
Besides, most small press authors must send books out that we pay for ourselves. Yep, that's right. Even if we could get into that bubble, we have to foot the bill ourselves.
I have been lucky to have had a good number of readers review Finding Angel of their own accord--by both blogging and posting on Amazon, and many of them bought the book themselves. And right now, the lovely Linda Yezak, author of Give the Lady a Ride, is stocking Finding Angel in her mobile bookstore. And Kristine Pratt, owner of The Written World bookstore is also stocking copies. These awesome people are helping to burst Finding Angel and other books by small presses out of the bubble we get stuck in.
But it's still a battle. Unless you are a writer yourself, you likely don't understand the need for reviews. Authors honestly carry little weight when it comes to the sales of their own books, unless it's a situation where we're meeting readers in person. But when a book is reviewed over and over again, in a bunch of different places, readers notice. Why? Because it's not the author saying how great the book is--it's another reader.
Today is just links, folks, but they are important ones.
. The first is my post on The Cheesecake Thickens, which is aboutmy little Beastie who has a long road ahead of her right now. Prayers are much appreciated. Click HERE for the whole story.
The others are links regarding a dear and awesome writer who was a big part of Splashdown Books and our online zine Avenir Eclectia.Walt Staplespassed away this week. You likely have never heard of him unless you are a fellow Lost Genre Guild Member or you follow Avenir Eclectia. But he's been published in quite the array of magazines, and deservedly so! He also wrote the tie-together story in Splashdown's Aquasynthesis anthology.
More importantly, Walt was simply a great guy. His quirky sense of humor had me nearly spewing coffee on my laptop more times than I can remember. He worked hard at his craft, was true to his fellow writers and friends, and left behind a family he dearly loved.
So, in honor of Walt, please visit the following links:
I've given a lot of thought to names the last couple of days. You see, we are getting another dog. My beloved Boxer, Rocky, died last November and we have an opportunity to rescue another Boxer. This one is female.
Like Rocky, she is already named. I would never have named a Boxer "Rocky" but it did, in the end, fit him quite well and I grew to love the name because it was part of him. I hope to someday learn to love the new girl's name, too, but right now I'm having a little trouble with it.
I'm not entirely sure that's how it's spelled, but I assume it is the traditional spelling or some common derivative like Krissy or Chrissi. No offense to any Chrissies out there, but the name conjures images for me that I don't want associated with my dog: a bleach blonde beach bimbo, thanks to the show "Three's Company" and the character Chrissy Snow...
That simply does not jibe with:
No, that's not actually the dog--it's an image I found on Google, but you get the idea. The dog obviously has more brains than Chrissy Snow, and more class, thank you very much.
However, the dog is now almost two years old, is very used to her name, and the woman/foster dog parent we are getting her from is the one who named her. She is terribly sweet and loves the dog very much, giving her up only because they have their hands full with three other Boxers. I do not want to make this experience even more difficult for either of them, and have therefore decided to find some way of living with this name.
One idea I had was finding another mental connection. Could Chrissy be the shortened version of the name of a character from one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy books or movies? We already have one dog named Dax--after Jadzia Dax from Star Trek DS9--and I love naming pets that way. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
The other idea I have is to change the spelling. As a writer, I often choose character names for the way they look on the page. For example, my one character Siophra. No one ever pronounces it the way I do, and I have no idea if I'm even pronouncing it "right." But it just looks lovely. The shape of the word, the lay of the letters. So, maybe if I change the spelling to Krysy...or one step further to give it a real fantasy feel by adding an apostrophe: K'rysy. :D
Anyway, it is my dilemma. But...
It inspired me to share a few tidbits about names in Finding Angel:
The name Angel was never intended to stay in my book. I picked it because my daughter was going through a phase of naming every-freaking-thing Angel (dolls, stuffed animals, etc.) and it was quite literally the first thing that popped into my head. BUT, it worked out for the story, as its letters became plot elements....
I already told you how much I love the name Siophra for how it looks on the page. But according to Behind the Name it actually comes from the Irish name Siofra which means "elf, sprite" and Siophra is Elven.
Several of the names come from famous scientists. Gregor comes from Gregor Mendel, who is given credit for being the founder of the science of genetics. Sir Benjamin's last name is Punnet, which is taken from Reginald Punnett (yes, I changed the spelling) who is most well-known for the Punnett square. And there are two minor characters with the last names of Watson and Crick, taken from the pair of scientists who discovered the DNA double helix.
And lastly, my favorite, Kalek. He's an Elven rocker and I based him originally on a singer/musician named Caleb who attended my old church. Of course, I changed a lot of details about him, including giving him pointy ears, onyx eyes, and tattoos. Since I didn't actually know the guy personally, I couldn't (and wouldn't have most likely) base anything about Kalek's personality on him, but I chose him in honor of his wicked talent.
So how do you go about choosing names? For characters? For pets? For children?
I woke up this morning to find an email in my inbox--a post on a fiction writers loop of which I am a member--that contained a nifty little diatribe against The Hunger Games, touting it as horror and as a book that promotes teen gang violence.
Oh. My. God.
A story in which teens must hunt to survive, and are FORCED by a corrupt GOVERNMENT to participate in a brutal game in order to not have their district starve. Teens who are not violent by nature, and who want nothing more than to not have to participate. Sure, some are raised as warriors, but they have it drilled into them their whole lives--it is not a choice they make.
The biggest issue I had with this person's take is that she's judging the whole series based on the first book. If she continued, she'd see that the story turns to one of rebellion against this government that has oppressed the people for so long. It's about abolishing the violence of the Hunger Games, not encouraging it!
I recently posted on THE CHEESECAKE THICKENS about this very thing--people taking certain things, like violence and horror, out of context. Not reading the whole story, not listening to the whole song, not watching the movie through to the end--and then making the judgement that the book/song/movie is glorifying those things. Go check it out and tell us what your take is on the topic.
Some people believe we shouldn't play Santa or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny for our kids. They believe it is "lying" to our children, it commercializes sacred holidays and takes the focus off Jesus (for Christmas and Easter, not tooth losing, of course).
I happen to not agree that it's "lying" (I'm a fantasy writer, after all), and I believe if we put Jesus first we can still do Santa, etc, as secondary. And technically, my family never did the Easter Bunny because we had three sets of grandparents who bought the kids Easter baskets, so we saw no reason to add a fourth. Plus, despite the fact that both kids believed in Santa (he's a person, albeit magic) and the Tooth Fairy (because fairies *must* exist), they both thought the idea of a giant rabbit leaving colored eggs filled with candy was ludicrous.
This quick post is not to start a debate about any of that though.
What's my point then?
To say this: If you are going to refuse to do these holidays characters do it because it is so STUPID to have to get up in the middle of the night and sneak around.
I was up pulling a tooth for Beastie 2 last night at 2:30 am, because it was bothering her and she couldn't sleep. This meant staying up past 3:00 am to leave her money under the pillow. Which means that this Saturday morning, the Tooth Fairy is TIRED.
It has been pointed out to me that I've not posted anything much about the sequel to Finding Angel. When does it come out? What's it called? What's it about???
Why it hasn't occurred to me to blast this info all over the place is beyond me. I guess I'm too focused on getting the dang thing finished, and the other bazillion things going on. Also, trying to come up with teasers that don't end up spoilers for Finding Angel takes thought. And my brain feels like it's at maximum capacity....
But here goes:
The title is... Seeking Unseen. Like the title Finding Angel, it has layers of meaning, which reveal themselves throughout the story. I also like the idea that "Seeking" and "Finding" are related terms. The third book (yes, I have a third planned!) will likely be "Hiding" something. No idea yet what the "something" will be, though :P.
Seeking Unseen is due to release the first part of August. I say that because if I say "August 1st" which is the planned date, it will inevitably release late. So, early August for now.
As for what it's about, well....
Let's just say this. Angel has a wish. If you read Finding Angel you know what that wish is. And we want that wish to come true, right? But do wishes ever come true the way we think they will? Or when we think they will? Seeking Unseen takes place two years after the timeline of Finding Angel. And Angel has put off making her wish official until she sees something disturbing. Something that lets her know her beloved brother Zack is in need of her.
And when she goes to him, she discovers the consequences of her leaving--family members affected in ways she never would have imagined. She also reunites with an old friend, who has issues of her own. And in a way, the story becomes hers instead of Angel's....
Music was not on my original list of "passions" to blog about--but with the topic raised in my recent tag post, where I said I passionately *hate* Rush, I thought I'd share some music I passionately love.
Duran Duran. Yes, I was one of those screaming, swooning young teen girls in the early Eighties. I still am, I must say. I got to go to my very first Duran Duran concert at the age of 34. I screamed. I swooned. I love all their older stuff, and much of their newer music. My favorite video by Duran Duran has ever been and ever will be: The Wild Boys.
Sinead O'Connor. Yes, it's limited to her first two albums. But I adored, and still adore, her voice. And was ridiculously impressed by how gorgeous she was bald. I had my hair buzzed very short back in those days, but not bald! :P Her music is passionate and deep. And if anyone doubts her vocal ability, watch this:
These days so many female pop stars rely on skimpy costumes and punchy dance beats and whatever. Sinead clung fiercely to her individuality and relied on pure talent. I will say there are some with pipes like her today, but they are too few and far between for me.
The Offspring. (I seem to be doing this chronologically. I didn't intend to, but we'll go with it.) I often refer to myself as an ex-punk rocker. It's because I spent a lot of time listening to bands like The Ramones and The Misfits. I still throw The Ramones in now and then, but I abandoned The Misfits because of Danzig's self-proclamation of his satan-worshiping, which I simply can't get past. But over the years, my love for The Offspring has grown. That is partly because so has their music. My current favorite of theirs:
What do I say? The song simply rocks.
More currently, I have found few artists to love passionately. Pop today is far too dance/hip-hop/whatever for me. I am not into emo or screamo. Or country. And I don't have time to search through indie artists as much as I'd like. I do passionately love a few of Adele's songs, and the video for Rolling in the Deep is masterful. And my daughter constantly listening to Selena Gomez has led me to an appreciation for her talent. Yes, odd combo those. Jeremy Camp is another favorite of mine, and just a few months ago I discovered Fireflight, but can't say I've developed a true passion for them yet.
But I've posted a few times about Logan Lind, and I can say I love his music passionately. My favorite song by him is one called Shimmer and he hasn't made a video of it yet. Logan, are you listening???? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.....
I'll leave you with the video of one song I listened to obsessively a few months ago. An indie band called Middle Class Rut with their song New Low:
And please, if based on anything you see in this post, if you have band/song suggestions for me leave them in the comments. I've love to check them out!
Finding Angel is a finalist in the Grace Awards YA category! That means that I've made it through the first round. Now, a panel of judges will read and, well, judge (duh) the finalists (there are three) and pick a winner. The cool part is that regardless of whether I "win" or not, I can still say: Finding Angel is a finalist in the Grace Awards YA category! (See how sneakily I got that in *twice* in one paragraph :).
Good news #2:
I've mentioned on here that I battled cancer a few years ago. Seven years to be exact. And I now have my latest verification that the cancer is still gone. Seven years cancer free. Nifty :).
News #3 (the "good" part as yet to be determined):
I'm now on Twitter. Honestly, not sure what has made me jump off that particular cliff. I have resisted for a long, long time. But you can find me by clicking on the little button over there in the sidebar on the right if you scroll down a little. The one under the Facebook button, which you ought to click, too.