For a Better Future

So I’m sure some of you noticed that there was no update for Eikasia again this past Sunday. That makes two weeks in a row. I remember when I posted on January 11th how excited I was. I thought, Finally! After a year of waiting, I can get back to it! But life! Ah, life. How it loves to crush my delusions.

Now before you all start getting alarmed (and you really shouldn’t be) this isn’t some dreary announcement that Eikasia is “ending” or something. Of course not! I’m not even shutting the site down. But I can’t lie that some of you will be disappointed. Thankfully, that’s not too many of you, but still.

Eikasia’s going back to irregular updates again so that I can focus on publishing the books. And this time, I just want to warn everybody that this doesn’t mean updates every other week, or even once a month. I mean there really could be long stretches between one update to the next–months we’re talking here.

Why? Why did this happen again? She had the baby didn’t she? She graduated from college, didn’t she!? Well yes, imaginary reader. Yes, I did all of those things.

But little did I know, that just because school is done and the baby is born, that doesn’t mean things get “easier.” Oh no! Far from that. The family problems still persist, and there’s still that nagging little problem of trying to get enough work experience to really start my career going that’s keeping me from smooth sailing. I’ve started a paid internship that pays little, but is much needed for my resume. It takes a lot of work, though. Almost like a part time job. So apart from playing housewife and taking care of my baby son 24/7, a lot of my energy goes towards that.

So there’s the time aspect. Now about the money: I don’t get many donations at all from the site. I’m lucky if I get five bucks from someone in a year. The ads? Because I’m having trouble keeping a steady schedule up, I can’t improve my SEO to get more visitors to the site, so ad sales aren’t much. The addition of a child in my life, plus a dramatic cut back in income in the last year, plus the new cost of student loan bills, makes money more imperative for me. To be honest, Eikasia’s web site is a money drain. So how do I justify keeping it still active? (And I swear I will!) It got to a point where I thought, Why am I killing myself, trying to write new material for Eikasia, when I already have at least 3-4 finished manuscripts that I just need to edit and publish? My original plan had been to have Book 2 of Eikasia out by the end of the year, but this feels unlikely. The first book was supposed to release a lot sooner than it did, but there were set backs that resulted in that not happening. What could happen this time around with Book 2? And the cost for editing will be much more, but my family has promised to help, and I’m trying to save what I can from sales for Book 1 (but hey I have to deal with my family’s needs right now sometimes.)

So I hope you guys understand. Just because updates aren’t going to be steady anymore doesn’t mean Eikasia is dead. If anything, I’m trying to insure its future! If you want to know when the site actually updates, just join the new mailing list by clicking here.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Review: Kitty Goes To Washington

kitty2

As with the first book in the Kitty Norville series, this is my third time reading Kitty Goes to Washington. That said, I am very familiar with this series, and my thoughts on this book are glowingly positive–even more than the first time, and I’ll list the reasons below.

In this book, Kitty Norville has fled from her home in Colorado and has taken her radio talk show on the road. She lives her life now as a werewolf without a pack, and she’s coping, but unhappy. Then she gets a surprising summons to speak at a congressional hearing regarding the Center of Paranatural Biology, or some such thing. She goes for it, of course (free publicity!) but as you might imagine, things go awry when she meets an arrogant vampire underling named Leo, and a bible-thumping senator, Joseph Duke.

My original rating for this book had been four stars, but I decided to change this to five because I really, just immensely loved reading this book. I was at the edge of my seat, turning pages like a madman. And the ending! What a great climactic ending! After three times around the track, that says a lot about a story. Carrie Vaughn, like any prolific writer, has her “good” stories and her…well…not so good stories. Dare I say crappy stories? Well this second installment in the long running Kitty series is definitely one of the better ones. Certainly better than the first book!

I even remember complaining about the Church of the Pure Faith story arc, which I mentioned in my first review. It finds its conclusion in Kitty Goes to Washington, and the first time I read the books, I thought its ending had been…anti-climactic? But I thought the fallout from Elijah Smith’s demise was fairly interesting, and it also served as a way of introducing Jeffrey Miles, TV personality and psychic. Jeffrey is a recurring character in the series. It also helped to deepen the character of Roger Stockton, the exploitative weird news journalist. Once I took these things into account, I looked on the Church of the Pure Faith story arc more favorably. It still isn’t one of my favorite Kitty adventures, but it certainly isn’t the worst.

That’s really the only complaint that I have for this book, and as you can see, it’s not really a complaint. Kitty Goes to Washington has a fairly tight plot. The action was fast paced. The mysteries were intriguing. I have stated that the Kitty Norville series has this side to it that I likened to nerds at D&D night, that side where the story goes down weird “what-if” avenues and paints a broad and colorful view of how the supernatural might exist in our world. In this book, I think the best example of that is displayed in Fritz, an old German werewolf with a sad and violent past. This is really important for people to realize about the Kitty Norville series: it tips its hat to old fantasy pulp magazines, wherein strange and speculative stories were published. Why else would Carrie Vaughn use the tongue-in-cheek title convention of “Kitty and the…” I sort of chuckle when I see people whine about Kitty’s ironic name, and the funny book titles. They’re missing the joke, and it’s a shame!

But that leads to my next point: this series is not for everyone. It revels in its pulp fiction qualities and giggles at the ironic situations it presents. It’s self-aware humor. Kitty’s narrative voice is witty and humorous, and she isn’t shy to point out the stereotypes that populate her world. She can get whiny at times, and she really, really loves to run her mouth. Her idealist beliefs might frustrate some readers too. Another thing that might turn people off is its lack of smut. As paranormal fiction goes, there isn’t as much romance as you might expect in the Kitty Norville series. I’d still classify this series as PNR, because I think the target audience is still the same, but I’d do so with the caveat that not all the Kitty books are smut-laced adventures so much as just…adventures with some occasional sexiness. This book is just such a case. Kitty Goes to Washington has a very sexy love interest in Luis, the were-jaguar, but he isn’t really a central character in the book (even if he is a recurring character in the series.)

The climax to this installment is leaps and bounds better than the last, so that’s another good point for it. Once I got to the end, I couldn’t stop reading. It feels satisfying, it feels significant. If you were frustrated by the downer ending of Kitty and the Midnight Hour you’ll be happy to know that Kitty Goes to Washington has a much more kick ass conclusion.

I’m actually surprised by how much I liked this book a third time around. Despite enjoying re-reading the first book, I was afraid this one would be stale, or perhaps just not be as awesome as I remembered it. Thankfully, this was not the case. How reassuring to know I had such great taste as a teenager!

If you like this review, please check out my other reviews on Goodreads!

And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!

Tagged , , , , ,

Review: Kitty and the Midnight Hour

14461

This is my third time reading this book. I first read it back in high school in 2006, when I was in the 11th grade. That was just a year after it was published. I’ve been following the series ever since, and these characters have become some of my favorites. That said, I obviously love the series, but I’m not blind to its flaws.

Since the series is almost finished (the final book releases this summer) I decided to read the entire thing from the start. It’s been a few years since I last read the first book, so it felt fairly fresh to me. There were a lot of things that I had forgotten. Kitty grows so much as a character, but right away I could remember the reasons why I liked her so much. In Kitty and the Midnight Hour, she was a submissive wolf on the bottom of the pecking order. She was timid and abused all the time, but when she accidentally starts a nighttime radio show talking about the supernatural, she discovers success, and with that success comes new confidence. Little Kitty doesn’t want to get pushed around anymore, and this disrupts the status quo.

Witty characters in PNR is hardly groundbreaking–in fact it’s a trope–but with Kitty it’s a little different. In many similar stories, a character might crack a joke, but it’s with too much gravity and disconnect from reality. It’s usually, I’m a “three dimensional character” wisecracking about the supernatural, but hey take me serious at all times because I’m in a dark and gritty world, and my story is art, understand!?Kitty, on the other hand, is a character who recognizes her own flaws, and is not afraid to comment on the absurdity of some of the typical situations you encounter in PNR. It’s self-aware humor, and this book pulls this off because the author herself is a great big nerd (and that’s a compliment!) All you have to do is go to Carrie Vaughn’s blog to see that she is the kind of person who loves all aspects of sci-fi and fantasy, not just the mainstream bits. She’s the kind of nerd who prefers Johnny Mnemonic to Elysium. The kind who recognizes how much Guardians of the Galaxy owes to the original Star Wars trilogy for its success. In short: she’s old school. And old school nerds know one thing: campy humor and fantasy easily go hand-in-hand.

Which is why Vaughn writes such great material. Kitty’s discussions on her radio show sound like the kinds of things fantasy nerds shoot the shit about over drinks on D&D night: “What does life imprisonment mean to a vampire? How can a human maintain a relationship with a werewolf?” These portions of the book are really fun and bring a lot to the story. Kitty utilizes her radio show as a source information at times, hoping to find answers to personal problems. Other times, the show is what introduces plot threads that Kitty finds herself wrestling with throughout the series. It’s really great, because it creates a sense of spontaneity that makes me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In that example, Joss Whedon often had multiple plots and subplots running concurrently in his show. For the Kitty Norville series, this keeps things fresh and interesting, allowing Vaughn to focus on interesting material and constant action instead of having to make us suffer through awkward filler.

But readers might find themselves frustrated by the basic concept of the book to begin with. Maybe the random radio talk show discussions might annoy you? After all, it’s essentially nerd-talk, and not everybody’s into that. Or perhaps Kitty’s initial submissive nature and gullible decisions might frustrate you? Like any well-rounded character, Kitty has less than admirable traits–including running her mouth and being overly idealistic. The introduction of so many sub-plots so early on might frustrate readers as well. It’s always been my belief that this show would function great as a television show, partly because it already feels like one. So many things are happening, and so many characters are getting tossed into the mix, that fans of the series have come to name and recognize certain story arcs (like my least favorite: The Church of the Pure Faith, which starts in this book.) Another thing that might discourage people is this book’s ending. It’s a bit sudden, and it can be frustrating. To this day, I’m surprised Vaughn decided to begin her series on the note that she did. It was definitely a risk for a first book.

If you think you can forgive some of those things, or if you think they won’t bother you at all, then definitely give Kitty and the Midnight Hour a read. These days, you can get the second book used pretty cheaply, and believe me, you’ll want to immediately after finishing this one!

If you like this review, please check out my other reviews on Goodreads!

And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!

Tagged , , , , ,

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Recovering From a Bad Review – When One Person’s Opinion Hurts Your Sales

TL;DR: One bad review is hurting my book sales. I need to make a comeback, so I’m offering free copies of my novel to anyone who will post an honest review on Amazon. To get your free e-book of my LGBT fantasy novel, click here and submit your request!


“Bad reviews happen to everyone.”

I’ve seen this all the time from writing sites and author blogs that try to offer some comfort to authors who have received negative comments on their work on such sites as Amazon. “Don’t take it personal and just move on.” I’ve even seen a few articles that claim bad reviews can be a good thing–that they might have the curious effect of “boosting sales”, or they could contain good advice about what not to do with your next book. For the obviously trollish reviews, the best advice I’ve seen is “just ignore it.” (Removing an inappropriate review from a site like Amazon is notoriously hard, apparently, even if that review violates guidelines.) Obviously, I’ve received negative and mixed reviews before for my unpublished writing. I took what I could from those and moved on, as all the articles have recommended.

But one thing I don’t see these writing sites discussing is what to do when you get a bad review, and have little to no reviews to balance it out. What do you do when one negative review impacts your sales so severely as to cause a virtual flat line? We’re talking about a kiss of financial death here, not just hurt feelings.

I’m in one such position right now. Currently, Amazon is where I’m selling the most units of my first and latest release, Tributaries, which came out just a short month ago. My planning was a bit rushed. It was one of those live-and-learn experiences. I set aside just one short month for promotion before releasing the book. I sent free copies to dozens of blogs, made announcements on all my personal sites, advertised tirelessly on sites like Twitter and Tumblr, launched a Project Wonderful campaign, entered a Halloween book contest, and gave away ten free copies in a promotional raffle. I did manage to get some pre-orders, but naturally, one month is too short a time to generate any real buzz, so when my book came out, it was basically a blank slate. Anyone buying it was taking a risk on me as an unknown author.

What all that meant was that any reviews I received from the incredible diverse (and often unprofessional) reading masses was going to determine my sales. Scary, right? Especially considering the trolls that haunt the internet. But for the most part, I got a handful of mostly good reviews, with one or two mixed reviews tossed in. The problem? Most of my positive feedback was on Goodreads, where people are known to add books to their lists and virtually forget about them. I’m guilty of this myself, having I think over a hundred books on my “to-read” list. And on Amazon, my primary seller? I managed to snag one glowing 5-star review one month after the book’s release. “That’s great!” I thought. Then three days ago, I got a scathing one-star review from a guy who said my book was “pointless” and who apparently didn’t think too much of my books “rare vocabulary.” He even took a shot at the fact that I have a bachelor’s degree, like I was trying to lord that over everyone. Ouch!

And I could’ve ignored this review for what it was–the spiteful opinion of one guy who wasn’t even part of my targeted demographic. This was written by an older white man who has only bothered to review seven other books aside from mine, and only one out of those seven got four stars from him. A picky reader. Certainly not a crime, and it’s not like his review violated guidelines.

But his scathing comments had a huge impact on my sales. The effect was almost immediate. He posted his review on December 17th. You wanna know what my sale chart looks like on Kindle Direct Publishing now?

salesscreenshotdecember2014

Ouch, ouch, ouch! What happened? Can one man’s negative comments really have such a devastating effect on an author?

In my particular case…yes. You see, when you have such a small pool of reviews and a small publishing history to go with it, the fact of the matter is that unless I’m wowing people with tons of stellar reviews, no one is interested. It’s the insane hurdle that new indie writers have to overcome. This man’s one-star rating dropped my book’s average from five-stars to three. Even if I got another five-star rating, I’d only get half-a-star back of what I’d lost. Hardly the kind of thing that boosts confidence in potential customers, right? It’s particularly frustrating as I have a 4.2 star rating on Goodreads (at the time of this post) based on multiple reviews, but most of those who might actually purchase my book only ever see the feedback on Amazon. Talk about skewed perception!

So the question is: how do I come back from this?

The short answer? I honestly have no idea. Right now, all I can think to do is wait and have faith that someone who has already received the book will be kind enough to post a more positive review. What’s excruciating is that, until I get some better ratings to off-set this one bad rating, my sales will continue to look like the one above. I’ve already sent out free copies to tons of people prior to this latest set-back, specifically requesting a review on Amazon. I’d do a free sale if I was enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, but I’m not. If this keeps up, I might have to resort to editing the base price to see if I can encourage more people to try the book. Over a hundred people have purchased it since its release, and I have no idea if any of them will bother to say anything about it–good or bad.

And in the meantime? I guess I can just put my head between my knees and try to breathe. Publishing a book is rough, but it can be even rougher when one person sets out to destroy what little chances you already had. I don’t know that reviewers realize the kind of impact their comments have on writers like me. For me, this isn’t a hobby. I’m trying to make this my livelihood. The thing that hurts the most? It’s most likely that this person doesn’t give a damn about any of that.

…All that said, for the next few weeks only, I’m offering my novel for free to anyone who is willing to post a review on Amazon. This is for an HONEST review, and you don’t have to feel pressured to write something positive just because of my woeful tale. I know my book isn’t perfect, I wrote the original manuscript when I was just 19 for heaven’s sake, and it’s my first attempt at writing a major novel. BUT I’ve also made significant improvements since then, and I’m confident my work isn’t a one-star affair. All you need to do to get your free copy of my book is go to the contact page of my book’s site by clicking here, and submit your request for a copy. After that, I’ll personally send you three formats of it: PDF, MOBI, and EPUB. I realize that any reviews posted on Amazon will have to state that you received the book for free, and that it won’t be a “verified purchase”, but anything is better than what I have right now.

So I implore you. If you like independent books and/or LGBT fiction, then please consider reading my work and posting your feedback on Amazon! Don’t let this one person have the final say on what has taken over six years for me to accomplish!

I’ll be doing this until the end of the first full week of January. (That’s the 10th.) Spread the word about this, even if you feel you can’t read the work yourself! Every little bit helps.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Game Review: Elegy for a Dead World (Cliqist Preview)

http://cliqist.com/2014/12/19/elegy-dead-world-reviewed/

Elegy for a Dead World is… strange, to say the least. Developed in collaboration by Dejobaan Games (AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, The Wonderful End of the World) and Popcannibal (Girls Like Robots), the basic concept is to write. That’s it. There are no easter eggs, puzzles, or action. Just you and whatever ideas you can come up with. Ordinarily I’d think this is awesome, as I like to write novels, but usually what people consider to be a “game” contains some element of direct or in-direct reward for tasks completed. This is greatly lacking in Elegy, and it’s important potential buyers are aware of this. It’s all about self-fulfillment, not measurable achievement.

To read the rest of this review, please click the link above to Cliqist, a game news site that covers crowdfunded games!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Game Review: The Banner Saga (Cliqist Preview)

http://cliqist.com/2014/12/19/banner-saga-reviewed/

With development for Banner Saga 2 officially announced, it’s the perfect time for a second look at the popular viking-themed tactical RPG game for the holidays. For those who have already beaten the game, there’s plenty of reasons to go back. Since its release there have been several patches that have fixed technical issues, improved performance, added new configurations (including profile saves and subtitles), a better balanced final boss fight on normal and easy mode. and modding capabilities, just to name a few. But if you haven’t played the game? You’re definitely missing out.

To read the rest of this review, please click the link above to Cliqist, a game news site that covers crowdfunding games!

Tagged , , , , ,

Dear Numantian Games: About Lords of Xulima on Mac, and Mac Gamer Treatment

http://cliqist.com/2014/12/04/letter-numantian-games-regarding-lords-xulima-mac/

In my review of Lords of Xulima, I left out a major part of my experience due to a lack of immediate relevance. Were the PC and Mac versions stable at the time of my review? Yes, and I stand by my positive verdict of the game. But at the game’s official release, I was horrified to discover that the Mac version was, in my opinion, borderline unplayable! Now I wouldn’t ordinarily think this an issue—many developers release Mac versions after their games’ PC release, but that wasn’t quite the case here. You presented Lords of Xulima as if it were a finished game to Mac players, only including a small note about persistent bugs in the update section of the game’s Steam store page. Personally? I don’t know anyone who makes a habit of expanding the update logs for a game that isn’t early access when they are considering buying it. The assumption is, of course, that if the game is finished, then it should just work.

Want to read the rest? Click the link above to read the article on Cliqist.com!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Dragon Age – Asunder

Asunder

David Gaider is the lead writer for the fantasy game franchise, Dragon Age. Up until Asunder I had been unaware that there were any books published for the game series, but as I understand it, none of the other novels were as directly important to the main storyline as this one. Not only does it feature several characters from the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, it sets up the events of the latest installment in the franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Since Asunder was written by Gaider, the novel maintains an authentic “Dragon Age” feel to its writing. The setting, the characters, the plot–all feel like something you might encounter if you were playing the actual video games. But the game series has been lauded for its writing, and this strength carries over well in prose-form. In this tale, we hop between characters as a mystery and mission are laid out in parallel: Wynne, one of the companions from the first game, has gone to the White Spire in in the Orlesian city of Val Royeaux to retrieve her son, Rhys, for a mission to rescue a mage friend who was researching something of great importance elsewhere. Rhys, meanwhile, is wrongfully accused of murder. The actual perpetrator is a lonely, misguided young man named Cole, whom no one seems able to see or remember aside from Rhys. Evangeline, a templar under the orders of the strict Lord Seeker Lambert, accompanies Wynne and Rhys on their mission. What they discover has the potential to throw the balance of the world upside down.

The beginning was slow for me, and I remember skimming pages as I ground my teeth in frustration. Much time was spent introducing the large cast of characters and the various circumstances that both cast them together and complicate their relationships. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that I started to feel more invested. It was quite an uphill battle to get to that point, taking nearly a year to hit over %50 completion. But once I made it over all the exposition and dramatic set up, Gaider started dropping bombs. They came one after the other, and while I found myself trying to wrap my head around the implications of one thing, he would sling another at my face at high speed. It was exhilarating, and just the kind of stuff I’d wished he’d opened with, but for a story of this complexity, I know Gaider was taking his time with things, and I’m glad I had the patience to let him work his magic. The thing about Asunder is that it’s as much about the politics as it is the action. None of the stakes make any sense until you understand why, for instance, the Rite of Tranquility is such a disturbing practice, or why the Lord Seeker might seek to act directly in opposition to the will of his religion’s leader (the Divine), or why a mage might still feel the need to support the Circle of Magi.

The stakes are high, the world an unforgiving place, and the plot twists delicious. I enjoyed this book, and I might even try and read the rest of the book series now.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the Dragon Age franchise, you may as well read this. It’s fairly interesting, and as I mentioned earlier, this book acts as the prequel to Dragon Age: Inquisition.

If you like this review, please check out my other reviews on Goodreads!

And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Because today is that day

birthdayAnd I had a great birthday today too! My family surprised me with a giant poster of the Tributaries cover, and I got so emotional I actually cried. Good times. I <3 my fam. :)

 

Tagged , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,361 other followers