Category Archives: eBooks
Nice Girl Like You is free on Amazon this weekend!
Nice Girl Like You is released!
New short story released!

The Devohrah Initiative

The cover of The Devohrah Initiative was designed by Craig Hansen. It used an image © Wimpos—Licensed through Shutterstock.com

Hey all.

I’m proud to announce the release of my latest short story, The Devohrah Initiative. It’s a tale that combines elements of high-tech horror with humor, and while the setting and topic are different, the tale is in the same vein as my popular freebie short story, Under Contract.

I wrote this book on a dare. The dare wasn’t personally directed at me, but was a general dare by Joe Konrath (which you can find here) to all independently-published writers to start having more fun with their careers.

The general concept was this: to write a story, edit and proof it by yourself, create your own cover, format the book, and upload it to Amazon.com, all in the space of a single work day. It’s a challenge that’s come to be known as the “eight-hour book challenge.”

Now, due to my odd schedule, I had to split the eight hour time limit over two evenings.

The first evening, I wrote my 3,500-word story, including using Google Earth and other resources to get details somewhat accurate. I also searched out an image I wanted to license for the cover on Shutterstock that night. I hit my four-hour window Saturday night, then waited until Sunday night to finish up.

On Sunday, I almost bit off more than I could chew.

Using the licensed image from Shutterstock, I built the cover in four sizes and my interior title page in just under an hour. Then I went over to Scrivener, compiled the story into an .rtf file, and then copy-pasted it into InDesign, where I could work on the formatting.

I brought in the necessary back matter and front matter elements, got it all squared away, began to export to Kindle … and my PC froze up. Fortunately, I had just saved my work in InDesign, but still, the clock was ticking…

After a hard reboot, I finished the job and uploaded the book to Amazon with only minutes remaining. I wrote the blurb on the fly.

It was a very near thing, and I almost gave up when my PC froze, but it was indeed fun. If you try out the story, which is an Amazon exclusive at this point, I hope you’ll agree. (And it’ll be free on Amazon between August 30 through September 3.)

The Devohrah Initiative is an idea that occurred to me as recent debates about government-controlled drones have been discussed. De-voh-rah, by the way, is a Hebrew word that means “bee.” It can also translate into the feminine name Deborah, since both words are derived from the same Hebrew root, dalet-bet-resh, although that’s largely peripheral to the story I’ve written.

Anyway, using the transliteration for the Hebrew word for “bee” fit into the story and allowed me to give the tale a title a bit less on-the-nose than “Plan Bee” or something like that.

So, there you have it. I’m not sure how often I’ll repeat this sort of eight-hour challenge, but it was nice to inject a sense of fun back into writing. I’ve spent almost a year and a half working on a long horror novel, so coming up with something I could get out on the market in under eight hours was definitely enjoyable.

Hope you find pleasure in the results.

My first Tout is an update on EyeCU

Well, I finally jumped feet-first into the latest and greatest in social media, Tout.

Tout is to YouTube as Twitter is to blogs. I’ll be updating through Tout when I don’t have time to post a longer article from now on.

Posted on August 10, 2012, 12:23 AM By
Categories: eBooks Tags: ,
From legit complaint to exaggeration to fiction

I enjoy working as an independent author.

I mean that.

By choosing this path, I don’t have to wait for overworked, underpaid, over-the-transom acquisitions assistants to recognize the value of my writing and convince his superior to at least look at it. Or wait for that process to repeat up the editorial chain of command until someone finally says, “Maybe we should tell the writer this thing doesn’t completely stink. It’s postmarked 2005, so he’s probably wondering.”

Instead, I can come directly to the reading public and present something for their consumption. They might like it; they might not. But it’s out there.

When I first came into the world of eBooks, the most common bit of advice being tossed around was, “Give your story two years to be published the traditional way. If it’s not picked up by that point, then go ahead and ePublish it.”

Less than two years later, the advice given has almost reversed itself. “Put it out there as an eBook. It might draw the attention of an agent or publisher if it does okay.”

Regardless, the publishing world has seen a seismic shift in the past couple years, and not all the rules are the same. Good authors who struggled to get anything in print are now able to draw an audience and make at least a meager income. Better writers can even achieve a semblance of earning a living from their writing.

And is there a lot of junk out there, too? Yes, but that’s what innovations like Look Inside and downloadable previews are for. The bad stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.

I strive to be a writer of quality fiction.

It’s a popular misconception that all independent writers are publishing substandard stuff. In fact, some of the best writers in history were self-published. For example, who do you think told Benjamin Franklin that Poor Richard’s Almanac was “ready for an audience,” hmm? Gentle Ben himself, that’s who.

And what about one of the best-loved stories of all time, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Yup, Sir Charles did that one on his own, too.

It’s not so uncommon as people think, going the indie route. Even in recent times, folks like John Grisham got their start by hawking their own wares, only to get their books in front of the eyes of the right people and catch on with a traditional publisher.

To step outside of pure book analogies, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the long-running Comedy Central animated hit, South Park, got their start by self-producing and self-distributing an animated short entitled The Spirit of Christmas, which eventually evolved and morphed into the cartoon we know today.

The point is, going the independent route has a bad reputation lately, but it is by no means a guarantee of subpar material, nor is it an indicator of a lazy creator willing to put out bad content for a pure ego rush. There may be dross out there, but there are nuggets of gold as well.

Whenever I prepare a book I’ve written for release, I do all I can to ensure my readers are buying a professional-level product. I have professionals handle my book covers and edit my books. I’m just as thorough on revisions and using the tools of the trade to make sure I have a properly-written and developed story, as I would be if I were submitting it to a traditional publisher. More, even. Prior to release, I run my fiction past the eyes of test readers and revise based on their feedback.

What it comes down to is this: Are some independent authors putting out subpar stuff and being lazy? Sure. But that’s true of traditionally-published stuff as well, and the line of demarcation often comes down to personal drive, the desire to create something of quality.

A writer either wants to make a quick buck, or they want to create a lasting and worthwhile piece of entertainment that will attract to them a more sustainable level of success. I count myself among the latter. Whether I should be will ultimately be up to readers to decide.

A few laughs and a shiver

My latest effort at achieving these goals as been unleashed. Under Contract: A Tale of Horror and Satire will offer up some biting satire, a few giggles, and hopefully a shiver or two.

The most common question authors are asked, aside from “Who are you, again?” is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

In this case, my inspiration came from my fellow indie authors as a whole. When this whole subculture developed, some who chose the independent route had never been published before, while others had been. Understandably, some of them had tales to tell about their experiences being published by traditional book publishers.

At first, there were the legit complaints, such as writers whose books were scuttled off shelves without a big push when they failed to sell well immediately; or whose second or third books were not accepted after first breaking through as a published author. Gripes about poor copy-editing, improper covers, and editorial changes became commonplace.

But somewhere along the line, former trad-pubbed authors became a little, shall we say, bitter? Their tales grew alongside their dissatisfaction with their prior experiences being traditionally published.

Some of their complaints grew to the point of exaggerations, such as conspiratorially suggesting that their publisher worked to impede, rather than encourage, their books’ sales figures. Even to outright kill their books off and ruin their career.

Claims that, as they grew in paranoia, became harder and harder to believe.

The point has now been reached where a formerly trad-pubbed author can make their previous experience sound like a country song; as their story progresses, they lose more and more, from their authorial rights to their house to their car to their wife to their dog, until they have nothing left but the blues.

And even though the exaggerations become increasingly transparent, some folks take such claims seriously and offer condolences.

Such is the fodder of good fiction

Being a creative type, and with a mind that sometimes explores the dark side of imagination, the proverbial light bulb went off inside my head. All these stories amounted to an admission of fear; fear of being published by a traditional publisher, fear of one’s work being mishandled, fear of losing one’s career due to machinations beyond their personal control.

We read in the popular news media all the time about the evils of Big Tobacco or Big Fast Food or Big Banking. Basically, if it’s big, it’s bad. Evil. Corrupt.

And so, the idea of Big Publishing as a source of malevolence began to grow in my mind.

What if the evils of Big Publishing were far bigger than even the most paranoid author had ever imagined?

What if all of publishing was a lie, a front, a PR machine that ate talented young writers up and spit them out?

What if most of the writers we know today as “brands” were actually just front-men, while underpaid and maltreated nobodies were actually tasked with the real work of producing the next big blockbusters?

What if?

That very question is the genesis of most good story ideas. Those two words are “where we get our stories.” Ask any author, and if they’ve thought about it at all, “What if?” is the actual source of all creative storytelling.

So, out of the complaints and exaggerations of real writers, my latest tale was born. I have a few others like it percolating in the back of my brain, too, wherein I could further explore this theme.

For now, however, start with Under Contract: A Tale of Horror and Satire. It’s not a long read. You can probably finish it in a half hour or so; a nice little escape that will whet your appetite for something more.

Besides, what’s $0.99 between friends?

New price for MOST LIKELY

After three and a half months at $2.99, I’ve decided to lower the eBook price of my debut novel, MOST LIKELY. The price change, which is now at $0.99, is not a reflection of the quality of the novel, but an admission of where I am in my career as a writer; very few people know me yet. I need to make more friends who are readers and willing to give me and my work a try.

It reminds me of a story. When I was a kid, I was into comic books, big time. I knew a couple of other kids in my town who were, too. We sometimes traded comics; other times, we bought issues we wanted off each other.

Once, one of those friends had decided he wanted to buy a “rare, even back then” copy of “Spider-Man vs. Superman,” which back then was a whopping $2.50! That represented at least one week’s worth of comic books back in the mid-1970s. It was, at that time, a major investment.

So he was selling off some of his comics and showed me his collection and asked me if there were any I was interested in. Of course, there was. At the time, I was big into TOMB OF DRACULA, written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Gene Colon. He had an issue I’d missed when it first came out a year or so earlier, and I’d never been able to find another copy.

“Look,” he told me, “the cover price is thirty-five cents, but this one’s hard to find, and I only need another fifty cents to get Spider-Man vs. Superman. So I’ll let you have it for fifty cents.”

That seemed reasonable to me, so I paid the slightly-inflated price. A few weeks later, I ran into the other friend in town who collected comic books. He was eager to show off to me his latest acquisition: a Tomb of Dracula issue about a year earlier than the one I’d bought. I had my own copy, so I wasn’t jealous. But I was curious where he’d found it. So I asked.

He’d picked it up from our mutual friend. (The three of us were about the only comic book geeks in our small town of 350, by the way.) So I asked how much he’d paid.

“A quarter,” he told me. An issue a year older than mine, for half the price? That didn’t seem right, so the next time I saw our mutual friend, I asked him why he’d charged me twice as much for a newer issue of the same comic.

“I had something you needed, and something I wanted,” he told me. “I needed fifty cents for Spider-Man vs. Superman, and you had fifty cents.”

He’d charged our other friend less, later on, because he’d already acquired Spider-Man vs. Superman.

Even though I understood his reasons, I couldn’t help feeling he’d overcharged me. Even if only by a quarter.

So, back to the present situation.

I still believe that $2.99 is a fair price for an eBook; but it’s a fair price for an eBook by an author with a following, a group of friends who love his work. That circle of people is, right now, very small for me. And recent history has shown that $0.99 is an appropriate price for a new author looking to make new friends; friends who read.

So, today, I initiated a price drop on MOST LIKELY. The new, lower price represents a two-thirds savings over the original list price, and should remove any barriers to trying the book out. With eight reviews on Amazon and four on BN.com, MOST LIKELY has been consistently well-reviewed, garnering mostly four-star and a few five-star reviews. Now, the new price makes it easier than ever to try out.

The new price is already live on Amazon, BN.com and Smashwords. So go ahead and try it out! I’m moving to this price in celebration of my 45th birthday in September and if people perk up and remain interested, I’ll probably keep it right there for the foreseeable future.

And remember, later in September, I’ll be releasing SHADA, the first installment in the EMBER COLE series of young adult paranormal suspense books. That’ll be only $0.99, as well.

Enjoy these low cost of entry introductions to my writing. Let me know what you think. I hope you’ll find both worthwhile, and that these books will form the beginning of a longstanding friendship.

LibraryThing Giveaway! And CreateSpace version pending!

Hey all.

Good news for those of you wanting to try out MOST LIKELY. I’m hosting a 50-copy eBook giveaway at LibraryThing! If you’re a member over there and signed up for Library Thing Member Giveaways, hop over and claim your copy!

The giveaway is designed to spread great word-of-mouth about MOST LIKELY, as well as celebrate the pending print debut of MOST LIKELY later this month, through CreateSpace. (I’ll be opting into the Expanded Distribution thing over there, so any bookstore will be able to order MOST LIKELY in print, once it’s up and available!)

The physical book will be in 6×9 format, on lovely cream paper, with Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics handling the extended wrap-around cover design, building on the great work he already did on the eBook version. I’m hoping winners of the free copies will choose to review Most Likely on LibraryThing, as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever else.

Solid progress is being made on SHADA, the first short novel in the EMBER series. More on that soon.

Word counts and professionalism

A friend of mine was recently taken to task by another author. Author A was told by Author B that she was “unprofessional” because she included an estimated word count in her book blurb. After stammering words to the effect of, “Wha-wha-whaaaat?” (I’m an old Warner Brothers cartoon geek), Author B persisted.

Author B’s point was to the effect of, “Stephen King doesn’t post word counts. John Grisham doesn’t post word counts. Professional writers don’t post word counts. If you’re posting a word count, you’re being unprofessional.”

Everyone’s entitled to their point of view. Here’s mine.

The main reasons Stephen King and John Grisham and Charlaine Harris and James Patterson don’t post word counts is simple, and have nothing to do with professionalism. It’s actually rather elementary.

1) King, Grisham, Harris and Patterson, as a rule, don’t publish really short works individually.

2) King, Grisham, Harris and Patterson, as a rule, don’t think about the eBook market first and foremost.

You see, most readers can understand price if it’s linked to length. It’s a value-to-dollar consideration. For example, let’s look at Stephen King’s excellent novel, Under the Dome.

The average thriller these days is priced at, roughly, a $27.99 cover price. For this price, one usually receives a 300-350-page thriller. I based this example on Cross Fire by James Patterson, his latest Alex Cross novel, which actually runs a bit longer than that, about 384 pages.

Sure, big-box bookstores and mass retailers like Wal-Mart and Target will automatically discount that price by an average of 30 percent. So that becomes $19.59 plus tax. As readers, we all know and understand this shell game on pricing. But if you like hardcovers and are a huge James Patterson fan, $20 for his latest isn’t too big a pill to swallow. And the retailer usually gets a $27.99 book in at a cost of about $14.00 to them, so they’re still doing OK if the book sells at a good volume.

Now we return to Stephen King. Under the Dome originally listed for a whopping $35.00 cover price in hardcover. But do many people raise a stink? Do they complain that King thinks he’s $7.00 per copy better than James Patterson?

No. Why? Because for $35.00, all the justification you need is… you pick up the book. Flip it open to the back. Mercy sakes alive, Under the Dome weighs in at 1,074 pages! What a bargain! That’s well over two and a half times – almost three times – as many pages of entertainment! For only 25 percent more than the average Patterson novel! Readers have no problem seeing the value in the extra money they’re shelling out.

Plus $35 isn’t the real price anyway. We all know that along comes the average 30 percent retailer discount, you’re only going to pay $24.50 plus tax at the register.

This is why traditionally published authors are rarely asked, other than by the merely curious, how long their novels are in word-count. Because in retail locations, you can pick the book up, weigh it in your hands, look at the number of pages, and say, “Yeah, $24.50 for a book that’ll take me a couple months to read? That’s value.”

Value, because it’s something you can touch, see, feel and assess in a concrete way. So even if you buy Under the Dome in eBook form, you’re still very much aware of the value that eBook represents, because the print counterpart is readily available. So $14.99, or it’s new discounted price of $9.99, is not subject to much sticker-shock because that’s even less than the hardcover would cost.

So, we can all agree that traditionally published authors are not asked about their word count because they’re traditionally published, or because they possess a greater degree of professionalism, or because their PR guys at the publishing house forgot to add the word-count in.

They don’t add word-count because, by and large, it’s not needed.

And as a Kindleboard friend pointed out recently, in a sense, traditional publishers are still figuring out the market demands and expectations of selling eBooks. They’re new to it. They don’t include a word count because, well, in the traditional print model, that wasn’t much of a consideration, because you had a page-count to go by.

So, getting back to our original incident, why would Author B tell Author A it was “unprofessional” to post a word count as part of the description? Because the big names don’t do it. That was the argument. But now that we know why they don’t do it, that’s not sufficient anymore.

I therefore offer the possibility that Author B has drawn a false conclusion. Not false for the big boys like King and Patterson and Big Six publishers. But false for this market; false for the eBook market in general, and false particularly for indies.

You see, we’re dealing with a lot of differences between indie authors and traditional authors that can come into play for professional conduct issues such as this. Let’s take a look at some of those differences.

First, traditional publishing rarely publishes short stories individually. Indie authors do. Frequently.

Second, traditional publishing almost always prices books based, at least in part, on the length of the book in question. Indie authors seldom do.

This second point deserves more exploration.

Why don’t indie authors price their works based on the length of the work published?

Well, that’s simple. We’re not a corporation. We’re thousands of individual writers each doing our own thing. We have complete creative freedom, no corporate structural overhead, no printing costs, and so we’re free to price works much lower than traditional publishers.

And, savvy as we are, we know that we may not be able to compete on name recognition for a while, but we can certainly compete on price. Joe Konrath has blogged about the “race to the bottom” on pricing; he’s even in favor of it. When asked why he prices his books at $0.99 and $2.99, his reply is simple and straightforward: “Because I can make a living at it.”

His lead inspires a lot of authors to follow the same model, with varying degrees of success.

The trouble is this: customers don’t know what they’re getting, necessarily, at any indie price point.

For $0.99, one can receive anything from a 2,500-word short story, to a 62,000-word novel or longer.

For $2.99, one can receive anything from … a 2,500-word short story, to a 62,000-word novel. Or longer.

From a consumer perspective, from the book buyer’s perspective specifically, this is the equivalent of, well… insanity. When the eBook market and the indie writer presence in it was new, readers wanted to know why the prices were so low. “Is it of inferior quality?” was a frequent question.

And sadly, too often, in the early days especially, it was.

But we independent authors are learning. We’re getting our ducks in a row. We solicit beta-readers to help us out, hire freelance editors and cover artists, and many of us now offer a fairly professional-looking product, both inside and out.

But we still price for reasons not based on length. Why?

Well, here’s the conventional wisdom around indie circles.

“I’m a nobody. I can’t complete with Stephen King and James Patterson because no one at all knows me. So I need to stand out by being less expensive. I’ll trade a lower price for more readers. Once more people know who I am, I’ll raise the price a bit.”

Which can work, in theory. If the author is patient and sticks to the gameplan of “offer a first novel, or the first novel of any series, at an attention-getting price of $0.99, and then offer subsequent novels, or later novels in a series, at a more reasonable $2.99.”

Of course, we authors are not the most patient lot in the world. Especially if we’re full-time writers and struggling to buy a can of Coke, much less pay rent. So after offering our first novel for $0.99, shepherding it along, promoting it, and nursing it to a decent level of sales and a little bit of money in our pockets, then we release our second novel at $2.99 and … when that novel doesn’t sell at the same level our long-nurtured $0.99 novel is selling at within the first month or two, we panic and lower the price … to $0.99. Again.

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. And readers then expect that all indie books should be priced at $0.99, because even if the author is brave enough to start out higher, if you hold off on your purchase long enough, you just KNOW they’re gonna drop it.

Complicating this picture is that authors of short stories and short novels also price all over the place. A 5,000-word short story should probably never be priced higher than $0.99. It’s just too short.

But if someone is working in a more arty, less popular form of literature, they might start pricing their short stories higher because they know they’re in a low-volume genre anyway. If they’re in a popular genre, they still might do this, just to test the waters. Especially if they have 20 other $0.99 short stories out there, see a consistent level of sales, and want to see if folks will keep buying their work at a higher price.

Where this all becomes a problem is at the most important level: the level of the confused reader who’s wondering what the heck they can expect to get if they One-Click something that looks promising in the Kindle Store.

If they One-Click a book, there’s no great way to know whether you’re about to get something the length of “The Monkey’s Paw,” or something the length of “Under the Dome.”

Because, as a group, we indies are crazy. We don’t price on length, or consistently. We price all over the place for reasons as varied as attracting readers, to an attempt to fix slow sales, to an attempt to earn more, to whatever. You just can’t predict us, as a group. Not based on price.

And let me be honest: I’ve had a couple times where I saw a nice cover, read the summery and was intrigued, One-Clicked and… got upset as all get-out that all I received for $2.99 was a 5,000-word short story.

So then readers start retaliating. They post one-star reviews saying things are too short for the price. Justifiable, but not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the story itself.

It can get tense pretty quickly, folks. I’ve seen at least one reviewer on Amazon accuse a 62,000-word novel (not mine) of being a “short story.” Mostly because they didn’t understand how locations relate to length, or even how word-count relates to length.

(Dirty secret, folks: While readers are starting to catch on to word length, most readers still think in page count. And no one, except maybe Jeff Bezos, thinks in locations. Writers understand word length, because we’ve dealt with it long before there was ePublishing of any sort. But readers? They think in page count. It’s like a group of newspaper editors who think in column inches, and forget most newspaper readers don’t think that way.)

Amazon posts a file-size, but this is relatively useless. If an author can’t afford a cover, a decent-length story could still have a very small file-size. If an author has a lot of artwork and illustrations in a book, the file size could be huge, but it could mask a very low word-count. So file-size doesn’t work, from a reader’s perspective.

And remember, as eAuthors, we don’t have print books available at every Target, Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble to give them what they’re used to, that tactile, book-in-hand experience by which to judge value-to-price.

To fix this, it has for a long time been customary in electronic publishing to post a word-count as part of the book’s description. Some sites, like Smashwords, do this automatically. Some sites, like Amazon, do not. If a site does not include a word count automatically, and an author does not include this detail in his or her description, the customer has no idea what they’re getting before they One-Click.

And that’s what gets under a person’s skin. The lack of a heads-up. The lack of what the law calls, “informed consent.”

Hey, if I have a favorite author and he or she wants to charge $2.99 for a 5,000-word short story… and they tell me before I buy that that’s what I’m paying for, then I have informed consent. I can either decide I don’t want to pay so much for so little, or I can decide I like that author’s work so much, I’ll go ahead and One-Click anyway.

But without that heads-up, generally speaking, if I pay $2.99 for an eBook and only get one 5,000-word short story, you can bet that I am … not pleased. Because I had no heads-up, no informed consent.

Still, some will argue that a lot of consumers still don’t understand word-count, so it’s as useless as file size. I say that readers can learn to interpret word-count.

It’s actually a simple formula. A single printed page, depending on several layout variables, averages 300 to 350 words. Let’s go with the more conservative number of 300 for illustration purposes.

My novel, Most Likely, runs around 63,000 words. With a couple minor layout alterations, I can make it run anywhere from a tightly-packed 178 pages, to a more comfortable-to-read length of 222 pages, when prepping the book for CreateSpace.

Personally, I hate books that are cramped onto the page, so Most Likely, when it hits CreateSpace, will run 222 pages, roughly. (I’m still finalizing the layout.)

How long should it run? Well, at 300 words a page, you have 30,000 words for every 100 pages. So Most Likely, at 63,000 words, should run about 210 pages. Add in a few pages for front matter and back matter, and it pretty much does.

And around 200-225 pages is the average length of most young adult novels, which is what Most Likely is. So I’m right where I should be. For comparison’s sake, using the same formula, James Patterson’s 384-page novel Cross Fire should run around 115,200 words. And Stephen King’s Under the Dome, at 1,074 pages, should run around 322,200 words. Roughly.

Give readers this kind of metric, and they’ll learn soon enough how to interpret word count.

“This story only runs 3,600 words? That’s a 15 page short story. And you want $2.99 for that? #()* you!”

Or maybe they’ll click anyway. They might just like your work enough to accept that.

But it’s always better to know exactly what you’re getting before you OneClick. You’ll have happier readers as a result.

So, yes… for indie authors in an eBook world, the professional thing to do is to absolutely include a word count. It’s the only half-decent tool to give a reader a heads-up on what exactly their money is buying them … before they OneClick.

Special discount on MOST LIKELY at Smashwords

Hello, all.

To celebrate my MOST LIKELY blog tour this week, I’m announcing a special coupon discount available at Smashwords, redeemable now through June 30, 2011.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying MOST LIKELY, now’s your time to act because this is just a short-term, Smashwords-only sale. All you need to do is go here to find my book on Smashwords.

Put it in your shopping cart. At checkout, enter this coupon code: DU75B

That will discount your copy of MOST LIKELY to only $0.99, a 67% savings off its normal price! But don’t delay! Once June’s over, so is this limited-time special price.

Smashwords is a great outlet because they’ll give you your choice of file format, so it’ll work for you no matter what kind of eReader you use!

And if you have strong feelings on MOST LIKELY, one way or another, feel free to give it a rating and a review at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Goodreads or wherever you tend to hang out.

Thanks, and enjoy your change to save big on your copy of MOST LIKELY!

Finalized Blog Tour Schedule for MOST LIKELY, starting Monday!

Here’s my finalized schedule, with a better idea of the content of each stop, on my MOST LIKELY blog tour, which starts Monday, June 20! Be sure to visit me at each stop along the way, as there’s quite different content every day of the tour!

June 20, 2011: Guest Blog Post, “How I Wrote MOST LIKELY… the First Time,” on T.L. Haddix’s blog.

June 21, 2011: Ten Random Facts at Bards and Sages.

June 22, 2011: Book excerpt at Speak Without Interruption.

June 23, 2011: Guest Blog Post, “Ember Cole Interviews Becky Howard,” at Prissy Fit.

June 24, 2011: Author interview at Jerry’s Writing Corner.

June 25, 2011: Guest Blog Post, “Can Writing Be Taught,” on Sybil Nelson’s Writer’s Lounge blog.

June 26, 2011: Author interview at BlogCritics.org’s Books blog courtesy interviewer Nadine Earnshaw. It has also appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer! Yay!

A big thanks goes out to Positively Publishing Perspectives’ Julie Anne Dawson, who set up the stops between June 20-25, and to Nadine Earnshow for setting up the extra stop on June 26!

MOST LIKELY eBook Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of MOST LIKELY, I am running a contest in which I will give away a dozen copies of my new novel to a dozen people! The twelve (12) copies will be given out in the form of a Smashwords coupon, meaning if you win a copy, you’ll be able to redeem the coupon in the eFormat of your choice!

So how do you enter? How do you qualify? What must you do to earn a copy?

It’s a simple, three-step process.

1) Leave a comment on this blog entry.

2) Go to my Twitter account (@craigahansen), follow me, and send me one “hello” tweet. Or it can be more interesting, if you wish.

3) Go to my Facebook fan page, Like me, and send me a PM saying you’ve completed all three steps and giving me an email address where I can contact you to send your free copy of MOST LIKELY!

That’s it! It’s that simple!

On Sunday, May 29, I’ll check to make sure there are at least twelve winners. If there are, the giveaway will be over. If there are more than 12 entrants, I’ll put all the names on slips of paper, put them in a bowl, and do a blind drawing … the first 12 names I draw will win the free copies.

Enjoy the contest! Have fun with it! And if you enjoy the book, let me know! If you have time, feel free to review it! That’s not a requirement, but it’s certainly welcome if you feel moved to do so.

Enjoy the weekend!

Slower progress, but still going strong…

Well, last weekend wasn’t great for progress; the activities of Passover week took priority, which is part of why I didn’t post an update or check-in on Sunday. However, when I wasn’t caught up in all that, I have been busy. Let’s review the goals I’ve completed or am in the process of completing:

*DONE* 01) Complete revisions of MOST LIKELY….

*DONE* 02) Send MOST LIKELY… to my group of beta-readers and request a one-week turnaround.

There were complete a while ago. Nothing new to see here.

*IN PROGRESS* 03) Revise MOST LIKELY… based on beta-readers’ feedback.

Yup, I have all my beta-readers feedback in hand … I’ve had it for a week now and I’m still revising. I’ve incorporated the changes of three out of four beta readers, but have one remaining by someone kind enough to be quite thorough; what a blessing!

04) Send MOST LIKELY… to editor.

I am hoping to reach this goal soon; perhaps by the weekend. I want the manuscript out to my editor by then, if at all possible. It will be a challenge because the work I’m doing is deeper and more extensive. But that’s fine because MOST LIKELY will be a better novel for it.

*REVISED* 05) During the time MOST LIKELY is with MY EDITOR, begin and try to complete a short novel. Either the EMBER prequel or the IDEA WAREHOUSE (working title) concept. Doesn’t matter which, just need something to write in the meantime.

I was unable to act on this goal while my novel was out to my beta-readers, because I was beta-reading for a colleague myself, and I wanted to be as thorough as others had been toward me. I also have a second pending beta-reading project on my desk, so I may or may not get to my next project quite as soon as expected. But I’m putting this task here as a goal to aspire to.

*IN PROGRESS* 06) Final preparations on MOST LIKELY…

I do have some of these tasks completed already. I commissioned a cover from someone other than myself, because sometimes it’s better to have a cover built by someone with a fresh set of eyes. As you can see in the previous post below this one, Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics did an excellent job!

There will be more to do once I get the edited manuscript back; but at least some of this is in the works.

The remaining goals are still a bit further off:

07) Publish MOST LIKELY… to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobel Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace for the print version.
08) Finish draft on first short novel project.
09) Do other short novel.
10) Revise both short novels and send to betas.
11) Return, at last, to EMBER and push to finish first draft before ROW80 Round 2 expires.
12) On writing days (as opposed to revision days) average 4,000 new words per day.

I should note that I have had some time taken up by other professional pursuits; since I have no day job to keep money flowing in, I’ve been looking for ways to improve that situation.

My eBook cover design service is averaging about one new client per week, which is quite encouraging. And I’ve signed up as a subcontractor to another company, where I’ll be offering some eBook and print layout/design services to their clients.

Sure, these tasks take some time away from my writing; but nowhere near as much time as a traditional day-job. And a person has to have some money coming in somehow, right? And this is stuff I enjoy.

So that’s where things stand for me; I’m hoping to get MOST LIKELY published in early May, but stay tuned for the exact timeframe.

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