stephaniecain
21 September 2013 @ 09:33 pm
AKA Adventures in self-publishing...


So a few weeks ago I wrote, edited, formatted, created cover art for, and published an e-book. Wednesday at 8:03 p.m. I posted that my social media and email were going dark, because I had an 8-hour challenge to complete. Sometime in the next hour I started a timer for eight hours and bought a stock photo that I just knew would fit the cover, because I loved it.

That's the cover art I ended up using, because I'd bought it and I ran out of time at the end. If I'd had another 8 hours to search stock photography sites, I might have done the cover a little differently.

Anyway. I've been working on an epic fantasy novel this summer, tentatively titled The Weather War. I know those characters, and I know several of them are good friends. I've even related a couple of "remember when" type stories in the first draft of TWW. But a couple of my favorite characters in TWW aren't getting as much screen time as I would like. Enter the 8-Hour Ebook Challenge.

Two days ago, my friend Laura sent me a link to the blog post where Joe Konrath issues the 8-Hour Ebook Challenge. I didn't have any idea what to do with it, but the notion sat in the back of my mind for a while, and I got an inkling of a plot idea.

I spent the bulk of those 8 hours writing. I drank a bottle of wine during those 8 hours (Sleepy Creek Vineyards' Three Amigos, for the curious) and listened to a heck of a lot of whalesong. Because magic whales.

Sometime around 2:30 am, I realized I really needed to wrap up the story and figure out how to format an ebook. Jane Friedman's Writing Advice Archive came in handy there. I used styles in Microsoft Word to create a filtered HTML file that I imported into Calibre. I used Photoshop Elements to create a cover, and then I spent some time figuring out Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Not a lot of time.

Amazon KDP actually makes it really incredibly easy for the author to upload her work. So sometime between 4 and 5 am, I finished formatting and uploading the file. I stumbled off to bed and slept for the next nine hours.

 photo StormsingerThumbnail.jpg

When I woke up...I was a self-published author who'd already made one sale. (Okay, so it was to a friend, that still totally counts!)

"Stormsinger" is available on Kindle. Regular price is $0.99, so it shouldn't break the bank. It's 8,400 words, and it gives you a little glimpse into the kingdom of Amethir, where I anticipate hanging out for many years to come.

Stormsinger

Captain Arama Dzornaea thought she was just supposed to transport Crown Prince Vistaren Doth'Mara to meet his contracted bride. As the king's top privateer, she thinks she can handle anything. What Arama doesn't anticipate is storms out of season, an unruly stormwitch, and a strange witchery echo that puts Arama, her ship the Dawn Star, and everyone aboard smack in the middle of a mystery.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
10 December 2012 @ 07:14 pm
According to my novel outline, I’m 9 scenes away from finishing the novel revision. And I’m stuck at the scene that takes place right before the major showdown. I have to get Character C and Villain A to a certain physical location and set the scene for the showdown to come… And I can’t seem to find the right entry point to this scene. Character C is at the end of his rope, heartsick at what’s been demanded of him throughout the novel, and terrified of what he’s going to have to do next. And for whatever reason, I absolutely cannot find the right tone for him in this scene.

I’m going to make another attempt at the scene tonight. I spent last night setting up a new Windows 8 laptop and playing with Skype for the first time ever. (Skype scared me. It still sort of scares me, but I think I’ll get used to it.) It just occurred to me that I’ve set the computer up with almost all my necessary software–except Skyrim–without using a single disc. Technology blows my mind.

And I managed to get Christmas cards and presents in the mail today. This is an accomplishment, since last year my Christmas presents got mailed…sometime in the summer? Yeah.

So time to knuckle down and get to writing.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
13 June 2012 @ 10:45 pm
I finally finished chapter four and sent it off to the beta-readers. That gave me a brief sense of relief, but of course, chapter five is already underway.

Apparently having to wait at the tire repair place is good for me, or at least good for my characters, because I got the better part of a scene written there. Today was "Wild Wednesday", so Mom and I were hiking at Shades State Park and Pine Hills Nature Preserve. But I'm determined to get another scene written tonight before I sleep.

Last week I gave myself some gruesome first-hand experience to write from. I backed into the lawnmower muffler while doing yard work. I don't recommend this method to people, but now I know what a second-degree burn feels like and how it heals (or at least starts to heal, and then possibily gets infected...) I now understand why my main character, who was subjected to hot irons in the torture chamber, hates me so very, very much.

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a friend, and then, if the burn isn't healing well enough, I'll be making a stop at urgent care, I'm afraid. Cross your fingers that the antibiotic ointment keeps doing its work!
 
 
Current Mood: cranky
Current Music: Eagles - Hotel California
 
 
stephaniecain
19 March 2012 @ 08:18 pm
I'm almost 20,000 words into my epic fantasy novel revision, and I'm finally beating my head against a subject I have long dreaded.

Calendars.

Seems like an innocent enough idea, until you think about how in epic fantasy novels, the world is usually not our own. Okay, Middle-Earth was our world, in a sense. But in the quest for an authentic-sounding world, will it really be shaped like Earth? Will it have the same diameter and orbit and axis tilt as Earth? Will it have the same length of year and day? Even if the inhabitants of the world don't know anything about planets revolving and orbiting suns and what actually causes the seasons, an author has to know that stuff, in order for it to have any internal coherence.

So from the beginning of my fantasy world's existence in my mind, I've always held to an Earth-like calendar, with 12 months in a 365-day year. The month names are the same. It drives me crazy to have to learn an entirely new system in order to read a fantasy novel, and trying to figure out that Istvaharla is actually basically our January, and Furryday is the same as our Friday.

But isn't it just as frustrating to be immersed in this world where the names don't sound like ours, and there are magical creatures we don't have, but still call the months names that go back to Latin-based languages and days that go back to pagan gods?

So I started playing with the notion of a 400-day year, with 96-day seasons and 4-day holidays between each season. The 96-day seasons would divide neatly into 3 months of 32 days each that way, which means easy math and calendaring for me, but a slightly different feel for the reader. Then I renamed the months, using a standard -ien/-en ending to the name, to indicate months. But that would mean I needed to rename the days, as well. It might not matter, since I can't recall a single time I mention the name of the day, but that probably just means I have a dozen mentions in the novel that I don't remember.

By this time, I've only written 647 words today, and I'm tearing my hair out, especially since the only reason I need to do this right now is because I want to know how much time has passed since the start of the novel. I don't want to have people in chapter 2 scene 4 reacting to something that isn't actually going to happen for four more days.

So right now I'm giving up on the calendaring system and numbering things by what day of the book they happen on. Scene 1 happens on DAY 1. Scene 2 happens on DAY 6. Etc.

But I'm curious. When you read a fantasy novel, how much attention do you pay to the calendar? Do you have strong feelings either way about the date system an author uses? Why?
 
 
Current Music: Patrick Doyle - 'Once more unto the breach'
Current Mood: frustrated
 
 
stephaniecain
27 February 2012 @ 01:37 am
I should have realized that renaming one of the major villains in my epic fantasy novel was going to be a lot of work.

I'm one of those people who's always set great store by names. I love to know the meaning of names. I throw in little jokes about the meanings. I play with spelling. In one novel, the characters even talk about the importance of names. (To be fair, it's in the context of why you never give your name to a fairy, so it's important to the plot of the novel. But still.) Back in my creative writing program at university, one of the compliments I consistently got was about my character names.

So I should have known, going in, that renaming this guy was going to be a bitch.

The villain's name was Robert. It's a good name, but it doesn't scream EVIL GREEDY BASTARD at me. Maybe because I have a friend named Robert...oh, and, duh--my grandfather was named Robert. What on earth possessed me to name a bad guy after my grandfather? My dad tells me he wouldn't mind, but it bothered me, and the name didn't feel right anymore.

I spent two days intensely scouring baby name books and the Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon. What sort of name did I want? Robert means "bright", so I'd never really thought about the meaning of my villain's name. So what sort of names would I find if I went looking at meanings?

Oddly enough, there aren't indexes of names that mean "betrayer" or "oppressor" or "ambitious". The indexes all list nice characteristics, like "brave" and "pretty" and "strong". I suppose no one wants to name their kid something that might make them turn out to be the next serial killer. (Though all those people naming their babies Jacob? "Supplanter," y'all. Think about that. If Stephenie Meyer had been paying attention, Jacob would have stolen the girl at the end.)

But paging through on my own, I found a name that means "to oppress", one that means "loves war", and one that means "glory". Not that glory is necessarily a bad thing, but it's definitely something my villain is after. I also found a "friend of wealth", but that wasn't quite as fitting.

So I started looking at things his father might have named him. The villian's family symbol is a falcon, so I looked at names meaning "falcon". Turned out I really like one of those names, but I want to save it for one of the villain's ancestors. The villain's family is supposed to be a gatekeeper of sorts, defending the kingdom from a powerful enemy to the north. So I found names that mean "determined protector" and "nation's defender" and, yes, "brave". I really liked two of those names, and I liked the irony of naming the kingdom's betrayer something like that. The villain's family is also traditionally redheads, so I even found a name I kind of liked that meant "redhaired".

Of course, then I had to start trying out all these names. I went back and forth on three of the names in particular, but none of them quite worked. Ellard made me think of Ellery Queen every time I said it, so that was just out. (Nothing against Ellery Queen, but this isn't a mystery novel.) Ledyard is a cool name, but it sort of feels like one of those bizarro mashup relationship names, like if Logan Eckles and Edward Cullen got together. (And now that I mentioned that, I totally ship Ledyard.)

So what did I finally do? I looked down my list of names, threw out the meaning of them, played around with the spellings, and eventually picked the one closest to what I'd already had.

So Robert Perregal has officially become Rostis Perregal. Rostis, shortened from the Slavic Rostislav, meaning "glory".
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
07 February 2012 @ 01:15 am
ARGH  
What I am supposed to be doing: working on my epic fantasy novel.

What I am doing: working on the Lovefool achievement in Warcraft, reading TaleSpin fansites, compulsively checking my friends lists, and freezing my ass off.

To be completely fair to myself, I have made a lot of progress in brainstorming changes to the epic fantasy over the past three days. And my writing style does involve a lot of what my mother the cook calls "integrating time". But this is starting to get ridiculous.

...but I really do want that Lovefool achievement. I'm only three holidays away from the Long Strange Trip and master riding.


*headdesk*
 
 
Current Music: TaleSpin theme song
Current Mood: cranky