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Thought it might be fun (or weird?) to record myself signing the very first print copy of Shades of Treason. I’ve got videographer skillz. Not. Watch me totally geek out over a pen, and find out who gets the very first copy.
WARNING: Do not watch this in full screen because… SCARY!
I love following news in the publishing industry, and instead of soaking it all in, mentally noting “that’s interesting,” and moving along, I’m going to soak it all in, mentally note, “that’s interesting,” and then write down my thoughts on it occasionally. This is one of those occasional posts.
Most of you know I decided to indie publish my new book, SHADES OF TREASON. I sometimes talk in vague terms about my reasons for this, and one of those reasons is–or was–the lack of information authors receive from their traditional publishers.
THE SHADOW READER books were published by Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House. I totally adore Ace. Their books are awesome, and they publish some of my favorite authors. But I was always frustrated by the lack of information I received on my book. Friends often asked me, “How is your book doing?” My answer was always, I had no clue. Aside from looking at reviews and my rank on Amazon, I really did have no clue. Authors receive royalty statements twice a year, about three months after a reporting period. So even though THE SHADOW READER came out in October of 2011, I didn’t have any clue about October-December sales until April.
That might not seem like a big deal, but in terms of seeing how certain efforts on my part effected book sales (and I’ll be honest here and say I didn’t do a lot of huge promo stuff for any of my books; just small things here and there), I had zero way of knowing. The royalty statements were always vague, too. They didn’t say when or where something was sold. They gave me one number for ebook and one number for print books for the entire six month period. What can an author do with that?
So at the end of June, when I received an email from Penguin Random House telling me to sign up for their new Author Portal, I was excited. It was one of the first things I did when I returned home from our Alaskan Cruise. And after clicking around in the portal and watching some of the how-to videos, I have to say I love it. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to see from them. Sure, they only report sales every week, but that’s probably a good thing (says the person who may or may not be obsessing over her hourly Amazon sales and ranking
The site also has a form to submit pirate links! I still feel like publishers should have staff dedicated to searching for those links and shutting them down as a service for their authors (so their authors have more time to write books), but maybe with the sheer volume of authors, that’s impossible. Anyway, this form makes it so much easier. Prior to this, I would have to email my editor, and she would forward the links on, something I never did because it was work for me, work for my editor, and… well, I have the absurd paranoia about getting on people’s nerves, and I tend to be way quieter than I should be on everything. (More on that in a future post.)
But the thing that’s kind of weird about this development is that, had I not received an email from Penguin, I would have had zero clue that this Author Portal existed. I follow a good number of industry blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts, but apparently, this news wasn’t big enough for any of them to mention it. Perhaps because I follow mostly indie authors/professionals? They’re always eager to point out everything traditional publishers do wrong, but I think it’s unfair not to point out something that a traditional publisher is doing right.
So I’ll point it out. Kudos to Penguin Random House! And THANK YOU for the Author Portal. The lack of information I received prior to the Portal was one of the big reasons I decided to indie publish my new series. This move makes me think yall are moving in the right direction. Just get rid of that pesky we’re-going-to-take-all-your-rights-forever policy, and I’d love to submit my next series to you.
Also, the Goodreads Group, Girls, Guns, and Grimoires chose Shades of Treason as their Book of the Month! Woohoo! They read Fortune’s Pawn back in April, and a lot of urban fantasies I’ve enjoyed, too, so this might be a good group for yall to check out if you want some social reading.
If you guys have any questions, just ask! I’ll be on and off-line sporadically the next few days and through the holiday weekend (Happy 4th yall!), but will try to answer as soon as I can.
*Ironic side story: Contractors were in my house five years ago to fix the tile. (Yes, we have tile issues.) But in 2010, I was awaiting my first phone call with my potential editor for The Shadow Reader. I was soooo nervous! I’d never spoken with an editor before, and all the workers in my house were totally stressing me out. It didn’t help that they began using JACKHAMMERS in the kitchen. I grabbed my phone, shut my bedroom door, shut my bathroom door, then shut my closet door. Yes, I had my first phone call with my editor huddled in the back of my closet, hoping she didn’t hear the echoes of the jackhammer in the other room. I’m not sure if I made any sense during that call.
I’m Back! (And note to self: never again schedule a long vacation the week before a book release.)
Yep, that’s right folks. I was on vacation last week. In Alaska. It was just as beautiful and relaxing as everyone says it is. Spreadsheet Guy and two other couples who are friends of ours booked a 9 day cruise. We stopped at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, coasted through Glacier Bay and College Fjords, then ended up in Whittier, Alaska, which is basically in the middle of nowhere. We went for hikes, took in the scenery by train, tracked a group of whales, and had a wonderful time. When we weren’t out and about, we laid claim to a table and played Libertalia, Colt Express, 7 Wonders, and Telestrations (everyone else tried REALLY hard to turn this into a Cards Against Humanity Telestrations. Am I the only one who hates playing Cards Against Humanity?)
Fun times, yall. Fun times.
(Check out how close this baby whale came to our boat! Totally surprised us!)
So this begins today. I kinda can’t believe it’s almost July and release day already, but hurray! I can’t wait to hear what you guys all think of Shades of Treason. Two more days! But in the meantime, I’m giving away 10 copies of Shades of Treason, winner’s choice of print or ebook (ebook for international winners, though). Today, there’s an interview with me at Addicted 2 Heroines. Hope on over there to read it, and learn why I chose to self publish Shades of Treason.
July 3, 2015: Love Affair with an E-Reader – Review
July 3, 2015: The Reading Cafe – Author Interview
July 4, 2015: Nessa’s Book Reviews – Promo
July 5, 2015: Romancing the Readers – Promo
July 6, 2015: LuLo Fangirl – Review
July 7, 2015: Goldilox and the Three Weres – Review
July 8, 2015: Oh My Shelves – Author Interview
July 9, 2015: Rabid Reads – Character Bio
July 10, 2015: (un)Conventional Bookviews – Review
July 11, 2015: BookwormBridgette’s World – Promo
July 12, 2015: Readaholics Anonymous – Promo
Giveaway (and a secret!)
In addition to the Rafflecopter giveaway that’s part of the blog tour, I’ll be giving away a Sci-Fi Romance Starter Box with Swag Pack to two lucky, randomly chosen readers who review Shades of Treason by July 15th. To enter, just email me at sandy AT sandy DASH williams DOT com with a link to your review (or reviews if you post to multiple places and want multiple entries). Please write “Review Giveaway” in the subject line, and I’ll pick two winners on July 16th! I’m going to leave the books in the Sci-Fi Romance Starter Box a mystery, but here’s a glimpse at the Swag Packs that I’ll be sending along.
Signed Shades of Treason and Shadow Reader bookmarks
Romance Trading Cards for all three Shadow Reader novels
My favorite swag – Scratch-and-Win games! Match three covers and you might win an Amazon gift card. These are so much fun to make and give out.
And last, but definitely not least, a beautiful Nebula Necklace! I like to think the planet silhouette in the necklace is Caruth, the planet where Rykus and Ash first meet.
(Are you guys still reading this post? Yall are hanging around for the secret, aren’t you? Well, it’s not a HUGE secret, but it’s exciting to me. I sort of, not-quite-accidentally, hit publish on the super gorgeous print version of Shades of Treason. What does that mean? That means that real life, 3D, hold-it-in-your-hands-and-smell-the-pages, PRINT copies of Shades of Treason can be bought right now and sent to your doorstep. It’s up at Amazon right now, but should be everywhere else soon if you prefer to order from other retailers. So, for those of you who are print fans, if you order today, you can have Shades of Treason in your hands on release day.
Kind of a stressful week here at Casa Williams. Lots of stuff going on, and I’m having a fair amount of Mom Guilt this week. I’m hoping to get some writing done a little later this week. I’m way behind where I want to be (surprise, surprise), but I’m hoping some of the choices I’m making now will make the future go better. Which brings me to…
Self Improvement: Teenage me always scoffed at self help/improvement types of books. I have no idea why. It had to have something to do with my crazy, mixed up teenage brain, but I would literally shy away from the self help aisle in bookstores. If I accidentally wandered down it, I’d quickly flee, then look around to make sure know one that that *I* was intentionally on *that* aisle. It’s like I had to pretend I had it all together. I didn’t need advice or help. That was for weak people.
Fast forward twenty years and I’m on a self improvement binge. It started with me beginning to listen to and read how-to-write books, something I’ve really never done before. I’ve pantsed every one of my books (“pantsing” is when you write without an outline and just go with the flow), and a huge part of me worried that if I tried to learn how to write, or tried to plot, or tried to change my method in any way, I’d never write another good book. (Apparently, crazy, mixed up teenage brain hasn’t COMPLETELY left me yet.) But I’m finding these craft books to be super interesting, and it doesn’t feel like they will change the way I write. Amazingly, I naturally write in a three point structure and include all or most of the story beats the “experts” recommend. Yay me. My hope is that by understanding why I write the way I do, and to identify the method, I can put a plan in place to do what I do faster. I’ll let you know how that works out.
The other “self improvement” thing I’m doing is listening to podcasts and reading “productivity” books. I’ve just started David Allen’s Getting Things Done, so I can, uh, get things done. I have a lot of time in my day, and yet I feel like I get further and further behind every hour. And there are days when I have no idea what I’ve accomplished. I gotta get things together, make better use of my time.
Food Prep: I’ve had a significant change in plans for the next few weeks, a change that will require me to pre-plan for other people to cook meals for my boys. I was trying to write down a list of things they eat, and that list ended up having about five items on it. I’ve added a few other things they sometimes eat, but meal times aren’t the easiest around here. Most meals, I have to force on them. *sigh* So there will be much feeding of chicken nuggets, hotdogs, hamsteak, and pasta.
One of these days, I’m going to get meal planning under control. I’m experimenting with the site, Plan to Eat. It has a free one month trial, and it looks like it might work well for us. I just need to enter in our normal rotation of meals. Anyone else use that site?
No More Shopping: I went shopping today. I hate shopping. I am fashionably challenged. Seriously. I have no idea what goes with what, and I’m 100% happy in jeans and a t-shirt. But I kind of want to look cute in my jeans in t-shirts, and after reading this post last year that says Gap and Old Navy make “mom jeans,” I’ve been super paranoid about my jeans. My favorite, most comfortable jeans in the world are Gap long and lean bootcut. But that post is right. They might look and feel awesome for five minutes, but after that, they sag. I’m constantly pulling them up. Cue: sad face. So I’ve been slowly replacing my Gap jeans with mostly Kut from the Kloth jeans (LOVE!). But I want bootcut jeans, so that’s what I went out looking for today. That and a cocktail dress. And a pair of comfy black flats.
Results? Fail. Fail. Fail.
And I just ended up frustrated for having wasted an entire day when I have so much stuff to do. So, no more shopping for me. I’m going back to Stitch Fix. I stopped because it’s pretty expensive, but I can limit myself to one item a month (or whatever frequency I end up choosing). It’s worth it to avoid shopping.
P.S. Shades of Treason got it’s first 5 star review on Goodreads today! And a mini review. Full review will be posted later. But ohmygoshyay! A stranger read and loved my new book!
(This is kind of an “inside baseball” post (INSIDE BASEBALL! I’ve always wanted to use that term, even though I’m not a baseball fan. Woohoo!) so if you’re not interested in behind-the-pages kind of technical stuff, you might want to close your eyes. :-))
What have I accomplished this week? I think I’ve uploaded Shades of Treason to all retailers. It’s ready to go at Amazon (you can preorder here). It’s pending on Kobo (do I have any Kobo readers here?) and should be available for preorder there soon. It’s on Draft2Digital, an ebook distributor, and Smashwords, another ebook distributor. It’s ready to go on B&N, but B&N doesn’t allow pre-orders unless I go through a distributor. Tempting, but I really do prefer going direct whenever possible.
Shades isn’t yet on Apple. I’ve got to say, Apple makes it seriously difficult to get books on its platform. For one, I don’t have a Mac, and that’s the only way to directly get books on iTunes (or iBooks or whatever it wants to be called). So I either have to pay someone who can use a Mac to upload it for me* (the route I prefer to take), or use Draft2Digital or Smashwords as a distributor.
I want to create a separate ebook file for iTunes that contains links to The Shadow Reader books over there, but man, even that is hard to do. You have to use a link creator to search for the book instead of just going to a website. Okay, you’re right, using that link creator isn’t THAT difficult, but still. I had to Google the search “how to link to books on itunes” to figure out how to do this. It should be simpler than that.
Anyway, I hope to figure out the iTunes thing in the next few days.
(Sidenote: It has been so, so difficult to not click on “publish now” on all the sites. Shades of Treason is totally ready to go, and I can’t wait to see what you guys think of it. I’m excited and terrified and tied up in knots. Eeeek!)
All of this staring-at-the-computer has given me a headache. None of it has been difficult, but it has been time consuming, especially when I kept getting silly little errors in my files. Spreadsheet Guy had to save me once. My HTML file kept coming out with <i>words</i> instead of just italicized words. I could not figure it out. I was doing everything right, but it turns out that Microsoft Word’s < is different from the < that I should have been enclosing HTML tags in. Once Spreadsheet Guy pointed this out, I could see the oh-so-subtle difference. I never, ever would have found that on my own. (See, I knew there was a reason I married him ten years ago!)
I encountered a bunch of tiny issues like that. Another example, epubs don’t like spaces in file names. So, yep, I had to go back and manually change things.
And, basically, this is what I’ve done all week long. That means zero writing has been done. Not good, but at least I’ve learned things and accomplished my goal. It should go much, much quicker next time. For now, I’ve gotta run.** My eyes are so hating the computer screen right now.
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!
* My mom has a Mac, and the last time I was down there, I set up an account and tried to figure out how to load up an ebook, and either I’m incompetent (highly possible) or creating ibooks is extremely difficult.
** I’m not actually going to go run. Not because it’s 100 degrees outside and I don’t wanna, but because I already did! I ran 20 minutes nonstop for the very first time today! So excited about this. I’ve been working on the Couch to 5K program since I had the boys four years ago, but I always stop or start over, and I’ve never ever made it this far before. I WILL FINISH THIS PROGRAM THIS YEAR!
Got a snippet from Shades of Treason for you guys today. It shows one of my favorite parts of the book–Ash’s flirtatious interaction with her former instructor, Rykus. Ash gets a kick out of provoking him, and she’s pretty darn good at it.
Katie said nothing as she bent down to unstrap the bio-band from Ash’s ankle. When she straightened, she frowned at Ash’s shackled wrists.
“Not pretty, are they?” Ash commented.
Rykus took a step forward, saw they were swollen and purple.
“Not at all,” Katie agreed. “How long have the restraints been on you?”
“Since I was detained.”
Katie chewed on her lower lip then turned to him. “Can you take the restraints off?”
He started to say he could, but something held him back. Ash’s wrists shouldn’t have been as swollen as they were. Tender and a little bruised? Okay. But this? No. This stunk of premeditation.
Nice try, Ash.
“You’ll have to treat her with the cuffs on.”
“Her wrists are so swollen the restraints are cutting off her circulation. If I don’t treat her, and treat her properly, her hands are going to rot off.”
“You really wouldn’t want that, Rip.” Ash’s smile took on a seductive and suggestive edge.
Katie frowned. “Is this normal behavior for her?”
He should have let Ash bash her head into the table.
“Unfortunately, yes,” he said. “Although she usually spreads out her…comments.”
Ash swung her gaze to his. “Flirtations, Commander. I usually spread out my flirtations.”
Available for pre-order on Amazon (soon everywhere else!). Or subscribe to my newsletter for release day news and exclusive content.
(More frequent blogging commences today. Read below to learn why. And thanks for stopping by!)
Shades of Treason Prep: Twenty-two days until release day! I’m finalizing the print format as we speak, then will have the final version of the ebook up and ready to go. I’ll be doing a blog tour for this book, and having a few giveaway here and there, and I have a few fun things planned, but mainly, I’m just trying to contain my excitement. I cannot wait for you guys to get your hands on this book. I think you’ll love it! And Ash and Rykus.
Anniversary: Spreadsheet Guy and I celebrated 10 years last week. How did we celebrate, you might ask? Thai food and an evening at Dallas Gamers Marathon. Oh, yes, we played geeky board games. Two, actually. Camel Up, which was unexpectedly fun, and Luna, which I really enjoyed. And won! Stefan Feld, the creator, also happens to be the maker of one of my other favorite games, Castles of Burgundy, so all-in-all, it was a great night. But we’ll continue celebrating later this summer, with an Alaskan Cruise. Can’t wait!
Goodbye Facebook: You guys—you, the readers, not the FB execs—I miss you. Seriously, I do. We used to have good conversations on FB. I learned some of your names, your backgrounds, little facts like a few of you are geeky board gamers like me and Spreadsheet Guy, a few of you have also had twins, a few of you even share my love of all things Linnea Sinclair, and all of you are just all around cool and awesome people.
I’m not going to lament here about FB changing its algorithms—its a business; its purpose is to generate profit, I understand and accept that—but I am going to make changes so that I can hopefully reconnect with you. I know clicking on a blog is harder than clicking on FB and just scrolling through the page, but if you choose to follow me, at least that choice won’t be taken away by the big F. B.
If you do want to follow me here, Feedly is a great way to do it. It’s how I follow my favorite authors, review blogs, publishing biz blogs, and some mom blogs. It lets me read the headlines quickly to decide if I want to read the whole article or not, and it’s simple to use.
Out of curiosity, I’d love to know what you guys think of Facebook. I still love it for personal use–keeping up with friends and family–but it’s become difficult to track my favorite pages. I have to manually search for the page to make sure I get the updates (which I did often with my favorite weatherman when we were getting a lot of flooding around here (yes, he really is THAT awesome a weatherman)), and I might as well just subscribe to the person’s website, blog, or other media. Are you happy that FB weeds out your feed so you don’t get overwhelmed? Or would you rather do it yourself?
Falling into a fissure without a plan is never a good idea. It’s even worse when the deadliest shadow-reader in the Realm is nearby. The shock of the In-Between makes it impossible to arrange a strategic exit. Fae instinctively open gateways to personal places, places that feel like home.
In my case, that’s my latest encampment.
Sethan, the fae I’m supposed to be protecting so he can take the throne, stares down at me.
“She didn’t see me,” I grind out, climbing to my feet.
“You’re sure?” he asks. His tone points out that mistakes like mine are why so many of our friends and swordsmen have been killed.
“She was scared and running, no pen or paper in hand.” I’m trying to convince myself, not him, that my words are true. This location should be safe, but the reason we’re going pursuing the shadow-witch is because she’s skilled enough to map old shadows.
I let out a sigh. Better to be cautious than to visit the Ether early. “Leave. I’ll meet you at the inn.”
Tightening my grip on my sword, I open a fissure. The In-Between holds me for a fraction of a moment then I’m back in the humans’ world.
In the twenty seconds I was away from the fight, our fortune changed. We’re losing. The king is sending every fae he has to save his precious shadow-witch, and my swordsmen are bleeding and fleeing.
Clenching my teeth, I look for my target. She’s there, running toward a fence with the sword-master at her side. While I watch, an arrow plunges into Taltrayn’s side.
He yanks it free. A smart fae would fissure to a healer, but he stays with the shadow-witch. They move together. She presses forward despite the arrows flying through the air. She has complete faith in his ability to protect her, and they’re in sync. More in sync than I’ve ever seen a shadow-reader and a fae. They know each other well. She trusts him with her life.
What might he trust her with?
The question wedges itself in my mind, but I signal to my nearest swordsmen as the shadow reader climbs the fence that surrounds the construction site. She crashes down on the other side. Gets up. Runs.
My fae occupy Taltrayn and the other Court fae. I catch Trev’s attention then, when the human disappears into the building, we fissure to its entrance.
Three more fae join us. We need line of sight to appear in unfamiliar places, so I take a step forward and peer inside.
As soon as I spot the shadow-witch sprinting across the cement floor, I enter the In-Between and exit in front of her, cutting off her escape.
She slides to a stop.
“McKenzie,” I say. Finally, we have the shadow-witch.
Her eyes go wide as she stares at me and my swordsmen, who’ve appeared on either side of me.
“McKenzie Lewis.” When I say her name this time, the panic in her posture disappears. She presses her lips into a thin, determined line then glances over her shoulder.
A slant of moonlight illuminates her face.
My first thought is that it would be a waste to kill her. She’s human and different, pretty in a foreign, innocent way, but she has fight in her eyes. Fear and hatred, too. She must believe every rumor about me that’s ever been spread. Some of them are true. The important ones are not.
Then my earlier question weaves its way through my mind again. She’s Taltrayn’s pet. She’s spoken with the king. She knows almost every high-level fae in the palace. If we could turn her…
She takes a step back, and the light that was shining on her face moves to her stomach. Her shirt is dark with blood.
“Are you hurt?” I battle down a surprisingly strong desire to step forward and heal her wounds. This human is the shadow-witch, I remind myself. She deserves to die for the fae deaths she’s called. I shouldn’t be concerned if she bleeds out.
She stares down at her shirt as if she’s never seen blood before.
Impossible. She’s seen violence – she’s responsible for most of it – but her expression hits me hard enough to fray my mental armor.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” I say. “I’d like to talk to you.”
Trev’s gaze jerks toward me. I ignore him, and my plan solidifies in my mind. Yes. Much better to use her than to end her. If even half of the innocence in her eyes is real, I can make this work.
“Look.” I sheath my sword and hold my hands out. I’m not going to kill her. I’m going to convert her.
Are things like double tagging things your editor is suppose to recommend?
I started to reply on that post and realized my answer was running long, so I thought I’d answer it fully here.
It’s a really good question. And it has a short answer and a longer answer.
First answer, I wish!
Longer answer, not really. By the time writers submit to agents and editors, they’re supposed to know how to write. They shouldn’t need hand-holding through the process of editing a book. And what I mean by that is that authors should have the mechanics of writing down, and if they don’t, chances are the agent or editor wouldn’t be offering representation or a contract because teaching a writer how to write isn’t their job, and it’s time consuming.
But I double tagged in Shades of Treason. (I searched through the first third of the book and took most of them out, and will search the last two thirds before it’s published.) I double tagged in the first two chapters of my current WIP. And, I just opened up to a random page in The Shadow Reader, Page 199, and found this:
He gently closes the door. “McKenzie, talk to me.”
I shouldn’t say anything. I should pretend everything is okay, but something in me snaps.
“Talk to you?” I snarl as I turn on him. “Why don’t you talk to me, Kyol? Why don’t you try telling me the truth?”
(Ohmygosh, I love that scene. It hurts so much!)
Better writing would have been, “Talk to you?” I turn on him. “Why don’t you…”
The fact that I found that double tag so quickly means there’s probably a lot in there. There won’t be a lot in my future books. (Look at me becoming a better writer. :-))
Obviously, I’m a double tagger, and yet no one has ever pointed it out to me. I’d still be double tagging if not for Joanna Bourne’s post and realizing, on my own, that I have a problem. So why did no one point out this writing crime?
I have great beta readers, a great agent, and have had a great editor, and I think the reason no one has pointed this out is because I haven’t done it to the extreme. I am certain one of these people would have drawn attention to the double tagging if I did it five times on every page. The double tagging construction isn’t exactly wrong, it’s just not good writing. It’s putting unnecessary words in a story, and every time you can delete unnecessary words, you should. Okay, maybe not every time, because I will admit to leaving one or two double tags in because the writing flowed better than without it, or because, in a few cases, it felt like it fit my character’s voice in that moment, and maybe I was just making excuses for myself, but in every case, double tagging should be looked at.
A very detailed editor who overly focuses on the mechanics of writing might point out double tagging, but my agent (who has done content editing for me) and my editors focus more on story issues. They want to make sure all the plot points make sense, that the secondary characters are well developed, that there aren’t gaping plot holes, etc. As far as mechanics go, they mostly focus on confusing sentences/paragraphs, asking for clarification or rewrites.
A copy editor might catch it. In fact, I think they are the ones more likely to take notice, but I think they also try very hard not to mess with an author’s voice. Since it’s not technically wrong, and if it’s not overly done, I doubt a copy editor would mention it.
So, there’s my long answer.
And it was fun to answer. If anyone has a writing related question, and you care for my thoughts on it, ask away. I won’t be as knowledgeable and profound as Joanna Bourne, but I’m happy to opine.