Books Read in April

I’ve been slack on the blog, but here’s the books I read last month:

Jennifer_Finney_Boylan_Shes_Not_There_sm1. She’s not There: A Life in Two Genders – Jennifer Finney Boylan. My mom lent this to me, as it was the Freshman Read at my alma mater last year. It was a wonderful memoir of a MTF trans woman and her experiences. Funny and moving.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black. Holly Black is one of my authors I go to for a comfort read.They always have characters you root for, a great atmosphere, and tight plots. This one is set in a small town of Fairfold where the fae are always nearby and have a way with meddling with lives.

3. The Martian – Andy Weir. I listened to this on audiobook. It was an interesting book, and how if I’m ever trapped on Mars, I’ll know how to grow potatoes.

4. In the Woods – Tana Franch. I loved this book. Excellently written and a great mystery. Detective Andrew Ryan is in some ways frustrating and unlikeable (though understandable considering the massive amount of stress he’s under in this book), but his partner Cassie Maddox is the real star of the show. Really want to read The Likeness now, as it stars her.

5. Waverley – Walter Scott. Re-read for an essay for uni, plus about a book’s worth of articles and excerpts of analysis. I’m writing about the supernatural and Gothic allusions in the book.

6. Loose Changeling – A.G. Stewart. Andrea is in one of my writing groups and she came to my Shadowplay launch in SF. I was excited to read her first book and it was fun, fast-paced urban fantasy with fae. A perfect palette cleanser after the rather dark In the Woods and the very dense prose of Waverley.

7. Second Position – Katherine Locke. If you love ballet films with Center Stage, do yourself a favour and read this book. It’s a romance about two ballet dancers whose lives have fallen apart. After four years, they run into each other again and wonder if they can ever hope to pick up the pieces.

8. Turning Pointe – Katherine Locke. Technically this is a novella, but I’ll count it anyway. It’s a prequel novella for Second Position and was just as lovely, and very sad as it’s set around the events that drove Zed and Aly apart four years before the book.

Total books in 2015: 25

A Quote on Failure & Success

Laura Lam:

I wrote a blog post on the Author Allsorts blog about failure & success.

Originally posted on AUTHOR ALLSORTS:

L’échec est le fondement de la réussite.”

I bought a bag from a charity shop with those words on them when I was fifteen. I knew enough french to know what “est le fondement de la réussite” meant, but not the first word. I showed my French teacher on the Monday.

“Failure,” she said. “It means failure.”

At fifteen, I didn’t really get it. I was such a Type A personality as a teen. I mean, I still am, but back then an A- would make me cry for an hour. I’m not joking. Perfectionism had caused problems for me–overworking myself in school, acute anxiety, an eating disorder, and a constant, internal refrain that I wasn’t good enough. How was failing even an option, much less a foundation for success?

The original quote is a paradox by Lao-Tzu, and the full saying is: “Failure is the…

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2015: Here We Go

Goodbye, 2014. Hello, 2015.

These are my goals for the next year. I suppose they’re resolutions, but I don’t often make very detailed goals these days.

1. Concrete writing stuff: Finish Brainfreeze Book. Edit False Hearts. Finish editing Masquerade. Finish my Masters. Let the two book ideas clamouring in my head percolate, then outline and write samples, perhaps. I’d like to write more short stories and novellas, too.

2. Less concrete writing stuff: Try to write most days, but don’t worry if life gets in the way for a bit. Don’t worry so much about word count. There’s more to writing than how many words get on the page per day. I spent over an hour the other day researching Los Angeles to try and discover a good setting for a secret base, and then went back to my original idea anyway. Who cares–some of those other settings might show up later in the book. Write the best books you can. Try not to stress out so much about the business side of publishing.

3. Fitness and health: Keep exercising. I did a lot in 2014: ran my first 10k race, did some pole fitness classes, which was super fun though I have a shoulder injury from it that doesn’t seem to want to heal. I did a rowing event for work. Did yoga, Pilates, and other fitness classes. My arms have some definition and I have the slightest hint of actual abs for the first time ever, whoohoo. I might try to do two races in 2015, and keep doing the other stuff. As for diet, I’m trying to cut down slightly on sweets and things (my sugar addiction is strong) and eat more homecooked meals, but I don’t plan to actually diet or aim to lose x amount of weight.

4. Work/life balance: this is my main goal. Seriously, my biggest “resolution” I’m determined to do is to do less. Last year I tried to do way too much. I managed, barely, but I’m excited that this year, I don’t have to always work about 60 hours a week. I don’t have to work full-time at an office anymore, at least for a few years. I’m going to take full advantage of that. I’ll still be writing plenty, but I’ll also be making time for actual life: cooking more, exploring more, cleaning my flat, seeing friends, sitting on my butt on the sofa and watching a lot of TV and films and reading. It’ll be great.

Tales of a Hybrid Author: Month 1: “The Snake Charm”

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I’ll be writing once-monthly updates on the process of being a hybrid author. I know many trade published authors who are also interested in dipping their toes into the world of self-publishing, or self-published authors who are also thinking about what trade publishing can offer. This month focuses on the self-published side.

Background if you’re new to my blog: I’m self-publishing some short stories/novellas set in the same world as my Micah Grey series (Pantomime & Shadowplay). Those two books are traditionally published, though now Strange Chemistry has closed so the fate of my third book is up in the air. I uploaded the first story, “The Snake Charm,” a prequel story starring a secondary character from the series, on June 4, and it went live late that evening. I started promoting it the next day. I uploaded this to Kindle Direct Publishing, meaning it’ll be exclusive with Amazon for 3 months, before I put it up on other distributors.

Sales:
Paid: 88
Borrowed: 7 (as part of KDP, Prime members can borrow my story for free, but I still get paid. So, hey, if you have a Prime membership, please borrow even if you have no desire to read it :-D)
Total: 95

Total Gross Income: £106.05

So far my costs have been £132 for 10 ISBNs. So you can either say I’m still about £26 in the red, or, if you factor in I only used 2 ISBNs so far, I made about £80 in profit this month. That’s about equal to what you’d get paid for a short story in plenty of magazines and anthologies, and this is only one month.

Location: Most of my sales were split between the US and the UK, but I also had 2 sales from Canada, 1 from Germany, and 1 from Australia.

I’m quite happy with my first month. I did no marketing aside from putting that it was up on my social media a few times. I didn’t do a blog tour, as I figured there’s not much point for a short story. I might do a few posts once all four stories are up.

The last 6 days I’ve had no sales, which is a bit worrying. I was hoping it would stay steady with a sale or two a day, meaning at least a little money would trickle in. But maybe it’ll pick up again. Perhaps $2.99 is too much for a 10k story and I should drop the price. That means going from 70% royalty down to 35%, but if means more sales then it’d be worth it. What do you think?

Has it impacted sales of Pantomime and/or Shadowplay?: No idea. I think so far the readers are mainly people who have already read my books, though at least one person read it before reading the books. I think those books had a little boost because June was Pride month and my books are LGBT, and Strange Chemistry shut so a few people picked up the books.

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Here is the graph of sales from my KDP dashboard, where I mapped out what caused certain boosts. I had a boost the day Strange Chemistry closed, as I mentioned that any money gained will be ear marked for possibly self-publishing the third Micah Grey book. Still planning on that by the way – the £80 is duly earmarked.

Reviews: Right now I have 21 ratings on Goodreads and 12 reviews. On Amazon UK, I have 6 reviews, and on Amazon US, I have 5. I received one review on VADA Magazine. If anyone has read the story and not reviewed it, please consider leaving a couple of words on Amazon or Goodreads. Reviews really help self-published titles be noticed. I also got some fan art from Laya.

Plans for the next month: Putting up the second story, “The Fisherman’s Net.” I’ve decided to not go exclusive with Amazon and upload to Amazon and B&N myself and use Smashwords for the other retailers. This should go up in the next week. I’ll also hopefully be revealing the cover of the third Vestigial Tale, “The Tarot Reader,” and finishing final edits for that, as well as editing the last Vestigial Tale, “The Card Sharp.”

Concerns: That not as many people will pick up the second story, though it will be far cheaper – 0.99c or 0.70p. I’d have to sell around 4x as many copies to make the same amount. Only one way to find out, though.

Other news this month:
My short story, “They Swim Through Sunset Seas,” will be released in the Anthology, Solaris Rising 3, from Solaris Books, in August.
I released the cover for the second Vestigial Tale, “The Fisherman’s Net.”
I was nominated for the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Newcomer for Pantomime.

So, that’s all for now. Thank you so much to everyone who bought/borrowed my first Vestigial Tale. It made me excited to share the other stories with you.

I’ll leave you with the cover and blurb of “The Snake Charm.” Please consider picking it up if it captures your fancy.

the-snake-charm-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Snake Charm

“To most, Drystan was just another buffoon in the collective of clowns. But behind the inane grin, he saw everything, keeping the secrets he discovered close, like precious gems to barter.”

Mutiny is brewing in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. When Linden, the leader of the clowns steals one of the ringmaster’s most prized possessions, Drystan, the white clown, finds himself caught in the middle. Tasked with retrieving the Lethe, he’s forced to betray Linden or risk his troubled past coming to light. But the Vestige artifact has its own history and its own power. Drystan will learn what it can really do, and who it can hurt.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Amazon India / Amazon Germany / Amazon France / Amazon Spain / Amazon Italy / Amazon Japan / Amazon Brazil / Amazon Mexico / Amazon Australia

Rowing on the River

Last Saturday I had an Intercompany Rowing Competition with a few colleagues from work. After the 10k I did recently, I thought it’d be a different sort of challenge. And it was! Though as our coach says, we’re supposed to use mostly our legs, I still feel like I built up some more upper body strength.

The fun part of the competition is that everyone’s in fancy dress. My favourite costumes were “The Coffin Dodgers” – everyone dressed up as old men and the cox (coach) was the Grim Reaper. We dressed up as Star Wars characters – A Jedi, Darth Vader, Han Solo, a Stormtrooper, and Princess Leia. In the first race, we lost to a group of physiotherapists dressed as Where’s Wallys (Waldos to Americans). In the second race, we beat some minions from Despicable Me 2. In the third race, we won against a group in yellow shirts. We won our group, but in the knock out rounds, we were up against the physiotherapists again and we were thrashed.

It was still fun, though the weather wasn’t the greatest. Don’t think I’ll keep up rowing, but it was a good experience and something different.

First photo is from my camera, and other photos are courtesy of Kevin, an engineer from work.

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Me as Princess Leia!
Created with Nokia Camera
The first race!
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Racing away.
Created with Nokia Camera
Onward!
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Yes! We’re winning! Take that, minions.
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Group shot of “Use the Oars”
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Coming into the jetty after our win during the 5 minutes of sunshine we had all day.
Created with Nokia Camera
This guy was a champ, helping load and unload people from their boats all day.

 

 

Sad News About Strange Chemistry + Giveaway

Laura Lam:

Another lovely giveaway in response to Strange Chemistry’s news. There’s also a chance to win Cracked by Eliza Crewe.

Originally posted on Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup:

17345314I’ve heard sad news from all over the blogosphere that Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot is officially no more as a publisher. What breaks my heart moreover is yesterday I posted a review for the second Soul Eater book by Eliza Crewe and none of you will likely be able to read it unless it gets saved or self-published.

My friend Katharine @ Ventureadlaxre is hosting a giveaway where you can win copies of Laura Lam’s fantastic novels, Pantomime and its sequel Shadowplay. I decided I’m going to join her in this endeavour. These were my two favourite books published by Strange Chemistry and while I am sad about the publisher being no more, I want people to still read these books.15797050

So I am offering up to one winner a paperback copy of both Cracked & Pantomime. This giveaway is open Internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to your…

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Laura Lam Giveaway

Laura Lam:

A giveaway for Pantomime and/or Shadowplay, in response to Strange Chemistry shutting down. Really touched by this. <3

Originally posted on ventureadlaxre:

Sad publishing news reigns with the announcement that Angry Robot‘s two imprints, Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, have ceased, effective immediately.

I loved Strange Chemistry especially because without fail – every book I picked up from that imprint, I loved. They had a level of quality I could depend on, where I didn’t have to worry when picking up a book whether or not it was going to resonate with me.

But it goes deeper than this – it’s upsetting because it impacts on one of my favourite authors, Laura Lam. I loved the books she had out so far, and I find her thoughtful and well spoken (as well as simply interesting to follow on social media). She also happened to attend Scott Lynch’s cafe meet-up in Brighton in 2013 during World Fantasy Con, and was really lovely when I kinda shyly slunk up to her to see if…

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