Shadowplay on Fantasy Faction’s Top 50 Fantasy Books of 2014

Shadowplay-CoverWhoohoo! Shadowplay is number 17 on Fantasy Faction’s Best 50 Fantasy Books of 2014! It’s at 17, which is pretty damn awesome. Feels great to be on the list and see some love for Micah. They say:

Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s story, both in terms of plot and character growth. The interplay between Micah and Drystan, the white clown, is charming and heart-wrenching in equal measure, as Micah struggles to reconcile his past life as Iphigenia with his present life as the runaway circus performer wanted for murder. Beneath this internal conflict lies another far larger and more deadly, and Micah is unwillingly caught up in it.

I loved the world Lam created. She discusses themes of social and sexual inequality and sets them against a backdrop of an advanced civilisation long lost. With its immaculate prose, haunting exposition and brilliant transgender protagonist, this series is doing important things for the genre and is an absolute must read.

Number 1 is Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb, which I wholeheartedly agree with, as that’s one of the greatest books ever written, full stop. There’s also a strong Team Mushens presence, with Den Patrick, Liz de Jager, and Jen Williams on there too. Go team! Also nice to see Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, and more.

Any books on the list you’re dying to pick up?

Tales of a Hybrid Author : Month 4: “The Card Sharp”

waterhouse

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 (PantomimeShadowplay and this month I shared the title of the third book: Masquerade). There’s going to be a bit of delay in getting Masquerade to market. I was hoping to have the Kickstarter go live this month, but I’m still waiting to see what’s going on with the rights to the first two now that Angry Robot has been bought by a new owner. These short stories/novellas are to help break up the wait and teach me about self-publishing.

This month had the launch of the last story, “The Card Sharp,” which tells the story of what happened to Drystan before he joined R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. Laya has made some awesome artwork for it:

laya-drystan-card-sharp
Drystan in the Naiad Green.
laya-jane-cress
Jane Cress.
laya-tavish
Tavish Antiaris

So cool. Laya and Victoria from The Gay YA have also started a Tumblr for fans of my books, which is probably one of the coolest things to ever happen to me.

“The Card Sharp” went up later in the month than the other three, because I fell behind on my schedule due to summer conventions and starting university.

Total Sales:
Paid (Amazon): 63
Borrowed (Amazon): 5
Paid (Smashwords): 0
Total for September: 68
Total Sales to Date: 326

Per Story in September:
“The Snake Charm”: 4 (plus one bought and refunded)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 14
“The Tarot Reader”: 12
“The Card Sharp”: 28

Total Sales/Borrows per Story:
“The Snake Charm”: 138 (plus 395 free ones)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 104
“The Tarot Reader”: 56
“The Card Sharp”: 28

Total Gross Income for September: £59.01 ($94.24)
Total Gross Income to Date: £276.07 ($440.87)
Costs: £132 for 10 ISBNs
Total Net Profit: £144.55 ($230.84)

kdpmonth4
September sales

Reviews as of today: 
“The Snake Charm” on GR: 46 ratings (21 reviews)
“The Snake Charm” on Amazon: 8 (US),  9 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on GR: 21 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Tarot Reader” on GR: 19 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Tarot Reader” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Card Sharp” on GR: 10 ratings (4 reviews)
“The Card Sharp” on Amazon: 0 (US), 0 (UK)

As ever, if you’ve read any of the stories, leaving a short review on Goodreads/Amazon would be so greatly appreciated. Especially on Amazon, as it means more casual readers might pick them up.

Overall, I’d say this experience is a success. I made back my costs and made some profit, I’ve had nice reviews, and it was fun. Did I make loads? No, but I didn’t expect to. These sales are a result of no paid advertising. I put up that they were available on social media, and that’s it.

Did they affect Pantomime/Shadowplay‘s sales? It’s hard to say. I think it’s probably more than affecting sales, people who enjoyed the books were also happy enough to pick up the Vestigial Tales. The only real information I have on sales is the Amazon Author Central account in the US. It doesn’t show e-books & doesn’t show all paper copies either, so it’s an inaccurate tool at best. But, if overall trends are like this, than in the last few months, sales picked up or at least remained steady:

amazon-central-US

I haven’t shared the numbers since it’d be so inaccurate anyway, and I don’t know if the publisher would be okay with it. The largest spikes are release weeks.

This month I was paid for July’s sales and received a check from June for my UK sales (which reminds me, I still need to deposit it).

Non-self-publishing stuff this month: I was paid the first installment of my UK publication advance. I’ll officially be leaving my day job in a month or two. I was also able to announce the Italian translation deal. I’ve done a few creative writing workshops around Aberdeen and have one or two left. I’ve also been doing my masters in Creative Writing, which is going well so far.

The Vestigial Tales are done for now, though there might be some more in the pipeline for Masquerade‘s Kickstarter, if/when that happens. *mysterious face* I’m hoping I can figure out what’s happening with that soon as I desperately want to make plans and follow through but am still unsure which path is best and what my options are.

Plans for next month: Finish the draft of Masquerade. Re-read Pantomime & Shadowplay in preparation for edits. Finish planning/researching Brainfreeze Book, so I can start drafting properly in November (NaNoWriMo?). Keep on top of school work and day job and try not to implode.

I’ll leave you with the link to the Vestigial Tales page. Please do consider picking them up if you enjoyed my books. As mentioned before, all proceeds are being bookmarked for self-publishing Masquerade, should that be the path it takes.

The Last Vestigial Tale: “The Card Sharp” is now Live!

The Last Vestigial Tale, “The Card Sharp,” is now up on Kindle. By happy coincidence, today is also Bisexuality Visibility Day, and Drystan is bisexual.

“The Card Sharp” is almost 16k words long and stars Drystan before he joins R.H. Ragona’s circus of magic. It has magicians, card counting, drug lords, Vestige, and a heist.

It’s in Select so it’ll be exclusive with them for 90 days before being released elsewhere. I know having Amazon have the exclusive can be difficult for those who don’t want to purchase through them, which I understand. They are such a large part of the market, though, that having the chance to lower the price/make them free/let people borrow them if they have Prime is too good to resist. By the end of the year, all tales will be out of the exclusive timeframe and I’ll put them up on Smashwords or D2D to be distributed to other retailers.

This is the end of the Vestigial Tales project for now.  I have no more plans to self-publish any more short stories/novellas this year. I’ll keep doing monthly roundup posts about my self-publishing experiment.

I’ve really enjoyed writing them, editing them, and putting them up myself. Traditional publishing has long timeframes by necessity, but this has given me something to do in the meantime and I’ve learned absolutely loads. I’ve discovered more about Drystan and Cyan by writing “The Snake Charm,” “The Tarot Reader,” and “The Card Sharp,” which has influenced Micah Grey #3.

As with the other tales, proceeds from these stories are being earmarked towards self-publishing the third book in the trilogy. There will also be a Kickstarter for that soon as well.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s helped me every step of the way: Dianna Walla, cover artist extraordinare, and my betas: Erica, Craig, Mike, Wesley, Vonny, Jennifer, Lisa, Kim, Amy, Collin & Emma. Thanks to Diana Sousa and Kim Curran for early e-formatting help, everyone who looked at the first blurb as I was trying to figure out the formatting. Thanks to my copyeditors: my mother, Sally, and my mother-in-law, Sheila.

I hope you enjoy “The Card Sharp” if you pick it up. Any help in spreading the word to others would be greatly, greatly appreciated: tweeting, sharing on Tumblr or Facebook, leaving a review on Goodreads and Amazon, telling your friends offline. I have wonderful readers and appreciate each and every one of you more than I can say.

TheCardSharpCoverUntold 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 Card Sharp

“He always mourned that moment, when the high began to fade. It was like he moved from who he wanted to be to having to face the reality of who he was. He’d rather feel supernatural. More than Drystan Hornbeam, a seventeen-year-old-boy who had made a lot of foolish mistakes and didn’t seem to be changing his habits anytime soon.”

Before Drystan became the White Clown of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, he was a Lerium addict struggling on the streets of Imachara. When a mysterious woman gives him a chance at a new life, he takes it, even if it means falling even deeper into the dark underbelly of the capital of Ellada. Drystan knows that selling Lerium to the powerful men and women who bet at the high stakes card tables is perilous, especially when he still battles his own addictions. Yet when he meets a man who can help him learn to cheat at cards and swindle them out of enough money to start a new life, he dives headfirst into more danger.

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…

The Card Sharp

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

ISBN: 978-0-9929428-4-7

Information on the other three Vestigial Tales (“The Snake Charm”, “The Fisherman’s Net” & “The Tarot Reader”)

Tales of a Hybrid Author: Month 3: “The Tarot Reader” & Kindle Countdown

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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 (PantomimeShadowplay). There’s going to be a bit of delay in getting the third book to market (hopefully the Kickstarter will go live next month), and so these will hopefully help break up the wait and teach me about the process.

So this month saw the launch of “The Tarot Reader,” the third Vestigial Tale, and I also made the first one, “The Snake Charm,” free for 5 days.

Sales still kept ticking along. I had an upswing on Tarot’s launch day, and another near the end of Nine Worlds – maybe people who went to my workshop purchased some? Loncon didn’t seem to have any impact on sales. If anything, they went down during those days.

Putting up Snake Charm for free was fun. Loads of people downloaded it, so I’m hoping over the next few months I’ll get more reviews, and that some who downloaded the first one go onto purchase the others.

And now, the numbers!

Total Sales:
Paid (Amazon): 87
Borrowed (Amazon): 0 (interesting, as Kindle Unlimited went live recently)
Paid (Smashwords): 0
Total for August: 87
Total Sales to Date: 263

Per Story:
“The Snake Charm” at $2.99: 14
“The Snake Charm” free as part of the Kindle Select promotion: 395
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 29
“The Tarot Reader”: 44

Total Gross Income for August: £78.52
Total Gross Income to Date: £217.06 ($358.81)
Costs: £132 for 10 ISBNs
Total Net Profit: £85.54 ($140.61)

kdpmonth3-1

The graph with the free units selected. Makes the rest of it look hilarious.

kdpmonth3-2Graph with the free units de-selected.

Reviews as of today: 
“The Snake Charm” on GR: 37 ratings (20 reviews)
“The Snake Charm” on Amazon: 7 (US),  9 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on GR: 15 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Amazon: 1 (US), 1 (UK)
“The Tarot Reader” on GR: 12 ratings (5 reviews)
“The Tarot Reader” on Amazon: 1 (US), 0 (UK)

As ever, if you’ve read the stories, please please consider leaving a review, especially for Fisherman & Tarot on Amazon. They’re looking a bit lonely.

So far I’ve published around 40,000 words of fiction and made $140 in profit. So, self-publishing is not paying much, technically. However, the £132 was going to be spent anyway for the Kickstarter. $140 is a fair chunk of the cover costs for Micah Grey 3. And also, this is only 3 months in. I can offer these stories for free for promotions or as rewards for the Kickstarter. I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing, and I’ve enjoyed having control over the side project. Writing more about Cyan and Drystan has already made book 3’s first draft stronger. Sales may stay reasonably steady. I might still make the odd dollar or two off these in 10 years. Writing is all about the long tail.

This month I received partial payment for June’s sales – the $61 I made in the US is in my account, with the small Australian/Canadian payments pending. Nothing UK yet–I think you have to reach a threshold of around £150 before you’re paid or something?

In non-self-publishing news: I received payment for my short story in Solaris Rising 3. I’ve received my contracts for False Hearts and the option book, which has the code name of Brainfreeze Book, so I might be paid for that some time in September. I also have 4 creative writing workshops in September and 2 in October throughout Aberdeen. There’s also other cool things behind the scenes I can’t talk about yet.

Next month’s goals: Put up “The Card Sharp,” the final Vestigial Tale to be released this year. Put “The Snake Charm” up on Smashwords because the Kindle exclusive period is up. Research and start planning the Micah Grey 3 Kickstarter. Work a lot on Micah Grey 3, which is getting somewhat close to finished. Keep plotting and researching Brainfreeze Book.

 

The Second Vestigial Tale: “The Fisherman’s Net” is now Live!

And the hybrid author journey continues.

Info about “The Fisherman’s Net”:

This is a story set in Ellada, but otherwise has no overlapping characters with Pantomime or Shadowplay, so it is completely standalone. As the intro of the short story says:

This is a fable adapted by the noblewoman Lady Emilia Weatherwood. Her calling was to take Hestia’s Fables and to expand them into longer, richer stories that worked for a more contemporary audience. Her work is still much beloved amongst men and women throughout Ellada. Like the original stories, each has a message, but not every reader receives the same one.”

Professor Mildred Acacia, “Retellings of Hestia’s Fables,” Royal Snakewood University

For this story, I decided not to go exclusive with Amazon for three months. It’s currently up on Amazon and Smashwords. Once it’s approved into the Prime Catalog, Smashwords will distribute to most retailers (iBooks, Kobo, etc). I’m in the process of uploading it to B&N’s Nook Press. Amazon has been getting such bad press lately, and I wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. It means this one can’t be borrowed for free if you have Prime membership, but as it’s cheaper than “The Snake Charm,” I’m hoping that won’t affect things too much.

Speaking of “The Snake Charm,” I’ve lowered the price to $1.99 for at least the next two weeks to see if it results in an uptick of sales.

There will be at least 4 stories/novellas in total, and more if these prove reasonably popular.

If you would consider buying this short story and then perhaps leaving a review, I’d be very grateful. It’s 3.5k long. All profits from these stories are being earmarked for self-publishing the third Micah Grey book, should that be the way that book is released.

You can read the first 20% or so on both Smashwords and Amazon. I’ll come back and update this with more links as they go live.

Cover artwork is by Dianna Walla / Paper Tiger.

the-fishermans-net-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 Fisherman’s Net

A humble fisherman in a village of the coast of the island of Linde buys a trinket at the market, which he discovers is Vestige. The poor man soon becomes the best fisherman in the village and marvels at his newfound wealth. One day, he ensnares a most unusual catch: a Chimaera sea maiden that isn’t meant to exist. And he’s not sure if he can let her go.

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:

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

ISBN (Kindle): 978-0-9929428-2-3

Books Read in May

Didn’t read that much this month – I had to edit my own work quite a bit and it took up most of my reading energy.

1. Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin. A contemporary novel about an intersex teen named Max. Excellently written and tugs at the heart strings. Very recommended (thanks Orion for the copy!)

foolsassassin2. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. MUAHAHA I GOT TO READ THIS BEFORE IT’S OUT. But now I have to wait until 2015 to find out what happens next. Noooo! This is a continuation of my favourite series by my favourite author. The last new Fitz & Fool book was released in 2003 (and I read it in 2004). It was surreal going back to these characters after so long. The last time I read them for the first time, I was a teenager and I’d just met my now-husband. I lived in California instead of Scotland. Fitz is older, but I’m older, too. I loved this book so much I can’t quite articulate it. I can’t wait to read it again. (thank you to HarperVoyager for the proof).

3. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade – Den Patrick. A member of Team Mushens and an excellent debut, out from Gollancz. It’s an intricate, atmospheric book set in a castle, slightly reminiscent of Gormenghast. There are houses, and the Orfano, people who are all slightly different in some way. It follows the story of Lucien, and time-jumps between his younger and older years. Recommended!

Total: 31 books

Guest Post: Introducing BREAKSHIELD by J.B. Rockwell

J.B. Rockwell is one of the members of my online writing group, the Inkbots. She’s recently sold her debut to Zharmae, and so I invited her here to show off her cover and blurb and a bit about the book. Take a look! 

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When Laura Lam offered me some space on her website to show off the cover of my upcoming novel Breakshield, I jumped at the opportunity.  After all, who wouldn’t want a shout out from someone who writes such wonderful and truly amazing stories as Pantomime and Shadowplay?  So thank you, Laura, for hosting me in your virtual home!

As for Breakshield, it hits the shelves on March 27, 2014.  I was beyond excited to get the official okay to post the cover art, and here she be:

breakshieldFound at the intersection of life and the afterlife, the Between is a place where science and reason are replaced by magic and violence. It is a place where Typhon and his Huntsmen of the Dark Waste spread like a plague and where Talents go to die. 

The only thing standing in Typhon’s way is Morgan Quendalen and the people of the Shining Lands. They are sworn to protect the last remaining Talents, a precious few who teeter at the edge of extinction.  Morgan valiantly fights, protecting these last remnants of magic in a war he’s not sure he can actually win. 

When Jamie Aster, a mortal Talent with undiscovered powers, is put under his charge, Morgan weighs his oath against a desire to save the Shining Lands. Could he kill a Talent if it meant saving his people?

Breakshield is my debut novel and the first in a series of three that I’ve signed with Zharmae.  As for the cover, well I absolutely love it.  Love-love-love it.  It’s pretty and badass all at the same time and – really – what else could I ask for?  The artist is an up-and-comer named Yanmo Zhang and he’ll be doing the cover art for the other two books in the series as well.  The man on the cover is Morgan Quendalen, the protagonist of this story, and he’s looking pretty badass as well.  I can’t wait until Breakshield  comes out because I think you’re gonna love it as much as I love the cover.  After all, it’s got everything a good fantasy story needs: swords and sorcery, evil beasties with long claws and sharp teeth, and it’s even got a fox familiar named Kitsune. 

Find out more about me at my author site, and follow me on Twitter if you like what you see.  Oh yeah, Breakshield is up on Goodreads if you’re interested, and check out these sites for cover reveals: