Autumn & Winter Holidays in Ellada

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay next month, I thought I would repost some of the articles I wrote for the initial blog tours onto this site. This is a piece about winter holidays in Ellada that originally appeared on Starmetal Oak’s blog in late 2012, which closed down not long after.

snowflake

The holidays are upon us. In the country of Ellada in the world of the Archipelago, the pseudo-Victorian world where my debut Pantomime is set, the winter holidays are both similar yet different to ours. Pantomime is set in spring and summer, so these holidays don’t appear until Pantomime’s sequel, Shadowplay.

There are two main autumn and winter holidays. The night before the longest night of the year is called The Night of the Dead. It’s slightly similar to our Halloween in that many feel the barrier between the living and the dead grows thinner. Many people hold dinner parties with séances for entertainment. Others who are more superstitious will stay inside, windows shut tight, so that the dead cannot come to haunt them.

The longest night of the year is known as the Lady’s Long Night or the Long Night of the Lady. Elladans and most others in the Archipelago worship two deities—the Lord of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon. The longest day of the year is, coincidentally, the Day of the Lord, but it’s not as largely celebrated, at least not among the common people. Micah Grey doesn’t celebrate it in the circus, for instance. After all, they already spend most of their waking hours in daylight.

But the Lady’s Long Night is a lavish affair, when people celebrate that the worst of the winter and darkness is over. A huge procession twines through downtown Imachara, the capital of Ellada, with floats topped with people dressed as the Chimaera out of myth dressed all in white. Many go to the cathedrals to listen to choirs and pray to the Lady of the Moon. Gifts are exchanged. It’s a time of hope and cheer to remind them of the good in life, just after they were reminded of the sinister in the Night of the Dead.

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“The Card Sharp” is Free for 5 Days!

I’ve done a free promotion on Amazon for “The Card Sharp,” the last instalment in my Vestigial Tales series, tie in novellas and short stories to the Micah Grey series. These books can be read in any order.

Please consider downloading and, if you read it, consider leaving a rating/review on Goodreads/Amazon. My obvious ulterior motive is that you read this, enjoy it, read the other Vestigial Tales (Note: those are all free for Amazon Prime customers, yet I still get royalties), and then check out Pantomime & Shadowplay when they’re re-released in e-book in December through Tor UK. 🙂

ABOUT “THE CARD SHARP”

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…

Add on Goodreads!

DOWNLOAD: 

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

ISBN: 978-0-9929428-4-7

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

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). 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.

 

Vestigial Tales: “The Card Sharp” Blurb and Cover!

And so I unveil the last cover and blurb of the Vestigial Tales to be released separately this year.

I started this project with a Drystan short story, and so I’m ending it with a Drystan novella: “The Card Sharp.” As before, this is probably best read after Pantomime & Shadowplay to know his character most fully, but you can quite easily read it as a standalone as well, if you don’t mind some minor spoilers into the character’s past. This is set before “The Snake Charm,” as well, and tells the story of what happened to Drystan after he left home but before he joined the circus.

Now I have to finish editing it! Because my schedule has been thrown off by travel and conventions, I don’t anticipate this one going live before mid-September.

Without further ado…

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…

Add on Goodreads!

As ever, art is by the incomparable Dianna Walla. For this one, we looked at a couple other Rider Waite cards, but specifically the Ace of Wands.

aceofwands

I hope you enjoy it when it’s out!

The Tarot Reader Fan Art

One of my favourite readers, Laya, has done it again and made some really awesome artwork for my latest Vestigial Tale, “The Tarot Reader.” Check it out! I love the detail on her work and how she brings whatever she draws to life.

tarotreaderart3
Cyan reading Oli’s palm.
tarotreaderart1
The Tarot spread for the blurred man.
tarotreaderart2
Cyan as the High Priestess