It Is Done (Roughly Speaking), and Other Interesting Shi…, er Stuff

This will probably be my last blog post of 2016. I’m ready for this killer Bi*** of a year to go away now. It’s killed more people than Cecil B. DeMille.

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Lotsa stuff to cover here, so strap in and pay attention, kiddies.

First: I have finally finished the rough draft of Maelstrom of Fate. I will probably tweak the hell out of that epilogue when I do first revisions; but it is down on paper now, so I can set it aside for a well-deserved break. I may be adding another convention to my line-up this coming year: Hallowcon has moved to a venue considerably closer to me. (It used to be in Dalton, Georgia and has moved to a hotel in East Ridge, Tennessee… just a few blocks from where LibertyCon used to be when I first started attending it.) Since it falls on the last weekend in October, I think it would be a fantastic venue for launching Maelstrom of Fate.

Okay, I realize that was technically two items. Deal with it.

Next: There is a new interview on my About page and a new review of Blood Curse on its page, both courtesy of J.B. Garner. You should visit his site and check out his books. Seriously.

Moving right along: The Daedalus Enigma has been entered in the 18th Annual Preditors and Editors Readers Poll in both the Horror Novel and the Science Fiction/ Fantasy Novel categories. The poll is free; although you have to give your email addie to finalize your votes, you do NOT get spammed… EVER; and it ends January 14. They do limit you to one vote per category (if you vote for more than one book in the same category, only the last one voted for counts).

Every book in the Waves of Darkness series has placed in the top ten in Horror Novel. Please help make that happen for this book, too. I don’t get any money for placing, just bragging rights and a digital badge.

Build-a-Blog news: Over the next few weeks, I will be adding to the Readers’ Refuge section of the site. Expect the Once Upon a Tide as well as a few other selections from The Daedalus Enigma to show up for your reading pleasure. I will announce them here on the main blog as/when I add them.

Artistically Speaking: I’m still in the mental planning stages of rebuilding my old Steel Rose Gallery. I will probably build it as a WordPress site simply because of the ease of organizing it like I want it.

I also have a good idea of what I want to do for the cover art for Maelstrom of Fate. I just hope I’m up to the challenge and can get Viktor looking like I want him to.

I’m a slacker: I still haven’t started the serious research I need to do for There Is No Arizona.

I will, though; I will.

Red Shirt Contest: Just a friendly reminder that it’s not too late to put your name in the hat. So far, I have all of six people willing to let me attach their name to one of the three remaining Royal Marines doomed to die a horrible death in Maelstrom. One will be drawn at Chattacon; another at ConNooga. Names of contestants remain in the pool until the last winner is drawn at LibertyCon. You can do so in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Plurk.

Other convention news: I finally bought my membership for ConNooga. I also just today confirmed with the Chattacon program director I would be available for panels.

 

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Q & A Wrap-up

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Well, my Question and Answer sessions were mildly successful. They were attended, just not as greatly as I’d hoped. I think holding them on a holiday weekend probably played into that.

As promised, here are transcripts of the questions asked, and my replies. Screen names or first names only are used to protect participants privacy. I’ve arranged the questions according to topic rather than chronological order or forum asked on. (One was on Plurk, the other on Facebook.)

Feel free to ask me questions about the books or characters. Feel free to ask the characters questions. Be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read any or all of the books yet.

 

Manateehugs: Oooh yay Q&A! This is more of a business-y type question. How is the experience of selling your book at Conventions? I love the energy at cons and artists alleys so I have a fantasy of doing like wise, but I was wondering if you could give me some pointers and or insight.

I admit I wish my sales were better. But considering I can only afford to attend the same 3 cons every year (because they’re all in town), my expectations aren’t high.

Still, I do make some sales each con, occasionally of more than the first title in the series. Don’t judge how it will go by me, though. J B Garner just finished a con this weekend and had what I consider stellar sales. 27 books!
Price figures in, too. I have a publisher, so there is only so much wiggle room for discounts, unlike self-pubbed authors. I have to pay 60% of the cover price for every physical book I order, which means I can’t afford to sell them for $10 each (cover price is $15.99). I wouldn’t even make enough to cover shipping.
One thing I’d like to do for my next con is get some proper banners. It will make my table look more professional.
It also helps to be outgoing… or as one of my author/musician friends says: Be a shameless attention whore. Don’t be afraid to STOP people walking by your table. Compliment their cosplay, if they’re doing that.
Manateehugs: Thank-you my friend that is really helpful!
Implore them to give a poor book a good home. Put something shiny and eye-catching on your table. (I give away Mardi Gras beads, glass fish tank jewels, and plastic coins.) Some authors put a candy bowl out.
Cards and bookmarks with your website on them are VITAL, especially if you do ebooks, too or people have limited funds, so they can look up info and purchase links to order the books later.
Manateehugs:I keep pondering if there is a way one could sell an e-copy of one’s book, say if it were on Amazon.
The only way to confirm a sale of an ebook is if the person has their reader with them and downloads it in front of you. I’ve only had this happen one time. It was during a panel at Chattacon this past January. The woman bought my 1st book and a book from the other two authors on the panel.
Manateehugs: Oh okay that makes sense. It’s a shame one can’t do like a redeemable card specifically for one’s ebook.
I haven’t tried that.
Of course, Amazon’s ebook return policy means there is the possibility of never seeing a royalty payment on a Kindle sale. Too many out there won’t hesitate to buy an ebook, read the whole thing, then return it before the quarter is up, which means no royalty, even though they read the whole book.

Karen: Describe how you come up with ideas: I.e., plot, characters, setting, for example.

My husband and I hashed out the bare bones of the seven-book story arc back in 2006, when it was still in the early stages. Before I start each manuscript, I’ll write out several pages of plot points which cover the main plot for that book and the sub-plots which run through the series. These do NOT always get followed strictly. The first book was entirely pantsed. All I knew was my basic formula. As the story progressed through the books, I was better able to plot ahead; but I often have cases of characters introducing themselves unplanned or established characters not following directions. Usually, this works out better than hoped.

Karen: Thanks!

Some of my inspiration in the early books came from articles in National Geographic or Smithsonian Magazine. Usually, this was when I was trying to decide where to stage the story, or elements to include in connection to a book’s Sister of Power. (Each book deals with a separate one, hence a seven-book arc.)

I made a point to research piracy and areas the story takes place in before beginning to write. Have to know what the rules are before you can break them, after all.

Karen: Haha, good point.

As a writer, I’m always intrigued by methods & schedules other writers use. How does a typical week of writing or revising/editing go for you?

Most of my writing has been done during work breaks over the years. There always seems to be too many distractions at home (cats, husband) to get good writing concentration. Lately, I’ve been frustrated and not getting as much writing done during my lunch break. I have a coworker who has gravitated to the table I use and feels the need to fill the silence with constant inane chatter. Kristina knows who I’m referring to. I keep telling myself I won’t get sucked in and will just ignore them, but it’s like not being able to log out of FB when you want to. Luckily (or un, depending on your POV) I got a good deal of writing done during time off for a recent med procedure.

I CAN make myself focus on typing up MSs and revising them, when I need to, though. (I do all my first drafts by hand in composition books; after all, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing one of THOSE like you would a tablet or laptop.)

Just Sunday (May 30), I made myself stay offline until I got the MS of a horror short story unrelated to this series typed up and gone through one revision. I still need to figure out how to trim another 500 words off it, though, to meet the min-max word count requirements for the publisher it’s slated for.

Manateehugs: Vik definitely has the morality of a pirate of his time, has that ever been emotionally hard for you to write?

Actually, no. What has been hardest for me to write with him has been the first part of book 7. He’s a bit depressed and mourning the loss of a very important person to him. Getting in that mindset has been rough.

Manateehugs: I understand the roughness of writing the depression part. I have a really hard time sticking with a narrative if the character has lost their fighting spirit and there seems to be no end of the depression in sight.

^^this

I think he’s coming out of it some. He’s still putting off finishing his quest. Juma holds a special, unreasoning dread for him, another emotion he is completely unfamiliar with dealing with.

Kristina: Belladonna is so far one of my favorite characters. When you write about her do you identify with her? To me she seems like this beautifully scary, feminine (in human form) yet sexually lethal creature.

That pretty much pegs how I see Belladonna. She’s very fun to write. I do get into her head space, but she would be viewed as borderline sociopathic by an analyst. Since she’s not human, she doesn’t always fully understand WHY humans react the way they do to some situations. She doesn’t really feel remorse and only understands it academically. She is several thousand years old, despite her youthful appearance, so she knows her prey very well and can almost seamlessly mimic humans.

She does feed on sexual energy as well as living flesh. I still remember some of the guys [at work] saying they wouldn’t hesitate to “hit that” when I showed them a drawing of her true form, even after I explained she would literally EAT them for food.
So, if she were real rather than a figment of my imagination, she definitely wouldn’t go hungry.
 
Kristina: Does Jim Rigger/ Lazarus regret being turned? Or is the power and connection reward in itself?
Does Jim regret being turned… not really. I first addressed that in Demon Bayou.
(spoiler ahead, since I know you haven’t gotten that far in the series yet)
 Jim was fiercely loyal to Viktor ever since they first teamed up in their teens. He knows how valuable he is to Vik as Lazarus. He’s given the choice to regain and retain human form as a vampire or continue as Lazarus. He chooses to remain Lazarus.
A spoiler/tease for all my readers: There will be a major event involving Jim/Lazarus in book six, The Daedalus Enigma, due later this year.
Kristina: Do people in your day to day life often inspire your characters?
Not really, with the exception of the one’s who’ve won or earned “red shirt” status. Even those are usually minor characters I’d already written with my victim’s name pasted on… with permission, of course. For anyone wondering what I mean by “red shirt”; they are characters who meet an untimely or horrible demise. I’ve gotten rid of a few coworkers this way in the past.
All of my main characters and secondary characters were initially created years ago when I first started planning and researching for the series.
I will admit benefitting from watching the interactions of my male coworkers to get a better feel for how the pirate crew interacts. Of course, I was already writing the first draft of the third book in the series by that time.
And, this concluded all the questions and answers.

Procedures

I apologize for not doing my usual Sunday blog post. I have an upcoming medical screening which has occupied most of my attention this past weekend. Nothing serious, but it does require being anesthetized. This is what I get for surviving half a century on this screwy planet.

I will post a regular update next weekend. I also intend to gather the best questions and answers from my upcoming Q& A sessions next week an post them here. There has been a slight change of plans for the Facebook portion of the sessions. I will host it as an event rather than group only.

Here’s the link: Waves of Darkness Series Q&A w/Tamara Lowery and the Crew

It’s an open-ended event so no one feels pressured to be there for a specific amount of time. All are welcome to ask questions. All questions will be answered. Trolls will be fed to the siren… and she’s a messy eater.