Audiobook Giveaway ~ One’s Aspect to the Sun

OATTS cover-smI’m happy to announce that I’m running a Rafflecopter giveaway for THREE Audible.com audiobook codes for One’s Aspect to the Sun. The sequel is due out later this year, so if you win, you’ll have lots of time to listen to the first one before the second arrives!

As usual with Rafflecopter, there are several ways you can enter, and some things you can do every day to increase your chance of winning! The contest will run for one week, until April 21st.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing the Blurb

DSCN5084When I wrote my series of blog posts about mistakes made by self-publishing authors, one key stumbling-block I mentioned was the blurb. I picked out three major problems with blurbs in that post…in this one, I’m going to try to help you learn how to write a great one.

Earlier I said, “The blurb is your chance to sell me on reading your book.” That’s true–but how do you do that? There’s a lot going on in your book, I know, so how do we boil all that excitement down to a couple of brief paragraphs?

I’m going to propose a template here for a three-point blurb, and show you a couple of ways I’ve used it myself. I’m not saying these are the best blurbs ever written, but I think they’re solid and I’ve had readers tell me in both cases that they decided to read the book based on the blurb alone.

1. Start with your character(s). Who are they at the start of the story? Give them names, professions, status–whatever it is that makes them who they are and is important to the story. Do they have a goal, a dream, or a problem at the outset? Is there something about their world or situation that’s important? Can you also give a clue about the type of book this is?

Captain Luta Paixon of the far trader Tane Ikai needs to know why she looks like a woman in her thirties–even though she’s actually eighty-four. (character, profession, problem, genre)

Kit Stablefield is a detective with a secret and a crush on a guy she knows only online, in a future where magic is a part of everyday life. (character, profession, setting, problem, genre)

2. As I like to tell students when I do presentations about writing, stories are fueled by TROUBLE. So add a sentence or two telling us what the character’s biggest challenge or challenges are going to be in this story. What’s the one (or even two) most vital problems that must be faced and solved or the story will fail? Why is there no easy solution? Does something happen that compounds existing trouble or creates a new problem?

The explanation might lie with her geneticist mother, who disappeared over sixty years ago, but even if her mother is still alive, it’s proving to be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. (possible solution, not easy)

But when millionaire Aleshu Coro walks into the offices of Darcko and Sadatake with a message from the Murder Prophet and fourteen days to live, everything changes. (new challenge, upsets “normal” life)

3. The third point can do a few things: it can pile on further problems or complications; it can expand on why solutions are not easy to find or add further threats; it can pose a question that the story promises to answer, and the reader is now interested to see answered. You can also take the opportunity in this or any other point to give further clues about the tone, mood, and genre of the story.

With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the furthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart. (complications, further threats, more genre clues)*

With her eighty-six-year-old grandmother insisting on helping out, and a sentient goose who simply won’t stop pestering her to watch his “killer” video game moves, Kit has more than her hands full as she races against the clock to prevent Coro’s murder…and possibly her own. (complications, further threats, tone)**

Very often, even if the question isn’t explicitly stated in the latter section of the blurb, it’s there inherently. (Will the character succeed?) But you may want to pose a more universal or thematic question as well. While some folks don’t like questions at the end of blurbs, I’m not convinced that they’re a bad thing if they serve to get the reader wondering and invested in the story.

A few things to remember:
For each of the three points, limit yourself to one or two sentences only. This helps you really focus in on the vital points of your story.

Be honest! Write the blurb for the book you’ve written, not something else. If the book doesn’t deliver what the blurb has promised, you’re going to have a disappointed or even angry reader, and no-one wants that.

Don’t be satisfied with your first attempt. Rewrite, and rewrite again, trying out different elements or structures. Edit your blurb as carefully as you’ve edited your book. The blurb, as well as telling a potential reader what your story is about, also reveals how proficient you are as a writer. Make it sharp, clean, vivid and intriguing, and you’ll have readers wanting to know more.

*The full blurb for One’s Aspect to the Sun is here.

**The full blurb for The Murder Prophet is here.

Photo credit: pippalou

The Murder Prophet Cover Tease

I know, it’s evil to tease you with just a bit of the cover, right?

MP cover tease 1But I’m getting pretty excited about this project. I shared this glimpse of the cover a while back, but here it is again. Don’t forget to watch this space on Friday for the whole thing, and a contest to win some advance reading copies! Later in the week I’ll give you more details about the novel itself.

I will say this: if you enjoyed One’s Aspect to the Sun but wished it had less space travel, nanotechnology, and wormholes; and more urban magic, mystery, sentient animals, danger, and romance, you’ll love The Murder Prophet. ;)

Ebook Sale Today!

OATTS cover-smYes, the ebook of ONE’S ASPECT TO THE SUN is on sale today for only .99! If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, this is a great time to do so.

http://tinyurl.com/kowo3j8

About the novel | Goodreads reviews | Amazon reviews

As this sale happens, I’m installed at my desk, hard at work on the sequel, Dark Beneath the Moon. Although One’s Aspect is a stand-alone novel, I’ve had many questions about and requests for a sequel, and who could say “no” to that? There’s certainly enough going on in Nearspace to keep the characters busy! Of course I can’t give much away at this point, but the shadows of the past loom even larger in this book than they did in the first, leaving Luta and her crew with new aliens, corporate intrigue, and more than a few mysteries to puzzle through.

But in the meantime, you should be reading the first book, so you’ll be all set when the next one arrives. It pays to plan ahead, right? :)

A Contest for World Book & Copyright Day

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, +1 it on Google, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!
 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm

She Took to Her Bed

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Not my bed, but I’d take it!

Today I decided to take to my bed. Not in the Victorian-lady sort of way, complete with fainting spells, swooning, and smelling salts, but in the need-a-change-of-scenery sort of way. It was chilly in my office, and I was doing financial things (my nemesis), so I needed to snuggle up with a heating pad, a warm blanket, my laptop and a nice big surface on which to spread out a lot of papers. The bedroom was the natural spot to which I migrated.

Also, there were a lot of distractions in my office, and I needed to escape them in order to get anything done.

This got me thinking about how most of us have places we escape to once in a while. In my novel One’s Aspect to the Sun, my main character escapes to the largest cargo pod when she needs to think, and sits or paces on the catwalk that vaults through the top of the empty space. In her case, it’s the close quarters and small rooms of the spaceship she needs to escape–she’s craving the simple sensation of having more open space around her. Which is, admittedly, a little ironic, considering she’s actually out in deep space.

Even in stories where themes don’t touch on escape, many characters have places they go when they need to get away, be by themselves, and think or regroup. It can be a powerful insight into a character to see where they find this refuge. Do they seek out a church or a library for quietude? A milling shopping center where they can blend into a crowd? A forest where they can feel more grounded in nature? What does their choice of escape say about them?

In a short story I wrote recently, the main character’s escape space is a rooftop garden. In that story, it is symbolic, since the garden was started by her father, now deceased, and does become both an actual physical refuge as well as a place of danger, throughout the course of the story.

Where’s your escape? Where’s your character’s escape? What does that say about you, and about them? Can you use it to enhance your storytelling? Or your life?

Tell me your answers in the comments, if you’d like to share.

Photo credit: revwarheart

One’s Aspect to the Sun Trailer

I love making book trailers. I’ve done them for most of the Third Person Press titles, and it’s really quite easy to do with all the resources available on the Internet. You can find free-to-use graphics at places like Morguefile.com and StockXchng, video clips at MotionBackgroundsForFree , and great music at Incompetech.com.  Of course, there are many others around the web, but these are some resources I’ve used and been very pleased with. I generally use Windows Movie Maker and Photoshop, although of course there are other video programs with more bells and whistles on offer.

So of course I had to make one for One’s Aspect to the Sun. I had a ton of fun making this one!

http://youtu.be/LVK3_ZLFURQ&w=400&h=255&rel=0

Do book trailers really make a big impact in book promotions? Who knows? But the way I see it, having a good one can’t hurt. :)

Being Shameless about Shameless Self-Promotion

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Crank it up!

This morning I sent out a tweet about the fact that my novel, One’s Aspect to the Sun, is on the eligibility list for novels for this year’s Prix Aurora Awards. This–the tweeting, that is–should not be a big deal. (Being eligible is absolutely a big deal, for me! It’s my first novel, after all.)

And yet, mentioning it was not the easiest thing to do. I’ve actually never encountered any blowback for promoting my self or my writing (or publishing with Third Person Press), but I’ve read several articles online by writers (women in particular) who have drawn negative and accusatory comments for doing such a thing. I hesitated a day or two before I said anything about it online.

I, like these women and many other folks, am uncertain why this should be. (And I’m not even going to get into the reasons why women seem to suffer the slings and arrows more than men; that’s been addressed far more eloquently than I probably could, like here.) So while it’s not easy for me to self-promote, I guess because I’m simply of a modest personality, there’s no getting around the fact that I want folks to read (and hopefully enjoy) my work. Almost any writer will admit to this desire, and those who won’t–well, I don’t buy it. Unless you’re writing solely in journals that never see the light of day, or in files that never go further than your hard drive, you’re writing to share something with…um…readers.

So, yes, I hope that people will be entertained by what I write. And to do that, most of them will have to buy it. And to do that, they’ll have to know it exists.

Awards and accolades are certainly nice to get, although the entire idea of awards these days seems to stir up a lot of disagreement and accusation and really a lot more negative energy than I think they are worth. But the plain fact of it is that being nominated for, or winning, awards, brings a work to the attention of more people. Who might then buy it. Who will hopefully then enjoy it. You see how we’ve come full circle here?

So yes, despite the fact that someone may react negatively to it, I’m talking about the fact that my novel is eligible to be nominated for an Aurora Award. I’m even going to tell you how you could go about that, in case you don’t know. The awards are administered by The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association, and the website for the awards is here: http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/. To participate in the awards process, you must be a member of CSFFA–you can join online, but to nominate and vote you pay $10 per year in dues. Nominations are currently open and will remain open until April 12th. The nomination form is on the website.

As people are wont to say, it would be an honour just to be nominated. For me, just seeing my name on the eligibility list has been a thrill! But if you’ve read and enjoyed the book, you might consider submitting a nomination. And if you’ve read and enjoyed other Canadian works on the eligibility lists, then please consider giving them a nod too. This type of award depends entirely on the public’s participation, so if you’re a reader, get in there and participate!

Photo credit: Acuzio