The Seventh Crow Kickstarter is Live!

My publisher for The Seventh Crow, Dreaming Robot Press, has launched its Kickstarter campaign to take pre-orders for the book. I’m pretty excited about this as some of the perks are pretty cool: mini-prints of illustrations from the book! I’ll give you a sneak peek of one here:

Rosinda&Traveller

…but you’ll have to click over to the Kickstarter page to see the rest! It’s right here. There’s also a very cool video you can watch to find out more about the book. Watch for my very own map of the fantasy world of Ysterad in the video!

You also have the option of ordering the book with color or greyscale illustrations, ebooks, multi-packs for classrooms–even a visit from me! (via Skype if I don’t live near you, unless of course you want to pay my way…haha)

The Kickstarter will collect pre-orders and funds will help cover the cost of the illustrations and additional printing costs. There are a limited number of Early Bird copies with special pricing, so don’t miss out!

The book is set to release this August in print and ebook formats.

Cover Reveal: The Seventh Crow

Seventh Crow Cover_smI’m excited today to reveal the cover for my forthcoming middle-grade fantasy/adventure novel, The Seventh Crow. It’s coming this summer from Dreaming Robot Press and we’ve been working hard on it over the past few months.

The crow on the cover? That’s Traveller, the crow from the title. When we first started discussing cover ideas, we went hunting for an image that captured this character, and we found him! See those intelligent eyes, that proud bearing, the impression that he’s just about to speak–

But I don’t want to give too much away.

What’s the book about? (I hear you asking…)

When you can’t remember most of your life, you’d better be prepared for anything. The day a talking crow meets her on the way home from school, fourteen-year-old Rosinda is plunged into a forgotten world filled with startling revelations: magic ability flows in her veins, she’s most comfortable with a sword in her hand, and the responsibility for finding a missing prince rests solely with her.

While dark forces hover in the background and four forgotten war gods from Earth’s past plot to reclaim long-lost power, Rosinda struggles with waves of slowly-returning memories as she searches for clues about her past and the true identity of her family; a search that takes her back and forth between two worlds. In a race against time to recover her memory, find the prince, and rescue her loved ones, Rosinda has only her friend Jerrell and an unusual trio of animals as companions. And as the gods prepare to bring her world to war, Rosinda is unaware that the shadow of betrayal lurks within one whom she trusts the most…

Dreaming Robot will be running a Kickstarter campaign to gather pre-orders, with some pretty sweet perks–like prints of illustrations from the book! Stay tuned and I’ll share full details of the campaign when it goes live.

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

Flashpoint

*puts on Third Person Press hat*

flashpointWe’ll be launching our fourth volume in the Speculative Elements series this Friday: Flashpoint. As with the earlier volumes in the series, all the stories in Flashpoint involve something thematically related to the title, whether literally or figuratively. Sometimes both.

We have fifteen stories in this anthology, each one unique in its own right. It’s always interesting in these anthologies to see how very many different ways there are to interpret the theme we set before our authors. As combined editors/contributors, there’s an extra layer of interest as we each work within the theme on our own stories, as well.

The stories in Flashpoint cover the speculative spectrum, from fantasy to science fiction, horror to paranormal, light and funny to dark and serious. We always try to offer a mix of styles, subjects, and ideas in these volumes, and I think (if I do say so myself) that this one does an admirable job again.

If you can’t join us for the launch, watch for Flashpoint in print and ebook formats online at all the usual suspects.

If you supported our Indiegogo campaign for the book, watch for your perks to arrive soon!

The Seventh Crow ~ News!

file1941286445708I’m so pleased to officially report that my YA fantasy novel The Seventh Crow will be published by Dreaming Robot Press, with an expected release date sometime in 2015.

I wrote the first draft of The Seventh Crow as my NaNoWriMo project in 2005. It’s been through several drafts since then, growing and maturing (I hope!) with every one. No, I would not say that I’ve “been working on this novel for ten years”! Novel revision seems to be a very on-again, off-again kind of thing for me. If we condensed down the time that I actually worked on it, it would fit into a ridiculously shorter period of time. But sometimes that in-between time is important for the book, and for the writer. In any event, I’m very excited that the novel has found a home!

When you can’t remember most of your life, you’d better be prepared for anything. The day a talking crow meets her on the way home from school, fourteen-year-old Rosinda is plunged into a forgotten world filled with startling revelations: magic ability flows in her veins, she’s most comfortable with a sword in her hand, and the responsibility for finding a missing prince rests solely with her.

While dark forces hover in the background and four forgotten war gods from Earth’s past plot to reclaim long-lost power, Rosinda struggles with waves of slowly-returning memories as she searches for clues about her past and the true identity of her family; a search that takes her back and forth between two worlds. In a race against time to recover her memory, find the prince, and rescue her loved ones, Rosinda has only her friend Jerrell and an unusual trio of animals as companions. And as the gods prepare to bring her world to war, Rosinda is unaware that the shadow of betrayal lurks within one whom she trusts the most…

Stay tuned for updates!

Photo credit: curlsdiva

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

Interview with D. Emery Bunn

Today on the blog I’m starting what I hope will be an interesting series of interviews with other authors. First up is D. Emery Bunn. Emery is an author, editor, and engineer, though his pile of interests keeps on getting larger. He got his start in writing thanks to National Novel Writing Month, and is an avid supporter of free culture, the power of writing, and the creative arts. Darkness Concealed is his first novel, but he will be working on the sequel and a cyberpunk short story collection. He lives at his home in Clovis, New Mexico.

Darkness_Concealed_cover-(1500x940)Sherry: Hi Emery! Your dark fantasy novel, Darkness Concealed, releases soon. Can you tell us, first, a little about the book and what it’s about?

D. Emery Bunn: Darkness Concealed is a dark fantasy/mystery, with elements of horror, both psychological and physical, sprinkled throughout. It’s a story that feels dark, yet remains a hopeful vibe. And I could quote the synopsis, but what’s the fun in that?

The world suffers an apocalypse that it calls the Darkening. Well-named considering that the dawn doesn’t come, and the moon and stars bail out, too. In their place is a numberless horde of monsters, each of them more than happy to murder everyone they find, and tear civilization to shreds. Few survive the Darkening, but every other day for 149 years is peaceful and safe.

Nobody knows why the Darkening happens, and people have long since given up trying to find out when four strangers end up bound to each other by chance events. The strangers aim for the impossible: answering that “why”, no matter what it takes. And what it takes is more than they thought they’d ever be willing to give.

Sherry: It certainly sounds intriguing! Now, most writers–as readers–have a lot a influences over time. Who were three of your favorite authors when you were younger? What about now?

Emery: I started on “older” books at a fairly young age. I read Lord of the Rings, Dune, and the Foundation Trilogy at age 13. And in a lot of ways, J. R. R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov are some of the greatest influences. Tolkien for his world-building, Herbert for his philosophical depth, and Asimov for his ability to make everything relate to everything else.

More recently, I’ve also been entranced by the door-stopping work of Neal Stephenson. I’ve read three of his works, including the titanic Baroque Cycle, and still I want to read more. I love how he can go off on a seemingly random tangent, and still take you with him, coming back to the plot at another time that works for him and me. I don’t have anywhere near the confidence to do such a strategy, but it is intriguing.

Sherry: Although writing is usually a solitary craft, most of us have a “support system” of family, friends, and writing groups or colleagues. Who are your biggest supporters?

Emery: I have supporters everywhere. As crazy as it sounds, the people at my work are mind-blown that I’m writing and releasing a book. Every single one says they want to read it.

I’ve also got a large (and growing) support network on Twitter. The vast majority of my publicity push for Darkness Concealed was drawn by asking the people I knew best on Twitter if they’d be willing to help me out. I love interacting with everyone, and offering my own support in one form or another in return.

Finally, my family is supportive, though from a distance. I live on the other side of the country from them, so I don’t draw on them to help me keep writing as much as I would otherwise.

Sherry: That’s wonderful! So let’s talk about the publishing side of things for a moment. Writers have a lot of options today–what made you decide to go the “indie” route? What did you do to prepare yourself to jump into the process of indie publishing?

Emery: I have a very unique view on copyright: I loathe it. I decided early on that anything I ever release will be available, full text, as a free PDF the same day on my site. And that decision limits me to exactly one option: go indie and release it myself.

But beyond that, I love what independent represents, and what it enables. You can market yourself, your books, and your style of writing in any way you want. You can aim for whatever goals make sense to you. Myself, I’m not really worried about making enough to replace my day job (which I do like a good deal), but a little bit of extra money a month would be awesome.

And in no way does my goal limit any one else’s. Going indie can mean anything that you want it to, and I love that.

Sherry: And you’re in this for the long haul. I understand Darkness Concealed is the first book in a series…do you have a schedule in mind for the subsequent books to come out?

Emery: I can’t speak for the third book, but the sequel I’m tentatively planning to have out around July 2015. The first draft will be my NaNoWriMo 2014 project in November, the second draft will be January/February, third draft April/May, final editing late June.

IMG_20131213_205925375Sherry: We’ll be NaNoWriMo pals, then. ;) What else are you working on? Any other current projects?

Emery: During October I want to finish the second draft (and maybe third, we’ll see) of a novella called Nikolay. It’s set in my cyberpunk dystopia/utopia setting Normalization. Everyone is required to be mentally and physically “normal”, and the technology exists to make it happen in both directions (dampening, or enhancing). In return, life is very, very easy-going.

Some people don’t like that, and deliberately break the law by disabling their cybernetic dampening and installing enhancements instead. They live a shadow life, but they get to reach whatever potential they can manage without getting caught and shipped to the asteroid belt. Nikolay is one such person.

Sherry: Sounds like you’re a project-juggler like me. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? What’s your best piece of writing advice for new writers?

Emery: Write a story you want to read. I did that, and no matter what feedback Darkness Concealed receives I will be happy with it. I’m mentally immune to the inevitable 1-star reviews.

For new writers, this is a long, hard road that there is no shortcut on. It might feel like a slog at points, but trust me when I say that the journey is just as fun as the result.

Sherry: Thanks, Emery! D. Emery Bunn’s novel Darkness Concealed releases on September 23rd, 2014. You can find out much more about the novel, Emery, and publication updates at his website, http://www.demerybunn.com. You can also catch up with him on Twitter @demerybunn.

Have a new project you’d like to talk about here? Let me know through the contact page!

The Murder Prophet Release

MP-cover-FINAL-webIt’s out!

The Murder Prophet released yesterday, and is available for instant download from Amazon.

It already has a five-star review from one of the winners of the Rafflecopter giveaway I ran a while back, which was pretty exciting to see!

There’s also still a giveaway running over on Goodreads if you’d rather try your luck there before plunking down your $3 for the ebook. ;)

The Murder Prophet Goodreads Giveaway

MP-cover-FINAL-webThe Goodreads Giveaway for print copies of The Murder Prophet is running now! Over 200 people have already entered, so you should get your name in there, too! :)

Find the giveaway here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23006511-the-murder-prophet

The ebook goes on sale this coming Monday, the 15th, and the print version will follow in October.