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x0 on 1670 people’s to-read list!

Like most independent writers who have decided to not go the traditional publishing route, I am always looking for effective ways to promote my three novels. I don’t have training in advertising, and in truth I would much rather write than sell. However, if I am going to spend some time trying to get folks to read my books, I would like that time to be as productive as possible.

goodreadsSo far, my best results seem to have come from advertising and doing give-aways on Goodreads.com. After about six months of steady effort, I am happy to see that I now have 77 ratings and 43 reviews (mostly good), and over 2700 different people have selected one or more of my books to go on their shelf of books to be read.

I have been promoting x0 for the longest, and so not surprisingly it has the most reviews and most would-be readers. It’s true that some ratings appear to be random from people who have just joined the site and haven’t read my books and I have no idea why someone would do that. (These people seem to grab about 50 random books all on the same day and often give them all the same rating, be it three stars or five.)

Others, however, have taken the trouble to provide thoughtful reviews with both compliments and criticisms and their efforts are greatly appreciated by this author and hopefully by the possible readers who they help inform.

Check here for news on z2 out in paperback and here for news on y1 making it to the semi-finals of a contest.

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in x0 elsewhere

 

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Watch what you wish for

An old friend gives me a hard, meaningful stare. It is April 2012 and I’ve just published my first book, x0 and I am telling him about the plot.  His response?  “Careful what you wish for.” Then he adds in a warning tone “Life imitates art.”

Icarus: click for print

Icarus: click for print

The visit has not gone so well and this friend is already well on his way to becoming a former friend. His odd response to my story of a telepathic loner who discovers kindred spirits through her unusual mental talent finally clinches the deal. The implication behind his warning has always irritated me. Don’t reach for your dreams or you may lose all. Our culture is full of fables of backfired wishes and the assorted smiting of those who reach too high. The very myth of Icarus warns those who would chose to take flight and touch the sun.

Not that I don’t get the “cherish what you already have” side of this issue. It’s about balance. Again. Savor the moment and reach for the stars.

So what happened once I started to reach? Did my former friend’s dire warnings come true and have I found myself fighting off strange telepathic urges, kept up in the night by the sounds of countless souls? No, I found myself joining writer’s groups on the web and reading a lot of other blogs. It turns out that, just like in real life, I don’t have all that much in common with many of the aspiring writers out there fighting for attention on all the sites. And I am not terribly compelled to join in the countless threads of conversation on every blog I visit.  I’m a loner, even online. Maybe especially online.

visit the farmlet

visit the farmlet

But it also turns out that there are folks out there with whom I share commonalities. I met a wonderful writer named Bob Craton who has penned a series about four pacifists fighting to save their home world. I met a wonderful blogger named Christi Killien who tells a fascinating tale every week about life on her self sustaining farmlet. I’ve had people review my books who seem to get what I am saying far better than people who know me well. Wahoo!

And just this past week I’ve had a reader contact me to complain about all the mistakes in x0. Mistakes? I was horrified. The book has been professionally edited and proofread within an inch of its life. Okay, she offered.  Let’s call them “puppies” so you do not get so defensive. I knew as soon as she proposed using a new word, that I had the good fortune to meet yet another kindred spirit online. She is now in process of showing me what she means, taking some of the more difficult passages in x0 and rewording with a light touch that makes the concepts clearer. I will be using her input to give x0 a gentle tweak someday soon, and the second edition will be better for it.

As she and I exchange ideas, I think of the other remarkable writers, readers, and bloggers who have touched my heart and mind since I published x0, and then I think of my former friend’s dire warning. Now I know what I wish I had said.

“Life imitates art? Really? You promise??” I am so lucky that he was right.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in telepathy

 

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Hugs and kisses?

From the bridal website Just Jen

From the bridal website Just Jen

No, the title of my first novel is notHugs and Kisses”, and the truth is that my story could probably use a few more of them. Rather, the title of this book has always been “One” and its plot has always been about the ways humans are alike. You know, at some level we all are one.  Somehow, that theme wasn’t as conducive to love stories, much less hot sex scenes, as the themes of my other novels. Hopefully a suspenseful plot makes up for the relative lack of kissing in this book.

So why isn’t it called “One”? Well, somewhere along the way I decided that “One” had been used too often for it to be my book title. One is a wonderful sounding children’s book about colors by Kathryn Otoshi. One is a metaphysical fable for adults by Richard Bach (remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull?)  1 is the exact number of people it takes to make a difference in a delightful 80 page treatise by Dan Zandra and Kobi Yamada. One is an exciting sounding new suspense thriller from J.A. Laraque. You get the idea.  And that’s not even thinking about books called “The One” which are another whole matter.

So in an attempt to be clever, I decided to call my first novel “x raised to the power of zero”. I’m a geek you see, married to a math teacher, and x raised to the power of zero is one. Isn’t that cute? What I wasn’t counting on was (a) an awful lot of people have no idea what x raised to the power of zero is and (b) you can almost never type a superscript anywhere that matters. This includes on my own blog, and anywhere at Amazon, Goodreads, and every other avenue for publicity that a beginning author can turn to. Out of necessity my book became x0 because I couldn’t get it to show up any other way.

Worse yet, at smashwords (the other main sales outlet for independent authors) it is required that the title start with a capital letter and include lower case letters, meaning that one cannot call a book either x0 or X0. Unless one contacts a smashwords rep directly and pleads, which of course, is just what I did.

So now family and friends call my book “ex oh” and strangers sometimes call it “hugs and kisses”. It gets confused with Ashley Whitaker’s book xo about a woman with Turner’s Syndrom and Aspergers and my searchers often find Jeffery Deaver’s thriller xo about a stalker instead.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson about giving a book a title with a superscript in it. But no, apparently not.  I went and called my second book “y raised to the power of one”.  Why? Because it equals y.  But that’s another story.  Please visit my other blog Fire Dancing for Fun and Profit to hear more.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in x0

 

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Chain letters for authors

People love chain letters for some reason, and last week fantasy author Jaq Hawkins tagged someone in a chain post. Her blog does look cool and you can find it here. The person that she tagged, supernatural thriller author Michael Brookes,  then had to answer the same set of questions here. And he tagged me. Who am I tagging? Luckily I found two people with seriously interesting blogs. Please meet:

Fantasy author Brian Rush (check out his blog here)  and hard core science fiction author Rob Lopez (check out his blog here)

My answers are below.

What is the title of your next book?  My next book is called z2

Where did the idea come from for the book?  It is part of a six book collection involving a family with mild superpowers.  This one advances the story of telepathic mom, and shape shifting older son, while introducing a dad who has a sort of special relationship with time.

What genre does your book fall under?  It’s a sub-genre called “magical realism”. The best way to explain it, I think, is that things happen that would be considered magic in a fantasy book but here they are explained as scientifically possible.  I reluctantly call it science fiction when I have to choose a major genre.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I don’t see these particular novels as a movies. Too many subplots.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  By book three I’ve fallen into a pretty good pattern.  A month of research, four months to write, then a month of  basic first pass editing to get it to a draft I’ll show to someone else.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever read, and I like that.  But it kind of vaguely reminds me of the Clan of the Cave Bear Series, or The Mists of Avalon. Sort of real and sort of not.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I love to travel, and each book partially takes place in a location very different from my home in Texas.  In response to other readers who are curious about the far-away, each book has a couple of dozen live links that lead to more information about books location, subject matter, and even to the music that the characters listen to. I guess you could say that each book has a sound track that reflects its main character.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in writing

 

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Come dance on Callisto

Join me in a sneak peak at another world. Callisto. Jupiter’s second largest moon. Rob Lopez writes that it is “Cold enough to suck the heat out of any pressure suit, and scoured by lethal levels of radiation every sixteen days as it orbits through Jupiter’s magnetotail. Nobody in their right mind would want to live there.”

But, in Rob’s newly created world in his latest book “Even the Dead Dance to Live”, people do live there. Read on for the rest of the book’s blurb, a little bit more about Rob, and a few questions Rob answered just for readers of this blog.

“Humanity built its first space city there. And for a while it looked like a good prospect. Mankind’s stepping stone to the stars. It’s all gone wrong though. Civilization is crumbling. And the cycle of life and death is whirling faster than was ever intended. Survival is a delicate balancing act that requires soft and careful steps.

Enter Shakespeare Cruz, a man on the run from his own dark past. He doesn’t do soft. And he’s anything but delicate. He’s got a price on his head, enemies on his tail and an ever tightening noose around his neck. He’s got a warlord who wants him to keep his appointment with death and a ghost who wants him to fulfill an impossible obligation. It’s not clear that either of them has picked the right man for the job. The time has come for him to make his choice however, and he’s got to make it fast. At stake is the soul of a city, the memory of a woman, and the life of one little girl. Only one thing is certain – it’s going to get ugly.”

About Rob Lopez:  Born in Leicester, UK, in 1966, Rob Lopez says  that he led a sheltered childhood, hermetically sealed inside his own head. He says ….. “I was vaguely aware of the 70’s – apparently a lot of stuff happened – but I was too busy reading war comics to notice….. When I left school my one qualification was daydreaming but I couldn’t seem to find a job for that. I saw an ad for a college course in electronics in a place that wasn’t Leicester. It was my first break away from home and I never looked back.”He adds that “College wasn’t a great place to learn ….[and] by then [I] had moved onto fantasy and science fiction, and, for some reason, it occurred to me that I might want to be a writer. Within seven months I was unemployed, homeless and in deep shit. I washed up in a seaside town for the winter, nursing a bleak depression and surviving on biscuits. But I carried on, walking every day to the library to work in the warm on my first novel. When spring came I gathered my saved dole money and got out of town, heading south with the aim of getting as far as I could before the money ran out. As it turned out that only took four days. The year was 1989 and the eighties were about to end, though I’d been too busy to really notice much about them. Apparently a lot of stuff happened.”He met his wife, had a daughter, finished his first novel, decided it was trash, and “decided  it was time to grow up and get a real job so I became a youth worker, then a mechanic, then a community worker, then a teaching assistant. By the time I got a job as a shop assistant the nineties were coming to an end and another empty era was nearly over. I mean, did anything happen in the nineties? I don’t know.”

“I got to work on my second novel. Then my third novel, then my fourth. Were they any good? No, but learning the hard way was a family motto by now and I gradually picked up the art of wrestling my dreams into paragraphs and tacking them together into a coherent form. My fifth novel, Even the dead dance to live, is the result, brought to you by the technology of the web and available on Kindle at Amazon here.

Rob answers a few questions just for this blog:
Your book has an attention grabbing name. Are you willing to share with those of us who haven’t read it yet where the name came from?
It’s a fairly urban novel, set as it is in a colony city, and dancing, jiving or ‘ducking and diving’ are common street terms for simply getting by in the face of things you can’t control, so I used that as a motif. I did a lot of research into conflict zones around the world, like Mogadishu, Beirut and Baghdad, and you just find these people who, no matter how bad things get, still have to get on with life. I tried to capture some of that in the novel, with different characters reacting in different ways to their environment, but all essentially seeking to do the same thing: survive. As for the part the dead play in all this, that’s a bit of sub-plot and back-story that will only make sense in the last line of the book.What’s the next project?  Will there be a more action on Callisto?
Yes, most definitely. Even as I type, there are several characters from the first novel struggling through the chaos and the anarchy, their lives on the line and with time running out. As it undoubtedly always is . When I completed the first novel I thought I had finished with Callisto, but Callisto clearly hadn’t finished with me, and there turned out to be more to tell. The next novel will probably be titled, There Are No Angels In Heaven, and it’s looking like a late 2013 completion date. But a lot can still happen, so don’t hold me to that.I read your author page at http://www.amazon.com/Rob-Lopez/e/B007SA1LIK and had to laugh. It is true that people hardly ever read these things.  You say that you aspire to write “kick-ass action with interesting characters and a little more depth”. This sounds like a very good plan.  So which of these did you think “Even The Dead Dance To Live”  achieves most effectively?  Or is there something else entirely about the book that you like better?
Oh. My. God. Someone read that! Do you ever have that moment when, after making a glib, throw-away comment, someone decides to hold you to it? No, me neither. Because I thought about every word of that statement carefully… well, sort of. But actually, it’s not so much a plan as a description of what I think  Even The Dead is. It’s certainly kick-ass. Quite violent in fact, so perhaps not for the faint hearted. The characters are certainly something I work hard on. They own the story. Science fiction is frequently accused of producing wafer-thin characters that are just cyphers for some nerdy concept, and I really, really wanted to avoid that. If it’s not really about the characters, their dilemmas, traumas, decisions, then I’m just not interested. Getting the characters right is what keeps me up at night. As for the little more depth – well, it’s not a Literary novel, but I did want more than just a series of actions. As reviewers have noted, it’s not a black and white, good guys versus bad guys book. I wanted some complexity in the character motivations, but also in the settings that they have to wade through. I don’t like the simplistic political backdrops that, again, are too frequent in sci-fi. Life’s never that simple, and I wanted to express a little of that. Not too much, as I’ve got to think about the pace. But enough to make the place feel lived in and real. As for aspiration – yes, I aim to write more like that, and to get even better at it. But that too is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. C’est la vie.

Check out Rob’s blog here.
 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in other authors

 

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Introducing y1’s kindred spirits and “The Cult of Me”

Please visit my other blog for a the start of a new series of kindred spirits, in this case other indie authors who are writing about themes explored in the novel y1. Michael Brookes leads off this series with his fascinating first novel.

Introducing y1’s kindred spirits and “The Cult of Me”.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in other authors

 

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Making a little noise

It’s been nice to make a little positive noise lately, including a couple of good new reviews on amazon.com, a nice review on The Virtual Muser eBook Review, and a short interview on Hock G. Tjoa‘s blog. Please check them out.  Both Virtual Muser and Hock G. Tjoa are very interesting places to visit as they both make a point of seeking out new authors doing something a little different. Both are good places to discover reading material you might not easily find elsewhere.

Also thanks to everyone who clicked on x0 for me at Best Indie Books.  Thanks to you I’m ranked 10th out of, well, lots of books. If you feel like doing a quick good deed, click on the link above, scroll down to x0 and just click one last time for me. Thanks!

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in x0 elsewhere

 

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