01/22/13

Episode 6 Launched

*** This post may contain spoilers for Episode 6 ***

So, Episode 6 of The Scourge has dropped and I am anxious to hear what readers think. Do you like or dislike the heavy action mode of this episode? The story is, inexorably, building to its climax and events will speed up now until the novel ends. Not to say there aren’t calm moments, but the tension and emotion will continue to climb now.

I spotted a minor mistake in the text. At one point, the iron-bound door leading out of the manor begins to shake. The next sentence makes it seem as if Edward is standing with his back to that door, when in fact, his back is against the servants’ door on the other side of the room. Sorry about that. I’m not sure how it got like that, but I’ll make sure it’s fixed for the print and e-book release.

Other than that, there isn’t a lot to say about this episode. Lots of action and the return of a familiar face. Please let me know what you think about this episode. It helps me better understand what my readers are feeling when they read my story.

Thanks again for the interest!

01/21/13

Serial – Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Hey everyone. I did a guest post on Lindsay Buroker’s blog and I received lots of questions about it, so I figured I would talk a little bit more about writing for Kindle Serials, here at my home blog.

First of all, I’d like to define exactly what is involved in serials, so we are all on the same page (screen, for you Kindlers).

I wrote a Kindle-Serial novel for 47North, called The Scourge. A Kindle Serial is a new type of novel that begins life as a series of episodes that are automatically (and periodically) downloaded onto Kindles (or other devices that have the Kindle app installed). A reader pays $1.99 for the novel, and one episode downloads to his or her device every two weeks until the novel is finished. The reader never has to pay for any other episodes. $1.99 covers the entire novel. You just get it a little bit at a time.

But you get the story as it’s written, so if you buy it now, you will get all episodes that have been released thus far, (we’re on episode 5 at the moment), and then you will get episode six on Tuesday, and episode 7 in two weeks, and episode 8 (the final episode) two weeks after that. Confused yet?

Here’s a good example: Let’s say you love The Walking Dead television series (guilty). So you decide you are going to buy the whole season 1. But let’s pretend season 1 is still airing. They are still showing episodes every week and the season isn’t finished. If it were a Kindle Serial, you would get every episode that has already aired, then you would start receiving each new episode at the same time as everyone else. Until the season is over. But you never have to pay for any other episode in Season 1 again. Make sense?

Once all the serial episodes are delivered (the novel is finished) it is no longer a Kindle Serial. 47North turns it into a standard property, which means The Scourge gets an ebook version, a print version, and an audiobook version, and the price goes up. So, in our analogy above, the entire season 1 of The Walking Dead  is over (all episodes have been aired), so it gets turned into a box set and you can watch it as often as you like. But unlike a box set of a tv show, if you paid for the serial as it was being written, you end up with all the episodes as an ebook and you don’t have to pay for the “box set”. Lucky you. Unless you want a print version or audiobook version of the “box set” in which case you would end this metaphor immediately.

So, that’s how the Kindle Serials work. Now, to answer a few other questions I’ve gotten concerning serials:

1. Yes, I have a standard publishing contract with 47North. They created the cover for me, provide copy editing, proofreading and some editorial direction. I received an advance for the book and will get royalties when the advance earns out. (Which it pretty much has already. Yay me.)

2. Yes, The price of the book as a Kindle Serial is fairly low. But the exposure I receive from Amazon is priceless. I am selling far more books with this title than I ever have with my independent title, and I get far more exposure. And, when it becomes a standard property of 47North, the price goes up. Win.

3. Yes, writing this way is difficult. There are many, many challenges, but there are also many, many rewards. I will post on those pros and cons in a couple of days.

4. Yes, working with 47North and Amazon Publishing is a joy. They allow me input into a lot of areas that other publishers never would. What sort of areas? Well, massive input into the what the cover will look like. Input into the marketing blurbs (including bio, synopsis, back cover blurb, and to whom it should be marketed). Their royalties are better than standard publisher royalties, and they pay on a quarterly basis (with ‘standard’ publishers you are lucky if you get paid every six months). And they know how to get things done quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.

5. Yes, you receive email notification from Amazon when a new episode is available. And no, you don’t have a ton of little episodes cluttering up your Kindle. It is always just one book, it just grows bigger with each episode. Your place is still marked in the book, but you just have more to read. And your percentage read goes down.

Got questions on Kindle Serials or writing serials? Please let me know in the comments. This is a fascinating way to write and I enjoy talking about it.

That’s it for now. I’ll have an Episode 6 post a little later this week (Episode 6 comes out on Tuesday, by the way), then will post more about serials after that. Thanks for reading!

 

 

01/14/13

Guest Post on Lindsay Buroker’s Blog

Hello fellow humans (you zombies can listen in too)!

The Emperor’s Edge
By Lindsay Buroker. Free!

Lindsay Buroker, fantasy writer extraordinaire, has been kind enough to let me post on her blog. She has asked nothing in return, but I feel obliged to encourage you to go to her site and download her first novel, The Emperor’s Edgefor free. Yes, absolutely free, because that’s how she rolls.

She’s one of those West Coast types, so my post won’t be up until about noon, but don’t let that stop you from checking out her blog at any point. It truly is an astounding collection of tips for writer’s, self-publishing and marketing advice, and essays on current trends in publishing. Oh, and she talks about her fantasy novels as well. Please go check out her blog. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Unless you’re a ninny.

01/11/13

Episode 5 Already?

Only three more episodes of The Scourge. Is it really almost over? I’m just getting used to this serials lifestyle. It can’t stop now! Well, if all works out, it won’t. But this first book of The Scourge has been an absolute joy to write. I have talked with many of The Scourge’s readers, and their input and suggestions have been invaluable. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to receive positive feedback while the story progresses. I can’t imagine writing any other way now.

So, on to today’s topic!

Cannons.

Sir Thomas’s gun collection would have been priceless in his day, and unimaginably precious today. Culverins, hand-cannons, fire-lances — all of these are rare remnants from the shaky first steps of firearms history in Europe. Whatever you feel about guns today (and being from Sandy Hook, I have a lot of opinions on the matter), they are a part of history. And they would have been a growing part of life for 14th century warriors. I figured I would paste a few images from the web that might give you a better idea of what these crude cannons looked like.

A 14th Century Hand Cannon. With weird little white hand on the barrel. Odd.

Above is sort of what I pictured for the Spanish hand cannon that the Moor, Zhuri, gave to Sir Thomas.  A metal cylinder fitted onto a wooden “stock.” It’s elegant but lethal looking. Just the fashion statement for the 14th century soldier looking to accessorize. And make holes in people.

 

A late 14th century hand bombard. That barrel is bigger than Tristan’s mouth.

The weapon above is different than the hand cannon. It’s a bombard. Note the shorter cylinder and longer wooden ‘stock.’ Also note the heavy counterweight on the end of the stock and the sheer “punch-you-in-the-faceness” of this weapon, which leads us to:

 

A ten-shot hand bombard. ’nuff said.

Yeah. Nothing says goodbye quite like ten slugs of iron blasting from one barrel. As Scarface once opined, “Say hallo to my little friend.”

You can see why Tristan falls in love with this weapon. How can you not? This would be an invaluable asset when confronted by a swarm of medieval zombies, no? Not saying such a situation occurs in the book. Just pointing out that it would be useful. That’s all. But if such a situation *did* arise, I’m sure it would be Tristan holding this masterpiece. ;)

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed episode 5. Looking forward to your thoughts on the last three episodes.