Photoshop Ate My SOUL!

Obsessive-compulsive.

I recognize this.

Addicted.

I recognize this, too.

Still, I haven’t managed to step away from Photoshop.

If I was getting ready to go to college right now, I think I would either double-major in Graphic Arts and History, or major in Graphic Arts and minor in history. I wish I had known a decade ago that I love to design things on a computer.

As I have said before: college is wasted on the young. I don’t think anyone should step foot into a college before the age of 25. You have to work for a living for at least a few years to truly appreciate college and to know what you really want to do with your life.

Anyways, time to subject you to more book covers. (Only two this time.)

Decisions-Cover-alternate-1Most of my readers preferred the road-with-lights cover. I’m still kind of “meh” about it, mostly because I liked it better without the red tint. While I was thinking I might do a different tint for each book–just to sort of tie them together stylistically–it’s not a requirement. Besides, the road picture is dark all on its own.

Here it is in its original color:

Decisions-Cover-alternate-1

Ignore the shadow on the title; it drifted when I scaled the picture down for the web. It won’t look funky in the full-size version.

If you’ve been keeping up with the saga, I decided a few months ago to break my second book into two books. This created a larger-than-usual edit of the first draft because I needed to add several more chapters to make it longer.

Last night, I finished what I think is the best work I’ve done so far for this series–and, oddly enough, it’s about Micah. (He really develops into a serious character in the second book.)

Today, I finished–more or less–my heavy revision work, and I’m now reading through the book from the beginning and smoothing out my transitions between chapters and adding anything that I’ve left out, cutting duplicate information, etc. If you want to think in terms of road construction, I’ve finished laying the gravel for the roadbed, and now I’m laying my first coat of asphalt.

To make a long story short, while I was doing my read-through this evening, I was struck by a description of Anselm:

“One thing you need to know is Anselm will not be rushed when it comes to making decisions he feels are important. He has to consider a problem from every possible angle—play the entire chess match in his head—before he will make his first move. But once he commits, he will stand by his decision and will see it through to the end.”

I read that and thought, “What about a chess board for a front cover?”

So here’s yet another cover option:

Decisions-Cover-alternate-v

I’m thinking this might be my favorite so far. (Yes, note the qualifier.)

Redo My Cover?

acceptance front coverYou know how I said I didn’t want a dark, sultry, or “vampirish” cover for my book? Yeah, well, I’m thinking I might change my cover up, just to see if I can generate more sales. While I like the cover I have, maybe a different cover would be more attractive to others.

So, here’s a possible new cover. Does it seem a bit more vampiric, romantic, and/or dark (as in theme, not in coloration).

I also rewrote the back cover blurb a little bit. What do you think? I think it’s not quite suspenseful enough; there’s a lot of action in my first book. But it doesn’t sound quite as juvenile. Despite the fact that my protagonist is a teenager, I’ve never held this series up as teen/young adult book. (I like the emerging New Adult genre, which aims for an audience 16-25 years old.)Acceptance-Alternate-Cover

 

 

“Devotion” is at Crossroads – One Book or Two?

I was driving home last night, thinking about a scene I want to add to my second book, Devotion, when I started to wonder what my word count was. I knew it had been at about 120,000 at one point, but I thought I had added some things since then.

When I got home, I checked: 150,000+ words.

Acceptance clocks in right at 109,000. For traditional publishers, this is on the high-end of the word count limit–at least for a first book. Oddly enough, though, Smashwords reports that fantasy and science fiction sell best around 120,000 words. (Most genres sell better at slightly higher word counts than the publishing industry aims for.)

Sequels and books by established authors tend to be a bit longer than the first book, so I figured that I’d aim for 120,000 words or less for Devotion. If the draft wound up at 130,000, I still had room to do some editing and get it down to 120,000.

But 150,000 words? And I need to add more? There’s no paring that down to 120,000–not without cutting out entire chapters.

So, I’m starting to entertain the idea of breaking the book into two (making my trilogy a what… quadrology? Plain old “series”?).

Pros

  1. The book, as it stands now, divides into two pretty naturally. A very big something happens in the middle, and that can become the end of Part A. And with the scenes I want to add, I can probably make both Part A and Part B about the length of my original novel.
  2. Right now, I’m cramming an entire year of Kalyn’s life into a single book and I feel that it’s rushed. My husband specifically asked for more scenes in the second half of the book because he didn’t feel like I took enough time with it.
  3. Both of my beta readers said Kalyn and Anselm’s relationship moved too fast. While I do have an overall timeline to keep, if I had an extra book, I could put in more scenes and have more interaction between them, which would make it feel like it’s developing slower.
  4. While Acceptance was all about action and getting a sense of what the vampire’s world is like, and the final book is going to be an action-packed conclusion, the middle book(s) is/are supposed to be a bit slower–a bit of a breather–and about character and relationship development. (Think The Empire Strikes Back and Luke having to take time out to train with Yoda, and Han and Leia having to take a little time to fall in love.)

    Development of characters takes time, especially when you have as many characters as I do and most of them have very long pasts (not to mention Kalyn has a lot of emotional trauma to work through; while she holds up pretty well in the first book because she has to, I don’t want to give the impression that she has no emotional reaction to any of it). Two books let me play with everyone more and reveal more.

    And while Kalyn is the protagonist of this series (look, I’m already calling it a series), I plan on introducing prequels which revolve around some of the other characters, including Rose, Isaac, and Joshua, so it’s a good thing if I make them interesting in this series so people want to know more about them.

  5. Strictly from a marketing standpoint, the more books you have, (generally) the better. If I had four books in the series, I might be willing to offer my first book for free to get people hooked. (Something that’s commonly done in self-publishing and is really helping authors get discovered.) When I only have three books, it hurts worse to make one free.

Cons

  1. I have to come up with another book title and cover design. In fact, the split may require I rethink the title/cover I do have, meaning I might need two totally new titles/covers. (You don’t know how much I agonize over picking a picture for the front of the book that captures the mood. And coming up with a title is even worse.)
  2. It might make things too slow. God knows Eclipse (third book of the Twilight series) should have been reduced to a few chapters and tacked on to either the second book or the last. It was like a Seinfeld episode–a whole lot of talking about nothing.
  3. I don’t want it to feel like I broke one solid book into two just to make more money (although if I make the first book free, I’d still only get paid for three).
  4. “Trilogy” is just such a nice, neat term. Three is such a nice number. Something just feels off about four. Not to mention I do not want people drawing comparisons between my series and Twilight just because there are four books in each.

I think I am going to try breaking Devotion up and give it to my beta readers to see if they like it better that way or not. If they think it’s too slow that way, maybe they can suggest what parts make it too slow, I can edit them out, and end up with a single (albeit still fairly hefty) sequel.

Not Working is Hard Work

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Herriman_1907-11-24_Hard_Work.pngWho knew being unemployed would make me so busy? I seem to be working as hard since I was laid-off as I was when I was putting in 40 hours a week. The house is looking better, though, and I made all the family rounds at Christmas.

I’ve also had 4 interviews in as many weeks and have another attorney who wants to schedule an interview the first or second week of January. I figure I’m getting interviews from about 10% of the resumes I send out, which is pretty high, especially in this economy. I’m also getting a lot of compliments on the depth of my skills, which is a good thing. Hopefully it will mean a job in the not-too-distant future.

Now that the holidays are over (I don’t count New Year’s, since I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything for it), I hope to be more active on my blog again. I also plan on doing more Bloodsuckers and release Volume 3 on Smashwords.

I also started a new short story recently that I think is going to turn out good. When I wrote The Last Golden Dragon, I intended for it to be part of a collection of fairy tales inspired by Ireland. (At the time, you couldn’t get a short story published on its own.) I wrote some other stories, but was never as happy with them as I was with TLGD, so the book idea languished, and I eventually published TLGD as a stand-alone short story/novella. But this new story seems like it might fit in with the theme. If I complete it, I’ll publish it individually. Maybe I will eventually get one or two more stories that fit together, and I can bundle them all together and publish them as a novel.

And I’m also getting inspired to to make my edits on Devotion, the sequel to Acceptance. I’m doing some pretty heavy revising, but the new storyline is starting to take shape in my mind.

And, at some point, I have to buckle down and write more on The Flames of Prague, which I plan on releasing late next year.

So, I have a full year planned for 2013: new job, more writing and publishing, and more blogging.

I’m Still Alive

Work is crazy as I try to finish up all my outstanding projects and teach my attorney how to do all her paperwork and electronic filing. I have a lead on a job with another local attorney, so keep your fingers crossed.

I’m also only 277 words from finishing NaNo. It’s pretty ugly, since my word count is compiled from three partial novels and one partial essay, but I’ve actually made some good progress, especially on the third Acceptance novel (Sacrifice). And I’ve definitely gotten back into the habit of writing without worrying about editing. It’s good to recenter the old inner editor from time to time. Otherwise it can get out of hand.

And I’m completely in love with Scrivener. My grandmother gave me my Christmas money early, so I’m planning on getting the license for it. Last night I uploaded The Bloodsuckers into it. Yes, I’m going to start writing those again! I think Scrivener will help me with that since I have so many files now (29 and counting!) that it’s hard to find information I need. It will also help me organize things like character profiles, etc. It’s hard enough to keep up with everything when you’re writing a novel, but it’s even harder when you only work on said novel once a week.

BTW, when I put all of The Bloodsuckers into Scrivener–including some chapters I haven’t used yet– my word count was exactly 50,000. So it’s a novella and quickly approaching novel-length.

NaNoWriMo Update

I’ve been accomplishing quite a bit of writing for my third Acceptance novel, Sacrifice. I am well ahead of schedule with a little over 32,000 words. (That count is just for the purposes of NaNo. Of that number, some 6,000 belong in the dystopian novel that I started.)

Some of you are probably wondering why I’m not writing for book two. Well, for one thing, book two is already written. I’m in the editing stage of it, and while I plan on writing a few new scenes for it, for the most part it just needs to be edited–including having the word count reduced. So that’s not a good novel to work on while during NaNo.

Before I got the idea for the dystopian novel, I had planned on adding to last year’s romance novel, The Flames of Prague. It really only needs 35,000-40,000 words added to it, so it probably wasn’t going to be a winner, but I do need to get on fleshing it out if I’m to have any hope of publishing it next fall, as I had originally planned.

I’ve really, really been pleased with Scrivener; it makes it easy to switch between chapters and even novels. And now I don’t have to hunt through my many files to find my research, pictures, notes, etc.; the research board holds it all easily. That definitely saves time.

How are your own goals coming?