Tag Archives: Karia’s Path

About that gap in posting …

24 Sep
Writing

Sometimes this is what writing feels like. (Photo courtesy of Bundesarchive)

Yes, I’m back.

I did not just stop posting. And I certainly didn’t give up on writing. I’ve been writing and editing for something like a thousand years (at least it feels that way sometimes), so I’m not about to stop now. But for about three months, I wasn’t posting, I wasn’t writing fiction, and none of my books were available.

What happened?

Let me start at the beginning.

It was brought to my attention that at least one “scene” in The Hall of the Prophetess crossed a line I did not want to cross. I was trying to show the strength of Karia’s character. Whether I succeeded or not, I went too far.

Of course, the scene did not occur in a vacuum. I needed to re-evaluate the whole of the third book of the series The Day Magic Died. And of course, that meant I needed to think through the entire series. In addition, I wanted to re-evaluate my other series as well, the Nascent Payne mysteries.

So I withdrew all my books from sale. (I guess that’s one good thing about independent publishing – I get to make decisions like that.) Then I started through the books one at a time.

Books 1 and 2, The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path, were pretty much the way I wanted them. Oh, I found just a couple of things like this, from Chapter 52 of The House in the Old Wood:

No matter how much padding there is, it’s not possible to sleep in the back of a moving wagon. And Karia’s parents did not have a lot of padding. (I’m not sure how much good it would have done to pad her parents.)

But after fixing literally two or three goofs like that, those two books seemed ready to be re-released.

Then I hit Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess. Oh my. Besides the issue I mentioned earlier, I found myriad problems. I mean, the spelling, grammar and punctuation were good. But beyond that? Ugh.

However, rolling on through Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy, and the unreleased draft of Book 5, The White-Silver House, my discouragement turned to encouragement. I now knew why I was having such trouble completing the fifth and final book.

I really messed up in Book 3.

And I learned an important lesson:

Don’t rush.

I rushed to complete Book 3 and get it out, so I could promote the series by offering Book 1 free just before a Christmas season. It worked in the short run: I saw my greatest sales in the next couple of months.

But Book 3, I now see, is where the wheels came off. Many of the problems with Book 5 stem from decisions I rushed in Book 3. For example:

  • In the first draft of Book 3, two of the important characters, Ni’ika and Tika, were basically the same person. I rushed to differentiate them, and they shifted more toward caricature than character. That error becomes quite an issue in Book 5 (though I can’t really elaborate without spoilers – sorry!).
  • The central dialog in Book 3 takes place between Ni’ika and Karia, and in the first draft, it was too clear. It did not make sense that Ni’ika, a woman who looks down on other races, would know the language of those other races well. I rewrote her dialog … and made it an absolute chore to read. In my fourth decade as a writer and editor, I know that if readers hit something that’s hard to read, they stop. And somehow, in my rush, I forgot. It’s bad enough that this derails readers. But it also obscures some of the important things Ni’ika says in Book 3, and that can damage how readers understand Book 5. (Yeah, sorry, I can’t explain that either.)
  • My mischaracterization of those two key people in Book 3, Ni’ika and Tika, makes it difficult to create a believable relationship arc for Karia with each of them. That’s not evident in Book 3, and in my rush I missed that. But it became quite problematic by Book 5. (Slight spoiler there, but you probably missed it, so I won’t say anything.)

However, perhaps the most important mistake had little to do with characters and everything to do with the storyline. The story turns in Book 3, and it should set us on course for Book 5. But it’s ever so slightly off course. At first – and in fact, all the way through Book 4 – that wasn’t much of a problem.

But finishing a series this long is sort of like steering a ship across the ocean. A difference of one or two degrees makes a big difference where you end up. And I was in such a rush to get Book 3 out, I released it before I knew precisely where Book 5 was going.

I’ve mentioned before that I wrote the ending of the series before I completed the first book, so I’d know where I was taking you. And I’ve told you the ending changed over time. I rewrote it several times as the story twisted and turned.

Yet in my rush to get Book 3 released, I wrapped up the writing and editing before I went back to the ending. By the time I got to the actual ending in Book 5, there were some fissures in the storyline. And now I see where those cracks and gaps began: in Book 3.

So what does all of this mean?

It means I need to take Book 3 apart and put it back together again. Then I’ll need to make sure Book 4 reflects the changes in Book 3. And after that, I can work through the fifth and final book.

That’s going to take some time. But in the end, the series will be far better because of it.

Five (or ten) ways to help an author succeed

24 Nov
Karia's Path

Book 2: Only five reviews, and none marked “helpful” … You can help …


If you’ve found an author whose books you like, you probably want to read more books by them. And if you want to read more books by them, you may need to help them succeed. But how? It’s actually quite easy to help, and not that hard to do a little extra …

1. Show your friends. It’s great to tell your friends about an author you’ve found or a book you’ve read. Please keep doing that! But if you really want an author to succeed, you might want to take it a step farther, and show your friends why you like the books or author. You can do that by sharing your books with them. You know how to do that with a paperback. But did you know you can also share most independently published ebooks? That’s because authors like me want you to be able to share our work. We’re hoping to build a bigger audience. So go ahead. Of course, you can also buy the books for your friends. That’s great, and greatly appreciated. Just don’t feel like you have to.

2. Like the author’s Facebook page and/or follow their Twitter feed, and share/like/comment/retweet. Many authors – including me – have a blog and a presence on Facebook, and perhaps a Twitter feed or other social media. You can help us by liking posts, sharing them, commenting, retweeting, etc. Those actions all make the posts more visible. Want to really help by taking it a step farther? Go to their Facebook page or blog, and seek out posts you would want to share. Do it regularly. Probably not every hour. Perhaps not even daily. But once a week or so would help. Here’s the Facebook page for my series, The Day Magic Died.

The sort-of Murder of Fiona Galloway

Just one review so far, and I know three whole people have read it!

3. Review their books. I encourage you to write a helpful review – one that potential readers will find useful. Reviews on Amazon are great, but some people don’t trust them. Goodreads is another great place to post reviews. You probably should not post the same thing in both places, but you can follow the same helpful guidelines. If you really want to help, go the extra mile by reviewing more of their books. Like many authors, I am getting several reviews on the first book of my series, but few on the rest. Have you read them? Then please review them. Here are links so you can review Karia’s Path, The Hall of the Prophetess, The Dwarf’s Legacy, and my first Nascent Payne mystery, The sort-of Murder of Fiona Galloway.

4. “Vote up” helpful reviews. Amazon displays “the most helpful” reviews first. How does Amazon know which are the most helpful? By the number of people who have voted to designate a review helpful or unhelpful. Please take note that Amazon is not asking you if you like a review or if you agree with it. They’re asking if it’s helpful. So I’m not asking you to mark favorable reviews as helpful or unfavorable reviews as unhelpful. Simply look at the reviews for an author’s books, and if one or more of them provide enough information to help you make a good decision on whether to purchase, mark it or them as helpful. Want to do more? Mark reviews you don’t think are helpful as unhelpful. (I should add … please do not abuse this system to “vote up” good reviews and “vote down” bad ones. Or vice-versa, as another author did to me. Too bad this power is not given just to grown-ups.) You can use the links above to see reviews for my books, and find the buttons to mark them helpful or unhelpful.

5. Contact the author. So maybe you just want to say you liked the book. Or you have questions. Perhaps you spotted a typo that needs to be fixed. Authors love to hear from readers. Most authors hear from readers far less than you might think. And most authors are far more open to constructive criticism than you might think, too. That, by the way, is how you can really help. If you spot what you think is a problem in a book or a series, and you really want to help, speak up. Here’s a way to contact me.

5 tips for writing a good review

21 Nov

Want to know how to write a good book review?

I don’t mean a favorable review. That’s easy. Just gush.

I mean a useful review. One that will help other readers decide if a book is worth their time and money. Well, here are five tips – tips I hope you’ll put to good use writing reviews for my books …

  1. What books is it like? One of the most helpful lines in any review goes like this: “If you liked [insert name of popular book here], you’ll like this book.” It gives people something they can easily compare the book to. It’s even better if you can choose two or three books, and perhaps even say why or how the books are similar. Of course, if you didn’t like the book, you can always compare it to this book.
  2. What specifically did you like? (Or not.) Often there is one thing that really stands out to you as a reader. Tell people what that was – without spoilers, of course. And make sure you tell them why it stood out so much, for the good or the bad. If more than one thing stood out, well, you have that much more to say.
  3. What one character was memorable to you? Perhaps it was someone you loved. Maybe it was someone you hated. It could have been someone who made you laugh. Or someone who made you cry. It might be someone you identified with. Or on the bad side, it might have been someone completely flat. Tell potential readers about that person – again, without spoilers – and why that character stood out.
  4. Was there a line you loved (or hated)? Quote a memorable line from the book. It might have been dialog, or description. It could be a chunk of dialog. (Yes, that’s legal. It doesn’t violate copyright to quote from a book in a review of the book. That’s considered “fair use.”) You might need to give some context so it makes sense, but often, if the line is truly memorable (or truly awful), you won’t need to.
  5. What makes this story unique? People don’t want to read the same old story. They’re looking for something new and interesting. What can you tell people about the story that will tell them this is worth their time (or not worth their time), without giving away the story? What captured your interest? What held your interest — or sent you running from the room?

Now, if you’ve read any of my books, would you please write a useful review? Thanks!

The House in the Old WoodKaria's Path 

Price cut for Book 3

24 Oct


I’m sure you saw this coming …

The price for The Hall of the Prophetess, the third book in the series The Day Magic Died, has been slashed.

Just like the first two books, The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path, the list price for the paperback version of The Hall of the Prophetess is now $9.99, though you might find Amazon discounts that.

And just like Karia’s Path, the price for the Kindle version has been cut to $4.99.

Ger your copy of The Hall of the Prophetess.

What’s Book 5 about?

23 Oct

The White-Silver HouseYou’ve seen the new and improved first chapter for Book 5, The White-Silver House. But what is the book about? Here’s the back cover text:

From the day magic entered her life, Karia’s goal has been to put an end to magic. But she didn’t know how.

Now she has a plan. She’s started working on it. She knows her next step. And she has a pretty good idea how it ends.

But the next step is not going to be easy – if it’s even possible. And in the end, does she have to die? Is there another way? A way to remove the malignancy from magic? Or a way to neutralize magic, without Karia dying?

Perhaps there are answers in the strange properties of white silver.

With the fifth book coming, it’s a good time to grab any of the other books you haven’t read yet.

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