Kindle Sale

Starting today, 8/1, the Kindle version of Echoes of the Forgotten is on sale for only $0.99. This great deal will end 8/8, so grab a copy at this low price while you can.

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Published Again

Yes!!! My book, Echoes of the Forgotten, is now published… again. Edition 2. First Edition, you will forever be treasured. I mean, I do still have 30+ sitting around in boxes. I ordered too many for an event, so yeah… a lot of those will be used for Goodreads Giveaways and/or future events.

Anyway, with the exception of a couple of corrected typos that were missed before, the content is identical to the original 1st edition publication. That said, the trim size is slightly smaller, the interior spacing and page numbering is different, and the cover is now matted instead of glossy (the actual image is the same, minus the SBP publishing logo). Unfortunately, the front/back cover bleed a little bit onto the spine, because I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the size properly to fit the new trim. I think that’s mostly because I don’t have the right software to make those adjustments. Oh wellyes, it’s noticeable but I don’t think it really detracts that much from the overall cover. I also added a series page and a number on the spine. It’s 24 pages longer, but again, that’s because of formatting changesnot additional content.

I kept the paperback price the same as before: $14.95, but I dropped the Kindle price by a dollar down to $2.99. The e-book is also currently enrolled in Kindle Select, so you can read it for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Side note, the Kindle conversion did some weird things with the interior formatting, but I’m 99.9% sure I fixed all the major issues. As it’s my 1st time doing self-publication, I’m still learning (clearly).

Something really cool: I contacted CreateSpace customer service, and they were able to get the reviews from my 1st edition linked to my 2nd edition. So, yes, I’m glad I did not lose those since as a whole, they were very positive.

Anyway, if you read the book when it was originally published and you enjoyed it, please spread the word that it is available again. On the other hand, if you didn’t buy the book when it was available before, now is the perfect time.

Thanks!

International Books Awards 2017

Some good news! A few months ago, I entered my novel in a contest. At the time, Sarah Book Publishing was still open and the then director, Roger Young, suggested that we (the authors) enter the contest. I wasn’t completely sure whether or not I wanted to, but ultimately decided to go for it. And now, I have the results:

Echoes of the Forgotten is an Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Fantasy category of the 2017 International Book Awards.

 

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Pretty awesome, huh? The winner has already been chosen, but I am one of 4 finalists in my category. There were over 1500 total entries received for the entire contest. Obviously, those were not all fantasy novels, but still… a decent number of overall entries.

Anyway, I’m excited. It means, I get to put a fancy Finalist Sticker on my book. Plus, I am now able to advertise it as an award winner. So, there’s that too.

As I said in my last post, I have officially decided to self-publish Echoes of the Forgotten. It has been out of print for 2 months now, which makes me sad, but it should be available for purchase again soon. Hopefully, in the next 1 – 3 weeks. I am in the proofing phase right now. I will post an update when it goes live.

Lastly, as I often do, I would like to thank all of my readers for their support. There may not be many of you (yet), but your kind words have meant the world to me. Thank you.

Book Festival, Plus A Short Writing Update

Well, it’s been way too long since I posted anything. Partly, because I’ve been trying to devote much of my free time to writing my novels (yes, that’s intentionally plural). It’s also because I’m an entertainment junkie – TV shows, movies, video games, books, etc. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but I keep mentioning it because it’s true. Plus, there’s the fact that I have a family, which includes a young child. And then there are some not so fun things causing distraction, which I won’t get into here.

So, I realized recently that I never talked about my event at the San Antonio Book Festival, which took place on April 8th. I only have one picture from it, which can be seen here:

 

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That’s my book, Echoes of the Forgotten, in the middle. It is surrounded by the amazing works of other talented local sci-fi/fantasy authors (C.M. Bratton, Patrick Neal, A. Katie Rose, Andrea Stehle, and John Payne).

 

It was only my 2nd event as an author. At my first event, which took place in November 2016, I sold 6 books. During this one, I sold 3. So, financially speaking, not so successful. BUT, from an experience point of view, I consider both events (especially this one) a win.

The banner in the middle that says SASFA stands for San Antonio Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors. I recently met and joined up with them. I’m a newbie with only 1 published work while the rest of them have at least 4 books. One of them even has around 20 or so published books. Wow! – That’s hard for me to imagine. Every one of them has been extremely helpful and welcoming, and I look forward to possibly doing future events with them.

But, as I was saying… valuable experience. I was able to pitch my book to a lot of people, even if they didn’t buy it. Hopefully, I planted a few seeds, at least. I started the event very nervous and after we were more than halfway through and I had only sold 2 books, I started to freak out a little bit. What was it about my book or my pitch that didn’t grab people? Authors are often an insecure bunch (I most certainly am).

Ultimately, I think it just boils down to math. By that, I mean, a certain number of people with a certain set of interests needed to see my book and they needed to have enough disposable income to take a risk on my book. Let’s all be honest. An unknown author with an unknown book is a risk. Time is valuable. Unlike watching a two hour movie, a book requires a significant investment of time. Reading my book to completion? I don’t know… maybe 7 or 8 hours. Maybe more. Depends how fast you read. Plus, it’s only the 1st in a series that hasn’t yet finished. So, I get it. I consider the same factors when debating whether or not to drop my hard-earned cash.

So, regardless of sales, I had fun and I learned something. And at the end of the day, I think that’s what matters.

Quick update before I go: Yes, I am making progress on the sequel to Echoes of the Forgotten. The progress continues to be slower than I’d like, but it’s still progress. I’m sitting at nearly 60,000 words on the 1st draft – around the halfway point, maybe slightly over. Then, as I alluded to earlier, I’m investing time in a 2nd project. It’s too early for me to discuss much. I’m only 6k into it, but it will be a significantly shorter novel, as it’s being written for a young adult audience (though it could still appeal to adults, as many young adult books do). The only thing I will say about it is this: Think a combination of The Guild (Felicia Day’s web series), Shaun of the Dead, The Last Starfighter, and Ready Player One. I’m enjoying writing it so far. Hopefully, that continues.

Also, Echoes of the Forgotten is still in transition after my publisher’s closure. I’m planning to self-publish it soon. I will post an update once it’s available for purchase again.

Publisher Closing

So, I’ve been putting off posting this, but it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid. On March 31st, my publisher (Sarah Book Publishing) will permanently close. I only found out last week, so the wound is still fresh, but I’m trying to be optimistic. I always knew this was a possibility when I signed the contract. Small Presses close with great frequency. It’s an expensive business with a lot of risk. I totally understand.

All publishing rights will return to me following the closure. For now, I’m pondering what route to take next. I could quickly get it back in print through self-publishing. At the moment, this is where I’m leaning. The book is already edited. I’m happy with the existing cover. If I do that, I am probably committing the entire trilogy to self-publication. The reason being, most publishers don’t re-publish your self-published books unless you’ve had enormous success with sales. Luckily, going Indie is a viable option nowadays. In many ways, being with a small press is like self-publishing, just without the upfront costs. I won’t have those costs for this book, but I would for the following books (mainly cover and editing–because as much as I’d like to say I can edit it fully by myself, I can’t).

There’s also the matter of who to self-publish with. There are pros and cons with every company. I’m mostly looking at CreateSpace and IngramSpark. CreateSpace seems to be the most popular service, due in large part to how user friendly it is. That said, IngramSpark seems to have some nice advantages in terms of distribution and print quality, plus they give a hardback option. Technically, I could use both and publish the hardback with one and the softcover/ebook with the other. (Forgive me, while I think out loud.)

Luckily, if I do commit this series to self-publication, I know people who can help me. I recently joined up with a group called SASFA (San Antonio Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors) and most of the members (if not all) have experience with self-publishing. So, that’s a huge plus. Support groups are essential.

The other option would be trying to submit again to agents and/or publishers who don’t require agents. I did about 50 submissions before I got accepted with Sarah Book Publishing. That’s a relatively small number. That said, I could submit to another 50 (or even 100) and find nothing but rejection again. Authors must have thick skins, which I have only somewhat developed, but even so, if I get rejected that many times, I will inevitably turn to self-publication anyway.

I want to finish this story, and I want it to be available for anyone to read who wants to read it. Even if I only have a small audience of a hundred or so readers, I want them to be able to finish the story. Beyond that, I want to finish the story for me. These characters are in my head and I need resolution for them and their plight. I know any writers out there who read this totally understand what I mean. Even if your story never sees the light of day, it is worth telling, even if only for yourself (and maybe a few other lucky people who get to read it). Do I hope that one day my audience of 100+ turns into thousands? Of course I do, but I don’t see that happening overnight (or even in a year)

Anyway, that’s it. I just wanted to share this news and my thoughts. I also wanted to tell my readers that this is not the end of the journey. It’s still only the beginning. As I said, publishers close down all the time. I have to accept what’s happened and move on. There’s a lot of options out there. I just need to make a decision.

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Goodreads      –      Cover art by Will Staehle

 

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor – February 24th, 2015

Source: Purchase (Paperback)

Rating: 5/5

Summary

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Review

So, the last review I posted was also a book by V.E. Schwab. Since I’m currently reading the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, it’s likely that I will post at least 3 reviews in a row for books by this author. What can I say? I like her style. I am officially calling myself a fan.

I thought A Darker Shade of Magic was even more of a page turner than Vicious. I was instantly sucked into Schwab’s world of multiple Londons.  Keep in mind, that although this one city shares the same name, the worlds are very different. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of mutli-verses/different dimensions, so Schwab’s creation is similar to that concept. Only, what makes it unique (well, one of the things) is that people – not everyone, but a lot – know about these different Londons. There was a time when the worlds were open to each other and people could cross freely. That changed because of certain dangers involving magic and war and whatnot. Another note in terms of setting: the author doesn’t come right out and say the time period, but George III is mentioned as the king of Grey London, so I assume late 1700’s / early 1800’s.

Kell, who is my favorite character of the series (so far, at least), is one of two people who can travel between the worlds. You get the sense that he is intelligent and powerful, but flawed – as the best characters often are. He’s not supposed to smuggle things between worlds, but he does. As a result, he ends up smuggling something he shouldn’t, which kick starts the plot.

While talking about Kell, it is a necessity to mention his coat. It is a fascinating creation that can be turned inside-out again and again and again to show different looks. It allows him to blend in during his travels. It also helps him hide things. The way the author describes and utilizes the coat throughout the novel is fascinating.

Speaking of outfits, the other major protagonist is a cross-dressing thief/pirate named Lila (Delilah Bard). She comes from Grey London, which is the London without magic – essentially the world we know. She dresses as a man for multiple reasons, partly to conceal her identity when performing her illegal feats, partly because of how she is viewed as a woman within the culture, and partly because she seems to prefer the clothes. She quickly proves that she is not a character to be taken lightly. Lila may not have magic at her disposal, but she still manages to pull some fast ones on Kell (and other magic users). She is confident, sharp-tongued, and a skilled fighter. By the end of the novel, I found myself enjoying her almost as much as Kell. Almost.

Holland, the other traveler, is pretty much the opposite of Kell. He’s a punk. That said, I also felt kind of sorry for him.

As for the antagonists of the story… it’s kind of complex, because there’s people, but magic itself is also an antagonistic entity. I’m not going to get specific, but let’s just say, the opposing forces are scary. Not in a horror movie kind of way, but they are powerful and vile. They present a real threat to Kell and Lila. You can feel the dread when the final confrontation approaches.

Well, I think that’s about all I’m going to say about this book, because – as usual – I don’t want to spoil anything. I really enjoyed it, even more than Vicious, which is quite a feet, since that was my favorite read of 2016. I know I’ve only read 2 of Schwab’s books, but I find myself comparing her style to Neil Gaiman’s, who has been one of my favorite authors for about 15 years. I think I even read a similar comparison somewhere. Anyway, I highly recommend this one.

Book Review: Vicious

 

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Goodreads      –     Cover art by Victo Ngai

 

Title: Vicious

Author: V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor – September 24th, 2013

Source: Purchase (E-Book)

Rating: 5/5

Summary

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Review

Okay, so I am late posting this review, and I don’t know why because I loved this book. Vicious was probably my favorite read of 2016. Of course, I’m late to the party; it was released in 2013. Whoops. Why am I constantly discovering these amazing books years after they come out? I don’t know. It happens. As the saying goes: better late than never.

First off, here’s the thing about this book. With the exception of Sydney—and maybe Mitch—the characters are kind of despicable. You’re probably not going to like them. So, if you absolutely have to like the main characters in the novels you read, then this may not be the book for you. That said, I found both Victor and Eli (though Victor more-so) fascinating.

I feel like this novel was made for people who often find the comic book villain to be more interesting than the hero. That isn’t exactly me, but I would say I find the villains interesting when they are done right. And boy, does V.E. Schwab do them right. This book is basically the origin story of two different supervillains, but like all great villains, neither one really sees himself as a bad guy.

Themes of revenge, jealously, and friendship are prevalent throughout. While I was reading this novel, I found myself thinking a lot about the John Knowles literary classic, A Separate Peace. If Knowles’ story had supernatural elements to it and took place in the 21st century, the result may have been similar to Vicious. Agree or disagree, but if you’ve read both books, you can probably at least see where I’m coming from.

I don’t want to delve deeper into the plot, because I feel like I’m already bordering on spoilers as it is. I’ll just say a few more things:

1) The narrative does not unfold chronologically. This could have made things confusing, if not handled correctly. Luckily, Schwab is a master. I personally felt her narrative method enhanced the experience.

2) I liked the powers used in the novel and the explanation for how people get them.

3) I found both the journey and the ending to be satisfying.

If you like comic book stories and you think supervillains make for an interesting character study, then this book is for you.

10 Reviews

About 30 minutes ago, I opened up the page for my novel, Echoes of the Forgotten, on Amazon and noticed I now have 10 reviews. Yay! Double digits! It’s been almost 9 months since my book released – hard to believe it’s been that long. These reviews are very important to me, and I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write something, no matter how short.

Thank you!

Here’s the current rating breakdown.

5 Star = 6 Ratings

4 Star = 3 Ratings

3 Star – 1 Rating

Average 4.5 / 5

If you want to read them yourself, you can do so here.

Again – Thank you!

New Year

So, let’s just pretend it hasn’t been over a month since I last posted something on here (okay… so in other words: strike that opening sentence from your memory… is it gone? Yes? Good).

So, it’s a New Year. Stating the obvious… I Know. We’re 4 days into it. Nothing earth shattering has happened yet as far as I can tell. I tend to agree with the general consensus that 2016 was rough in a lot of ways. BUT… on a personal level, it was also fantastic. I mean, I published my first novel. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is. Sure, I didn’t snag a contract with a major publishing house, but that’s okay. I’m happy with Sarah Book Publishing, and I am grateful to them for taking a chance on me. Every author has to start somewhere and for now… SBP is my home.

I’ve read that it takes at least a decade for an author to become an “overnight success.” So, I have 8 months down… 9 years, 4 months to go. 2026 – I’m looking at you. Through a crystal ball. A really hazy one, though, where I can’t actually see anything.

I’m still toiling away on Book 2. Some days/weeks/months are good… some not so good. I ended the year at 42,000 words (143 pages), which is way below the goal I was shooting for. I was hoping to reach at least 60k. Oh well. Considering it took me around a decade of on again/off again writing to complete the first book, 40,000 words in a year isn’t too bad. I think I wrote the first two or three chapters in 2015, but hey… most of it was written in 2016. I still hope to have a first draft done by May – a daunting task for this slow writer. We’ll see. #Challenging (but not impossible)

It doesn’t help that I’m an entertainment junkie. I love video games, movies, TV shows, and (of course) books. I’ve had to cut some TV shows out of my line up, because my list was just getting ridiculous (Sorry: How to Get Away with Murder, Last Man on Earth, and Once Upon a Time… plus probably one or two more I’m forgetting).

I’ve also told Goodreads that I will read 40 books this year. However, that includes audiobooks. So, I only have to *read* probably around 25 books. Sure, I did less than that in 2016, but it’s called a Reading Challenge for a reason. I can’t make it too easy on myself.

Anyway, I need to go. But the stream of consciousness style writing I just did was fun. I’ll have to do it again sometime. Remember, be good to each other. Let 2017 be the year of love.

Also, let it be the year you buy (and read) my book. That’s also a good idea.