NaNoWriMo Day #28: I Won!

I hit the 50,000 word mark last night and have now officially “won” NaNoWriMo. I’ve still got about 8,000 words left to write for the fourth book in The Steam and Steel Chronicles, but I’m going to push to finish it by the end of the month. I’m really loving the way this series is turning out, and hope everyone who’s read the first two books will like the second two.

I’m also going to work on a short story that will fit in between books one and two, and will focus entirely on Stig. Since book four focuses mostly on Isabell, I feel like it’s only fair!

So, I’ll be finishing up soon and will put the books away for a few weeks before I begin editing them, and hopefully will have them out in January or February. I’m aiming to release them about a month apart, and I’m 99% sure that I’ll be pricing both at 99¢ each. I feel like that’s a good/fair price for these books.

Once the series is finished, I’ll also be releasing a print version of all four books combined, and possibly a special, limited edition print book. I’ll keep everyone updated on those.

Happy Thanksgiving and a NaNoWriMo Update!

Here in the U.S., today is Thanksgiving. I’m taking a rare day off of work (I even went so far as to close my email program) and hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my husband’s family and my father. We haven’t hosted a family dinner at our house in a number of years, so it’s a nice change. And a lot less stressful than the first year we hosted Thanksgiving for twelve or thirteen people less than two weeks after we bought our house. That was quite the holiday!

So today I’m spending time cooking and writing whenever I can. My NaNoWriMo word count stands just shy of 39,000 words at the moment, and I’m hoping to push it up over 42,000 today. That will put me slightly ahead. I’m working on book four at the moment. Book three came in at around 32,000 words, though that will probably decrease during editing.

There are a lot of loose ends from the first two books that I’m tying up in the third and fourth books. I left a lot of things open-ended because I knew this was going to be a series, and I’ve had some negative feedback due to some of those things. But I promise that all of it will be tied up one way or another, and pretty much all of it will be explained in one way or another.

Book four is going to be the most adventurous book of the series, and will bring us back to some of the same places we went in book one. Characters that first appeared in books two and three will become vital parts of the resolution to the series (even if they only had cameos in earlier books).

Writing a series is a completely different animal than a stand-alone novel. Especially when they’re being written a year apart. There’s a lot to keep track of, and I think with the next series I’m planning, I’ll spend some time putting together a story bible to keep track of everything.

I guess I should spill the beans on the next series I’m planning. I was going to take some time to work on a gothic romance novel (a complete overhaul of part of a very early novel I wrote, the same one that Steam and Steel was inspired by) after I finished Steam and Steel, but now I’m thinking I’m going to write another steampunk series instead. The working title (and I’ll be coming up with something better before it’s done) is Clockwork Colony. It’s steampunk set in an entirely different world than The Steam and Steel Chronicles, and will take place in India around 1910. It’s going to require a lot more research than other books I’ve tackled, but I’m really excited about it.

This series won’t be a continuous series like Steam and Steel, but instead will be a number of books loosely set in the same world. This means I can write in that world when I want to, and when I have a story to tell, but I’ll have the flexibility to write other things in between, without worrying about alienating fans of the series. I’ll likely start working on this one in December. We’ll see.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US, and happy Thursday to everyone else!

A Rant About Self-Publishing Rip-Offs

Okay, so I was going to mostly stay out of this debate/conversation (with the exception of a brief status update on Google+), but the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off.

I guess I should start at the beginning. Back in April (?), I signed on as a private beta tester of Penguin’s Book Country site. I had been a relatively early member of Authonomy but that site had gone downhill and I was looking for somewhere new to converse with other writers, get feedback, etc. Book Country looked like the place to be.

I posted some work, got some feedback, had some conversations in the forums, and generally found it to be a decent resource. I kind of stopped using it around mid-summer, though, because I had a lot of stuff going on.

This week, Book Country did something that has made me decide to close my account. They’ve started offering self-publishing services.

Now, I self-publish and have no interest in working with a legacy publisher. Ever. And I understand that not everyone wants to take the time to learn to format their own books. That’s fine. What I take issue with, in Book Country’s case, is their complete and utter price gouging. Their pro package, which offers ebook and print book formatting and uploading and basically nothing else that you couldn’t find with some quick Google searching, is $549. That’s FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE DOLLARS. I’m sorry, but under what system is that not a total rip-off? Continue reading

Over 1,000 Sales Since February!!! (And a NaNoWriMo Update)

As of today, I have sold more than 1,000 ebooks since February! This is a big deal for me, as it means over 1,000 sales in less than 10 months, for an average of more than 100 books sold per month.

To celebrate, I’m making Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris available for free for a couple of days through Smashwords. If you haven’t started reading the series yet, here’s a great way to start! All you need to do is enter the coupon code HN48E at checkout and you’ll get it for free (the coupon code expires on the 19th, though I’m not sure at what time). All I ask in return is that after you’ve read it, leave a review on Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or elsewhere if you feel like it. I’m not asking for positive reviews, just honest ones.

It’s said that most self-published books don’t sell 100 copies total, so I feel like the fact that I’ve sold over 1,000 so far this year is a big accomplishment, and one worth celebrating. So, please, feel free to pass this coupon code along to others, or share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or wherever else you want.

I’m also at over 28,000 words on book 3 of The Steam and Steel Chronicles, which I should be finishing up either today or tomorrow. Then it’s on to book 4, which will be packed with adventure, more so than any of the other books in the series. I’m really excited about writing it!

NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 12 & Another Little Excerpt

I’m still on track for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m currently sitting between 19k and 20k words, and the goal for today is 20,000. So I’ll be there in another hour or so. I have to say, and this might seem a little pompous, but I’m LOVING this book. I love where it’s going. I love the twists the characters have thrown up in my face. I love the new character who has made himself an integral part of the plot.

Sure, there are some spots that will need quite a bit of work (or that might be cut all together) for the final draft, and it needs plenty of polishing, but overall I really love it. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 6 Update and an Excerpt!

NaNoWriMo is going really, really well this year. I’m on track with my own personal goals (2k words per day, which is a bit higher than the 1,667 words per day required to make the 50k goal), and I’m almost halfway through book three of The Steam and Steel Chronicles. I’m really, really enjoying writing this one so far. I’ve had some surprising plot twists pop up without any planning, and I’ve introduced a new main character who will be in the third and fourth books. I’ve also brought back a favorite element from the first book that will play a major role in the conclusion and solution to the books and their central arc.

So as it stands right now, at 12:12pm on Sunday, November 6, I’ve written 12,487 words. I’m going to try to get another 1-2k words done today (probably this evening), because my word schedule is a little bit hectic right now and weekends are the best time to try to build a little buffer into my word count. Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 9

I can’t believe it’s been nine months since I started self-publishing The Steam and Steel Chronicles! Sales were good this past month, better than they’ve ever been, which is nice. I seem to sell between 145 and 165 books per month without doing much marketing (other than the occasional Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ post), so that’s encouraging. It means the word is out there at least to an extent.

I’m hard at work on books three and four as part of NaNoWriMo (over 7k words into book three already), and hope to release them in January and February. I’ll be doing a tight release schedule like I did with the first two, so you won’t need to wait too long between them. I’ll also be putting together some special editions, and will probably do a contest or two surrounding the launches of the books. I’m even thinking about giving away a Kindle! (It’ll be one of the ones with offers, because while the books are selling well, they’re not selling that well. Of course, if someone wanted to sponsor an iPad giveaway, I’d be more than happy to oblige!) Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 2

Just ran into my first plot hitch, which sometimes happens when I just let the flow take over and don’t really pay attention to what I’m writing. The advantage is that sometimes I get really great ideas this way and things turn out better than I’d planned. The downside is that I don’t always know where to go with these plot threads. That’s what happened during this morning’s writing session. So I’m asking for ideas over on the NaNoWriMo forums. If you’ve read the first two books in The Steam and Steel Chronicles (or even if you haven’t), feel free to chime in over on the forum thread with ideas, or here in the comments if you’re not a NaNoWriMo participant. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in the thread for the upcoming book. And if you give me a unique idea that I use, I’ll mention you in the acknowledgements of Book 3!

I’m currently sitting at just over 4,000 words in less than 36 hours. I’m aiming to get an average of 2k words per day done, and so far I’m on track. We’ll see if I can keep it up!

NaNoWriMo 2011: T-13 Hours and Counting

NaNoWriMo 2011 starts in less than 13 hours now. I’m fairly prepared. I know my characters inside and out, because they’re Stig and Isabell from Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris and The Great Healion Race. I have no idea yet what the next two books will be called. I do know they’ll likely be the last two books in the series (though I have an idea for a short story that I may publish for free or add to one of the other books as a bonus). I was originally planning on six books, but I feel like that might end up dragging the series out for too long, and upon looking over my original outline, I can cut and combine two of the books without taking anything of substance away from the overall story.

And, to be quite honest, I’m ready to move on to other things. I love The Steam and Steel Chronicles, I love the characters, but I also have a lot of other projects that I love and want to work on.

So, I’ll leave a few tidbits about what will be happening in the next two books:

  1. A certain device from ATUAF will be making another appearance.
  2. A certain character or two from TGHR will be reappearing in a fairly major role in Book 3.
  3. Things will most definitely be resolved between Stig and Isabell.

I’ll also offer you this photo of how I always pictured Stig (sorry if you’ve always pictured him differently). If there’s ever a film version of the books (which I honestly hope there will be, and will consider producing myself at some point in the future), I’ll be lobbying hard for Grant Bowler.

Now, as for NaNoWriMo itself, I may stay up until midnight tonight to try to knock out a thousand words or so before bed. If you’re new to NaNo, you might want to check out My Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo (which was also republished on Publetariat).

I’m going to aim for 2,000 words a day so that I can take days off around Thanksgiving if I need to. And for those days when I’m just not feeling it and only manage a few hundred words. It’s always a challenge to manage a full-time writing/editing/copywriting job, plus a college-level class, plus writing at that rate, but I’ve done it before and I’m 99% sure I can do it again (you just might see me a lot less on Twitter/Google+/Facebook until December).

Also, if you want to “Buddy” me on the NaNoWriMo site, feel free to do so here.

My Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo officially starts in less than three weeks! I’ll be participating again, this time hopefully finishing up the third and fourth books of The Steam and Steel Chronicles. I feel like I’ve finally got some plot issues tied up in my head, so I can move forward with it. The thing is, when I wrote the first two books last year (for NaNoWriMo), I didn’t really have an overall story arc in mind. I just sort of threw everything in there and waited to see what stuck.

So now I’ve got all these potential plot threads that need to be tied up in the third and fourth books (I’m thinking those will finish the story, though I’m also planning a short story or two that will take place between books one and two). I’m not one to just let things go unanswered, and I want to make sure that things people liked in the first two books are featured again in the third and fourth books, without being shoehorned in. I’ve got them all figured out now, though, so I’m eager to get writing again!

But I wanted to put together a guide for surviving (and even winning) NaNoWriMo. I’m hoping it will be useful whether you’re a NaNo veteran or a first-timer. Continue reading