At Long Last, A New Release!

Well, it’s been a while coming, hasn’t it?  You may remember my progress bar, showing Redeemer of the Realm coming down the pike almost a year ago.

The bad news is, it did take a while!  The good news is, it’s finally here.  :)  And the third book in the Ravanmark Saga, Trials of the Redeemer, isn’t far behind.

So here it is, Book Two of the Ravanmark Saga, available in paperback and ebook.  Right now it’s only on Amazon and Smashwords–looking for Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or iTunes?  They are in progress, and should be showing up any day!  I encourage you to follow my Facebook page, where I’ll be posting updates as the book comes online at the various outlets.

Redeemer of the Realm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danger closes on every side,
And the world awaits a legendary hero… 

Just when Alannys thought she had earned a little peace at the Great Palace, Lord Malrec and his Dark Alliance stormed Dorramon’s coronation and declared war on the new king. She’s known for a while that Dorramon has some bad news for her, but she’s unprepared for just how bad.

But it’s the midnight attempt on her life that spurs her to action–Ravanmark is imploding around her, and she can’t just sit and watch it happen.

She knows she caused it, after all.

And what of the prophesied savior, the legendary Redeemer? Time is growing short, and the songs of the Redeemer have yet to be found. Alannys will have to take her fight for Ravanmark’s future across the country on her own, while Lord Malrec continues his work on the magical device that will enable him to safely hold her prisoner, and use her as a weapon to destroy the king she loves.

Join Alannys and her friends again as they continue their epic fight for the kingdom of Ravanmark–because sometimes ‘happily ever after’ has to wait.

The Music Mage is a Hot New Release!

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I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to the Amazon Hot New Releases list for Epic Fantasy, where you will find The Music Mage currently occupying spot number 47.  This is a great achievement for a book that’s been out less than 24 hours!  Thanks everyone for your support, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what you thought of the story!

 

New Release: The Music Mage!

I am thrilled to announce that the first book in the Ravanmark Saga, The Music Mage, is now available!

Art is power,
Music is magic,
And people are not what they seem.

When powerful and charismatic painter Lord Malrec brings newly-unemployed music teacher Alannys Gale to Ravanmark, it seems to be the answer to her prayers.

But Lord Malrec has plans for her…plans that may not be as noble as they appear. A plot unfolds in darkness against the powerful and secretive royal family, and her newfound power may be the key to its execution.
But can she refuse?

And can she survive the consequences if she does?

In a world with magic whose true power is shrouded in the mists of time, and whose people are not always what they seem, Alannys must find the strength and the courage to harness her power and shape her own destiny as the Music Mage.

You can find it live right now in these places, although more links are coming up in more stores all the time:

Amazon–Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Music-Mage-Ravanmark-Saga-ebook/dp/B009Y9OEDM

Amazon–Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Music-Mage-Book-Ravanmark-Saga/dp/0615719686/

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/249400

(As an aside, please forgive the missing pictures in the sidebar–I’m having some server difficulties I’m working on right now)

Separating Indie-Published Wheat From Chaff

I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Tsunami of Crap” theory, even if you’ve never heard it explained:

Now that anybody can publish anything, all these wanna-be writing hacks will take whatever drivel they have moldering around their houses and dump it onto the self-publishing platforms, and the world with be overwhelmed by a tsunami of this crap and nobody will be able to find anything good to read and California will sink into the ocean and the Spanish Inquisition will rise again and the earth will spiral into the sun and won’t somebody please think of the *readers!*

Whoa!  Time to calm down, take a deep breath, and look at this theory a little closer.  I’ve heard this from lots of sources, some of them big publishers.  Oh, the angst!

My biggest gripe with the argument, hands down, is that it tacitly assumes that readers are sheep, reading whatever is thrust in front of them with no ability or will to find what it is they like.  Without the gatekeepers, how will they know what is *good?*

The same way readers have always known what is good, my friends–read it.  If you like it, it was good.  If you can’t finish it, it was not.

So, here I am, faced with a tsunami of new reading options.  My reading time is limited–I don’t want to waste any of it on unreadable drivel.  What can I do to minimize my chances of buying something I’m not going to like?

Cover — I know it isn’t nice to say so, but I’m afraid I do tend to judge books by their covers.  So do many readers.  It isn’t so much a conscious decision as an instinctive response–when you see a book with a lousy, unappealing cover, your brain will instantly assume it is filled with lousy, unappealing prose.  It is natural to figure that if nobody cared enough to make the cover compelling, nobody cared much about the story, either.

Blurb — The back cover text, or blurb, is the next thing I look at.  When you look at a New York-published book, a professional copywriter wrote that back cover blurb.  In the indie world, though, blurbs are generally written by the author–the same author who wrote the text inside.  If the blurb is badly written, boring, full of typos or grammar errors or otherwise doesn’t sit well with me, I am unlikely to look farther.  I also don’t particularly like blurbs that are comprised mostly of marketing push and quotes from reviews, giving me very little idea what the book is actually about–but that is just a personal preference.  Your mileage may vary.

Reviews — You hear a lot about falsified and shill reviews, but I don’t think they are actually as prevalent as the conversations imply.  I have seen false negative reviews too, or “grudge” reviews.  How can a person know which reviews to trust?

The content and tone of the review itself is usually the first clue.  A review can be very positive without necessarily being a shill.  I look for the positive reviews that explain what they liked, or why.  “ZOMG this is the best book evah” is at best an unhelpful review, at worst a shill.  On the other hand, “This is the worst book ever written, they should burn it and bury it and bury the author too” is likely to be a grudge review.  (Although if they explain exactly what it was that made it so awful, I might change my assessment.)

Does a negative review, or several negative reviews, mean I won’t buy the book? Not necessarily.  It depends on why they are negative.  Sometimes the very things that another reader complains about are the things that make me think I might enjoy this read.

Reviews can be tricky.  They are a resource we as shoppers never used to have–the most we had was critic’s reviews in newspapers–and we never had them right there in the store while we were making decisions.  But they are a welcome resource, and I’m sure over time there will be mechanisms to help root out the shills and grudges.

Sample – One of my favorite things about ebooks is the ability to download a sample and read it on my preferred reader, immediately.  And if I like it, I can buy it right there from within the book.  If not–well, it’s easy to delete samples as well.  :)

I think of this the same as the way I flip through books in the bookstore.  It’s my chance to find out if this author’s style works for me, if the text is riddled with errors and grammar mistakes, or if it violates some personal peeve of mine (like the same uncommon word three times on a page.  “He shifted awkwardly.  “Wow,” he said awkwardly, “that was awkward.”  delete)

I’ve heard people argue that they don’t have time to read samples–I don’t subscribe to that argument, myself–if I have time to read the whole book, I have time to read the first few pages to make sure I can stomach it before I pay for it.

Will all of these precautions guarantee I never buy a book I don’t like?  Will it catch serious errors like unsatisfying endings, degenerating plots?

No.  But then all of the careful vetting I did in bookstores never saved me from those things, either.  And realistically, most of the “tsunami of crap” everyone keeps talking about would never make it past the blurb stage–maybe even the cover stage.

So chin up, readers, writers, everybody.  Writers will keep writing, and readers will keep finding things they like to read, and if the earth spirals into the sun, I don’t think it will be tomorrow.

Happy Holidays!  Have fun reading!

Break Out the Champagne–Concerto’s in the Top 100!

The day has dawned!  Forgive my enthusiasm, but I’m proud to announce that today Concerto broke into the top 100 in several categories on Amazon.com!

Right now, the exact stats are:

  • #29 in Books > Romance > Romantic Suspense
  • #29 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance> > Romantic Suspense
  • #75 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Suspense>

And it’s in the top 1K in the Kindle Store overall, so that’s great!

Right now, Concerto and Lost Concerto are still on sale for .99 so I encourage you to grab a copy if you’ve been thinking about reading them.

Wake Up, Writers!

Brace yourself, gentle reader, because I am about to do something I do not generally do. I am going to ask you to drop everything and do something.

In this case, read something. And it isn’t on this blog. It isn’t even something I wrote.

But I strongly believe it is one of the most important things you can read right now, especially if you want to be a writer, or already are a writer, whether you self publish or publish through New York.

I know many self-publishers have been gleefully predicting the demise of Big Publishing for months, sometimes years. I am skeptical of this, simply because their pockets are so very deep. We will lose some smaller publishers, and some big ones will morph into something quite different than what we knew in the before-time.

But with backing from the prodigious bankrolls of their parent corporations, I think a lot of publishers will stumble through and continue. They will feel the crunch of this sudden change, and they will respond to it by tying writers up in bad contracts.

And writers will sign them.

Not every New York deal is a bad deal. I have said before, the only important thing is to make sure that you understand exactly what you are getting & giving when you sign any contract. Make sure you have reasons for accepting the deal; reasons will be fulfilled by the contract you sign.

But be aware that many contracts harbor hidden demons–rights in perpetuity, rights of first refusal that sound harmless but may keep you from sending out anything until the current work hits bookstores, at least, non-compete clauses that may seal off your created universe to you forever, should your publisher decide to drop you. And ebook royalites.  Horrible, horrible ebook royalities–perhaps the only light in the darkness for publishers right now.

Paperback sales are tanking, Borders is gone, traditional book sales are circling the drain with reduced shelf space at every available outlet, the midlist is defecting to self-publishing–and publishers are still making money.

How?  Kris Rusch lays it all out:
http://kriswrites.com/2011/11/16/the-business-rusch-how-traditional-publishers-are-making-money/

Read it, pay careful attention, and remember what you learn. Common wisdom is that publishers were blind-sided by the ebook revolution. I don’t know, learning that tradition publishers began negotiating ebook royalties separately–and negotiating them down to a pittance through brute force–ten years ago makes me look at that differently. They are huge, lumbering mammoths who take a long time to change direction–perhaps that is why they start planning ten years in advance, when everyone else thinks what they are arguing is unimportant.

I’m not saying run away from any deal that comes your way. I’m saying be careful. These increased profits these publishers are so proud of are made up of money that would have gone to the writer in the past. We are swimming in a big, rough, open ocean, and these guys are more than willing to push you underwater to save themselves from drowning. Do you really want to swim with a buddy like that? Be certain before you sign.

The wolf may not be at the door. He may be in your living room, and he may be holding a contract.

It’s Here!

I have to admit, it was actually here October 27th.  I have been pretty sick since then, and am just now getting back into the swing of things.

But I’m going to celebrate anyway, because The Lost Concerto is available now in paperback, hardback, Kindle, Nook and other eBook formats!

If you enjoy fast-reading, tightly-plotted suspense with a gripping story, you may find that the Alexis Brooks series is for you.

You can find out more about The Lost Concerto here:

http://pgtc.com/~slmiller/lostconcerto.htm

And more about the Alexis Brooks Series in general here:

http://pgtc.com/~slmiller/AlexisBrooks/

I’ll return you now to your regularly-scheduled day, but if you find a free moment, do a happy dance for me and the new novel!