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Finally, Sequel.

Posted in book reviews, indie, indie authors, publishing, Uncategorized, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , on June 18, 2016 by rachelcoles

After a long time distracted, I have finally gotten back to my website, and to writing a sequel to Pazuzu’s Girl. For those struggling with their ‘sophomore book’, here is a helpful and succinct web-post I found from a writer in Suffolk:

https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/things-you-learn-when-writing-your-second-book/

It was very reassuring to know other people have encountered the same difficulty, and likely for the same reasons.

Another link had a very entertaining title:

https://litreactor.com/columns/the-curse-of-the-second-novel-four-ways-not-to-fuck-up-book-number-two

For writers working on a second book, I hope you get the same comfort from these as I did.

 

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New Story in Print

Posted in blogging, history, indie, Middle East, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by rachelcoles

Hi Fellow Indies,

 

Exciting news! My short story ‘The Littlest Fury’ is available in the summer edition of The Horror Zine,  in print, or Kindle. The story is about a Fury who is so bad at her job, she didn’t even make it into the myths. She doesn’t think she’s cut out for it, but when Hades threatens to fire her, and end her existence, she has to see if she can find a way to do her job without losing her own identity. The zine edition has a lot of terrific stories from a bunch of terrific authors, and the Horror Zine’s other editions are worth a read! Leave the lights on!

Like ‘The Littlest Fury’, it seems like identity has been a big theme lately, how people are defined by other people, how we define ourselves. I’ve been reading recently about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, or rather between the Israeli government and Hamas. Since that is who is really perpetrating the conflict. It’s not the everyday people trying to earn a living and take care of their families on either side. I remember reading about a project a while back in which Israeli and Palestinian schoolkids became pen pals. The program was reported as successful for a while, until there were more hostilities, and they were forced to stop the program, even though the kids and their families wanted to keep communicating. So the potential is there. But who can say what will have to happen to make those voices louder than the angry ones? My heart goes out to all the people who are getting hurt in this. I hope it stops soon. I say that even though I know that’s inadequate to express what’s going on.

Thinking about that reminded me of another story I wrote that I wanted to share. It’s a fun piece, because I saw a bee get drunk on beer once. I had no idea they could do that. So this started out as a goofy ‘bee gets drunk’ spoof, and turned into something else. Stories sometimes do that, hijack the writer.

 

Beergarden

by Rachel Coles

Jocular people wandered down the cobbled streets of Munich past patchwork buildings that were a strange mix of modern structures, soot-stained medieval houses and new light-colored buildings in the style of the old buildings destroyed in WWII. The effect was like a honeycomb.

The slow crowd headed to the new Ellsen Brauhaus in the park by Ellsen Street. It was mostly open to the sky, shaded by trees and draped with colored waterproof fabrics for when the weather was inclement. Hundreds of light strings danced and swayed overhead in the slight June breeze. To the patrons eager for the rich Dunkles and light Helles beers, and the smoky sausages trickling fat, they might have stepped into faery, loaded with the only riches that really mattered to them: meat and beer.

It was the dinner hour and the early evening sky shone in pinks and golds as Eva Worker ventured to the profuse flower boxes in the new human gathering place to explore. She was a new forager, finally old enough to swim the tide of magnetic waves with the older bees, into the forests of flowers in every nook of the enormous human city.

Near the flower box she chose, on a table like a vast wooden plain were a few glasses partly filled with a rich honey-like liquid. And the scent from the glasses was unlike anything she had ever encountered.

Bruna Worker, a pushy bee who thought she knew everything because she was one summer older, had warned her as they left the hive, “Stay on task. Just find the pollen and nectar and come home. That’s your job, do you hear me? Stop waggling. You don’t do that until you have your load back here. And look out for the wasps!”

Boring Bruna, Eva had thought as she flew away. How can I not look around? Everything’s so bright: purpley yellows and golds and blues! But after entering the human-packed enclosure, she pictured the disapproving flick of Bruna’s antennae. She diligently began filling her pollen baskets before finally giving in to curiosity some time later.

Just a little break before the next flower, she thought. She flitted down to the rim of one of the glasses, leaned over and tasted a sticky, drying rivulet at the edge of the glass. The human’s strange nectar flooded her senses with warmth and sweetness and a strange acidic tang.

Before she could get another taste, a gaggle of salty-smelling humans approached with plates of long fat tube meat. Under the smoky scent of the meat, she smelled two females and two males. They were enormous, but the aroma of the meat was so overpowering that she almost failed to dodge the giant hand that swatted at her. She landed warily on a cooled sausage at an adjacent table.

An angry buzz and sharp wasp scent warned her she wasn’t alone, as a flash of violent yellow and black blazed toward her. A stinger swiped by her abdomen and powerful black mandibles clacked near her head. She weaved and dumped herself into the nearest flower box, stinger at the ready.

My meat tube, honey bee! Go back to your hive or you’ll be food for our larvae instead!” The yellow jacket called after her. Eva didn’t move from her defensive position.

A minute later, gnawing vibrations and the now-familiar smoky meaty scent wafted to her box, from where the yellow jacket fed, “Mmmm. Tasty meat tube. Maybe I’ll just save a little for myself.”

Eva’s wings trembled with fear. She exited the other side of the box as quietly as she could and started toward less hazardous pastures. So that was a wasp, she thought, her hairs still raised in alarm. She had been warned of the wasps from the time before she had grown wings. Her hive prepared for wasp attacks every season. This was the first time she had ever actually seen one.

Before she left, she noticed several workers from her hive sitting at the edge of some of the glasses of liquid. Every once in a while, the humans at the table waved them away, but the workers deftly dodged the waving hands and then returned to the glasses. The humans didn’t expend much effort to chase the bees away so it looked more like a dance where everyone was just playing a role. One human even took a drink of his liquid with a worker perched at the edge. And the worker drank from the glass right next to the human’s gaping mouth.

Wow, Eva thought, my sisters are brave.

That vision dominated her thoughts as she went pollen-gathering in a nearby woman’s garden. Instead of returning to the hive with her full baskets some time later, she chanced another pass by the human drinking place. She returned to the earlier site of her sisters’ brave foray into human interaction.

The humans and bees were still attempting to do their mutual swatting and flying dance, but the waves of the giant hands were barely flops now. And the workers weaved and teetered at the edges of the glasses as though they might fall in. One of them did. She plunked right into the liquid, and instead of fighting to climb out, she took a long drink from the fluid.

“Jurgen, you have a bee in your beer. And I think it’s drunk.” One of the human males told the other, who picked up his glass with Eva’s floating sister.

“Awww. Poor bee. She’s had too much to drink. Here, let’s dry you out.” He fished her out with a spoon and dumped her on the table, laughing. Hilda Worker, the swimmer, appeared to be laughing too, as she preened the liquid from her wings and legs.

“Hey, there’s pollen in my beer.” Jurgen exclaimed without very much concern.

His fellow clapped him on the shoulder, “Drink it, it’s good for you.”

Jurgen upended the glass into his mouth.

Eva drifted closer to make sure Hilda was all right. The other bees didn’t appear to be worried as they stared at Hilda in a stupor. What in the Hive is going on?, Eva thought.

“Eva, sister, come here! You must try this. It is wonderful. It is a new nectar and it comes in giant tanks. The humans drink great rivers of it and they don’t seem to mind us sharing.” Hilda’s mandibles clacked happily and her eyes seemed… muddled. Her pheromones also smelled of the sweet rich nectar.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you not taking your load to the hive?” These bees, like Eva, were all first season foragers, new to the outside world. Surely someone would notice the absence of a bunch of new foragers.

“We will. Come join us first, Sister Eva!” A chorus of striped behinds waggled at her. One of them waggled so enthusiastically that its owner also fell into the glass she had been perched on.

“Oh, another one down.” Jurgen Bee Saver smiled. In went the spoon to his friend’s drink. He dumped Sister Dagmar unceremoniously next to Hilda. As Dagmar consumed the liquid beaded on her legs, a larger black and yellow shape wobbled toward them in the air, from another table.

Eva zipped into the air, her stinger ready. But the yellow jacket that had chased her earlier, waved her off now with a wiggle of antennae and a surge of the same tangy scent that  drenched Eva’s fellow bees.

The intoxicated wasp landed uncertainly on the edge of the table, almost fell and then righted herself, turning back to Eva. “Ah, little bee, I’m sorry about earlier. You want some of my meat? It’s still all chunky but I could chew it for you.” She offered a partly-digested piece of meat . “You want?”

“No thank you.” Eva declined quietly and sank down to the surface of the table. She still eyed the wasp with caution. The humans shooed the couple of bees remaining on the glasses, downed the rest of the liquid and rose. They placed their steins next to a sea of other empty glasses on the table, and left. They had been there a while, it seemed. How long had her sisters been there?

The wasp nodded, “I am Worker Gertrude. Who are you, little bee? Come here. I will not eat you.”

Eva edged closer, and Gertrude hopped suddenly next to her. A wave of pheromone swept over Eva, as Gertrude nudged her in the side, “Hey, you are cute for a Honey Bee.”

Eva almost tumbled off the table again, and backed away, wings over legs. Bless the Queen! she thought, Non-queen wasps wanting to mate with female bees? My own sisters shirking their hive duties? It is summer. It’s too late for Hive Fever. The eagerness to get out of the long sleep of winter often drove workers to act a little strange. But this?

Her sisters waggled at Eva again. Gertrude twitched her antennae and stumbled towards the glasses. “Come! There is plenty of nectar to go around. We shall all share, yes?” Gertrude pressed.

Hilda and Dagmar scrambled up the sides of a couple of glasses and dumped themselves into the films of beer at the bottom. Eva finally followed the bewitching scent, picked a glass, and climbed in. Well, I did want to explore. And oh, Sweet Flower, does that taste good! She sucked up the beer and wallowed in the remaining drops, her pollen baskets soaked.

“And they are all different. There are different nectars. Can you smell that? Try this one, Eva!” Hilda tapped and bumped at her from the walls of one of the other glasses that had a pale golden wheaty smell. Eva slowly buzzed over, after dunking in two more glasses of the dark, rich, sap-colored nectar.

Some indeterminate amount of time later, the sky darkened and the twinkling lights became clearer overhead. None of them could drink another drop without popping.

Gertrude was first to pull herself from her glass. “Ai, I must return to the nest. I have meat for the young ones. And lots of this nectar. We had a good time, yes? I will do this again tomorrow! Maybe I see you here, little bees.” She flopped off the table, her wings beating erratically. She landed on the ground, and Eva crawled to the edge to see.

Gertrude lay on her side for a moment. Then she righted herself and slowly crept across the ground, narrowly missed by a huge pair of shoes. She called back, “I’m okay. Everything’s okay! Everything’s great!”

Eva followed Gertrude’s progress, holding her breath, until their new wasp friend disappeared into the bushes at the edge of the wall.

***

Eva didn’t have a good memory for how she, Hilda, and Dagmar finally made it back to the hive. And neither did they.

Mitzi Worker, their receiver bee, just buzzed in confusion and looked around her, trying to comprehend the waggling, bumping and weaving rears the girls were showing her as they accidentally bonked into each other.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this dance before,” Mitzi said, hesitant. “Um, can you do that again? I might be crazy but it looked like you just said ‘make a left at the dog’. Okay, there I’m definitely wrong. I’m pretty sure you’re not trying to tell me the flowers are burping.” She looked desperate.

Eva touched her gently on the leg.

Mitzi looked at her in panic. “I really did study. I just don’t understand. I haven’t been able to understand anyone coming in tonight.”

“It’s ok, sister. We’ll show you tomorrow.” Eva brushed the girl’s face with her antennae. “Be at peace, sister. Come with us tomorrow.”

“But I can’t, I mean I’m a receiver. I’m supposed to be here. Oh, let me get your pollen.” Mitzi collected the soggy nectar-soaked gloop from all of them and disappeared into the brood comb.

***

The next day, Eva crawled from the hive entrance wondering if her antennae were going to fall out. And it felt like some crude human boy was trying to pull her wings off, but there was no one to sting. She meandered aimlessly, gathering pollen from the numerous park flowers along the way to…somewhere. The colors were too bright and the ultraviolet felt like it would sear through her eyes. But the flower nectar along the way was nice and sweet.

Then she happened upon the human drinking place where she had been last night. Her sisters had somehow beat her there and they buzzed lazily around the profusion of flowers that lined the low wooden and brick walls.

Gertrude had made it back to her nest safely. Now, Eva saw with relief, the young wasp was feasting once again at a great piled platter of meat tubes five times as large as any yellow jacket nest. There was another wasp with her who occasionally pushed her out of the way of a human’s hand, as the enormous human male piled the meat even higher. The golden silk-haired male smiled and waved his huge hand at the other humans who stabbed and took the meat with long shiny, forked stingers.

Gertrude dived at one of the reaching hands, and her wasp friend knocked her to the side and herded her towards the table Eva had landed on nearby. Eva smelled, with a shock, that Gertrude’s friend was male.

“You’re going to get us squashed, Gertrude!” he exclaimed. “The humans will have their meat too. There is too much to carry it all back anyway.” He almost stopped in mid-air as he spied Eva. “There, Gertrude, there is your meat. Bees! They are less dangerous. No match for us!” He dived toward Eva before she could react.

But this time it was Gertrude who shoved at him, knocking the small male clear across the table and into a glass, to the exclamation of its owner. The woman stared at the doused wasp for a moment and then fished him out with her fork and flicked him on the ground and ignored him. Gertrude rushed to his side as he shook his sopping wings out.

She exclaimed, jerking her antennae at Eva, “No Klaus, you old drone! Not these bees. They are my friends. We shared human nectar together.”

As Klaus edged out of the way of passing shoes, and began climbing the rough wooden table leg, Gertrude flew back up and explained, “His mating time is almost passed and he has not found a queen yet. He’s cranky. So I brought him here to taste of the human nectar. That will put fire in his abdomen!”

Klaus clacked his mandibles at Gertrude, and a wave of irritated hormones nearly knocked Eva sideways.

Hilda and Dagmar settled next to Eva. They had Mitzi in tow. Her eyes roamed the first scenery she had ever seen or smelled outside the hive. The diminutive bee wobbled a little on landing. All her sisters already smelled faintly of the nectar. So did Gertrude, Eva realized.

It did smell tantalizing. Even crotchety old Klaus seemed intent on preening every last drop from his legs, body, and then from the table. Finally he hopped back onto the rim of the glass he’d been dunked into, while its owner talked with other humans.

“Excuse me, fraulein,” he slid down into the liquid.

Eva shivered in a bee shrug and selected a glass of amber nectar she hadn’t tried yesterday.

As the day wore on, and she peered around and smelled, she realized that many new members of the hive wobbled among the glasses in this human place. And quite a few wasps from Gertrude and Klaus’ nest too. The humans half-heartedly waved their hands around to dispel the bees, but mostly watched them wade in the cups, amused.

Some time and several glasses later, Klaus snuck up and buzzed in Eva’s ear. “You are looking very royal tonight, Fraulein Bee!” His old wasp pheromones washed over Eva again like a magnetic wave.

She hopped away, since she could no longer fly straight. “Agh, you’re a wasp! I’m not your type, Herr Klaus, please.”

He tottered after her on the table for a step or two, and then tangled up his legs and fell onto his mandibles. He gazed at her and wiggled his rear at her longingly with his nectar-goggled eyes. Eva passed the rest of the evening crowding close to Gertrude, who probably wasn’t much of a safer choice.

***

A couple weeks later, the bees, wasps, and humans were still communing in the beer garden. And before leaving the hive one morning, Eva noticed the odd lumpy shape of the new combs they were building. It looked as though a human child had tried building combs out of chewed up gum.

One of the larvae that had been deposited into an odd-shaped cell wiggled and gave her a skeptical scent, “Who built this, and what were they thinking?” And then there was a musky frustrated scent, “I think I’m stuck.”

As Eva was leaving the hive, Mitzi, who had been tasked with re-paving the hive entrance with propolis, had stuck herself in the goo to the wall instead. She wiggled her legs, dangling and laughing, “Hey, look! No legs!”

Eva sighed and pulled her down as the sticky gel congealed on the girl’s abdomen. “You could have suffocated yourself! No more human nectar for you!” She pointed to Mitzi’s air holes almost blocked by the glop covering the rest of her belly.

On her way to the human drinking place, Eva passed Klaus and Gertrude, who were muttering to each other.

“The nest looks like the wasps working on it were missing their brains,” Klaus complained.

“So they’re a little different.”

“Different? They’re upside down! In my day, we never built them like that!”

“In your day, they were trapped in rock, Herr Klaus!”

“I tell you, this nectar isn’t a good idea anymore.”

***

The bee queen had the same notion. That night a decree went out from Eva’s Queen that the human drinking place was off limits for nectar collection. All of the workers buzzed in disappointment. Eva wasn’t surprised.

They resumed their pollen collection and resorted to flying farther to other patches of flowers in the park. As Eva snuck a peek into the human nectar park once, it looked like a similar decree had gone out among the wasps. There was not a single one in sight.

Eva came across another drinking park a couple times, farther into old Munich, and spied some of her sisters there. A few days later, when their combs and honey started smelling of the human nectar again, the decree went out that there was to be no collection of human nectar anywhere.

The day after the new decree, Eva and her sisters moped to the boring flower gardens and sill boxes around the rest of the city. There was much to do to prepare the cells for winter.

***

One overcast day, as fall approached and the air had a hint of crispness, the yellow jackets came from everywhere. Bullet shapes rained from the sky around the Langstroth box in which Eva’s hive was nestled.

Every season, the hive drilled and prepared for this predator attack. This was the first time Eva and her sisters had actually witnessed it.

Eva thought, Things should have been different this season! What about Gertrude?

In their confusion, the bees took a precious few moments to realize what was going on before the acrid alarm scent blasted through the hive. Eva swarmed out of the hive entrance and encircled the nearest dive-bombing wasp, with her fellow workers, in a vibrating ball of bees. The temperature in the bee sphere rose to deadly levels for the frantic wasp.

Eva shook with fear and anger. How dare those wasps? I thought Gertrude was so nice, once she stopped trying to kill me!

That thought just made Eva angrier. She beat wind from her wings so hard the whole yellow jacket nest would feel the blast, she decided. The panicked wasp at the center of the ball bounced off the bees around her, and lunged with her stinger. A couple of bees dropped, but the vibration and heat was so great that the wasp just weaved and rattled helplessly.

You can just cook, you lying flesh-eater! Eva thought.

The wasp convulsed and sunk to the ground. The ball of angry bees dissipated and swarmed another wasp target. As a few of Eva’s sisters dropped from wasp bites and stings around her, she blasted a nose-ful of defiance, and dived for the wasps with abandon.

Vibrating bee balls surrounded several of the wasps, as the fight escalated. The air was a sea of sparkling wings and the deep humming drone of battle. As Eva hesitated in awe, a wasp landed on her back and slammed her down in the air.

But as the great mandibles loomed around her head, another missile hit the wasp and tumbled them into the nearby tree trunk. “I saaaaave yoooou, mein little beeeeeee!”

Gertrude! Eva realized, with a jolt of surprise.

“Surround me, quickly! We must talk! So the nest does not see!” Gertrude flew at her as though she would sting. A ball of workers swarmed Gertrude, but Eva fought to the center, to meet Gertrude.

“Don’t kill her, she’s not an enemy! She helped me!. She’s just faking so her nest sisters don’t see!” Eva scented to the others.

Hilda, Dagmar, Bruna and a few others started looking at each other and faltering.

“No, don’t stop or the other wasps will know,” Eva continued. “Gertrude, talk quickly.”

Gertrude wiggled uncomfortably in the heat but didn’t try to sting anyone. “I am a Loyal Worker. My queen is Mother. But we do not need to hunt you. I will convince my Queen to let us all go back to the human drinking place. There is plenty of meat and nectar there. She became angry that the nest was growing lopsided. She said nectar was making us sloppy and lazy.”

“Do you think it will work?” Dagmar asked, her buzz almost lost in the violent vibration.

“I think so. I don’t know. I will try. Ok, I go now. Too hot.”

The bees dropped away from a dizzy Gertrude, just as a broom pummeled down towards her from a giant angry human.

“Get away from my hive, you wasps! Agh!”

Eva dove at the net-covered man waving the broom, and signaled her sisters to swarm him and help Gertrude escape. They dodged the flailing human and kept him distracted. Gertrude buzzed away erratically, still dipping from the disorientation of the ball, and almost flew into a tree.

***

Eva refused to go for pollen until every bee in the hive repeated her waggle dance that told what Gertrude, Friend to Bees, had done for them.

She waggled for two days, while Bruna clacked at her to get to work. Hilda, the best waggler, picked up the dance and soon the hive was full of bumping behinds. Every time two bees met outside the hive, they did the dance. Finally, at the end of the third day, the decree came from the Queen that the human drinking place was back on the list of approved nectar-gathering sectors.

That very afternoon, Eva drifted into the flowered human enclosure that smelled of salt, smoke, flowers and at least four different varieties of everyone’s favorite human nectar. The twinkling lights swayed overhead in the breeze, as Gertrude and Klaus perched on a child’s meat tube. They argued about which of the nectars were making them build their cells more lopsided, and which were sweeter. Then they jumped, and flew over to Eva as the human child extended a pudgy thumb to poke them.

All around Eva, bees and yellow jackets feasted and drank together, occasionally calling for a new companion to pull them out of a glass.

The End

I hope you got a kick out of the story! If you have any funny animal stories you want to share, please feel free to post a link!

YA Indie Carnival: Book Length

Posted in book reviews, indie, publishing, romance fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2013 by rachelcoles

Hi fellow indie writers and readers!

Had an exciting weekend! It was the Denver Comic Con weekend, and we dressed up! Got to show off the costumes we’ve been working on for months. My husband and I went as Stilgar and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim. PUT YOUR RIGHT HAND IN THE BOX! THERE’S BACON IN THE BOX! RESIST THE BACON! No, there wasn’t any bacon in the box, but you need to adjust the motivation for your current applicants to the Sisterhood.

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And our daughter, the cutest…I mean scariest weeping angel! I have discovered that while you can’t blink, if you put on iCarly, you can distract this one. But make sure not to leave out spaghetti or chocolate milk. It attracts weeping angels.

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Now that the insanity of Comicon is over, today’s topic is book length! How long should your book be?

The short answer for me is: However long it needs to be to feel done.

I don’t know how long books are supposed to be. I’ve read books that were very short that were page-turners that were amazing and left me satisfied. I’ve read books that were like War and Peace length that felt like they breezed past because they were so well written. And I sometimes feel as though long series with complicated arcs are like that. They don’t seem like separate books. Perhaps they are only separate for the sake of physical publishing limitations, but it is really a seamless story from one book to the next: such as with the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. Some ideas are so sweeping, they need a lot of space to tell. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve read, or tried to read books that felt like I was reading a library after only a few pages. They filled up my attention span with three pages of description about the main character’s baroque button on his velvet shirt against his well-sculpted chest.  For that kind of detail or attention to the characters’ appearances, I have porn.

How well the story is told is, to me, more important than its length, knowing how long it needs to be to really tell the story fully without being repetitive or getting lost in the weeds. That’s not easy to do. I just kind of wing it. I’ve had both situations happen to me in writing where I started off spare, and then realized when I was almost done that a character thread was missing, or I hadn’t given enough detail or backstory. So I go back and add whatever I feel is missing. On the other hand, everyone falls prey to repetition, so I’ve also written pages and pages, then gone back and realized that what I was trying to say could be said in a couple paragraphs rather than three pages. Or I’ve realized that the bit that I was putting in, while interesting to me in terms of the character’s backstory, was slowing down the rest of the flow, and wasn’t really necessary to move the plot.

I think the best advice I’ve gotten about length is: Write the book. Don’t even think about the length unless you are going to submit to somewhere that has a limit and needs to fall between a range of words. And then, go back and see if the length needs to be dealt with in editing, or not. Read through it and decide whether it tells the story you want it to tell. That will let you know if you need to add or take away.

But see what the other indies have to say at the websites below!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights

And here’s what’s new at the YA Author Club!

YA Indie Carnival–Goodreads: What’s Good and What’s Not

Posted in book reviews, indie, publishing, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , on March 21, 2013 by rachelcoles

YA_Indie_CarnivalHi all,

This week’s post is about Goodreads. For people who haven’t heard of it, it’s a database/bloggersite for books. That’s the closest I can come to describing it. Pretty much any book, anywhere in the world can be found on Goodreads. And it’s more than that. Here are the goodies available for people to take advantage of on Goodreads:

Reader’s groups where people can discuss books they’ve read, sometimes book clubs

Author Dashboard where authors can manage their books, reviews, ads, etc

Reading list where readers can add books they’ve heard of to their lists that they want to read, and receive recommendations from other readers

Review areas where readers can write reviews and post them

These are among some of the cool features of Goodreads. I’ve found a great resource for the things I want to read, though I tend to forget about that one. I am notorious for making lists of all kinds and then ignoring the lists, including in my house, at the grocery store, and at work. So why would that change for anything else…

As an author, I tend to use the author dashboard quite a bit. I recently posted an ad on Goodreads, as an experiment. I’m not good at advertising and such, and Goodreads, unlike Amazon is dummy-friendly, and wallet-friendly. The feature is that you create a simple click ad with a small caption, and send it out to either authors you like or genres or both. The Goodreads team recommends both simultaneously. And from there you add the amount of money you want to spend. It is $.x per click. So you can manage how much you spend and who views it. Views are not the same as clicks. Hundreds of people can view it, but you only pay if they click on it to see more.

Another function I use a lot on Goodreads is the review section. I like to be able to write reviews and post them, about something I’ve read. Admittedly, I am spotty about this because there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but it is a great avenue to post reviews. And you can link these reviews to your Facebook page, your website, Twitter, etc., so that it shows up in multiple places. And people can friend you on Goodreads too so that they are notified any time you publish a review of a book. That being said, if you prefer publishing reviews on your website, you can also link it that way too, so that your Goodreads friends will get a notification by email whenever you’ve published a post on your website, if they click that they want to receive notifications from you.

These are all pretty user-friendly, and in my opinion, good things about Goodreads.

I don’t think there are too many problems with Goodreads. The only issue I have encountered is that they do not seem to have a very user-friendly option for giveaways. Their giveaways are structured rather specifically, it seems. It’s possible that I’m reading it wrong, but mostly, I have only been able to find where you can do a giveaway if your book is about to come out (new). I like doing giveaways sometimes, and don’t want to limit myself to one period in time. I also recall reading, for a past YA Indie Carnival Giveaway, that they only accept giveaways for paper books. I have paper books, but sometimes people want e-books. Though I love the smell and feel of paper pages. I also love being able to carry a library with me on a plane.

Please share your experience with Goodreads, things you liked, things you didn’t! And check out what other folks have said on their websites, below.

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy

What’s New in the world of YA at the YA Author Club? Cover reveals, new releases, giveaways?

And check out Ina Grujic’s awesome book blog for a plethora of interesting new indie authors, like Bella Forrest, Imogen Rose, Claudia Lefeve, and James Lyon! There’s a new author interview posted for Pazuzu’s Girl there also.

YA Indie Carnival–What About Author Pages

Posted in indie, Uncategorized, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by rachelcoles

Hi Indie Lovers,

I have a list of questions from the YA Indie Blog so that those of you who have never visited the site before can get to know me. However, I’m experiencing techical difficulties. I’d like to say that’s because I’m a wizard and my magial moon rays are disrupting the network. But really, I’m just a mess when it comes to computers of any kind. So for now, I’m going to catch up on last week’s post about creating author pages.

Wow, I could maybe give a dissertation now on what not to do. Well, the first thing every author should know about author pages is: Have one.

This sounds obvious, but for a long time

, I didn’t, partly because I didn’t think of it, partly because the task of designing anything on a computer was as far away as climbing Mount Everest. If you don’t want to spend money on a website, WordPress, what I’m using now was actually simple enough that even I could figure it out. Another alternative is Facebook product pages, or you can do both. The Facebook took me a little more time figure out, and mine is really simple. But it’s one more avenue for people to see you. Goodreads also has an author club for you to create a page, as does Amazon. So there are multiple avenues to put your name out there as an author. You should take advantage of all of them if you can. It’s a numbers game.When we were trying to sell our house, that’s what our realtor told us when we got depressed during the housing bubble burst, it’s how many people see your house, and after that, it’s statistics. Yeah, math actually is useful for something.

Another tidbit that I’ve learned about author pages is link, link, link. I am a linking maniac now that I’ve figured out the nifty function of hyperlinking, just by underlining something that can transport me anywhere. Finally, the last bit of advice about author pages, is keep up. I know ‘Doctor Heal Thyself.’ I find that I fall into communication black holes frequentlyy, with work and other things. Unless, I’m on for work, sometimes I forget that there’s an internet that doesn’t involve looking up some random nugget on Wikipedia, or downloading another time and mind-sucking game like Minecraft for my tech-savvy daughter. Hey, it’s way more inventive than the games we were glued to, creating your own worlds instead of getting chased by bug-eyed ghosts around a maze.

Now, since my technical difficulties seem to be multiplying, I’m going to sign off. But tune in on Monday,, when I’ll post the author questionnaire! Cheers, from Jacksonville! I’m going to fill my lost internet sorrow with biscuits and Carolina BBQ!

YA Indie Carnival: Synopsis, Cover, and Paragraph

Posted in book reviews, publishing, romance fantasy, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , on November 2, 2012 by rachelcoles

As National Novel Writing Month begins, and people struggle to get a ridiculous number of words written a day, you might assume that writing a book is supposed to be the hardest part, right? Not for me. That was hard for sure. But the hardest part was boiling down everything I just poured out, about a hundred-thousand words into a few paragraphs. Uh…what? Why didn’t I just write a paragraph to start with and have that be the novel? Why do we need a synopsis, cover blurb, or pitchline?

Because people, especially people who you want to read the book need the Cliff’s Notes first. In this busy age full of information everywhere, they need something to tell them what the story is about before they decide to spend time reading it. This is your opportunity to make your book shine and get people hooked before the first chapter. When browsing in bookstores, I have bought books I wouldn’t have thought about, based on what I read on the back cover.

So how do you boil down your life’s work into a few paragraphs? This took me hours of wiffling and waffling and writing and re-writing. I’m not sure there really is a shortcut or an easy way. At least there wasn’t for me. I put down the major plot points that would have wound up in an outline if I had had one. They were the messages in the book that I most wanted the reader to get out of it, without giving away the ending. And then I consulted with friends, who could look at it objectively and tell me what parts hooked them the most. Finally, the bottom line after that was paring and paring and paring down to the bones, narrowing down what was really the central storyline so I didn’t confuse readers. And there’s no shame in learning by imitation. I looked at my favorite books and read the covers again to see how things were worded to pitch the book, and tried to adopt that kind of language.

Synopsis and Cover are partly where you pitch your book, which is particularly difficult for those of us that compulsively hit ‘forward’ over and over on Hulu, trying to fast-forward through commercials in which if I were smart, I could be taking tips. I’m not a natural salesperson. But it is a critical part of the novel process. And it’s worth it when you get that email saying, ‘I’d like to read the book, send me the manuscript!’

Check out the other carnies tips and tricks in writing their synopses!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy

And guess what? We have a new Carnie, Terah Edun. Here is all about Terah:

Terah Edun is a young adult fantasy writer born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, who transplanted to the Northeast region for college, and now lives in South Sudan. She writes the stories that she always loved to read as a young girl. She prefers tales of adventure, magic, fellowship and courtship – in other words high fantasy. No planes, trains, or demons dressed in Dolce & Gabanna will cross her pages. Sometimes you’ll see cloaks, daggers, independent and strong girls, independent and strong guys, sweet and soft spoken girls, sweet and soft spoken guys, markets, cute guys, sparkly magic and irritatingly know-it-all boys.
 

She is inspired by authors like Tamora Pierce, Cinda Williams Chima, Naomi Lane, and Mercedes Lackey. Her work is appropriate for young adults and adult readers. The book she’s currently working on is CASBAH GUARDIAN, the second in her young adult high fantasy series.

 
Blog

Twitter

Goodreads
 
 
Terah Edun’s Books:
 
Red Madrassa
 
An Amlah’s Diary

So be sure to check out her blog this week and welcome her!

And here’s What’s New with books and cover reveals and other goodies.

YA Indie Carnival: The Importance of the Wolfpack, Beta Readers, Cover Designers, Editors, etc.

Posted in book reviews, publishing, romance fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by rachelcoles

Wow, as important as the writing itself is, making sure that what gets out there to readers is good is equally important. I had a blast writing Pazuzu’s Girl. That was the fun part. The real work part came when I needed to turn it into a real book. Fortunately, we have lots of skilled people to help us do that, or at least we should.

The first thing should be to get someone else’s eyes on it other than yours. As writers, our words are like our kids. We fall in love with them no matter how cranky, pimply, or dorky they can be. But words aren’t kids. And when they suck, we need to cut them from the story or change them. We can’t see that, because we’re busy reveling in them, like parents poring through every inane picture we’ve ever taken of them. So we need someone else to make suggestions about how to make the story better. That’s where editors and beta readers come in. If you are a writer, get in a critique group. Free beta reading and sometimes free editing help too. This is critical, getting critiques. I go to the Denver Fiction Writers Critique Group, but it doesn’t matter where you are, there are usually groups in your area, and if there aren’t, yay internet! There are online groups too that are awesome. The one thing that is the most important about a critique group is that it is honest and constructive. You don’t want people who are just going to tell you you’re wonderful and pat your ego because that won’t help your story, and you don’t want a group that will just tell you that you suck either because that is discouraging and doesn’t make writing very much fun. You want people who will tactfully point out what’s wrong with this or that part of the story and maybe even give suggestions on what might make it better. On the other hand, it’s still your story. If you feel strongly about a feature of the story even after being really honest with yourself, it’s okay to stick to your guns. Writing by committee doesn’t work because it erases your voice and changes your story into something that isn’t yours, or what you were trying to say. But the bottom line is, make editors and beta readers your best friends when you are trying to clean up your story and make it good.

Cover designers are equally important when you are ready to get people interested in picking up your book. They must say in one picture,  for a two-second glance what you took a 100,000 words to write. Or at least, they have to convey enough information to make someone, preferably lots of people, pick up the book and go, “Ooh, this looks cool, I wonder what it’s about?” Artists tell a story too, so what story they tell on your cover is the representation of you and your work. They are highly visual, and so they can identify whether simple is better, or more complicated. Sometimes the simplest images are the most elegant and communicative. Other times, more elaboration is needed, but your artist will usually be the one who has the most expertise on what would represent your book visually the best. That doesn’t mean that you should just go with whatever they think. It is your representation, so you approve and make suggestions based on your knowledge of the book, to make sure that the picture conveys what you want it to.

Formatters are, for me, the wizards of the word processing world. The best book can be wrecked if the format is confusing to read. And maybe it’s just my generation, at the beginning of the personal computing wave, or maybe I’m just kind of neo-Luddite, but formatting myself has always been a challenge. I have 15 years of experience with Word, and still, every time they come out with a new version, I might as well be reading the Handbook for the Recently Deceased from Beetlejuice for all it takes me to figure out how to do things like format, all over again. So I am eternally grateful to people who can work formatting magic and make it look like it wasn’t written by a computer-illiterate 2nd grader, though my 2nd grader is probably more literate than me, given that she’s never even seen a television that you had to change channels by hand, or an old-fashioned rotary phone.

Ultimately, getting a book out is a group effort! Yay wolfpack!

So, see what other tips and stories our carnies have and their experiences with working with the wolfpack?

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
9. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose. 10. Ella James
11. Maureen Murrish 12. Valerie Sloan
13. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 14. A Little Bit of R&R
15. Melissa Pearl

And see what’s new and being released soon at the YA Author Club!

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