Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's nearly there (and some lorikeet pictures)





That picture up there has nothing to do with this post, but a lot of people liked the idea of a dragon suddenly appearing in the sky above the calm waters of Hervey Bay at dawn. I thought you might, too. I bought the dragon picture and incorporated it into one of my own photos.

Anyway, back to the writing business...
I know I sound like a broken record these days, but as I've tried to explain, writing a book is hard work, involving many repetitions and checks. I reckon if I have to suffer, you can, too.

Once the book is written and rewritten and edited and rewritten, then it's time for the cover, and the blurb – the description of the book which will encourage you lot to rush out and buy it. I'm delighted to say that (with a lot of help from my wonderful editor) the blurb is done and dusted.

For the Greater Good

A Human settlement is destroyed and all signs point to an Yrmak raid as Imperial agents Tian Axmar and Brent Walker scour the site for clues. One thing they never expected to find was a survivor, a rare alien feline with unusual talents

As tensions between Humans and Irmak ratchet to the point of no return, Tian and Brent must bring all their cyborg skills to bear as they follow a dangerous trail of deception and misdirection. 

The feline, now dubbed Puss and strongly bonded to Tian, holds the key to many of the questions driving the investigation. Unfortunately, that bond drives a wedge between Brent and Tian’s working relationship, leaving Brent with second thoughts about his decision to become a cyborg.

 As the evidence unfolds, it becomes clear that a devious plot to incite an interspecies war will strike at the very heart of the Empire. With lives at risk, there's no time to waste. Racing against the clock, Brent, Tian, and Puss must stop the planned carnage, and this time for Brent and Tian… it’s personal.
-----------------------

That description captures the essence of the book – these are troubled times for Tian and Brent, a situation exacerbated by the cat. On top of that they have a job to do – stop the planned carnage.

Then we have to think about marketing. 
The book's not really a romance. We don't have boy meets girl, problems, HEA. But the personal relationship between Tian and Brent is a major plot arc which complicates their working relationship. I don't think I'll even try to market it as a romance. But it is a planet-hopping space opera, with aliens and an Empire.

Apart from that, there's some pretty tame sex and a bit of colorful language (my books always have  - because that's how my characters act). 

Now for the cover. While I was messing about looking for suitable images I had a peak at cat pictures. I always imagined Puss as an oriental cat like a Siamese, but black, with just a hint of white on her chest – and knock me over with a feather, I found this image. It's a perfect match. Whether my cover designer wants to use it is up to her. But I thought you might like a look.

Apart from that here's a few lorikeet shots. They are on a callistemon (bottle brush) enjoying one of their favorite native foods.

 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Farewell to Flick

I know my chooks and chicks have acquired something of a following, so I'm sorry to report our first loss among the chicks, who are now five weeks old. On Wednesday, our one female chick was in the coop with the rest of her family. A few hours later when I checked after a fox came bothering my girls, she was missing. We have no idea what happened to her but the fox has to be the number one suspect. There's no sign the fox got in, or any sign how or if Flick got out. A frantic search of both coops, nest boxes and the surrounding undergrowth by myself and eldest found no trace or sign. No frantic cheeping. Even if she simply got out and escaped predators, the torrential nonstop rain all that day and night means there was little chance of her surviving alone outside. Not that I would have liked to lose any of the chicks, but being our sole female and the only one we could keep makes it especially bitter. My poor Flick.
Eldest insists it's not my fault, but of course it is. I took responsibility for my chooks and I obviously didn't do quite enough for their security. Lesson learned. At least the next batch of chicks (should the new eggs currently under our smooth mottle pekin Pitch hatch) will be that extra bit safer. It's not been my best week of the holiday.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Weekend That Wasn't #AmWriting #UnexpectedSetbacks

I'll have a very short blog today, because a monster storm on Friday swept through our area and a suspected tornado or microburst took out sixteen power poles to the east of us--leaving us without power for most of the weekend.

Fortunately, we have a small generator that we were able to hook up to run our refrigerators and freezers so we didn't end up having to throw away a lot of perishable food, but it was a little sobering spending a couple of days and nights in the heat of summer with no air conditioning, water, lights, electric garage doors, electric gate...and having to leave the doors open all night to run the generator lines. (That got unnerving when our across-the-road neighbor's intruder alarms went off!)

Aw well, as the old saying goes, "All's well that ends well."

The storm did make for some pretty dramatic photography, so I'll share a few shots.


These first three were taken just after we lost power.
That *might* be a funnel cloud in the distance.


Cloud effects show a possible windshear event.
The worst of the storm missed us by a few miles, but we did
get about an inch and a half of rain during the afternoon.
That evening, thunderheads building up over the valley.
Another shot of the thunderheads catching the light of the setting sun.


We dodged a bullet in terms of suffering any major damage--just had some downed tree limbs and water-logged property--but it could have been much worse. We're very relieved and grateful we were spared being directly in the storm's path.

It did take a toll on my writing time and a very long and winding list of "Gotta Do's," but hopefully I can catch up this week.




Pets in Space 2 Update

Courting Disaster: StarDog2 has been completed, submitted and accepted for the Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 collection...AND here's a bonus.

There's a free sampler of the first chapters of all the stories now available for #FREE via Instafreebie in .mobi, .epub or PDF formats.

You can grab a copy here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/EZz5p

And the entire collection is available for preorder. Links to all the vendors are available HERE.


Enjoy...and have a great week!


Friday, August 11, 2017

WRITE A REVIEW, SAVE A WRITER



I may be preaching to the choir here, but allow me to deliver my brief sermon anyhow. I won’t be passing the tithing basket around at the end of it; in fact, I’ll be offering you, dear readers, an incentive if you stick with me until the end.

If you follow this blog, it’s because you enjoy reading my books and those of my co-bloggers, Laurie, Pippa and Greta. You love reading SFR. Maybe you even write SFR yourself. I’m presuming you want us to do well, and you want more books to read—not only more books from us, but more books from our fellow SFR authors. More adventures in space, more aliens and cyborgs and starship captains and brave scientists saving the galaxy. More wild ideas and hot romance. More sexy covers and titles climbing the best seller lists. More awards and recognition for SFR.

Well, you know, we’re doing our best to make that happen. But we need your help. Not just your purchasing power. But your reviewing power.

Yes, I’m talking REVIEWS!


Okay, I can hear the groans from here—like I just assigned you summer book reports. But for those of you who are not writers, let me explain why reviews are important.

--Readers look at reviews to decide what books to buy. Sorting out which of hundreds of titles are the good reads is not an easy task. But if a book has earned five stars on Amazon or Goodreads, from dozens of readers, then it’s surely worth your money.

--Amazon, in particular, uses the number of reviews to determine whether to recommend a book to its customers. At each ascending level of reviews—20, 30, 50, 100—the Amazon computer algorithm will kick in, triggering an automatic response to recommend the book to more readers. That encourages more sales, and more reviews, and so on.

--Some writers don’t read their reviews, but most do. I, for one, don’t write for myself; I write to communicate with my readers. Reviews are one way I get feedback. Sometimes that feedback isn’t easy to swallow, but for the most part it’s wonderful. Without reviews, I feel like I’m sending a message out into a cold and lonely universe. Is anybody out there? 

So, we need those reviews. Of course, we need sales, too. But one feeds the other, and without that engine of encouragement, many writers are deciding to just give up. No more stories from them, their voices going silent.

I can hear you right now, saying, I don’t know how to write a review! I’m not a writer! But that’s the easy part. Amazon only requires 20 words for a review—or about three sentences. You don’t have to describe the plot or the characters. You don’t have to be a critic. You just have to say, in three sentences or so, what you liked about the book and why you think someone else would like it. If you think some things could be improved, you can say that, too (just be nice about it, please).

Need a kick in the pants to do it? Okay. I’m offering a chance at a $25 Amazon gift card to anyone who will review any one of my Interstellar Rescue books (Unchained Memory, Trouble in Mind or Fools Rush In) on Amazon or Goodreads before Monday, August 14. Just post the link to your review either here or on my Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll announce the winner on my page Monday, August 14 and again here next Friday, August 18. 

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Writing a book isn't as easy as you might think

I made a comment recently on Facebook, as I struggled with the action in my latest book, that anyone who thinks that writing a book is easy has rocks in their head. Perhaps I should have said anyone who thinks writing a book is easy hasn't done it.

Some people, it seems, can churn out a book in a month or two, which keeps their fans fed. Barbara Cartland wrote 723 books in a 75-year career, which is not much shy of ten books a year (!). However, most of my author friends are nowhere near so prolific. When I publish my current book, For the Greater Good, it will be the second this year, and really, the first (The Stuff of Legend) hardly counts because most of it was written last year.

I wish the prose simply flowed from my writer's fingertips, but it doesn't. I write, I stop to work out where the story goes from here, I do some more writing, then I read back over what I wrote and fix the typos and maybe the wording. By the time the story gets to my editor I've probably edited it myself three or four times. Then I incorporate my editor's suggestions. And then I'll go through it again.

When I started off in the writing game, I did reasonably well, financially. I'm not talking even midlist, but at least I got my costs back. That's no longer true and I know I'm not the only author who has had serious thoughts about giving it away. After all, if people don't read what we write, what's the point?

If you want to encourage your favorite Indie to keep writing, there are a couple of small things you can do. The most powerful (unfortunately) is to write a review if you enjoyed a book. It doesn't have to be much - just "I liked it". It's sad but true that reviews drive vendor algorithms. Books without reviews disappear into the rising tide of new books. (Also, it does give authors a bit of encouragement to know someone enjoyed the result of their hard work.) Apart from that, tell your friends. Nothing works as well as word of mouth.

Meanwhile, the work on For the Greater Good is nearing its end.


Here's the blurb



A Human settlement is destroyed and all signs point to an Yrmak raid as Imperial agents Tian Axmar and Brent Walker scour the site for clues. One thing they never expected to find was a survivor, a rare alien feline with unusual talents.

As tensions between Humans and Yrmak ratchet to the point of no return, Tian and Brent must bring all their cyborg skills to bear as they follow a dangerous trail of deception and misdirection. 

The feline, now dubbed Puss and strongly bonded to Tian, holds the key to many of the questions driving the investigation. Unfortunately, that bond drives a wedge between Brent and Tian’s working relationship, leaving Brent with second thoughts about his decision to become a cyborg.

As the evidence unfolds, it becomes clear that a devious plot to incite an interspecies war will strike at the very heart of the Empire. With lives at risk, there's no time to waste. Racing against the clock, Brent, Tian, and Puss must stop the planned carnage, and this time for Brent and Tian… it’s personal.

I'll have it out for preorder very soon.