Heroic Fantasy Short Stories Author Copies and More!

In all the fuss of the last few weeks, my author copies for Flame Tree Publishing’s Heroic Fantasy Short Stories anthology arrived, and they are even more beautiful than I’d been led to believe. Be warned, what follows is a strip tease for book lovers everywhere.

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First the cover, with veins of gold wrapping around the front, back, spine of the book.

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Here’s another angle.

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And another. Are you feeling hot? We haven’t even peeked under the covers yet 😉

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Inside, past silky silver endpapers, we reach the lovingly detailed title page.

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What follows are stories both new and old capturing the best parts about heroic fantasy—dashing battles, brave warriors, sweeping adventures, and monsters most foul.

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My story, “Those Who Wear Their White Hair Proudly,” details a young woman’s exploits as she’s conscripted into a mysterious Order of female warriors tasked with keeping the world safe from monsters. My Pinterest board captures some of the inspiration that helped me write the story. Over at the Flame Tree Publishing blog, I talked some more about the story and my writing process.

The books are available September 29th through most online retailers, or, if you prefer, you can order them directly through the publisher’s website.

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In addition to this volume of Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, I’m happy to announce I’ll also be a contributor to their Agents & Spies short story collection. Yay! I’ll have more details about that closer to its release later this year.

Agents & Spies

SF Signal Mind Meld for Future Embodied

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Over at SF Signal, for a roundtable Mind Meld discussion, Jason Andrew (editor of the Future Embodied anthology) asked contributors what we see as the next big change will be for humanity and how will it alter the way we live?

I responded, along with most of the contributors to the anthology, and the result is a fascinating look at the the near future and where our world is headed.

The anthology is out now, available in both print and ebook from Amazon.

I also have a Pinterest board dedicated my to my story “Resonance” from the anthology, in case you are interested in my inspiration for the story. But beware spoilers!

 

Recursive Plotting with Guest L. Blankenship

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from L. Blankenship of Notes from the Jovian Frontier. Not only is she an awesome critique partner, but she also contributes to Unicorn Bell and Science in my Fiction. Enjoy!

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First, a thank-you to Bluestocking, my awesome CP, for letting me guest blog here to promote my Kickstarter project! Details for that at the bottom.

Recursive Plotting:
I’ve been working on a six-part, gritty fantasy romance for some time now. As popular as multi-volume fantasy stories are, they’re not so easy to write. Some of that is because of plotting. A six-book series has all the same plotting problems that a one-shot book does — only with the added size and weight of a lot more words.

There are many ways to break down plots into stages. Here’s the one I use: inciting incident, first plot point, other plot points, climax, resolution. You can further group these into a three-act structure or apply other methods of plotting if you want. For now, I just want to focus on the inciting incident.

The inciting incident is that event which sets off the whole story. It sets things in motion. Some call it the point of no return — because of this incident, something must be done. Something will happen. Because of the inciting incident, the first plot point happens. Because of that first plot point… and so on, building toward the climax.

The first part of my novel has an inciting incident: my protagonist, Kate, is given an early graduation into the duties of a physician and told to attend to a small party heading into the mountains on a mission that nobody seems to want to explain.

 Something must be done: the authority figures in her life have laid this on her, and being a bright young student she wants to live up to their expectations. The rest of the plot hinges on this one event happening, or Kate would have just stayed home and kept studying.

To step back, this is Part I out of six. and while each individual Part contains a plot structure of its own, the series as a whole also contains a plot structure. Writ large, as it were. The series has an inciting incident, first plot point, other plot points, a climax and a resolution.

Part I is, as a whole, the inciting incident for the other five parts. It sets a larger plot structure in motion and because of this, certain things must happen. Certain things must be resolved by these characters. Part II is, as a whole, the first plot point. This larger plot will build its way up to a climax and resolution in Part VI. Though, as I said, each Part will still contain all the plot stages to support what happens within that Part.

In short, plotting is recursive. (This makes my nerdy little heart smile.)

Shameless Plugging:

I’m running a Kickstarter project to fund the professional editing, proofreading, and cover artwork for my gritty fantasy romance, Disciple, Part I: For Want of a Piglet. There will be six parts in total, published over the course of the next few years.

I’m pre-selling e-books, paperbacks, offering promotional bookmarks, and more at various pledge levels (ranging from $1 – $100). Check out the project page for my book trailer, budget, and production schedule.

Kickstarter.com is a fundraising platform for all sorts of creative projects. Artists post a profile of their project and offer rewards in exchange for pledged money. The pledges are not collected unless the artist’s funding goal is reached within a set period of time. If the goal is reached, the artist receives the money, carries out the project and distributes the rewards promised. It’s a fascinating site and easy to lose time in!

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I’ve had the privilege to read the first three parts of Disciple, and can’t wait to see the rest of the series. If you like strong heroines, unique magic systems, and realistic medieval detail, both action and character, these books are for you. 

Be sure to check out the first chapter here

And please consider donating as a little as a dollar to help L. get these books into the world. Thanks, and happy writing!  
 
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Balancing Promotion

We’ve all seen the twitter streams that read something like: Buy my book. Check out this review. Buy my book! Pretty please? Tell your friends.

I usually don’t bother following back folks like this because, for me, twitter is all about content. If I don’t like your content or find it to be redundant or annoying, I’ll delete your follow notification without a second thought. Same with blogs that are solely focused on promotion.

I used to think these people were desperate and/or looking to make a quick buck. But as I started getting some of my own stories published, I realized promotion is hard.

Well, yes, I know that is rather obvious. But knowing it and experiencing it are different. At least for me.

I was fortunate enough to have a couple of stories come out around the same time. And of course I wanted to share the news with the readers of this blog. Since I’ve been posting approximately once a week, these more promotion-oriented posts became more prominent, simply because there wasn’t my more standard content to balance them out.

I could have delayed the announcements, spread them out a bit more, but there’s also the publisher’s expectation that I’ll be promoting my work as well to support the publication.

What to do? On the one hand, I’m diluting my own content with promotion posts. On the other, I’m not exactly forcing you to visit the blog from your google reader or what-have-you, so there’s no reason to not post what I want to post.

Then with the Kickstarter campaign for the Memory Eater anthology (which was successful!), I not only posted an interview with the editor and a contest opportunity, but I was also tweeting just under once a day about the anthology and the crowdsourcing campaign.

When I saw how much the Memory Eater tweets were taking over my stream, I started being more diligent by including other types of content (daily writing observations, RTs and other resources) to better space out the promotion tweets. That way I was still doing what I could to support the campaign, but I wasn’t totally drowning my followers with promo either. At least that was the intention.

And all this hand wringing and promotional effort went into just a couple of short stories.

I’m beginning to understand why folks with a book (or books) that they’ve devoted so much time to creating get so darn aggressive in promoting the hell out of them.

So here are my (admittedly limited) insights into balancing promotion:

Promotion is sometimes necessary, and that’s ok. After all, why blog or tweet in the first place if you’re not promoting yourself? Give yourself permission to celebrate your victories. Publishing is hard enough without feeling guilty about promoting your achievements. The people who are interested in you and your work will be interested in learning about your successes.

But don’t forget about your primary mission in blogging and tweeting. Here, my goal is to talk about the writing life, which covers a wide range of topics. I need to remember that some people appreciate my more resource-oriented posts versus ones where I talk about my story ideas. So we’re back to balance, in all things.

When gearing up for a promotion blitz, try not to dilute your normal content/brand too much. You don’t want to be that person people start to unfollow because you got too aggressive pushing your work. Remember the line: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Consider promotion as the medicine, and your job is to have enough sugar going on, people don’t mind the medicine part so much.

Try to find ways to add value to your promotion efforts. This can feel like a transparent strategy, but it is a good way to talk about your publications without lowering your standards for quality content. Interviews with an anthology editor, the submission process for finding the right fit, the worldbuilding behind a particular story… These are all posts with more substance than just “Read my work.”

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Best of luck in your own promotion efforts and finding the balance that works best for you! And if you’ve had the good fortune of having something to promote, what strategies did you employ to get the word out? var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”); document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-15029142-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}