Yesterday I joined Brian Abernethy of Journey Frog Audio to do a Skype chat with Red Sofa Literary Agency. We discussed networking for authors and creatives. I cannot stress enough how important networking is to a writer's career. I thought I would post the outline of that chat here. This outline covers more than we were able to get to during the actual half-hour chat.
So Monday, December 8 I had a launch party for UNVEILED. WOOT! Some local backers of the Kickstarter and I descended upon Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. (You can get signed copies of UNVEILED by contacting the bookstore, even if you don't live in Arizona. They will ship to you. Support this amazing indie store.) I read the first half of the first chapter and took audience questions before signing books and having one-on-one time with readers. Yay!
I was so crazy before the gig. Stressed out to the point my brain began leaking out of my ears.
To give you some understanding of how nervous/frazzled I was...
- I tried to get out of the car without unbuckling first.
- Though I was staring right at it, I was uncertain if I'd closed my gas tank...30 seconds after closing it.
- Someone left a rose on the signing table with a card that just said, "M." 2 hours later when I asked my friend MMMMMichelle if it was from her, she shook her head. Her husband said, "Um...it's probably from MMMMMMarius?" Seriously. I wrote that shit and I didn't think of it at the time.
Anyway, the crowd was lovely, supportive and had lots of good questions. I thought I'd share some of them here (because they're also questions I hear online or from other readers).
Q: Book 1 in this series is traditionally published. Why was UNVEILED self-published?
A: Okay so...The first book WILD CARD was published by Entangled Publishing in November 2013. They are a digital-first publisher of romance stories. When they bought the book, it was based on Book 1. They never asked about future books in the series. They didn't ask for the series arc. I was told they just wanted to do things on a book-by-book basis. I was worried that this might be awkward for the future of the series for various reasons, but...well, we went forward with things anyway. When we sent them the finished manuscript for UNVEILED, Entangled decided that it didn't fit with their list of romance titles, and they declined it.
My agent, Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary, and I shopped the book around to other publishers, but it's difficult to sell a book in this kind of situation where one publisher owns the rights to the first book. After trying this, we came to a decision that self-pubbing would be the best way to get UNVEILED into the hands of the readers who love these characters.
Q: Are there more books in the series after UNVEILED?
A: Yes. UNVEILED is book 2 in a projected 5 book arc in the Etudes in C# series. Book 3, UNINVITED, is finished and ready for an editor. Book 4, has a weak outline and 7 pages written. Book 5 is in the sketchiest of outline phases (except the final scene, of which I've written a very rough draft.) Oh, and I've got a short story compilation set in this 'verse.
Q: Will you self-publish those?
A: Barring a bag of money from a publisher who wants to take these books and do them justice? Yes. I will be self-publishing the C# series. But, if you represent a publisher that would like to acquire the rights for the C# series, please talk with Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary.
Q: Will we see WILD CARD (Book 1 in the C#series) in print?
A: At present, Entangled Publishing still owns the rights to WILD CARD. While there was some talk back in the fall about making WILD CARD available via a print-on-demand service, nothing has happened on that front. I don't believe it will.
Q: Is there a way for you to get your rights back?
A: Yes. My contract does specify when I will get my rights back, but barring certain events, that may not happen until--at the earliest--May of 2015. IF/WHEN that happens, I will be commissioning a new cover from Nathalia Suellen (the amazing artist who did the cover for UNVEILED) and self-publishing WILD CARD with the same print and consignment options available with UNVEILED.
Q: Your setting is Vegas and it's very detailed using real places. What's your process? Do you go to Vegas?
A: With very little exception, most locations mentioned in the books are real places you could visit. I think it's more fun that way for you as readers, and it's more challenging for me as a writer.
I am ridiculously meticulous about research. I used to work for an airline that provided vacation packages to Las Vegas. I sold hotel, flight and car reservations with a serious focus on the Strip. A few times I had the opportunity to go tour these hotels with the company so that I could better sell the products. I learned a lot about the shows, the surrounding area and attractions to better answer questions of potential customers. I've drawn on that knowledge while writing the series.
When I can't go myself, I have a few options. First, minions. When friends have gone to Vegas they often ask if I need anything, so I send them on recon missions. There's a church in UNVEILED that I asked someone to go to and take pictures for me. I said, "Please just stand in the middle of the sanctuary and take a 360 picture or video." Because I NEED to get it as close to reality as possible.
I've used YouTube video of locations to get a better sense of the space and atmosphere. Also? Google. Google images, Google maps. I Google the shit out of everything. There's a car chase in one of the books and I used Google Maps to literally plot it out and block it, making sure to note if there were one-way streets and such.
I'm a little crazy about my research.
Q: How real are your characters to you?
A: Short answer: very. Longer answer: I'm surprised I'm not in a facility being told that the satyrs aren't real. Marius has a tendency to shove me aside and answer questions about himself. He is incredibly real to me to the point I know his voice and smell. Cat just sits back and lets him take the reins a lot of the time...and when he's done being a drama queen, she and I chat quietly over chai. Yeah. They're very real to me.
Q: I read the acknowledgements at the back of UNVEILED. In the list of Kickstarter backers I saw, "Catherine Sharp", "Marius" and "Loki Laufeyson". What's up with that?
A: All of them are real people who backed the Kickstarter. First off, Cat Sharp is the actual Cat Sharp. I found out about her during the UNVEILED Kickstarter when someone posted the link and she responded, "Wait, there's a book about me?" She lives in the UK and has worked in IT. Also? Redhead.
Marius backed the Kickstarter under that name. Later, when going through to send out rewards, I found that that person had used their actual email address to make the donation and thus, their identity was revealed to me.
Loki, however...well, Loki backed the Kickstarter for $1 and sent me a private message reading:
Well done, mortal. You've attracted our attention. Specifically, you've attracted MY attention. We'll be watching. Be a dear and don't disappoint. L. Laufeyson
That person's email address read as LokiLaufeyson@[redacted]...so, infer from that what you will. To this day I don't know who did it, and am left with the simplest explanation: that it was Loki himself. I want to believe it, and therefore have reserved that much magic left in me to do so.
Q: Will there be a Kickstarter for the next book? If so, when can I throw my money at you?
A: *shakes Magic 8 Ball* Signs point to 'yes'. I've started making the preparations for it, noting what we need for UNINVITED that we didn't need for UNVEILED (and the things we don't need this time around)...what sorts of rewards I want to do this time...ways to up the game. Stuff like that. So yeah. It will probably be sometime in the Feb-April range aiming for an October publication date. I also want to get the short story compilation out before then as one of the stories sets up Book 3.
Q: Because you've done both...do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing?
A: I like different things about both of paths. My experience with traditional publishing has been rocky, but I see the benefits of having a backer that will handle the busy-work and publicity aspects...basically the things that take me away from writing. Self-publishing, however, allows some freedoms and control that I haven't found in traditional publishing thus far. It is very rewarding to be art director, editorial director, distributor and publicist as well as being the writer. It is, however, exhausting. I've learned a lot about both processes and think I'd like to continue exploring BOTH avenues in the future for different projects.
Again, thank you to Changing Hands and to all who came out to the launch party with me. (More pictures can be found here.) We're going to have to do that again, but with even more people. And next time I won't ramble on like I felt I did.
If you have any questions, hit me with them.
Good Monday morning, gang! Phoenix is underwater and my kiddo is home from school. So here I am on the internet. So last week I was supposed to be on the #Hashtag podcast with Mike Woods and Karina Cooper. Sadly, that didn't work out because technology. We will get the bugs worked out and do it again. However, when we said we'd be taking questions, a couple of you posted to my Facebook page with some of your queries. As these don't really refer to the topic we were going to use on the podcast, I figured I'd answer them here. Consider today an open Q&A period. My own Ask Me Anything without Reddit. Here we go... First question...
Lejon Johnson asks...What was the effort of bringing Book 2 to reality actually like, Kickstarter and all?
In terms of editing...very much the same as working with a publisher. (Of course, the same editor from WILD CARD worked with me on UNVEILED, so we knew one another's styles.)
Other than that... it's been kinda crazy. The Kickstarter itself was stressful and all-consuming. I felt constant pressure to generate content and keep upping the ante. Basically, I felt like a carnival barker busking for that entire month. The editing period felt nice because it was familiar. Then, huge rush here at the end of things. Putting together publicity, getting pre-sale reviews, doing all the logistical things that make a book A BOOK, planning the next steps to make sure the book has the best, widest distribution possible... yeah, it's a lot more than I realized went into things. I have a new respect for the process, feel pride in having done this....but also prefer the traditional method of having professionals do all this stuff so that I can do my thing: write.
In book 2, do you kick off from where you left off, or is there "breather" time between the first and second stories?
UNVEILED picks up about 8-9 months after the events of WILD CARD. Cat has had some time to get cozy in this new version of things, grow a little with her skill set, and basically feel comfortable. Hehehe. And so that's when I pull the rug out from under her.
We know book 3 is written, does anything have to change with that now that book 2 editing is done?
Nothing major. I went into editing UNVEILED knowing what needed to stay in order to protect events in UNINVITED (Book 3). Also, nothing major changed in the events of UNVEILED that would alter the future for Cat and company. So the narrative stayed in tact. I might be one of my faults, actually, that I am somewhat attached to my order of things and will do what I can to preserve the essentials.
Zach Reddy asks... What are the potential side effects of letting a gaggle of trickster gods run free in your head?
Honestly, it's not much different up there than it was before. (Not sure if I should take comfort in that or not.) However, I do caution those looking into working with them...you will start seeing their fingerprints in your life. You might also find yourself becoming a bit more sadistic in the humor you take at the expense of others when Karma spanks them. Also: Loki.
Regina asks... Q: Why don't you telepathically give me book updates instead of making me sign into an email that's supposed to be my primary one but I totally keep forgetting exists?
Allow me to respond in the language of my people:
Krista asks... Are you still dumping Jeff?
Considering the recent conversation that he and I had pertaining to the Whedon version of "Much Ado About Nothing" vs the Tennant/Tate version of same? Yes. His sad devotion to the former while not having seen the latter is disturbing, pitiful and just wrong. I'm sorry. The Tennant/Tate version is superior in every way. *It should be noted that the Jeff in question and I have been "breaking up" with each other for 10 years now. It's a long-running joke between friends. We've never dated.
Angela asks... Why haven't you finished the personal transporter yet?
Because pirates stole my applesauce.
Brian asks... Do you, in fact, want to build a snowman?
Yeah, actually. I do.
Seriously, though. What has been the most challenging part of the whole process for you?
Reminding myself that it is a process and still happening. Honestly, this is not what I wanted for the C# series. And yet, I can't say the series has failed because it's still happening. It's still moving forward and people want to read more. Reminding myself of that, keeping away from binary thinking of pass/fail and all that jazz has probably been the hardest part. I can work logistics like no one else. I can edit til my eyeballs bleed. I can pimp myself...but keeping my head straight is where the going gets tough.
Cheryl asks... How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Jeff asks... Are you dumped, super-dumped or totes-in-the-dumpey-dumped? Choose one.
Totes in the dumpey dump. Again, because you're a heretic. #Tennant/TateMuchAdoForevah!
So yeah... have a question? Hit me with it!
Just three days until WILD CARD is available for you to read! I thought I would share the blog space today with the stars of our book: Catherine Sharp and everyone's favorite satyr, Marius. The two of them have graciously offered to sit down with me for a rare double interview. Now, while all of the questions come from readers, I have chosen the ones that will not lead to spoilers. With that in mind, let's have some fun and see what Cat and Marius have to say.
Q. So, I think we'll start with you Catherine--
Marius: *interrupts* Call her Cathy. Cat: Shut up. Marius: *ignoring her* She loves it. Makes her think of childhood. Cat: *snorts* Is this seriously how you're going to do this? You're going to be an ass right from the start rather than slowly building up to it for maximum effect? Marius: And what sort of effect would that be, Catherine? You're starting to blush. Do I sense a tingle in the nethers as well? Cat: *closes eyes, breathes deeply* Just call me Cat. Please.
Q: Alright... Cat. So, you work in tech support. How did you get into that line of work?
Cat: Well, I've always been a bit of a tinkerer. I was the kid taking apart radios and toasters then putting them back together. I did 2 years of school toward an engineering degree, but dropped out when I moved to Vegas. Not long after that I bumped into a friend who said there was an opening at a tech support company looking for entry level code monkeys. I got hired on the spot. Been there ever since.
Q: I hear your employer is well-connected with the bigger casinos in Vegas. Do you ever get any freebies or casino credit?
Cat: Nothing official. I got a couple of tickets to see Blue Man Group as thanks for bailing out one of the tech leads at the Venetian a few years back. Oh, and there was the time I got to hang backstage during a rehearsal of Zumanity. I was working on their light rig at the time. May I just say... yum!
Q: I'll bet. Speaking of yum, let's talk to Marius for a few.
Cat: *noticeably rolls eyes* Really?
Q: So, Marius, you call yourself a satyr. Are you speaking metaphorically, or mythologically?
Marius: It's true, I'm a satyr. Son of an ancient race that thrives on the sensual pleasures.
Q: You look perfectly normal. Don't satyrs usually have horns and goat's legs?
Marius: It's a simple bit of magic to hide those. Goes with the blood type.
Q: And I hear you've been around a while. If it's not rude to ask, how old are you?
Marius: I'm old enough to know better, but still young enough that I don't give a damn.
Q: How did the two of you meet? And are you really "just friends"?
Marius: I wouldn't say that we're friends, exactly. Catherine was introduced to me by my employer when the former was particularly stupid and lost her soul to the latter. When the Lady requires Ms. Sharp's attention, it is my responsibility to contact her and sometimes provide her with the details of her tasks. While this is the extent of our relationship, I think it's safe to say that Catherine harbors deep feelings of unrelenting desire for me.
Cat: *pppht* Please!
Q: Do you consider him a friend, Cat?
Cat: I consider him a pain in my ass.
Marius: She doth protest too much, methinks. *knowing grin and wink to me*
Q: Well, Marius, you mentioned your employer. You work for Eris, yes?
Marius: That's true. The Lady of Discord and I have had a working relationship for a while now.
Q: And it's a good relationship?
Marius: *smiling* She is a delightful employer.
Q: Cat, you're also involved with Eris. Would you agree with Marius?
Cat: In a word - NO.
Q: Would you care to elaborate?
Q: Alrighty then.... moving on from that. We're going to play a couple of games.
Marius: Excellent. I love games! Will I have need of a safe word? Cat: You wish. Marius: Every single night.
Q: This is kinda like the lightning round. Cat - PC or Mac?
Cat: Macs are sexy, but I hate proprietary software. PC.
Q: Marius - If you could work with any deity, who would it be?
Marius: Dionysus and I always got on famously. I suppose had I been smarter in my youth, I'd have offered my services to him.
Q: Cat - Marry, shag, kill - Loki, Agent Coulson and Iron Man.
Marius: Loki and who? Cat: *gaping at Marius* Seriously? Who? She says Iron Man and your response is "Who?" You need to get out more. Marius: A gentleman doesn't pull out until his lady is ready, thank you. Cat: GET out, not pu--for fucksake, will you just let me answer the question? Marius: Absolutely, though I'm hardpressed to imagine you shagging anyone as you're such a tightly- wound prude. Cat: Fuck off. *to me* I'm assuming you mean Loki from the movies rather than LOKI, right? (I have to ask because *gestures to Marius* well, you know.) Anyway... I'd toss Loki off a cliff on principle. Banner said it best, you can smell crazy on him. Also? I don't do non-humans. *pointed glare to Marius, who just smirks* I'd probably marry Coulson because he's so damn cute in his fanboyness. Plus he kicks ass. And yeah. Would totally shag Iron Man. He's hot. He's smart and he's got all the best tech in the world. I'd take a tumble with him and then ask to play with some of his gadgets. I'd make my own arc reactor!
Q: Marius - same question.
Marius: I still haven't got a bloody clue who you're talking about. And I wouldn't shag Loki if you paid me. He's probably a terrible lay. He's the type that would insist on being the top then make me do all the work. No fun. And marry? Pan's balls! I'd never do something so wretched.
Q: So, how has working with one another benefited you or hindered you?
Cat: Seriously...? Marius: Really, Catherine? And here I was about to tell her that in our time together you've given me no end of joy. Cat: *pauses* Really? Marius: Of course. *takes her hand in his* I enjoy nothing more than making you suffer. *Cat rips her hand away. Marius turns to me.* She may play the part that she has no interest in me, but some day that stubbornness will crack and I will have her pawing the walls in ecstasy.
Q: Alright, this one should be fun. If you two were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want? (Assuming your basic survival needs were covered, that is.)
Marius: An endless spring of port wine and a life-time supply of water-based lubricants. Beyond that, I need nothing more. Catherine? Cat: Yeah. You'd need the lube for all the jerking off you'd be doing. Either that or you're fucking coconuts, because it's sure as hell not going to be me. *turns to me* I'd need wi-fi, a natural hot spring of chai...*we fistbump because dude, chai*.
Q: Anything else?
Cat: *glares at Marius* A cattle prod.
Q: Let's say you'd have to agree before the care package could be sent.
Marius: *waggles eyebrows* Chai-flavored lubricant? Cat: Kill me. Please?
Q: Alright, we've got time for one more question. I'd like for you to compose a personal ad that will definitely get a date. The only catch is that you have to write it for the other.
Marius: Look, I might be devilishly charming and adept at several magics, but even I couldn't work the miracle of getting Catherine Sharp a date. Cat: *blinks* British asshole seeks clandestine rendezvous with my foot up his pompous ass.
Q: And on that note... I think it's time we call this one quits before someone gets hurt. So, thank you very much for sitting down and talking with me.
There you have it. If you liked that and want to know more, you can read all about Cat and Marius in WILD CARD, available Monday, November 25!
Today's the day! The sun is shining. The tank is clean and we are ... *record scratch* This is not Finding Nemo. Anyway, today is the day I finally--FINALLY!--get to reveal the cover of my debut novel to the world! Let's just skip the foreplay and get right to it, shall we?
The first time I saw this cover I flew around my house in a torrent of bounceful squeeness that could not be contained by four walls built by man. Seriously, the model pulls off Catherine Sharp's perfect blend of bored badass without being in one of the ubiquitous poses. The poker chips are exactly like the ones featured in the book AND that red background is so delicious I want to lick it.
As an added bonus, you can read the first chapter here.
So, I thought that today would be a good day to answer some of the questions I've been getting lately. Without further ado, here is the OFFICIAL WILD CARD FAQ.
When does the book come out? November 25, 2013. Four weeks from today, my loves.
Where can I buy it? You can snag that puppy on any platform that sells ebooks. Click any of these pretty little buttons and order your copy now.
Ebook? Well, can I buy it in print? At the moment, no. WILD CARD will be ebook-only for the forseeable future.
But I don't have an e-reader. How can I buy your book and read it if I don't have an e-reader? Here's the beauty part: You don't need a Kindle/ Nook/iPad or NASA password to read WILD CARD. You can download it and read it on your computer, iPod or smart phone, too. It works across all platforms, no muss or fuss. (Not microwave compatible.) If you are reading this blog, you can read the book.
But I really want a print copy. Isn't there something you can do? Sorry, love. No. My glorious publisher, Entangled, is a digital-first publisher. This means that they deal mainly in digital books. When one of those titles sells very well in the digital market, they will then do a print run and distribute the book in brick & mortar stores. It is part of my contract. I cannot make a print book. But you? You have that power. The more ebooks that sell, the better the chance that I will have a print copy of my book for you to enjoy.
Okay. But how can I get you to autograph an ebook? In a word? Authorgraph. Thanks to this site, you can request a digital autograph and I will make it happen. With lots of love. In fact, click the widget below for exactly that option.
If this doesn't tickle your ivories, then you have other options and they are thus:
- Buy or fashion a cover for your e-reader made of plain white fabric. Bring it to a signing/convention I am attending and I will sign that.
- Laser etching of your device.
- Email me that you can't live without my autograph, send me your address and I will send you an autographed slip of paper. Possibly a Wendy's receipt, but hey.
- Win a contest that I will be holding here on this blog (or elsewhere) and I will sign your prize.
- Come to a con/event/signing and hand me something. I'll sign it. I don't care if I didn't write it, I will sign that shit for you. You'll confuse the hell out of eBay.
- Buy the ebook, tell your friends, leave reviews on Amazon & Goodreads so that a print copy goes into production. Then I can sign that.
How much will your book cost? Barring sales, deals or other such discounts, WILD CARD will be $3.99.
Will there be a sequel to WILD CARD? Yes. WILD CARD is the start of a series that I've sketched out to be 5 books long. The sequel is finished and I'm about 75% through writing Book 3. Books 4 & 5 are loosely outlined. As to when you'll see these sequels... I dunno. It will depend on how things go with WILD CARD and what the lovely folks at Entangled have to say on the matter. Which is why it would be really helpful of you to leave reviews on Amazon & Goodreads.
Reviews? Aren't *you* the writer here? Leaving a review on a site like Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads doesn't mean you have to do an essay. This isn't your high school lit class and you won't be tested or graded on it. All you have to do is leave a rating (number of stars) and say a few things about how you felt about the book. Did you love the characters? Did the setting really grab you? Did you laugh out loud? Basically, just say something like you would when recommending a book or movie to a friend.
Will you be reading these reviews? *shrugs* I dunno. I try to stay away from that stuff, but I admit to having a masochistic streak. This coupled with morbid curiosity will probably lead me down the bewitching path of reading a few random reviews. But don't worry. You should always be honest. Honest feedback is how I get better.
Have a question about the book? Drop me a line in the comments and I'll answer! Also, show Curtis some love for this amazing cover. I couldn't be happier with it. (And seriously, I wish I could lick that background. My synesthesia is showing.)
Stay tuned, kids. There's going to be a lot going on over the next few weeks and I'll have lots of info, some contests and lots of fun going on here. Until then, be excellent to each other.