Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Beginning of the End

I’m sitting here on my lunch at the Real Job™, making notes about JJD6.  Just notes.  No actual writing yet, because if I start writing it, then I have to finish writing it at some point in the future.  And then it’s over.

I mean, I always knew it would be over someday.  Jesse’s story has been plotted out, beginning to end, since the first day.  I’ve known since May 20th, 2007 how this would go.  That’s a really long time, when you stop to look at it.  For nine years, I’ve had this guy living in my head.  I feel like I know him just as well as I know any real person in my life.  Maybe better.

How do I say goodbye to that? I have to, of course.  The story ends, like I always knew it would.  I wonder, three years from now, five years from now, will I think “I wonder what Jesse is up to now?” and be tempted to write about him again?  Right now, I have no plans to.  The only thing worse than a story ending is a story dragging out long past its natural life.  No zombie stories here, thank you very much!

Jesse’s been good to me.  Better than I have been to him, that’s for sure.  I have dreams that in some alternate universe, Jesse probably hates my guts for all that I’ve put him through.  But he’s soldiered on, coming out on top against long odds again and again.

All I have to do is start typing the words.  Some of them will be a surprise to me, because even though I know how it goes, I don’t know how it gets there.  Some of them have been floating around in the dark spaces of my brain for nine years.  Once I put them down on paper (on computer screen), they’re out.  There will be a hole in my cranium where they used to be.  There will be a hole where Jesse used to be.

So I make notes, for now.

Because I’m not ready to write it just yet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#SPFBO 2016

What is it, you ask? It is the “Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off”!

Last year, organized by author/blogger Mark Lawrence, 10 brave bloggers took on the responsibility of reading and reviewing 273 self-published fantasy novels, with the ultimate goal of choosing one ring to rule them all. Er…one winner. You can read all about last year’s competition here!

It was such a huge hit that they’ve decided to do it again, and guess what, I’m participating! I’ve submitted The Music Box Girl, one of 300 entries into this year’s contest. (that’s right, 300 entries. They had to cap the submissions because it was so popular). Now, we (the authors) don’t win anything, other than some good word of mouth, but I’m really mostly excited about learning about OTHER people’s books. My new favorite might be in there, and I don’t even know it yet!

My book got slotted into the group to be read by The Qwillery, and if you didn’t already know about them, you should totally check them out. They do really good book reviews, as well as fascinating interviews, and I’ve found quite a few new reads through them.

If you want to see a list of all of the submitted books, as well as the bloggers who have taken on the herculean task of wading through 30 books a piece, you can visit Mark Lawrence’s blog post about the contest. He keeps a running list of posts there as the bloggers talk about their assigned books. He has also started another post where each blogger picks their three favorite covers, and it will be updated as they all respond.

SO, if you see the hashtag #SPFBO, that’s what I’m talking about, and I’m hoping to be able to read a few of the submitted titles as well over the course of the summer.

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Who is The Music Box Girl?

BOOK REVIEWERS!  I will be ordering proof copies of The Music Box Girl within the next few days.  If you want me to reserve you a print copy, email me at kari (dot) stewart21 (at) gmail (dot) com.  If you’d rather have an ebook copy, I can make that happen too, just let me know what format you want it in.  (sorry, folk, I can't just hand out books to everyone who asks.  You need to have an actual book review site before I can give up my proof copies)

Thus far, you can pre-order the ebook here:

The print copy will be released approximately a week prior to the ebook release (which is April 26th), so that everyone can be reading it on release day!

Any questions?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

So You Want to Be a Writer!

I had an aspiring young writer email me with a few questions the other day, and after I got done answering him, it occurred to me that the questions were really good, and that others might find the answers interesting. So here they are, posted for your perusal, with his permission.

I'm wanting to be a writer, and I have some questions. How did college help you become a writer? When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What did you do early on that helped you? Is there any specific advice you have for me? What are some benefits and drawbacks to being a writer?

You’ve asked some really great questions, but I’m going to kind of answer them out of order.

First off, a lot of my earliest memories were of wanting to be a writer. When I was really young, I’d write stories set in my favorite worlds (books or comic books that other people had written). That’s called fan fiction now, but I didn’t know the word back then. I just knew I was having fun. I didn’t really start trying to create my own worlds until I was probably your age (12-13), and trust me when I say that those were really REALLY bad. But I got better.

However, that doesn’t mean that everyone that writes is a writer from day one. I have several friends who didn’t start trying to write/publish books until they were in their 50s. (and they’re doing quite well, actually)

When I got to college, I chose to major in English with an emphasis in Literature (instead of an emphasis in Writing). I did that on purpose, because it helped me learn HOW to read. It taught me about story structure, and literary devices. I learned about voice and style, and I learned all the rules and when/how to best break them. There’s a lot more that goes into telling a story than just the words you use.

The best thing you can do as writer is read. Read everything, in many different genres and many different styles. Make mental notes about the things that other writers do that you like, and don’t like. Note the things that you think they did well, the parts of the book that made you gasp or tear up, and note which things made you want to throw the book across the room. Think about, if I had been the one to have this idea, how would I have done it better, or different?

The benefits of being a writer vary according to what you want to get out of it. If you want to make a lot of money, being a writer might not be the best course of action. There are exceptions of course (Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling), but most of us don’t make a huge amount of money. If you just enjoy exploring different worlds and sharing those with other people, then it’s totally the thing for you. Some people write, just because they like writing, and they never have any intention of showing it to other people. Some people like writing and letting other people read, but they don’t care about money, so they just post their work online for free. And of course, there are people who write solely with an eye toward publication. There are many different roads to Oz, and only you can decide what Oz is for you.

I know that even if I never published another book in my life, I would still write. There are people and worlds in my head that need out, ‘cause it gets crowded up there.

But really, one of the biggest benefits of writing is that you will be a better writer. That will be obvious in any job you ever try to have in the future. Being able to express yourself well in written format is starting to be a rather rare skill, and employers notice. (and trust me, even if you want to write as a career, you will need a “real job” too. At least in the beginning)

Being a writer also teaches you about follow-through and commitment. I’ve heard a lot of people who say they are writers, but they’ve been working on the same project for like ten years and never actually finish it. You have to finish stuff. You have to slog through the hard parts, whizz through the easy parts, and find an ending. Even if you never touch it again after that moment, just finishing something is an accomplishment.

One of the drawbacks of being a writer is that you live in your own head a good deal of the time. It can be a little lonely and frustrating when you know that not everyone around you “gets” that your brain isn’t always in this world all the time. The trick is finding a group of like-minded people who you can share your work with, and who understand the same struggles you’re going through. It doesn’t even have to be people that you know in real life. I have a great group of writing friends that I met online years and years ago, and even though we all write very different things and are at different places in our careers, we’re all still really close and are always cheering each other on. ((Caveat: Don’t talk to people online without your parents’ permission. They’d kill me. ;) ))

Three good pieces of advice:

1) We have a saying in my writing group: “I am allowed to write utter poo.” The first thing you put down on paper is NEVER going to be perfect. It’s actually probably going to be pretty bad. And I say that about every writer ever, no matter how long they’ve been writing. But the great thing about having it on paper is that it’s THERE, and you can always edit. The only thing you can’t edit is a blank page. Editing is one of my favorite parts of the writing process, because I get to go back through and polish it up to be as awesome as it is in my brain. Sometimes, when I’m writing the first draft, I have to rush to get it down so fast that it’s not exactly right yet, but I know as long as it’s there, I can always go back and make it better.

2) Grow a thick skin. If you want to put your writing out for other people to see, you have to be able to take criticism. Now, there are people who will read your stuff and just be mean because they’re jerks. And those people you can cheerfully ignore. But for the most part, especially if you can find other writers to communicate with, they’re just trying to help you make things better. And also realize that not everybody likes everything. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, it just means you didn’t click with that particular reader.

3) The two most useful questions you will ever ask yourself as a writer are “Why?” and “What if?” Every story I have ever written has started with a “what if” kind of question. That’s where ideas come from. You start with what if. “What if fire fighters had super powers?” Then you flesh it out with “Why?” Why would firefighters NEED super powers? What happened in this world that makes it a necessity? How did the world get that way? What other effects would it have? And suddenly, you’ve built an entirely new world with its own people and rules and you’re writing a story.

I hope you all find these questions as interesting as I did. I actually had a good time really thinking about the responses.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jesse, The Music Box Girl, and More

Thanks to everyone who made Jesse James Dawson’s birthday so awesome!  It’s nice to have days like that where I remember that there are people who love him as much as I do.  Make sure to go out and leave a review on Amazon and/or B&N when you’re done reading!  If you didn’t like it, feel free to say so! Every review matters.

Once you reach the end of the book, I’m sure you’ll notice that I’ve included the first chapter of something else, called The Music Box Girl.  This will be the next project I’m self-publishing, and I hope to have it out sometime in April.  It’s already written, and fairly polished, but I’m wanting to take my time with the print copy design on this one.  Trying to get fancy!


I promised other good news, and while the above is all good news, that wasn’t what I was referring to.

Some of you may have noticed that Peacemaker has disappeared from all sales channels.  (It’s okay, I’ll wait here while you go verify, but I promise, it’s gone)  This is actually a very good thing!  Intermix, the original publisher, has reverted the rights to Peacemaker to me, and I am now free to re-release it, and in a PRINT version this time!

Not sure my timing on this one, since I want to get MBG settled first, but before summer, Peacemaker will be available again in a shiny new edition, and in print for the very first time!  I’ll keep you posted on dates.  And yes, this will most likely lead into me finally writing the sequels to Peacemaker in the near future.

I feel like this year is going to be a great year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Nuts and Bolts

First things first, thanks to everyone who purchased Second Olympus during my birthday sale!  I hope everyone loves it (or at least doesn't want to throw tomatoes at me). Once again, I beg,implore,grovel at your feet to PLEASE post reviews to places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The number of reviews a book has (doesn't matter if they're good, bad, or indifferent) dictates which books get picked up by the system for things like "If you liked this book, you might also like THIS one!" which can bring me to new readers.  The general rumor is that 50-ish reviews is the golden spot for being included in the system algorithms, and you'll note that not a single one of my books has that many reviews on Amazon.  Love an author?  Leave a review.

Secondly, A Line in the Sand, better known as JJD5, is now available for preorder!  Ebook only, of course, because preordering the print copy isn't something that's available at this time.  The release date is currently January 23rd (bonus points if anyone can guess why), so I'll try to have the print copy released prior to that, so that we can all hopefully be reading on the release date.


Now, you might be saying "But why is there no cover art?  We want a cover!"  Well, yes, so do I.  Very very much, in fact.  But, things have to go in a certain order when designing a cover, so I'll gladly bore you with excessive details.

Pick up the book nearest to you.  Look at the spine.  Most likely, the cover of the book has a front piece, a back piece, and a spine piece.  Well, the front and back covers will always be the dimensions you designate.  For example, my self-pubbed JJD covers will be 5x8.  The spine dimensions, however, are determined by how thick the book is.  More pages = thicker book = wider spine.  Everything has to fit just so to line up with the edges of the book.  So, you can't begin designing a print book cover without knowing how many pages your book has, first.

Look!  Visual aids!

So where does that leave me?  Well, last night I finished making editing notes on JJD5. Some were handwritten new paragraphs, others were things like "Awkward sentence", or "re-order" or "WTF?".  My next step is to start typing all those changes into the actual Word doc that is my manuscript.   Once that's done, I can copy/paste the document into a template that will become my print book file.  I have to decide all about the front-of-the-book material, and if I want to include pages at the back from any of my other books, that sort of thing.  Only when that is ALL done, and I can get a final page count, do I then request my cover from my cover artist.

I'm hoping to have the edits all done by the 16th at the VERY latest.  That was the deadline I gave myself, and getting it done sooner would make me do a happy dance.  I'll probably spend a couple of days (or three, or four) getting the print copy formatted and prepped, and then I'll email about the cover.  I'm pushing the time limit to get everything set for a January 23rd release date (all final files have to be uploaded by January 13th at the very latest), but I'm way behind where I wanted to be originally anyway, and I hate to drag it out any longer.

In the meantime, while we wait, I give you my Christmas Groot.