Ebook Moving Sale!

Ebook Moving Sale!The stress of my move might as well be a good thing to my readers.

So, moving sale!

Until the move is over and I’m back online, I am putting the following items on sale:

Smashwords:

“Night of the Aurora” – Is free! When Zach Callahan and his father, Hawk, arrive unprepared for a new life in the wilds of Alaska they find the first challenge is just getting to the small town of Salmon Run. But, Alaska has more in store for them. A massive aurora, the Solar Express train stranding them in the middle of nowhere… and the alien spaceship hidden beneath the ice and snow…

Omnilit and All Romance eBooks:

“Into the Forest Shadows”: 45% off: On a world of valuable giant trees and intelligent animals, a red-cloaked headstrong teen struggles to save her family from a planetary conspiracy awaiting her at Grandmother’s house. A Science Fiction novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” by J.A. Marlow.

Ebook Moving Sale!There was supposed to be a few other books for sale at Omnilit, but so far the discount has not propagated out. Oh well, I tried. Check on Thursday to see if they show up.

Oh, and enjoy your reading!

Writing and Money – Yes there IS a Connection

I was really hoping to go rant-free for a while, maybe a month. Really, I tried…

During a recent writer’s chat on Twitter an old myth came to light once again. What is it?

You are either a “starving artist” or you are a “sell-out” and not a real artist. Art is above money!

To put even more simply:
Making money = selling out
Making real art = starving artist

Before getting into why this is so wrong, I have to say this view should die a horrible miserable death!

Why?

Ask any of these professionals that have spent years learning a skill-set and continue to learn, hone, practice, and become professionals that they should work for free:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Teachers
  • Programmers
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Scientist
  • (and too many more to list)

I’m guessing they would have choice words about your lack of respect for their skills. Oh, and call them a ‘sell-out’ while you’re at it. I dare you.

Yet, when we move to the arts there is a very common perception, even among the artists themselves, that we should not expect money. Oh, it’s a nice bonus, but don’t expect it.

This is the ideal: Artist, expect to live in poverty. Expect to starve. Expect to never bring in enough to provide shelter for them or their family. This is ROMANTIC. This is what is expected. If it doesn’t happen this way, you are a failure and don’t deserve to call yourself a real ARTIST.

Now, replace ‘artist’ with ‘writer.’

Right now, I want to yell a word that is something you find in a cow field. Think steaming and stinky.

A Problem With the Ideal

Let’s see…

  • Years of learning.
  • Years of research.
  • Years of PRACTICE.
  • Years of classes, workshops, and books.
  • All of the above never stops because none of us are perfect!
  • Hours and hours spent to create each work.
  • Business education so we aren’t taken like sheep to a slaughter by corporations who are ALL about the profit. (those who do not pursue this type of education typically don’t survive very long except by sheer blind luck)

We spend years and decades honing our skill-set and craft, but money shouldn’t come into it? Because something is labeled ‘art?’

I love writing. I will always write. HOWEVER…

When my writing is published, or I start a work that I expect to be published, I have a legitimate reason to believe I should be given compensation for the years of work and dedication and skills that went into creating the work. When I start a work with a view towards publication and GASP! money, it is not a disservice to my years (and continuing) training. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

I train to hone my craft. I practice. I actively try to learn. With more training and skills I can earn more money. Money to LIVE on so I can continue to hone my craft, gain more training, develop more skills. I am not a hobbyist. I don’t have time to waste on things that take so much knowledge but gives no return.

Does this view make me a capitalist? If being a capitalist means eating, having basic clothes and shelter, then YES! Or a “sell out”, then YES I am. Let me emphasize this: YES YES YES!

An Artistic Capitalist!

An author creating a work has brought something into existence from nothing. A new work. A new story. New characters and settings. It did not exist before!

It was created with skills learned over years. While writing does bring a lot of joy, it is also a lot of hard work. It is ‘value creation’ for the benefit of those who find value in your form of art.

Is this to be viewed as a nothing? Is a car viewed as a nothing when it’s designed and put together? If so, I want a really cheap or free car, please.

Creating something another values is not a sell-out. It is not selfish. It is not evil capitalism. It is quite the opposite. Providing more value for those same people by creating even more, is not a sell-out. It is providing something special and unique for someone who appreciates it.

The Choices

A person has only so much time in a day, so an artist/writer have two choices:

1. Take a ‘day job’ and help SOMEONE ELSE make money and write a little bit on the side if you still have the energy.
OR
2. Write with a view towards compensation and make money FOR YOURSELF (oh horrors, I mentioned money!) and write MORE.

Well, duh, which one do you think I will pick? As someone who LOVES to write?

Wow, the opportunity to write more, to create more, to tell more stories? Not having a ‘day job’ or ‘survival job’ stealing away precious energy and time?

The labels of ‘capitalist’ and ‘sell out’ have an interesting source. Most of it comes from the rest of the author/artist community (mostly by unemployed or under-paid). I’ve not heard this coming from anyone who is making a living off their art/writing. A touch of jealousy at another’s success or expectations, perhaps?

A professional writer is in business for themselves just like so many in the business world. It is a valid career. Just because the profession is viewed as ‘artistic’ does not change this.

The Realities

We live in a cash society. Verbal accolade do not provide the necessities of life. Art for art’s sake has a place, but not at the cost of feeding yourself. Or at the cost of producing MORE art.

So, to say that craft and skill and art have nothing to do with money and SHOULDN’T have anything to do with money? That the two should not be viewed together?

Go get a life. But, don’t expect it to be any of the so-called non-artistic professionals. After all, you just said there shouldn’t be a view towards money, much less the necessities of life in anything requiring skills…

End the ‘starving’. Get a backbone, let go of the fear, and start viewing what you do as having worth. It begins in the mind.

Rant over (and yes, I need to stop joining in on twitter writing chats. ARGH!)

____________________

J.A. Marlow

Writing and Money - Yes there IS a ConnectionMy latest novel, The String Weavers (The String Weavers – Book 1), is now available at online retailers everywhere.

Kelsey Hale thinks she’s just a typical mixed-up teenager. Everyone feels that way, her teachers assure her. Yet, strange things happen to her, like food disappearing before she can eat it and hearing music no one else hears.

Then a giant flaming bird drops an alien at her feet. Well, good grief, how can you ignore something like that?

Abducted from Earth, the only planet she’s ever known, Kelsey finds herself thrust into the middle of a deadly conflict among alien worlds and parallel universe. She must not only survive herself, but also find a way to rescue her father from a dangerous group with unknown motives.

In the process, she’s confronted by a hidden secret about herself which will shake the very foundation of who and what she thought she was.

And connecting it all are the mysterious Weavers.

A 97,100 word science fiction novel.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

NaNoWriMo: Writing For the Digital Bookshelf

The Indie Author. So many challenges, so much to learn. So much to watch out for, so much to take responsibility for.

And so much fun!

One big plus to the Indie movement is the ability to write what you love instead of writing to editorial or marketing department demands. This means the readers are finally getting the variety of novels they have been craving for years but that traditional publishing has failed to give them.

However, with this comes responsibility. A responsibility we, as authors, have always had: TO WRITE!

Find those words. It’s time for the storyteller in you to go into overdrive. You now have an avenue into which to release your work, but first the work must be created.

One way to create new product for your digital bookshelf is to join in various writing challenges. One of the biggest around is “National Novel Writing Month.” Every year authors from around the world join in a challenge to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days in the month of November.

For those of you who love math, that’s an average of 1667 words per day.

And, for those of us who are jumping into Indie Publishing as a business, we already are trying for regular word output, right? Is 1667 words that far above your current goal?

It doesn’t matter if it is. NaNoWriMo is loved (and hated) for many reasons. One of the big things I love about it is the creative energy of joining in on a big challenge with a lot of fellow authors. Wow, what a rush. I can do things I might have trouble doing at other times by myself, such as high wordcounts.

Or, how about the deadline? So much time to get so many words. Of course, those like me have goals higher than 50k, but the deadline is still there. How many drafts can you finish?

This year is the first year I’ll be participating in Nano while also in the publishing business. In a way it hasn’t affected how I view and want to use Nano, but in other ways it has. I have several goals:

1. Have a LOT of fun.
2. Tell a few great stories.
3. Produce several first drafts for eventual publication.

I now have several series published, with more in mind. That means a lot of stories and characters to continue. Using Nano I can nail those new stories and get first drafts finished and ready for revising in 2012. Series typically sell better once 3 or more books are published in them. The more the better. It means a reader who finds and likes the series can go ahead and sink their teeth into sequels without having to wait on the author producing more.

Using Nano to produce is a win-win for me on the Indie side, and a win-win for the readers.

Included in the Nano project list is a new series, which I’m working to outline the first four stories in. Doing something new is important to me, as it will keep this Nano fresh and fun. It won’t be only about previously started series. It will also be about new!

It’s time to do the serious brainstorming. Time to get out the outlines and virtual corkboards and index cards of Scrivener. Time to discover new adventures.

I can hardly wait.

Other Nano News: I’m not the only one gearing up. Lazette Gifford, is the author or the wonderful ebook “Nano for the New and Insane,” a venerable Nano guide that has helped many writers succeed in the Nano challenge of achieving 50,000 words in 30 days. For 2011 she has newly edited the ebook and added several new sections. It’s available for free download in multiple ebook formats at Smashwords.

Lazette’s latest blog post: Zette’s Take: Why Nano?

__________________________

J.A. Marlow

NaNoWriMo: Writing For the Digital BookshelfWelcome to Salmon Run, Alaska! A place of wild animals, wild land, and wild inhabitants…oh, and native legends come alive and an inter-planetary alien conflict at their backdoor.

Zach Callahan and his father, Hawk, arrive in Alaska to begin a new life. Anxious to arrive at the lodge crazy Uncle George left them, they find the first challenge is just getting to Salmon Run.

While still in Cordova, an old prospector declares the two greenhorns unprepared for the realities of an Alaskan winter. Sasha, a young native girl, attaches herself to Zach, much to his disgust. A failed sled-dog won’t leave Hawk alone, giving rise to an old phobia. They think they have it made once they get to the Solar Express, the unique train that will take them through a dark road-less wilderness to their new home.

The same night a massive display of the Aurora Borealis lights up the sky.

The Solar Express shuts down, stranding its passengers in the middle of nowhere. Hidden beneath the snow and ice, and under the path of the rescuers, an alien spaceship also feels the effects of the light show.

Cut off from the rescuers and trapped inside the spaceship, Zach and Sasha must ally themselves with a pair of aliens before either the malfunctioning security systems or the native Alaskan wildlife kills them.

A 37800 word stand-alone Novella in the Salmon Run series.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Author Insecurities and the Issue of Pricing

This week was going to be a post about Nano prep, but, well…

This week there were many good blog posts by other authors I followed. Part of the fun is to read the comments. And some of the comments had me rolling my eyes to the point it could have been physically damaging. What were the comments?

Authors crying, “I’m a brand-new unknown author, and no one knows my name. I HAVE to charge less than everyone else to even have a chance!”

News flash!

This idea is your own insecurities coming out and has nothing to do with readers.

How can I say that?

Uh, do you know how many published authors there are out there?

Because I’m a big reader who has read consistently for decades, and I don’t know most of the author names out there. Not even close. Not even a small percentage.

You might be an author who has been on genre best-seller lists for decades, and when I find you, you will be a new unknown author to me. You might be an author with only a few items out there, and you will be a brand-new unknown author to me. You might be an author with only ONE item out there, and you will be a brand-new unknown author to me.

Get the picture?

Most readers don’t know even a small fraction of the author names out there. What do they care about when browsing for a new book to read?

Good books.

Write a good book and they will buy it. If they like it, they will come back and buy others.

This is another reason why having more than one book on your virtual bookshelf is so important. Once a reader finds you, you want to supply them with as much reading material as possible before they exhaust your supply and have to go looking for another (probably new-to-them) author. The time spent reading your work will imprint your author name in their minds as someone to watch and come back to for further reading material.

1 book = minimal time to make an impression.
3-5 books = a much greater chance of making an impression.
More than 5 books = a great chance of making an impression!

Write a good book. Present it well. Put on a good cover, write a good blurb that grabs attention. Get it out there. Price it reasonably.

Notice I didn’t say price it CHEAPLY.

Use cheaper pricing as a sales tool, such as a loss-leader into a series (after you already have other books in the series published) or a special promotion or sale, not as a way to salve your insecurities. Use lower prices for a reason, a logically well-thought out reason.

Get control of your insecurities and don’t let them dictate business decisions.

Now go. Be an author, use your head and not your ‘feelings.’ Publish your work. You are a business. Make rational good business decisions.

____________________

Author Insecurities and the Issue of PricingI have a new release! Introducing the SF romance: Coffee Cup Dreams

She wasn’t supposed to wake up when dead…

During what should have been a simple operation, Tish Douglas died. And yet, she also awoke… in what the doctors called a ‘psi event.’

Despite having no memory of the incident, it means she’s required to go on a life-time course of debilitating drugs designed to reign in her supposedly new psi gifts. She’s left with the option of existing on Earth in a drug-haze, or leave the planet.

When an opportunity for a good paying job on a space station known as Redpoint One is offered, she jumps at the chance. Even though she doesn’t have any experience as a ‘maintenance engineer.’ Even though the station sits in the middle of nowhere, a still-operating construct of a long-gone alien species.

Between pirate attacks, intelligent repair robots, and maintenance emergencies, Tish must find a place for herself.

All complicated by a growing attraction to the one person on the station she can’t have: boss Arthur Getty.

A stand-alone 48400 word, 193 page (approximate), science fiction romance novel by J.A.Marlow.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

The Myth of the Author Online Presence

A little bit of a rant here about the advice to authors, especially Indie authors, that have been making the rounds online since, well, forever. To the point of feeling as if I’ll get beat over the head if I don’t pay attention and follow it.

It’s a subject I would love for Dean Wesley Smith to tackle directly as one of the new-and-upcoming myths of the new Indie publishing business. Really. I would love his viewpoint.

Just for kicks, let’s start this off DWS-style.

The Myth: Your online presence should be all about selling your books. That means not writing about writing. That’s geared only towards other writers. No, you should start sharing things about yourself. Open up your personal life. Talk about EVERYTHING. Become ‘friends’ with the reader.

What does this advice tell me?

:snark mode on:

Psst. Hey, you, author.

Stop relating news about your writing. Readers don’t want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter that it’s only because of your writing that they have something to read.

Don’t you know you should blog and tweet and whatever only about things OTHER than writing? Writing should be locked away in the attic along with Crazy Aunt Matilda, to be seen only by accident!

:end snark mode:

I have several problems with this advice. Let’s start with the big one.

My life is MINE.

I try to be careful online. I do not put everything out there. I’m sure there’s still plenty about me out there, but I do not willingly share.

You will not hear about my family other than an odd comment. You will not hear about my home and pets on a regular basis. You will not hear about my real-life job or a lack of one. You will not hear about my doctor appointments unless it’s something that might stop my writing career. You will not hear about shopping for clothes or groceries.

That is my private life. Why does someone have to be a voyeur into my life to feel a connection to me?

My online presence is about what I feel passionate enough about to share.

Second point:

Marketing and promotion

The mantra: it’s all about finding and selling to readers. Marketing and promotion is where it’s at! If you aren’t doing both as much as writing, well, then, you really don’t deserve success and are unlikely to achieve it.

:snort:

You know what? My work are my best marketing and promotion tools. I put a lot of hard work into my work.

I know my work will not be to everyone’s tastes. That’s fine. I know this business is one of patience. A marathon, not a sprint. I’m willing to be patient as I find those new readers. Once someone does find and like me, they will tell others. The word-of-mouth will spread.

Every survey on the subject says that word-of-mouth is the MOST effective sales tool.

In the meantime, however, I’m marketing and promoting my little brains out. How am I doing that? By writing. Writing and writing, and writing some more.

And art. Creating, thinking, researching, and sketching. See all those covers on the right side? I’ve achieved a dream I’ve had since a teen to become a cover artist. Whelan, oh my goodness. I wanted to create painted covers that make people stop and take a second look!

I reached that dream by making covers for my own writing. None are perfect, but wow, am I proud of the painted covers. With each cover I learn new things and become better.

Am I marketing and promoting? You betcha!

Let’s move onto the third point.

Advice: Interact With What You Are Passionate About

Do you know what I am passionate about?

Writing and art.

Those two words on the line above. Those are my passions and who and what I am. Period. I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Share my the rest of my life? No, there isn’t much otherwise to share, or that I’m willing to share. I do not share my private life.

For me, it comes down to this: If I don’t write about my passions on my blog and in my online social life (and those are writing and art), then I don’t talk. No point in engaging. No point in the blog. No point in the rest of it. I might as well have a static webpage that gets updated only when a new book comes out.

Heck, I would have more writing time if I just went with a static webpage. But, I don’t want to. I LIKE helping other writers and artists. I LIKE reporting on the progress of the various projects. I LIKE giving advice that could help others. I LIKE hearing from other writers and artists. I LIKE talking and displaying the arts.

While I see and acknowledge that we as publishers/authors need to sell to people who are not authors, I also believe in being true to yourself. My media interaction does that, even if it is ‘insular’ to those doing the same thing. I do think readers respond to honesty. This is the honest me. Heck, if it weren’t, they wouldn’t have anything to read!

You want something personal about me? Here it is: Writing professionally has been a dream since learning how to read with Dick and Jane. I remember the moment of sitting in the chair and having the shocking realization that, yes, even at that young age, I could write and tell stories better than this person who not only became published, but published big enough to sell to schools! I loved telling stories before that. Had a burning desire to know what these strange marks on a page meant, because obviously my parents knew what they were when they were reading me a story. But after Dick and Jane, I knew I would become a published author one day. Nothing was going to stop me!

What Does All This Come Down To?

Unlike a lot of blogs that have decided that they must change their format and subjects to attract and appease a mythical perfect reader/buyer, this blog will not change. It will remain about my passions.

Just to be clear, here are my passions:

WRITING AND ART!

And, who knows? Maybe those readers who happen on my little corner of the internet will enjoy following me as I work on new projects and report my progress, failures and successes, and new releases. Maybe I will inspire them to try art or writing themselves. Or maybe I will inspire them to other endeavors they have a passion for but for some reason haven’t attempted.

I think that would be a wonderful thing. The world needs more writers and artists, not less.

So, this blog?

Just me, being me.

____________________

The Myth of the Author Online PresenceJ.A. Marlow

A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother’s house…

“Always wear the red hood and cape while you are in the forest,” Grandma admonished.

For a teen with purple and red hair, and an attitude to match, the small claustrophobic city of Oburos grows ever smaller with Uncle Travis’s attempts to take over her and her mother’s life.

An invitation to visit Grandmother’s house, nestled among the giant trees filling the planet, gives Kate a welcome respite. But, there is no time for rest. A conspiracy among the forest inhabitants, moving trees, and other mysteries await her at Grandmother’s house.

Kate learns just how little she knew of the forests, much less its animals. To survive she must learn fast, and that includes trust and teamwork.

And just where was Grandma, anyway?

A Science Fiction 83600 word stand-alone novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” by J.A. Marlow.

AmazonThe Myth of the Author Online Presence | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords