Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug

Dear Adverbs,

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Better Writing

Dear adverbs,

I used to like you, but now I know I can live without you. Occasional flings are fine–you’re still cute–but I’m better off on my own. Move onto younger lovers. Find someone you can still impress. I would say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” but it’s you. You’re flabby and vain. Take a hard look at yourself. Discipline is your friend; get serious about it and maybe we can still have casual sex.

Verily Yours,
Moses
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28
Aug

I Wrote a Poem Today

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in My Work, Poetry

Stopping

Why do I fear the summer sky?
Childhood sweethearts, laying down on the trampoline in her back yard, did not.
That boy Moses walked the moist Georgia grass and removed shoes,
drifted beside an angel and embraced the wispy white.

All this heaven, present, majestic.
Natural, God-lit, Sunday’s best.
To gaze and rest my eyes,
to fly.
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23
Aug

My Journey to Publishing on Amazon: How and Why?

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Ebooks, My Work, Publishing

This is a copy of my latest column for GraspingForTheWind.com:

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Twelve days ago, I published my first work of fiction to Amazon and Smashwords. It’s called The Black God’s War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic Fantasy, and it serves as an introduction to my novel with the same title (The Black God’s War). Here’s how and why I dipped my toes into the indie waters.

The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

Getting a Word document ready for Kindle and Smashwords took a little effort over the course of a day, but after you’ve done it, you realize how easy the process is. The free Smashwords Style Guide leads you through the process, and their guide works for Amazon as well as Smashwords. Once you’re in Smashwords, you can automatically get your ebook into BN.com, the iBookstore, Kobo, and Sony.

Some of the main things you have to do are the following: create universal paragraph indentation (you cannot use the TAB key and you have to delete all tabs); insert page breaks between chapters; single space the text with a common font (12-pt Times New Roman, for example); insert graphics directly in Word; and add a copyright page at the front. You’re ready to upload. It’s easy.

I uploaded my document, book cover, and book description on a Monday morning, and by the early a.m. on Wednesday it was available for sale on Amazon. Total cost to me: $0.00.

Why?

I’ll admit to being confused about the best way to approach publishing today. The world of Publishing is changing fast and there’s a new wave of indie writers extolling the virtues of 70% ebook royalties on Amazon, full control, and no delays. So I’m testing the waters as an experiment. In an average scenario, you can get free exposure and reach some new fans, read more reactions to your work, and make a little money (some indie writers even make a lot).

So far, my book has been read by a modest number of people, and already there’s at least one review on GoodReads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, a review blog, and Smashwords. The reviews have been encouraging, and it’s nice to hear from people that don’t know you that you aren’t crazy (always a possibility). I even got an unexpected email from an American in China who said he’s now “a fan,” and someone I don’t know on KindleBoards called it a “very good read.” Lastly, I had an excuse to be interviewed by the Kindle Author blog.

At this stage in the game, those little things are nice rewards. Additionally, I’ve used the coupon feature on Smashwords to give away free copies of my novella, and it’s nice to be able to link to my Amazon page from my blog. On the flip side, I now see that promoting your work can give you another excuse to procrastinate rather than write.

It’s too early for me to judge the results of this experiment, but if it only achieves what it has so far, it will have been worth it. If I publish the book independently, then this is all pre-release marketing to generate some buzz for the full novel. And if I seek out a publisher (I’m not sure if I want to submit it anywhere, because the indie route looks pretty good to me), then hopefully having some reviews and sales to show them would help my cause.

Well, if you’ve run out of things to read you’ll know where to find this one, and if you’re interested in an electronic review copy, just let me know. The novella is around 24,000 words long, and can be read through in just a few hours.

Moses Siregar III is the author of The Black God’s War, a dramatic epic fantasy novel inspired by Homer; you can sample it for 99 cents at Amazon or Smashwords. He lives with his family at high elevation in Prescott, AZ, and blogs about passion for the writing life at Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar … Learn more about Moses: Facebook or More Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.
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19
Aug

Why I’m Indie Publishing (for now)

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Marketing, Publishing

1999. My late Uncle Mike (RIP) tells me, “You should put your business on the internet. That’s where everything is headed.”

Really? I thought. Well, Mike’s a business man, a true Capricorn. Maybe he knows what he’s talking about. Okay, why not, I’ll give it a try.

(thanks Uncle Mike)

Fast forward to 2010. My thought is that ebooks in 2010 = the internet in 1999, at least for authors. We can now get royalties of 70% on Amazon with ebooks. You can get into BN.com, the iBookstore, and other top retail websites. Ereading devices are cheaper, better, and more prolific every day. Bookstores and publishing companies are going to struggle, and more and more book commerce will take place online. You can get your book in the biggest book seller on earth, in the exact same place as all of the big boys.

Now I’ve got two major options. One is to take a long road as an indie writer and build up a backlist and readership over the course of many years, hoping that some day enough people will discover and appreciate my work enough to be able to make a decent income telling stories.

The other option is still a valid one. It’s to take the long road to publication with major publishers and take advantage of all of the considerable benefits along the way.

If you really want to roll the dice and see if you can go big, traditional publishing still makes the most sense. If you want more control of your career and you’re patient enough to build it over the course of five or ten years, then self-publishing actually makes sense for the first time in the modern era. But being an indie is not for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense for me.

  1. I love doing things on my own. Websites, promotion, design, and more. I love it. When I was in college, I started a magazine and managed almost every job myself, learning the ropes along the way. Before I was done, we had a circulation of 13,000 in Athens, GA and a nice-looking, respectable tabloid. I’ll certainly hire some professionals when I need their help (for example, copyediting), but I enjoy learning skills that allow me to be independent.
  2. I love being in business for myself and have almost always operated in this way.
  3. I enjoy controlling every aspect of my business for various reasons.
  4. I have some platform already. For example, my previous business has an opt-in email list with 15,000 subscribers.
  5. I like setting the schedule for everything, including release dates.

However, I’m not closed to traditional publishing. I’ve worked with editors on my magazine articles before and it’s something I’m fine with. I love the idea of getting my books reviewed by more sources and getting professional cover design, layout, and marketing. Traditional publishing makes it easier to get in print all around the world. Traditional publishing still offers great exposure and lots of perks.

I’m still not sure if my first full novel will be published as an indie novel or with a major publisher (my first release on Amazon is a novella). I lean towards doing it myself, with a release date of May, 2011, but I’m still open to the right publishing house and contract if the deal is really good. I’m still deciding if I even want to submit it to any publishing houses or agents.

What’s amazing is that you have options now. If traditional publishing isn’t working for you, you can roll up your sleeves, publish your own ebooks and print-on-demand books through CreateSpace or Lightning Source, and get to work. Obviously your work will need to be edited, copyedited, and proofread by capable people.

Either way you go, it won’t be easy. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
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UPDATE: Here’s another point of view from the comments below: An excellent post from A.P. Fuchs about Why Traditional Publishers and Agents are Still Important.

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This post is my entry in Chris Kelly’s indie publishing blog carnival on his Dun Scaith blog.

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Michael J Sullivan

Michael J Sullivan

I made a mistake when I first discovered Michael J Sullivan. I found his books on Amazon and read some of the reviews of his first book. Despite the overwhelming ratio of positive to negative reviews (14:1), I read the handful of critical reviews and decided not to try his series. Yeah. I know, that was pretty dumb. Lesson learned (seriously).

Recently, I came across his books again, but this time I downloaded a sample to my Kindle and read it. Needless to say, I loved it and I thought it was a lot of fun. Here’s a quote from the book’s epilogue about the nature of the series:

“Eschewing the recent trends in fantasy towards the lengthy, gritty, and dark, the Riyria Revelations brings the genre back to its roots. Avoiding unnecessarily complicated language and world building for its own sake; this series is a distillation of the best elements of traditional fantasy–great characters, a complex plot, humor, and drama all in appropriate measures.”

One of the reasons I was curious about Michael’s work is that he’s an underdog. He’s with a small press, and he’s just humbly going about his business, writing his books and doing his own thing. It felt good to see his success, both for him and for what’s possible for others.

SciFiGuy.ca posted a long interview with Michael J Sullivan in April of this year, so I’m going to link to it and try not to cover the same ground. Michael also has a nice blog and he tweets, and check out all of the covers he designed for his books (below). Here’s my interview with him.
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The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J SullivanMoses: Michael, it’s great to talk to you. Let’s imagine we’re having this conversation in the Rose and Thorn tavern. What would it be like?

MJS: That would depend greatly on when we were there, as the world in my series changes dramatically over the course of the six books. However if we were in the Lower Quarter tavern during the time of The Crown Conspiracy, it would be a loud bustling pub filled with fiddle music, loud conversations and heels on hardwood. In order to hold a civil discussion, we would need to sit in the back of the Diamond Room, away from the noise of the bar, in the deep shadows of the few table candles. I would be leaning forward playing with the melted wax as it tears off the candle while failing to flag down a waitress for a mug of the dark house ale.
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Moses: In that case, I would be scribbling with a quill on parchment, rewriting a troublesome sentence far too many times and blowing all my ale money on scrolls and ink. Hm, I think I like 2010 better.

Back to today. For those who are unfamiliar with your series, The Riyria Revelations, how would you introduce it?

MJS: The Riyria Revelations is a sword and sorcery fantasy story about Royce and Hadrian, an expert thief and a highly skilled soldier, who make their living doing jobs for competing nobles. Through a series of events, they find themselves entangled in a centuries-old mystery. It is a fast paced adventure littered with plot twists and populated with memorable characters. While it makes use of many icons typical to the genre, it is presented in a fresh way that makes it a uniquely fun read.

The series is actually six books, all of which I wrote before the first was published, so I was able to construct a cohesive story arc where secrets hinted at in one book are fulfilled in later ones. At the same time, while one story, I’ve neatly divided it up into separate episodes, so each has a beginning, middle, and end, rather than having the story just stop and pick up in the next book.
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Avempartha by Michael J SullivanMoses: Your series seems to be doing quite well. You’ve got around 80 reviews on Amazon for the first book in your series, and they are overwhelmingly positive. Your books have won numerous awards and been honored in various ways. Now that you are about to release the fifth book in your series, are you able to make a living with your writing, and whether the answer is yes or no, how does that feel?

MJS: Yeah, seventy-eight reviews. 47 five star, 20 four, 5 three, 1 two, and 5 one star reviews, and yet you listened to the six out of seventy-eight who were not pleased and decided not to read it at first. That really doesn’t bode well.

The question of whether an author is making a living wage—able to support him/herself—can in many ways come down to where and how they live. As I tend to live rather modestly, I could be supporting myself nicely if I was still living where I have in the past (Raleigh NC, northern Vermont, suburbs of Detroit). As it happens, I currently live in one of the most expensive places in the country (Greater Washington DC), so my current income wouldn’t cover the expenses here. Sales have been growing steadily so I think people are just starting to hear about it. Being published though a small press means a smaller distribution network but has a lot of other advantages so all in all I’m very happy with where I am and excited to see where the books can go from here—especially after the sixth and final one hits the street in April of next year. My dream of course is to be totally self-sufficient so my wife, who has been supporting me through the “lean years” could quit her day job.

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Moses: That’s still great to hear, because you’re obviously doing extremely well given that you are with a small press. Congratulations.

Tell me about your writing and how your approach to writing has changed over the course of this series.

MJS: My writing and my approach hasn’t changed much because I wrote the entire series rather quickly. For example the first two books I wrote in two successive months.  The editing process, however, has taken years, and I’ve learned so much about that.  I’ve had the honor of finding so many people willing to help me—fans mostly. My first agent started me on that road by pointing out some basic mistakes I was making in the realm of wandering character point of view. At first I had no idea what she was talking about because you see, I’ve never taken a class, read a book, or attended a seminar that taught creative writing. Everything I learned, I learned by studying other author’s works and by writing novels. I finished thirteen novels before starting this series, so I had developed a number of skills, but as it turned out I missed some of the basics. Over the last two years that I have been published, I’ve managed to fill in many of the gaps, but I am still learning.

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Nyphron by Michael J SullivanMoses: One of the things I think you did especially well in The Crown Conspiracy was keeping the reader guessing with mysteries and plot twists. What sort of writing tips do you have for other writers in this department? Also, how did you learn this skill, or was it something that more or less comes naturally for you?

MJS: When it comes to plot development, I hate to say it, but it is just one of those things I can do without much effort. I used to see singer/songwriters on TV who could take any idea and make a great song right there on the spot. I’m kinda like that with stories. It’s kind of like a party trick—give me a few lines and I can usually lead it into pretty interesting places. The down side is I’m usually very dissatisfied with movies and books I go to for entertainment. Mainly because of think “what could have been”. Many times my wife and I debate well if they had just done this or that or the other thing how much better would that be.

As far as advice…I have a tendency to create a plot that works fine. It makes logical sense and all, but isn’t always that exciting. Then I go back and look at it and think, okay, but now if I didn’t have any constraints what would I love to see happen? Usually I can think of something pretty interesting, something that gets me excited, and something I would love to write. Then I try to see if I can finagle the plot to allow for it, and I usually can manage it. Also when I get in a bind plot-wise, I tend to think randomly, in that I flip problems completely around in ways that don’t initially make sense and just run them in my mind and see what happens. Interesting things can happen that way. Do those things a few times and you get unexpected twists.
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The Emerald Storm by Michael J SullivanMoses: Excellent tip.

With the world of publishing changing so much right now, what do you think new writers should be doing to find their way through and what avenues do you think are best for them today?

MJS: I can’t say I am the best to answer that question. My experience is limited in that I’ve never had the pleasure of being published by a big house—at least not in the US. Indications are that the big publishers are tightening their belts and not taking much chance on new fiction talent and that can make a business already nearly impossible to break into that much harder. The good news is that the Internet and print on demand technologies provide options that simply did not exist before. There are a number of small independent p resses that are “thinking outside the box” and this opens up more opportunity for those just starting out. That’s where I got my start. There are also sites like Podiobooks.com where authors often record their books and publish audio versions for free download. This preserves the print rights while building an audience. You can also self-publish with either the hope of making a success outright or, like a startup venture, the hope of doing well enough to be noticed by a big house and picked up. No matter what you do, it is imperative that you promote your book. Again, the Internet gives even the newest author a chance by providing a means to get the word out.

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Moses: Looking back, is there anything you would’ve done differently, whether in terms of the business end of publishing, or with your series?

MJS: Actually, I managed to accidently do most things perhaps not right exactly, but the way I am happy with. Each author has their own particular goals and one of mine has been to be able to tell my story, “my way.” Being the kind of person I am, I don’t think I would have been happy with a big press. I am too independent and controlling of my vision. A small press afforded me the acknowledgment of “getting legitimately published,” of having someone in the industry fork over thousands of dollars because they believed my work was worth it, but also gave me more control. For instance, the cover sketch I got from my first publisher for The Crown Conspiracy was…less than perfect. So, I did a quick painting to show them “my idea” and it turned out they bought it for the cover. I’ve been able to do the covers for all the books since, and that is something I don’t think I’d ever get from a large publishing house.
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Wintertide by Michael J SullivanMoses: Could you tell me something interesting that you’ve never shared with the public about your life as a writer?

MJS: That’s tough since I tend to forget what I’ve told to whom, and have been fairly open about my experiences. I have to come up with something to write about on my blog after all. I suppose I could explain what the dedication to “Dragonchow” was all about in my second book, Avempartha.

After writing thirteen novels and trying to get published for over ten years, I finally gave up and swore I would never write creative fiction again. I turned instead to my other creative interest and went into commercial art. After working in the field for a time, I started my own ad agency and did very well. I had moved away from my childhood home of Michigan, first to Vermont and then to Raleigh NC. I still had family and friends in Michigan and to keep in touch, we started playing Internet computer games. We started with Starcraft and Age of Empires, but soon moved to MMORPGs and Everquest.

My wife and I both played for three years or so, and in that time we met a number of wonderful people who we only knew through the game. They were all part of a player created guild and the guild’s name was Dragonchow.  From time to time my writing “leaked out” as I recounted tales of our in-game adventures for the guild website. They ended up drawing an audience, so I wrote a little fictional, serialized story starring members of the guild. It was a huge hit, and got me thinking about writing again. (Please note that the Riyria Revelations has nothing at all to do with my gaming experience.) When I did, the members of the guild were some of the first people to read my books.

They read the rough drafts for the first four books, and while I haven’t played Everquest in almost a decade, several of our guild mates are still fans of the series. Wintertide, the fifth book in the series that is due out this October, will be the first book that will be completely new to them. They’ve been waiting a long time to see how the series ends. I hope to make it worth the wait.

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Moses: Thanks again for sharing your story with me, Michael.

The last two books in Michael’s series are “scheduled and well on their way.” Wintertide (book 5) will be available in October. Michael also told me that the final book Percepliquis should be finished ahead of its April scheduled release. I hope you’ll check out his work.

If you have any comments or questions for Michael, feel free to post them in the comments and maybe he’ll be able to check in with us.
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16
Aug

My First Author Interview, on the Kindle Author Blog

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Interviews, My Work

David Wisehart (@DavidWisehart) interviewed me about my recently released novella on his excellent Kindle Author blog.

Here’s the interview. We talked about my journey and process, publishing a Kindle ebook, and what makes a great epic fantasy.
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12
Aug

Sci-Fi and Fantasy News from AISFP (Aug/11/10)

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Sci-Fi/Fantasy News

My latest gig involves playing the part of news manager over at the awesome Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast/website run by the dedicated Shaun Farrell. Yesterday, my first news roundup went live over there; I had a lot of fun writing it.

Wanna hear it? Here it go.
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Hello world, my name is Moses and I’m the newly appointed “News Manager” at the re-launched AISFP 2.0. Nice to meet you. My impossible mission is to scour the digital highways looking for rock ’em sock ’em items of interest to share with you at least a couple times every month.

This will get really good when you (that means you, silly!) contribute to the SciFi/Fantasy community by sending any news and story tips to me at scifipress /at/ gmail.com. The more scoops we get, the more news we’ll share. Let’s make this news feature rock! Who likes to rock the party? I like to rock the party! I wrote a press release about what we’re looking for:

Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing 2.0 features a new dedication to reporting all items of interest surrounding Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing. From the mega-deals to the blog posts of the aspiring writer, from the free book giveaways to the writing contests and online communities, we want to hear from you and share your news with our audience.

So let’s do this.

The next time a muscle-bound stud knocks you down and kicks sand in your face at the beach, you might find this retort useful: “There is no ‘geek’ anymore … nothing is nerdy if it’s earning half-a-billion dollars at the box office,” sayeth Chris Carle, IGN’s entertainment director. I know, you’re working on the half-a-billion part.

Speaking of not nerdy, here’s a glimpse of the sexy side of Comic-Con. Whether it’s smokin’ hot mamas in fishnets or gladiatorial studs that turn you on (or both … or neither … or … whatever), here’s a good serving of cleavage and beefcake dressed up in Star Wars, Hollywood, and G.I. Joe garb.

Great. I lost you. By the way, Shaun Farrell (our Editor-in-Chief) kind of looks like the Tron guy in pic 3, doesn’t he? Is there something you’re not telling us about your activities, Shaun?

Anyway, welcome back. We need some music around here, so allow me to recommend the work of Kit Soden, who recently created an album inspired by Steven Erikson’s epic fantasy series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. You can listen to it for free. I also got to ask Kit a few questions about his relationship with Erikson and fantasy. Check out his song, Bard’s Curse. I dig it.

Speaking of Steven Erikson, he recently wrote this on Facebook about finishing his fantasy series which took him twenty years to finish.

GASP! That would be me, coming up for air. How long was I down there? About twenty years, from conception to completion. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is done. Sure, editing and all that crap to follow. But … done. I don’t know who I am. Who am I again? What planet is this? Three months of butterflies … maybe this double whiskey will fix that. Hmm. No. Delayed reaction going on here.

Bravo!

Let’s talk publishing vs self-publishing. Many of you have heard of J.A. Konrath by now, as he’s become famous for his independent financial success with ebooks and his pro-ebook, pro-indie stance. Recently, he wrote a blog post arguing that the end of traditional print publishing may be near. Jim C. Hines wrote a rebuttal, and there’s even a bit of back-and-forth between Jim and J.A. in the comments. Not since Bud Bowl VIII has a contest been so enthralling. Seriously, they made eight Bud Bowls.

Along those lines, Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post about the new world of publishing and admits that he should’ve opened his mind to it sooner.

Wondering what Steampunk is all about and want a quick primer drawn in colored pencil? Lucky you.

Let’s say you’re looking for something fresh and new in the wide world of SF/F genre websites. Here’s a good science fiction and fantasy resource page with outgoing links to dozens of Sci-Fi sites. I hope you find The One.

Well that should keep you clicking for a while. Until next time, remember that light sabers and alcohol don’t mix. Moses out.

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Moses Siregar III is the author of THE BLACK GOD’S WAR, a dramatic epic fantasy novel inspired by Homer; you can sample it for 99 cents at Amazon or Smashwords. He lives with his family at high elevation in Prescott, AZ, and blogs about passion for the writing life at Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar …

Learn more about Moses:

Science Fiction Fantasy Books
Facebook or More Facebook
Twitter
GoodReads

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7
Aug

I Can Haz Original Artwork. I Haz it! I Haz it!

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in My Work

I am a happy boy. A wonderfully talented artist captured the essence of my major character Lucia and revealed her to me anew. This drawing will appear in the ebook release of my novella for THE BLACK GOD’S WAR, coming to Amazon and other sites this week. Thanks Rich!

If you’re looking for an illustrator, Rich W. Ware is talented, reasonable, and fast.

Lucia, from THE BLACK GOD'S WAR, drawn by Rich W. Ware

Lucia, from THE BLACK GOD’S WAR, drawn by Rich W. Ware

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4
Aug

My Novella’s Amazon Description (Happy Birthday, Me). Any Feedback?

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in My Work

Today’s my birthday, and just yesterday I got perhaps a not-so-wild idea. As I was re-reading my work, I stumbled upon a dramatic section of the story that I hope will make a great novella. So I’ve decided to get it up and available on Amazon in the Kindle store soon. My goal is to have it up on August 11th (next Wednesday), after getting enough copyediting eyeballs on it (including a professional or two). It will be available for $0.99.

I’ve started working on a description for the novella on Amazon. The description doesn’t focus on both sides of the conflict in my story, since the novella only follows certain characters. Here’s what I’ve got so far, and feel free to offer any feedback or suggestions.

THE BLACK GOD’S WAR: A NOVELLA INTRODUCING A NEW EPIC FANTASY

HThe Black God's Warer father-king wants war. Her messianic brother wants peace. The black god wants his due. She suffers all the consequences.

King Vieri’s war against the lands of Pawelon rages into its tenth year, and with the kingdom’s holy savior, his son, en route to the fighting in the storied canyon, victory ought to come soon. Blocked after every effort and feeling abandoned by his god, King Vieri forces young Caio to lead his army to victory.

The Black One, Lord Danato, tortures Lucia with nightly visions, promising another ten years of bloodshed. Lucia aligns with her brother to bring about the surrender of Pawelon’s Rajah and his mystical sages, for the only alternative is to journey to Danato’s macabre underworld to beg for his mercy: A poisoned remedy guaranteeing heartbreak as compensation for the god’s assistance. Lucia knows the black god too well, ever since he entered her bed and dreams when she was ten.

Now Caio must command his father’s army and appeal to his own patron gods for their divine powers. Will the goddess of healing fulfill his martial prayers? And can someone who wants only to heal the world bring himself to kill another man?
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A novella-length story introducing a new epic fantasy novel by the same title, currently scheduled for release in May of 2011.
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My name is Moses Siregar III, and you can email me with comments at mosesmerlin@hotmail.com. My blog is called, “Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar …” and you’ll find it at www.ScienceFictionFantasyBooks.net. I hope you’ll download the free sample of this work and go on to really enjoy it.

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3
Aug

Why Doubting Yourself Can Kill You

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Marketing

First, let me echo Devon Monk‘s recent comments from a very smart blog post. She had an Aha! moment while watching the reality TV show, The Next Food Network Star:

Here’s the thing that absolutely struck home with me. The chefs were judged on the success of the dish and also on their introduction of it (cover letter/query/synopsis) and their personal attitude toward it.  It was fascinating to see the chefs who lost confidence in their dish halfway through cooking it and who felt worse and worse about it, to the point that when they presented their dish, all they could see were the flaws. (Writers? Are you listening?) They gave poor presentations, and even if the judges liked the dish, the judges didn’t like that the chef wasn’t confident enough to believe in their own creation.

There was one chef who had never won a single challenge in the entire show (months of rejections). He decided he was going to keep a positive attitude and give it all he had to knock it out of the park.  He relaxed into what he was doing and believed in his voice, his story, and his own unique point of view. He hoped it would win, but more than that, he knew he was the only person who could tell his story his way. He stopped worrying, and stopped comparing himself to other competitors, and maybe even stopped working for the judges and instead worked to make that plate something he enjoyed and was having fun with.

(You know where I’m going with this, right?)

The guy who had never won before won.

As writers, we have to be able to edit ourselves and to read our own work from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know us, or even like us. We have to try to be objective. We have to be humble. We have to have high standards for ourselves and strive for continual improvement.

But if you don’t love your work, if you aren’t enthusiastic about it, if you’re not having the time of your life when you write it, if you can’t focus on the things you’re doing well and feel good about those things, then maybe no one else will either.

See the good in you.
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