Marketing (and how nobody knows how to do it)

Sign-ups for this year’s Realm Makers conference went up yesterday. All my writer friends are excitedly talking about it, exchanging yarns from last year, and looking forward to going this year.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking, “The only way I could possibly go to RM is as a panelist, and even then they’d have to twist my arm.” Which set me daydreaming about what topic I’d talk about. Which led me to probably the biggest question all writers have.

MARKETING.

HOW YOU DO IT.

One thing you must know first about all marketing: nobody knows what works. If publishers knew what books would sell, all books would be bestsellers. The ideal marketing is to put your product in front of people who want to buy it. But how to find those people? And how to entice them to buy your product at all?

Targeted marketing has become a big deal. Facebook ads that show ads only to a certain demographic of people who are the most likely to want the product. Or Amazon ads that only show you books similar to other books you’ve bought. (How many of us shop the also-boughts? I do!)

When I was in college for digital design, the whole focus of the course was on advertising. I learned a whole lot about advertising that I didn’t want to know. Want to know what I learned?

Ready for this?

All marketing boils down to hitting three points:

Lust of the flesh

Lust of the eyes

Pride of life

That’s all there is to it.

This book will give you FEELS. (Lust of the flesh).

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This book has a PRETTY COVER. (Lust of the eyes, and boy do I buy books with pretty covers).

raven-king

EVERYBODY ELSE IS READING THIS BOOK AND IF YOU READ IT YOU WILL BE COOL TOO. (Pride of life. I think a lot of lit-rit-chewer falls into this category. Like Mark Twain said, literature is something everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.)

goldfinch

Chris Fox has a nice little book about marketing. You find groups online where your target readers hang out. For instance, one of my friends markets her fantasy books with science-based magic to homeschoolers whose kids want magic but who disapprove of Harry Potter. She could target all kinds of homeschool communities.

Cozy mystery authors who write mystery + knitting or mystery + baking can target the baking or knitting communities.

Really, it’s not rocket science–hunt down the people who are interested in your topic. Then you have to work on your presentation. Instead of bombing into the party and screaming BUY MY BOOK, you have to rub elbows, hobnob, make friends. Maybe do a guest post here and there on blogs, or run an ad on their network. Do it quietly. People have to see an ad at least six times before it registers enough for them to make a decision about buying.

But if you spam their social media with BUY MY BOOK over and over, you’re going to get blocked. I see this happening with politics right now. The media is hawking so much hate and rage that people are blocking it out. The louder they scream, the more they get ignored.

Kristen Lamb has a great social media marketing book called Rise of the Machines. In it, she goes into the neuroscience of how we ignore ads. We’ve been saturated in advertising for so many decades that our brains have actually evolved resistance. We physically don’t see the ads anymore.

I notice this as we drive down the road.  My hubby will say, “Did you see that billboard?” I look around. “Huh?” I didn’t see any billboards at all. My brain has filtered them out.

Big fat graphic ads don’t work so well. You know what work? Links. Like these. People click little links like these WAY more often than the huge ad graphics.

To sum up, marketing is one of those things that are simple but not easy. It’s all about schmoozing. And social media is terrible at that. Just look at the summary of last year’s advertising for Rachel Aaron’s books.

The number 1 best way to sell books?

Write more books. Talk about them when they launch. Quietly run an ad on a different book newsletter every month. Indielister is a goldmine of a database of ads and results. Keep an ear to the ground for industry news. None of the steps are hard, but they do require getting educated.

Now go out and make people lust after your products!

2016 TBR Book Shaming post

I saw this on another blog and thought it was hilarious. Here is a list of all the books I didn’t read (but meant to!) in 2016. In fact, these are all books I paid cold, hard cash for, and still didn’t read. Mostly, I just forgot about them. Some of them I’m going, “Ooh, ooh, I need to read that!” Some of them I’m going, “Why do I even have this?” And I’m not going to list the dozens of samples I downloaded of books I was interested in trying before buying.

In order of oldest to newest, here we go:

The Heir, by Avily Jerome (why haven’t I read this? I’m pretty sure it has dragons in it.)

Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle (Girl Genius book 3) by Phil and Kaja Foglio. (Why haven’t I read this? It’s an adapt of the comic, and it happens to be my favorite storyline to date. I just … didn’t.)

Wilde Omens by Bree Lawrence

Starship Eternal by M.R. Forbes

No Such Thing As Werewolves by Chris Fox

Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon by H.L. Burke

Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m A Supervillain by Richard Roberts

One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron (which I didn’t read because I was afraid this title meant that the main couple broke up. I found out later that they didn’t, but I still never read it. Shame on me.)

RealmScapes A Sciencefiction and Fantasy Anthology by Realm Makers (I don’t do well with short story anthologies).

The Timeless Trilogy by Holly Hook (her books are always fast-paced edge of your seat, and I haven’t been up for that kind of thrill recently.)

Dragon of Ash and Stars by H. Leighton Dickson

The Chronothon by Nathan Van Coops

Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus by Lydia Sherrer

Water Gambit by Juliann Whicker

Space Carrier Avalon by Glynn Steward

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Everything Marc Secchia has written

So there you have it. All my books that I haven’t read. Any books you would recommend me reading first? Any I should strike from the list? Any I should add? 😀

 

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The Wise One by VampirePrincess007

 

 

Guest Post: Confessions of a closet fanfiction writer

I’m being hosted on Ralene Burke’s blog today as part of her confessions series!

fanfic-meme
“Please, please, can we have a Sega Genesis?” my brother wheedled. “I’ll buy it with my birthday money!”

Our parents hemmed and hawed. This was the 1990s. Focus on the Family had been cranking out anti-videogame propaganda for years–anything from it ruining a kid’s grades to being a gateway to porn. But finally our parents said that we could buy a Genesis on one condition: they approve the games we bought.

The light was green! We bought our first video game system (and every single system after that). We played Sonic the Hedgehog and Jurassic Park and the maddeningly difficult Disney games. Batman Forever became a fixture.

Then–horrors–one hot summer day, our parents decreed that we spent too much time on games. “One hour a day,” they admonished. “Go do something else.”

Mutinous, I stalked upstairs to my desk. As a homeschooler, I had a very nice desk … Read More

Top mystery/fantasy books of 2016 (and how most of them are series)

It’s January of 2017–time for all the lists! Top ten EVERYTHING! Top fifty! Top 100! Stuff we learned last year! WOOHOO!

So, as I’ve been looking at these lists with the casual interest of a reader, I’ve noticed a few things.

Namely, a bunch of these books are way far into a series. Like, book 3. Book 6. Book 9. Book 12.I’m mostly looking at the Goodreads top 2016 lists, because they’re so beautifully easy to navigate. The Kobo ones are pretty similar.

Let me show you. I’ve taken the liberty of marking each book’s place in a series with a big fat number.

top2016-booksthriller

You can tell which ones are the thrillers. They tend to not be in a series, because most characters in thrillers don’t survive anyway.

Next up: Fantasy!

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Very few stand-alones here. Every book 1 is also the beginning of a series, with the exception of one book, which is a short story anthology (that tiger one).

Next up: Young Adult Fantasy:

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Series are a big deal in this genre. The only book 1s are all series starters from authors who have established themselves with other series/trilogies.

It’s interesting to look at the spread here. If you want to hit a bestseller list, you’ve got to write series. Kevin Hearn’s Iron Druid is up to book 8 now. I spy a book 10 of another series. One of those mystery series is at book 42! These authors have been at this for a LONG time. The young adult authors seem to crank out trilogies, but sometimes they run longer than that. Even Stephen King is up there with a book 3!

As authors, I guess we can expect to plug away at this for book after book–so pick a genre that you like an awful lot. Unless you’re a thriller writer, then you can write boatloads of book 1s.

If you’d like to look at the other Top Goodreads genres, it’s here. And hey, maybe you’ll even find something new to read. 😀

Open letter to my aspie friends

When I was a kid, I went to a big science event for local homeschoolers. We mixed chemicals, opened eggs, and played with liquid nitrogen. It was grand.

During one of the breaks, I wandered out into one of the patios. A group of kids was out there talking. One of them was a boy who carefully enunciated all his words. He was arguing some advanced mathematical concept with the other kids.

I listened for a while, then departed, feeling shy and slightly envious. He was so much smarter than me. I knew that he was different, and I would never be that smart because I wasn’t wired that way.

The term Asperger’s hadn’t yet come into vogue. Without a label, I was free to observe and draw my own conclusions. My conclusion was admiration.

Years went by. As a teen, I sought out creative, intelligent people and surrounded myself with them. Many of them spoke in that clear, enunciated, staccato way. They were always super-smart, taking ideas to a level of genius I’d never conceived. I learned to seek them out when I needed to develop ideas. By comparison, other people seemed like Muggles.

Then the term Aspergers* came along. Suddenly my super-smart friends were apologizing. “I have a sensory-processing disorder,” they would say. “I’m going on medication for it.”

I watched as my once-brilliant friends were dulled to the level of a Muggle by medication. They meekly accepted the ruling of The Establishment that there was something wrong with them.

So this is my open letter to you. This is me shouting NO. Aspergers is not a disability. It is genius. The definition of genius is being able to focus on one thing at a time. You do that with the intensity of a laser, drilling deep into a concept, far deeper than I can, with my scattershot mind. While I can achieve that level of focus, it’s more difficult for me to achieve. And your brain does it effortlessly.

 

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Mana Tide by AquaSixio

 

Our culture has ceased to value genius. It only values stupidity and conformity. Look at our pop culture as the foolish, the disgusting, the mentally ill, are praised and glorified.

Don’t let them tell you that you are broken. Don’t take their drugs that will alter your brain chemistry. If you have health problems, take high-quality supplements (this one is my favorite!) and good probiotics to support your natural health. Eat veggies. Drink water. Exercise. You have a brilliant mind. Care for it. Guard it.

Drugs will take it away. Labels will make you feel bad about yourself. Before geniuses had Aspergers, I recognized them for what they were.

Geniuses.

Please don’t ever change.


 

  • The term Aspergers has been rolled into the broader “autism spectrum”, which encompasses everyone from the slightly shy to the non-vocal. Pretty much everyone I know fits into this definition.
  • Lots of famous people have been on the spectrum. Check out this list. Among them are Albert Einstein, Adam Young of Owl City, Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pokemon). To say nothing of famous people who probably were spectrum, like Mozart.

Resolutions for 2017

Or less resolutions and more like my bucket list of things to do this year.

First up: how did things go last year?

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Outer Frontiers by Emilie Leger

Last year in January I had a 2-month-old baby. I meant to do one of these posts, but never actually did. My word for last year was “smile”. When you have a new baby, you have to smile at them a lot to teach them how to do it. I hadn’t smiled in so long, my face muscles had almost forgotten how. The kids kept asking, “Why are you smiling so much?” It made for a nicer atmosphere in our house, just me smiling even when I didn’t feel like it.

Last year kicked my butt. Between having a new baby, getting harassed by CPS (oh noes you let you kids play outside!), and having to move suddenly in October, it was a grueling, stressful year. Not to mention all the election garbage that saturated social media. Blah. Barf. I’m glad that’s over with.

I did manage to publish Werefox in March, and the fourth Spacetime book in June. I revised the next two Malevolent books, but didn’t quite manage to release book 2 in 2016. I just got the edits back this week and I’m hoping for a February release. I can even do a cover reveal in a few weeks. Yay!

So for 2017, here’s the lineup:

  1. Publish books 2 and 3 of Malevolent

2. Edit/publish my dragon cozy mystery, Takes the Drake (think the Dresden Files, only fluffier, with ice cream).

3. Write the fifth Spacetime book, which will end Series 1. Not sure if I can write/publish it in 2017, but it’s worth a shot.

4. My hubby and I are starting to stream gaming together on our Beam channel Chronostrider Gaming. Eventually we plan to do it every weekend, and we’re planning to play every two-player co-op we can think of.

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Landscape by HughEbdy

My oldest child will turn 10 this year. School is going to change gears into a heavier workload for him, I think. Right now we’ve sort of slipped into unschooling (moving right before the holidays seriously disorganized me), but we’ll be heading back into more structured school here in the new year. Gotta get these kids writing more. Their reading and math skills are great, but writing, not so much. That will go along with their science/history/book reports.

Ah, book reports. I’m making them do reports in the format of Amazon reviews. So far my two oldest kids have successfully sold each other on various books, with Twisted (a book about were-tornados) being the latest hit. We’re also reading the Saturdays aloud, with plans to read the entire Melendy series.

I’m also trying to learn how to use Daz3D to create artwork. So far it’s been fairly easy to learn posting and lighting … now I just have to learn to incorporate it into a larger artwork.

So that’s my very general agenda for the next year. As this past year has showed me, I really have no idea what sort of things might happen. What I’m most thankful for is that my relationship with my husband is thriving. After all the anguish of last year, playing games together again has bonded us in such a wonderful way. If I get nothing else done this year, our improved relationship will have been worth it.

My top (and bottom) reads of 2016

It’s that time of year again–time to access what we did last year. What we ate, what we accomplished, and most importantly, what we read. What did we love? What did we hate? Well, without further ado, here’s mine!

The top fantasy books that I loved:

Number 3:


Southern Spirits by Angie Fox.

A girl who has lost her family home in the deep South accidentally gets herself haunted by an ancestor who happens to be a gangster from the 20s. He also knows the location of all kinds of buried money that she could use to buy back her house. So it turns into a combination ghost buster/treasure hunt/murder mystery, and it’s a fantastic read. I enjoyed it hugely.

Number 2:

Caliban’s War, by James S. A. Corey

The sequel to Leviathan Wakes, this was hands down one of the most entertaining space operas I’ve ever read. (Of course, I haven’t read a ton of them, but …) The alien protomoloecule has been weaponized. Our heroes from book 1 are trying to help a scientist find his kidnapped daughter, but are plunged into an ever-deepening conspiracy about the protomolecule. Meanwhile, on Venus … some new terror is constantly happening. The book is 624 pages, and I read it in one weekend. Couldn’t put it down. SO GOOD.

Number 1:

Aranya by Marc Secchia

In a fantasy world where everybody lives on islands above a sea of poison clouds, dragons are extinct. It’s illegal even to talk about them. Aranya is a princess of a beaten nation who is being taken hostage by their conquerors to ensure her father’s good behavior. While trapped in a tower with a bunch of other spunky princesses, she makes friends, enemies, and a boyfriend. Except when she uses her (spoilers!) dragon powers on an evil soldier, her penalty is to be dropped into the poison clouds. On the way down, she turns into a dragon. Surprise! Aranya is a dragon shapeshifter. Once she learns how to be a dragon, she declares a one-dragon war on the nation who captured her and tried to kill her. AWESOMENESS ENSUES. Loved, loved this book. Must get the rest very soon!

And now … the moment you’ve been waiting for.

People only read these lists for the list of worst books, right? So, without further ado, here’s the books I read this year that I disliked:

No affiliate links for these guys, sorry:

Number 3:

Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Naomi, I love you, and I love your books. But you can’t write romance. Srsly.

The premise of this book is great. Every few years the Dragon takes a maiden from the village. Except the Dragon is the name of a wizard. And the maidens he takes get the My Fair Lady treatment, and after receiving a great education, move away to the big city. The Dragon has to do all kinds of magic to keep the evil Wood from consuming the village and the farmlands. The heroine gets picked one year, and she has MAGIC and they have to work together to stop the evil wood.

Sounds great. That part of it was. You can see the romance coming a mile away, except … it never did. I reached the end so disappointed that I got on Goodreads and wrote my own ending where he finally tells her that he loves her. *frustrated grappling motions in midair*

Number 2:

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

This book has been on the top Amazon sellers for at least a year. I finally picked it up. It’s about a world that is vaguely late-1800s England (steampunk?) where magic can only be performed on man-made materials. The girl is bonded to paper, a medium she didn’t want, and put under the oversight of a benevolent paper magician. He’s adorable in a Howl’s Moving Castle kind of way (except less of a jerk). She learns how to fold paper in all kinds of ways to do different kinds of illusion magic.

Then, halfway through the book, the body horror starts. An evil wizard comes in who cando magic with the human body, and she slices out the magician’s heart. She also somehow traps the heroine inside it. Now the heroine roams from chamber to chamber inside a living, beating heart, and kind of doing this virtual tour of his memories at the same time. It was gross. And not what I expected. And just … what the HECKBERRIES.

Number 1:

Nameless by A.C. Williams

“It’s a space opera!” I was told as I picked this book up. “A girl with amnesia is trying to find her way back to her home planet!” So I scooped it up and tried to read it.

First off, this book is about how sex is evil. The heroine works in a brothel. When she gets out of the brothel, she’s randomly assaulted/leered at/groped/propositioned on EVERY PLANET SHE VISITS. Finally she hooks up with the cast of Firefly and things get slightly better (they only make lewd comments about her and don’t actually assault her, despite embarrassing shower scenes). I couldn’t take any more at that point, so I put it down. Maybe I quit before it got good, I don’t know. Just … after the excellence that was James Corey, I couldn’t do the SEX ABUSE IN SPACE thing.


So there you have it. My top and bottom reads of 2016! What are your favorite/least fave books of the year?

Discoverability: curate or die

I’ve been seeing a trend for a while now among indie authors. “Discoverability is so haaaaaard!” they whine. “How can my books stand out?”

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All one has to do is go to Amazon and try to browse ANY category. Everything is flooded with erotica, or erotic + (category here). It’s impossible to find anything else, especially if you check out the top 100 lists (which are now nearly useless). Most of it is laughable–“My Space Alien Billionaire Werewolf Alpha Mate!” That’s not a title–that’s a bunch of keywords.

On the Writers Cafe forum on kboards.com, this discussion has been going on:


Crystal_:

I have no problem with people writing romance to pay the bills if they do the work to write a great romance that readers will love.  I object to people knowingly putting out shoddy work, regardless of the genre. I mostly read romance or trad-pub non-romances, so I really don’t know what’s up in the indie world in other genres.

There are many, many romance authors/publishers who have no respect for the genre, who call romance readers dumb, who call romance stupid. Romance/erotica forums are plagued with people saying “I don’t like romance. I want money. How can I make money fast writing romance? What niche should I pick? BTW, I’ve never read a romance. I don’t really like it.” It happens on Kboards too, but not as often.

KelliWolfe:

A depressing consistency that I’ve found – and got burned again by yesterday – is that the majority of these books simply aren’t romance. The books have romance covers and romance blurbs. They’re categorized as romance. The first couple of chapters may even read like romance. They have some kind of HEA. But they’re not romance.

When you actually read the book, it’s just two characters having sex. A lot of sex. A lot of very explicit sex. There’s a female MC who has no personality and no real characteristics at all except for her overwhelming sexual attraction to the male MC. The male MC is a hot, dominating alphahole who has no other characteristics, either. He’s interested in the female MC because she’s hot and he wants her. There’s no love, just sexual obsession. There’s no relationship building, just sexual tension. It’s like someone too emotionally stunted to understand the difference between sex and love read a few romance books and then sat down at the keyboard to imitate it.

Often the writing is good, or at least competent. Some of them have a really, really good premise and it makes me want to throw my Kindle across the room when they completely destroy the story’s potential that way. But ultimately what they’re writing is erotica, not romance, because the real focus of the book is on the characters’ sex lives, not about falling in love. There’s nothing *wrong* with that. It just doesn’t belong in romance.

This is where the “Look Inside” fails, too. It’s often just not possible to tell from that snippet that the writer is going to do this.

I picked up two more books in KU yesterday that both did this. It made me want to scream because they had great premises and were hitting my favorite tropes, but I returned both of them about 1/4 of the way in. They had gorgeous covers and interesting blurbs and the writing was really good in both cases. But they simply weren’t romances.

So you’ve got a lot of people who don’t “get” romance writing it for money, but they’ve got good writing skills and they’re great at marketing. If they submitted to any of the traditional romance imprints they’d get a quick rejection letter. But there are piles and piles and piles of them in Contemporary and NA and there’s almost no way for a reader to tell them apart from the books that really are romances without getting burned. After a few of these, how many of them decide to just stick with tradpub from now on, where at least you know that if you buy a romance you know you’re getting a romance?


Substitute “romance” for “any other genre”, and you’ve got an idea of the problem.

I was chatting with another reader today. She and I were commiserating that we can’t go to Amazon anymore to discover books. We used to browse categories to find a new great read. Now, you want to gouge out your own eyeballs.

Instead, we’ve turned to curated lists. I personally shop BargainBooksy, the Amazon Recommended emails, Ebooklister, Freebooksy. I even click on stuff in Bookscream. Bookbub even has good stuff sometimes. I subscribe to some authors who occasionally do promotions for their books and a collection of friends’s. There’s other lists for other genres–promos and freebies in any genre you can name.

As readers, this is increasingly where we’re turning. Curation by friends, family, promotional lists, Amazon’s pinpointed recommendations, and even Facebook ads.

The people in the above comments got blasted by other authors who are busy churning out exactly the books the commenters are complaining out. Erotica sells, and that’s why they write it. But the market is shifting.

In the last Author Earnings report, there was a marked shift in profits from indies back to publishers. The profits of small presses eclipsed that of indie authors for the first time.

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October 2016 Author Earnings Report

Could it be that readers are tired of their favorite genres being flooded with off-genre books? As they looking to publishers for more curation, better products? It will be very interesting to see the next report and to see if this trend continues. There were certain things happening at the time this report was made, such as the Kindle Unlimited debacle where Page Flip showed 0 pages read.

I think it might be time for us little fantasy authors to get proactive. We need to start running promos of each other’s books, like Patty Jensen’s Promos. Readers will never find us on Amazon, and social media is absolutely the wrong place to advertise. But if we build promos of decent books (note the curation!) we might see a little more success.

What do you think? Is curation the next frontier in book discoverability? How do you discover books?

My personal theory about aliens and the universe

This is just a bunch of thoughts that have been rolling around in my head lately. Like aliens. And other planets. And Mars.

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Temples of the Giant by MacRebisz

I ascribe to creationism, which means that I believe God created the universe and the Earth in six days. Evolution teaches that the world built itself (or was built by aliens, but I’m not sure that’s actually evolution anymore–at least not Darwin’s).

According to evolution, life pops into being randomly. Like spawn points in a videogame, bugs and bacteria just appear, then grow and change into better and better creatures until they achieve sentience. This means that there must be aliens on other planets, too.

Except we haven’t found any. SETI has been listening for years. We keep finding tons of new exoplanets (and some are really bizarre, like the one with the rings that are like 200 times bigger than Saturn’s).

UFOs just keep getting debunked. (My father-in-law served in the Air Force for 20+ years, and he says that he can debunk most, if not all, UFO sightings.)

We keep learning about our own solar system and how inhospitable it is. Mars has chemicals in its dirt that will poison us. Venus has electrical fields that blast away all oxygen. Jupiter has a magnetic field so strong that getting probes near it takes superhuman effort. Not only is there no life on these planets, it definitely couldn’t spawn there randomly.

This is discouraging for evolutionists (and creationists who would love for there to be aliens). The universe is depressingly empty. Yet our very DNA is a programming language written by someone. There is Someone out there–either God or aliens, and if the aliens built our DNA, then they might as well be gods.

But as we find planet after empty planet, this theory seems to have hit a dead end. We haven’t found aliens and we should have.

So instead, I offer my Big Creationist Theory of the Universe. It’s the inverse of the alien theory.

Back when God created the world, it was perfect. No death. People and animals lived forever. But God told them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the Earth.

Well, with no death, the Earth would soon be full of both people and animals. Bursting at the seams with life, as it were.

As it just so happens, there’s a billion jillion empty planets out there.

If Jesus’s teleportation powers were something that all humanity had before sin entered the world, then space travel wouldn’t have been an issue. We could just jump to whichever worlds we wanted.

I mean, Mars had an ocean at one point. Venus is still slowing down and apparently had liquid water at one point, too. The asteroid belt might have been a planet that shattered–there’s water ice on Vesta. Not to mention the various moons around the gas giants–science fiction writers have been colonizing those for years.

The reason we haven’t found aliens out there is because those are OUR planets. We were supposed to travel out and live there, taking our animals with us. Those other planets may have had water, plants, animals, who knows–but like Mars and Venus, the universe is broken now.

Now we have death. While our population is growing, the earth is far from being full. Getting to other planets takes advanced technology that we’re still developing. We don’t have supernatural teleportation, and heaven help us if we did. The other planets are inhospitable and deadly. We can live on them with a huge amount of effort (see: The Martian).

So yeah, that’s my theory of why there’s no aliens out there. There’s absolutely no way to prove it, and I don’t have any arguments with people who like other theories better. It’s just a fun thing to think about sometimes–what it might have been like to populate the entire universe. To live on a moon near a gas giant, and to wake up every morning to an ever-changing sky of striped, swirling colors. We can only experience that in videogames.

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The Grand Eclipse by JustV23

Three years of publishing mistakes

My second-youngest turned three last month. I published my first book while I was in labor with her. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long!

That first book (YA contemporary fantasy) now has three more books in its series. I’ve also written three clean werewolf romance novellas, some short stories, and the first book of a YA paranormal romance. I’ve made a ton of mistakes and learned even more. Here’s some of it:

Spacetime mistakes:

Lousy description: Nobody will read your book if you can’t describe what it’s about. Or if you can’t point out other books or movies similar to yours. I’ve made this mistake multiple times. Fortunately, Amazon made things easier by sticking it in Chosen One Multiversal Adventure.

Muddy genre: The Spacetime books could be urban fantasy–if I had any idea what urban fantasy WAS when I started writing them. I hit a few genre tropes in a scattershot way and pulled in way too many other elements. Alien robots? Werewolves? Ghostly energy beings? Alchemy? Fast cars? Time and space magic? Yeah, the elements are there–I just couldn’t seem to pull it off.

Regency Shifters Romance mistakes:

Genre mistakes: Same deal with the clean werewolf romance. Notice the “clean” part? Yeah, nobody wants that in this genre. They also don’t want historical, and these books are slow. Like, Jane Eyre with werewolves. They’re also too short–fifty to sixty pages each. I love them all, but nobody else does. Ah well, live and learn!

Malevolent mistakes

I started to make progress with Malevolent, the YA paranormal romance. I wanted a creature that had the characteristics of a vampire but wasn’t a vampire. So Mal is a lich who manipulates the energy of life and death itself.

Botched release date: This book was intended to be a trilogy that released over the course of a year. The book hit its intended market and sold pretty well. The trouble was, I had a baby right in the middle. So books 2 and 3 were written–I just couldn’t touch them for most of the following year.

Now both books are revised and awaiting editing. They’re set to launch in spring of 2017. And oh man, are they GOOD. I hope they’re a fresh addition to a vampire-saturated genre.

Malevolent is available on Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the first time! It’s like a new release, and I’m super excited. The cover even got some new bells and whistles–see?

malevolent-cover4

I intended to publish three books this year, but only managed two–Outfoxing the Wolf and Magic Weaver. Malcontent never quite made it, although it’s going through edits right now. It was close! I currently have three finished books waiting for edits: Malcontent and Malicious (books 2 and 3), and a cozy mystery about dragons and ice cream tentatively called Takes the Drake. Coming to a bookstore near you in 2017!

So that’s been my publishing journey. I’ve worked with lots of fantastic editors, artists, and wordsmiths. It’s been such an honor to rub shoulders with people I respect to the point of reverence: Chris Fox and Rachel Aaron and Elizabeth Spann Craig and Joanna Penn. None of them know I exist, but they’ve taught me so much.