Saturday, January 26, 2013

14 Chapters of The Goddess Queen audiobook completed

I've got new chapters of The Goddess Queen fantasy audiobook ready to go. Month by month, my narrator Andrew Wetmore and I making progress toward the completion of this audiobook. I've had inquiries as to when the novel will be complete. My estimate on that is September 2013. I wish it could be sooner, but I've had to budget audio production in monthly installments.

But I have 14 chapters ready for listening! That's close to 7 hours of audio continuing the 19 hours of epic listening begun in Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I.

Today I published Chapters 13 and 14.

In Chapter 13 Suffer This Ugliness, Miranda witnesses the horrors of war up close and triggers a dispute that forces Dreibrand into a duel to defend her.

In Chapter 14 The Revenge of King Taischek, the rock solid alliance between the dear friends Shan and Taischek cracks during a heated difference of opinion.

Enjoy this sample from Chapter 14 and then head over to Brave Luck Books and start downloading 2 chapter episodes. They're only $1.50 each.

Sample from Chapter 14 The Revenge of King Taischek.
In this audio sample you'll hear part of a crucial argument between Shan and Taischek, whose filled with bloodlust from a recent victory and wants Shan to use his magic to lay waste to a city.

Friday, January 25, 2013

My reflections on writing after publishing 8 novels

I had a guest post published today at the blog of author Vanna Smythe. It's about my reflections on my writing career now that I've published my eighth novel. I've been writing since 1997 and this milestone made me pause to consider if I could or should write more novels.

See my conclusions about writing more novels

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Renovating a house is like writing a novel

I've been a novelist for many years, but I'm new to house renovation. In November my husband and I gutted the upstairs of our 1950 home down to bare boards. Woeful lack of insulation and inadequate ventilation prompted us to engage in this spree of destruction. The upper level of our home had always been a hot box in the summer and a meat locker in the winter due to its deficiencies, and we were going to tolerate this no longer.

Although it's three months since the demolition and we're still not done, I can happily report that things are coming along and substantial improvements have been made. Having properly installed insulation and functional ventilation are great. The upstairs is officially livable, and the recent subzero weather has really put it to the test. For the first time since buying our home, it feels comfortable despite the winter chill. I don't have to wear a snuggie and a stocking cap in the house anymore.

Now that I've spent many hours and days becoming a remodeling contractor, I've had a lot of time to reflect on the process. It ain't easy. That's for sure. Renovations are not new construction. You don't get to build up everything just right from scratch and have everything fit together like in those do-it-yourself demonstration videos. The house has had decades to settle, creating tiny variations between the studs. And of course there are all the puzzling weirdnesses from prior remodelings. Like why is my closet door a 5-sided polygon? Why didn't whoever built it just frame the doorway 12 inches farther away from the slanting ceiling in my finished attic space? Now we have to reframe the door opening and move all the electrical wires on that wall because someone in the past thought a 5-sided door would be an OK thing to do.

So, how is renovating a house like writing a novel?

1. It always takes longer than you think. This is a commandment chiseled in stone by God. There are always unexpected setbacks and delays getting materials. We can spend a whole afternoon picking out and ordering materials. And then spend another afternoon picking up the materials and unloading them. And tasks simply take longer than expected, especially when old boards hold onto nails like they're powerful magnets. And anyone who has ever repaired or built anything knows that projects demand unlimited trips to the hardware store.

Similarly writing novels also takes longer than I plan. Disciplined dedication to daily word counts often falls short of reality. Sometimes I need to ponder what I'm going to write next instead of actually writing for that day. Other times I need to stop and do research so I can write something that is realistically acceptable. And sometimes I need to wait for a character to tell me want he or she would do.

2. You won't get everything right the first time. Despite careful measurements and cutting, the board will not always fit. Maybe it's not level. Maybe there's something in the way that won't let you fit the board in. This happens in writing all the time. Planning a story and creating a story don't always fit together. The process is a constant give and take between creativity and technical requirements. I'm always laboring over transitions between scenes and trying to structure dialogue so that it flows naturally and advances the story with crucial information. The nearly daily need to use a chisel and keyhole saw on my house renovation is an apt metaphor for the process of crafting and editing a novel.

Renovating a home and writing a novel are both laborious jobs, but they share the trait of being immensely satisfying. Every board I attach or chapter I write pleases me, builds my skills, and boosts my confidence. I'm now getting quite proficient with a caulk gun, table saw, and finishing nailer. I love the work because it involves a lot of problem solving and attention to detail. Any yes, both renovation and writing sometimes require a willingness to pry something apart and do it all over, but it's worth the trouble to get it right. Now that I've shared these observations in written form, I'll go put on my plaid flannel and get my work gloves. I still have lots of lovely pre-finished carsiding to put on the walls and many 40-degree angle cuts to deal with. Then, if I have any mental energy left, I'll work on my new novel tonight.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Voice talent job announcement for home canning audiobook

I am auditioning voice talent for the recording of my Home Canning Guide for Everyone Who Eats. This short guide about how to preserve food at home with easy to learn canning methods has been a successful publication. The information is in demand as more and more people grow food, become aware of the need to support local food, and desire a way to increase their personal food security.

Home canning was once common domestic knowledge employed in millions of households. It still is popular today and a new generation is interested in learning home food preservation. Some online reviews of the ebook version from experienced canners even stated that my guide offered good advice and new things to try.

The Home Canning Guide for Everyone Who Eats is a short how-to publication that will equal about 2 hours of audio when recorded.

What I need from a voice recording professional is clean audio read in a pleasant voice. I’m not specifically skilled at cleaning up background noise from recordings, so I will rely on the voice talent to provide audio files with clean sound ready for consumers. I can handle the editing of sound files and assembling them into the final audiobook. The voice talent person can provide audio in short segments as she records each section and recipe.

I am very much leaning towards using a female for this audiobook. Any North American accent should be fine.

This will be a freelance job and a work-for-hire arrangement, meaning that the voice talent will have no expectation of future royalties from the sale of the audiobook. She will be paid for her professional time and the final audiobook will be copyrighted to Falbe Publishing.

Applicant must be willing to use the freelance marketplace to accept this job. Guru will allow us to escrow your payment in a holding account. This allows the voice talent to see that I have put up the money, and I can release the payment when I am satisfied with the deliverables. The Guru system will also handle the processing of a 1099 tax form for you at the end of the year, which is very convenient for me.

Please note: I will increase the compensation of the winning job bid by an appropriate amount to cover the majority of the Guru escrow and freelancer fees.

Place bids through the Guru system please, but you may contact me directly if you have questions about this job.

The Home Canning Guide for Everyone Who Eats has enjoyedconsistent sales at various ebook retailers since its publication in 2011. I plan to sell the audiobook from my websites and also bundle it with the pdf ebook version. Additionally it will be placed for sale at 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quickie Paperback Giveaway - Win all 4 fantasy books of The Rys Chronicles

I feel like giving some attention to the first fantasy series I wrote, The Rys Chronicles. I've been so focused on my newer novels that I've been neglecting the marketing of my first epic that I wrote from 1997 to 2003.

I started my publishing company by producing these novels as 6 x 9 trade paperbacks. I still have some in stock although the vast majority of my income comes from ebooks. I know many people still prefer a nice comforting hunk of paper instead of ereading, so I'm doing a print giveaway. I read both books and ebooks myself.

Over the next 7 days U.S. residents can enter to win the drawing for The Rys Chronicles. The prize is 4 paperback novels:

Union of Renegades
The Goddess Queen
Judgment Rising
The Borderlands of Power

I'll sign all the novels for the winner and ship them out next week.

Free samples:

If you would like to preview the content of my epic fantasy you can download Union of Renegades for free or listen to 3 sample audio chapters from the audiobook.

About The Rys Chronicles:

Grandiose ambitions and desperation drive this fantasy epic of colliding civilizations. The Rys Chronicles is a fantasy quartet spanning seven years and revealing the tragedies, challenges, and triumphs of a diverse cast of characters.

Packed with personal duels, epic battles, magic, romance, and the corrupting influence of great power, this fantasy series introduces the rys, a rare super race whose most powerful members can kill across great distances, read minds, influence actions, and even enslave the souls of the dead.

Follow the journey of Shan, a good-hearted rys whose struggle against evil begins to warp his morality. Victories only bring greater challenges when hidden enemies seeking vengeance for an ancient genocide rise to punish the rys for their ancestors' crimes.

Drawing runs from Jan. 16th to Jan. 23rd.

If you want to enter by leaving a blog comment, you'll be asked to "Name a book series you really enjoyed."

Any bloggers wishing to mention this giveaway to their readers can grab the form code

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Browse more giveaways at: Sweepstakes

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy People documentary by Dmitry Vasyukov and Werner Herzog

Happy People - Promo May 14, 2010 from Kay Mode on Vimeo.

I'll be keeping an eye out for an opportunity to watch Happy People: A Year in the Taiga because it was directed by Dmitry Vasyukov and Werner Herzog. I became a Herzog fan after watching Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Grizzly Man. He has dozens of other films, but the two I've already watched impressed me with his thoughtfulness. Herzog also has one of the most patient and beautiful voices to listen to as he narrates or interviews subjects. His European accent soothes with innate wisdom and every gently articulated word flows with meaning.

In Cave of Forgotten Dreams Herzog entered the Chauvet caves of Southern France. Astounding art from the Stone Age adorns these cave walls that were sealed off for thousands of years. The artistry of the work is exquisite. Every remaining trace of color speaks of purely inspired genius. The caves also contain relics of cave bear skulls now covered with mineral drippings. There is also a mind blowing place where the tracks of a child and a wolf go across the floor side by side. The art in these caves drew my mind back to the beginning when people were knowingly part of the animal world instead of disembodied from Nature. Watching Cave of Forgotten Dreams was a transcendent experience that truly made me feel the scope of human history.

Grizzly Man is a different experience. It explores the life of Timothy Treadwell, a man uniquely crazed as he chose to spend more and more of his life among Alaskan Grizzly Bears until he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were eventually devoured. It's a tragic tale that made me ponder what drew Timothy to the ancient realm of the beasts. He was called back because he could not live in our world.

I don't really know what Happy People is about except that it presents an isolated community in Siberia. I know that Herzog will teach me something. He'll be able to inform me about something I never knew or never properly contemplated. I look forward to the experience.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Choosing between Duty and Love - an interview with fantasy author Vanna Smythe

Today I introduce fantasy author Vanna Smythe whose romantic epic continues with the release of Decision Maker. Her Anniversary of the Veil series has received nice reviews and she answered some questions for her appearance at Her Ladyship's Quest.

What elements do you like best about the fantasy genre?

In no particular order of importance I like the swords, castles, the Medieval way of life, knights, and magic.

What do you enjoy most about writing novels? 

I’m very much a history buff, but not enough to write with historical accuracy. Writing fantasy gives me a chance to explore all those past worlds and recreate them in the way I would love to experience them.

Can you give a little insight into the romance between Issa and Kae? Does she even know he's in love with her? As a princess, is she forbidden to love someone outside her station? 

No, Issa is not aware that Kae is in love with her, at least not in Book One ;) They’ve been friends for a long time and she doesn’t see that anything has changed on that front. Marriages in the world Kae and Issa live in are approved by the priests, and social status is not the most important factor in determining who can marry whom. Protectors are not allowed to wed at all, though, so such a marriage is out of the question anyway.

Are there any new major characters being introduced in the Decision Maker? 

No, but a lot more weight and depth is given to several characters that did not have a large role in Book One. Decision Maker is basically the continuation and conclusion of the story started in Protector, since the latter does end on a cliffhanger.

Could you talk about the theme of the Anniversary of the Veil series in which the powers-that-be are determined to uphold the status quo. 

The main theme is the choice between duty and love. Which should one follow, their duty or their heart? The theme plays out in all the key relationships in the book, as well as in the main storyline.

Any additional comments?

Thanks for having me, Tracy.

About Decision Maker: Anniversary of the Veil Book 2

Decision Maker (Anniversary of the Veil, Book Two) is the second volume in the Anniversary of the Veil fantasy series. It concludes the story started in Protector(Anniversary of the Veil, Book One), but can also be considered a standalone book that you can read at any time. Though it is enhanced by both Book One and the upcoming Book Three.

Kae, a warrior Protector, has followed Princess Issa across the Veil separating two worlds. They were told Issa will be a key player at the Anniversary of the Veil, but have been mislead! Kae will have to make a terrible choice when the Anniversary finally comes. He is the Decision Maker and will have to play a part in a ceremony that will join Issa's Life Force with her Other Half - but in so doing, it could leave her senseless or worse, dead.

As the King fights to find his daughter, as the Priesthood is falling apart; Kae has to decide if he will kidnap the Princess to stop her Joining and force her into a life of unhappiness, or if he will allow her to Join and thereby leave her a mere shell of herself. Meanwhile friends and foes alike are showing only half-truths to both Kae and Issa. They must make the most important decision of a lifetime without enough knowledge. How can they know it will be the right one?

Enjoy more of Vanna's writing at her blog and find her novels at Amazon.

Vanna Smythe - Fantasy Author
Twitter: @Vanna_Smythe
Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1):
Decision Maker (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 2):