Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are we enjoying a golden age of reader rewards?

Photo credit: Morguefile

Remember life before the internet? 

Shopping for books meant going to a bookstore. There was no online shopping. Some book club mail order services existed, and there was poking through piles of used books at garage sales, but by and large book shopping meant browsing what was in the bookstore. Sometimes there was a sale, but typically the full retail price was the standard.

Now readers are no longer restricted to what happens to be on display within the limited confines of a physical store. An expanding universe of print and digital books fills millions of retail listings online.

On top of this colossal selection, much of it in stock and ready to ship or download, readers also get access to self published writers like never before. Digital technology means writers don’t need a publisher to print and distribute physical books. Writers are going straight to market, and many readers have enjoyed these indie novels that up until a few years ago would have been blithely ignored by everyone in the publishing business.

But wait. There’s more!

Because there is so much selection and talent jamming the marketplace the competition is relentless and authors frequently promote themselves with book and ebook giveaway drawings. Plus there are raffles for gift cards and all kinds of lovely gadgets. A reader could honestly spend all day entering giveaways. Goodreads has a whole section devoted to book giveaways. Recently I won 3 ebooks and I did not even recall entering a drawing. I must have done it while commenting at a blog. Anyway I was still pleased to win some new novels to check out. I daresay that a reader could keep the to-read list full for free from these giveaways.

In addition to drawings there is the glut of free ebooks in the marketplace. 

Crunched by competition, authors seek readers with free samples. Please just look. It won’t cost you anything to look! Free samples are a tried-and-true marketing tactic, but free ebooks are really more than a little box of detergent or a mini spoonful of ice cream. They are whole novels that can deliver hours of entertainment.

Most of this promotional largess has really taken hold in the last three or four years. From a reader perspective giveaway drawings and an endless supply of free ebooks introduce more serendipity into book discovery. Years ago there was much less of this. You could browse a few shelves at a book and perhaps find something interesting. You could ask a store to order a good book a friend recommended and wait weeks for it to arrive or worse yet be told it was out of print. Mostly you had limited access and nearly zero author or publisher contact.

Now the barriers are few and the selection is marvelous. 

Sellers are putting on an endless carnival of bribery to woo readers. Corralling readers into stodgy retail systems with no prizes might be a thing of the past.

Book shopping is becoming more like visiting a business convention and filling your bag with promotional items from each booth. What do you think? Do you like all these buzz-craving promotions or do you skip all that stuff and just quietly browse titles? 

After you comment, please go exploit my desperate attempts for attention and download a free ebook

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updating my kindle ebooks from prc to mobi

I've been doing some housekeeping with my ebook files. For years since the kindle first came out I have been selling .prc versions of my novels for kindle devices. I generated these ebooks out of Mobipocket Creator. Strangely this software generates .prc files but does not make .mobi files. I guess they are supposed to be the same thing, but after the Kindle Fire came out I got feedback that the .prc files did not want to sideload as they always had before with earlier Kindles. As far as I can tell, the ebooks with the .mobi file extension will work better across all Kindle devices.

The trick was how do I make .mobi files? I couldn't figure out how to make Mobipocket Creator do it, which seems odd. I found the Kindle Previewer and Kindlegen programs from Amazon, which seemed to be a perfect solution, but after reading the terms of service, I saw that I technically was not supposed to use files generated from these programs for commercial purposes outside of sending the files to Amazon.

Although I was doubtful I would ever be busted, I still try to avoid violating terms of service and went looking for another solution. I opted for the ever-popular ebook library management system of Calibre. This program converts numerous formats to numerous formats, including .mobi. I converted my .epub ebooks that I make with Sigil into .mobi through Calibre and everything worked out fine. I will admit that I tested all the files in Kindle Previewer to see how they rendered across all Kindle devices. Everything looked good, so now all the Kindle compatible files served from my site are .mobi and will hopefully work well for everyone involved.

By sharing these tedious details in the life of an author publisher, I hope that I might help some other web surfer find the ebook conversion information he or she is seeking.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Release: Two Moons of Sera Omnibus by Pavarti K. Tyler

Free for Kindle 2/25 to 2/28 - Two Moons of Sera, Volume 1 by Pavarti K. Tyler.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the first part of Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti K. Tyler when it was first released. That was way back in November 2011 and Tyler has come a long with her series.

Four novels in the Two Moons of Sera series have been published, and now all four volumes are available in a convenient omnibus.

This lovely promotional video explains the series.

To celebrate the release of the Omnibus, a giveaway drawing is being sponsored by the author. Tyler is giving away bunches of stuff, including a monkey necklace and a mystery prize. How can't you enter for a chance at a mystery prize? See all prize details on the entry form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This lovely series is available in ebook and paperback formats at the following retailers:

2MOS Volume Four:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fantasy trilogy giveaway plus excerpt from Sorcerer's Blood by Christopher Kellen

The March 1st release of the third novel in the Elements of Sorcery series is approaching fast, and fantasy author Christopher Kellen is promoting the new novel with the Sorcerer's Blood blog tour and giveaway of the trilogy. 
Christopher is an interesting guy and hopefully on his way to becoming a powerhouse fantasy author. Get to know him through the following interview, enjoy an excerpt from Sorcerer's Blood, and enter to win the ebook giveaway through the rafflecopter form at the bottom. See all his novels and short stories and find out where to get them at
1. You began publishing in 2011 and have been writing furiously ever since with the release of 3 more novels. What is your writing routine like?
CK: I try to make sure that I'm writing at least something every day, whether it's work on one of my current projects or following a lark. I try to write in and around my everyday life, so I don't really have a set routine. Whenever something strikes me or whenever I have a few spare moments, I'm trying to add words to the page. I know for some people it works better to sit down and have clear, uninterrupted time, but my inspiration really comes in sporadic fits, so I have to work with it when it comes. Unfortunately, it tends to come a lot when I'm driving... and it's really hard to write stuff down when you're driving! (I'm kidding--don't write and drive, folks.)
2. Describe what you enjoy most about writing the Elements of Sorcery novels.
CK: Well, they're novelettes, technically (although this new one is a novella!)--ranging between 14,000 and 19,000 words so far, although they keep getting longer. I'm finding myself enjoying writing the shorter work. It's a very different experience than writing a novel; when I'm inspired, I can sit down and write the first draft of a novelette/novella pretty quickly, compared to the months of work that it takes to set down a novel.
Besides the format, though, I really love writing the character of Edar Moncrief. He was an unexpected creation during a novel drafting process back in 2011, and he quickly moved up to be among my top 5 favorite creations of all time. He's smart, acerbic, full of wit and generally cowardly, which makes him an incredible amount of fun to speak through. Discovering what this character has to say when I put him through hell is just amazing. It's not all funny, though--particularly during the second installment, SORCERER'S CRIME, things got pretty real there, and Moncrief's voice still came through clearly despite the drastic change in tone.
3. Based on reader feedback and reviews, what do people enjoy most about your work?
CK: My readers really seem to love Moncrief (everyone's always clamoring for more!). Everyone seems to appreciate the professional-level editing and clarity of my work as a whole. More than one reviewer has mentioned my world-building--I've done a lot of work to make Eisengoth feel as real as I can. Also, even across genre lines (to my science fiction work) reviewers talk about the quick pace of my books and how they draw in the reader and don't let go until the end.
4. You participate in an indie-focused review site called the Genre Underground. How did you get involved in this group?
CK: The GU is the brainchild of my good friend M. Todd Gallowglas, and I'm very proud to be a founding member. I met Todd via Twitter late last year after reading and reviewing his first book on my blog, and we really hit it off. He invited me out to San Jose last year for the San Jose Fantasy Festival, and I decided to go. We had an author's table and basically spent the weekend hanging out and talking about all kinds of stuff.
The result of this was that we came up with the idea for the Genre Underground, which will hopefully be a lot more than just a review site. We want to form a community of authors and readers to help find the best genre (sci-fi, fantasy & horror) stuff in the indie marketplace and share it with everyone. The focus will be on the readers, not on the writers. You'll be seeing a lot more of the Genre Underground throughout 2013 as we get it rolling!
5. You live in the company of a "monstrous black dog". I like dogs and would like to know more about the furry behemoth that presumably guards your fortress.
CK: Hah--guard the fortress indeed! No, she's a 160-lb Newfoundland, which means that if anyone ever tried to breach the fortress walls, she'd happily lead them to the silver for a pat on the head and a treat... maybe just the pat on the head. She is, however, the smartest and sweetest animal companion that I have ever been blessed with. Every single day with that wonderful animal is more than worth the fur and slobber.
6. Your picture at your website shows you in a cloak. Are you into costuming like for live action role playing or Renaissance faires?
I was blessed with cool parents! They got me into playing D&D when I was very young, and I spent a lot of my youth at Renaissance faires. The picture in question is actually from my wedding--my wife's dress and my clothes were made by my mother for the occasion, who is a wonderful costumer. I, unfortunately, do not have the gift of working with cloth myself =)
On the flip side--yes, I am a total gamer geek. My true love is cooperative roleplaying via pen-and-paper RPGs, and I am always ready to get dressed up to go to a Faire, convention or LARP event when I can find them!
7. Any additional comments?

Thank you so much for having me as part of the Elements of Sorcery 2013 Tour--I really appreciate you hosting this interview. I'm giving away three full sets of the Elements of Sorcery so-far as part of the tour, so I hope that your readers will enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for their chance to win!
SORCERER'S BLOOD is a critical chapter in Edar Moncrief's character development, with bearing on my flagship fantasy series, The Arbiter Codex. This is a turning point for the entire fantasy world that I've created, and I hope that many readers get the chance to enjoy it!
Find all of Christopher's novels at:
Get into reading Sorcerer's Blood right now. Part 1 of the novel preview appeared earlier at the Vaetra Files blog of Daniel Marvello

Enjoy Part 2 from Sorcerer's Blood

That was my first thought when consciousness returned. The second made me wrinkle my nose against the steady drops of water that fell upon it.

Realization crashed in.

My hands flew to my chest, poking and prodding my center of mass. The pain had vanished. I was lying in a rapidly-diluting pool of my own blood as cleansing rain poured through the worn thatching that covered the alley, but I was no longer losing any more precious life. I rummaged through my robes, but found only smooth skin where the blade had entered.

After a moment's panic, I found the heartblade caught up in one of the folds of my robe's sleeve, its light gone dark. I plucked it out and wrapped my fingers around it, carefully. On the ground beside me lay the silver manacle which had been clamped around my wrist, the sign of my servitude. It had broken into two pieces, with black scorches marking the shattered edges.

With careful precision, I checked the rest of myself. The large gold ring which clutched an amber gem had not moved from its place on the second finger of my left hand. My bag of tricks, consisting of several small magical artifacts which I'd imbued with various enchantments over the last several months, still hid away in a concealed pocket inside my robes. Whoever had killed me hadn't been interested in my trinkets and treasures—just my life.

A quick look around revealed no sign of other people nearby. The ambient light had vastly dimmed, but the sun had not yet set. The sunny day that I remembered had been replaced by the iron-gray storm clouds above.

For a moment, paralysis gripped my mind.

What have I done?

The haze clouding my vision pushed back at the edges, and I forced myself into an upright position. A rush of dizziness almost took me back down to the cobbles, but I managed to sit up straight and look around.

How much time had passed? I had no idea. I tucked the heartblade back into the leather case at my ankle, safely away into the velvet-lined interior. A brilliant warmth suffused me, I slowly realized, as though a hearth fire had been kindled at the very center of my being. In fact, I felt better than I had in years.


I flexed my fingers experimentally a few times, finding myself mostly unchanged. No immediate defects that made themselves apparent to my eyes, and as I at last climbed to my feet, the lingering haze of unconsciousness dissipated.

I glowered down at the broken silver manacle with every ounce of sneering contempt that I could muster. It had been my chain for six months. A shock collar to keep the good little lapdog in line. If only I'd known what I had agreed to when I'd accepted it, I might have chosen to starve on the streets instead.

Ah, what's the point in lying to myself? I'd never have nobly starved if there was another option available.

Gingerly, I picked up the blackened silver pieces and stuffed them into an inner pocket of my robe. The enchantment was gone from it now, but one never knew when pure silver might come in handy.

As I tucked away the broken manacle, a thought recurred. I stood on the street alive, but I was supposed to be dead.

"Black gods," I muttered under my breath. "Who did I piss off now?"

In that moment, a thought percolated its way through my mind. If I'd been left for dead in an alley, my assassin was convinced of my death. Indeed, there would have been no way for me to have survived such an assault, had I not been holding a trump card in reserve. Two things logically followed from this train of thought.

One, my assassin did not know about the heartblade that I carried, which meant my efforts to conceal it had been successful.

Second, the city of Selvaria thought I was dead.

A weird chuckling snort escaped me. "By gods," I murmured. A new glow, this time one of inspiration, warmed my mind. "I get to investigate my own murder!"

Find all of Christopher's novels at:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

See my fantasy novels at Radio Rivendell

Fantasy Music

I'm pleased to announce that readers can now buy my fantasy novels at the Radio Rivendell shop. Acting as the world's 24/7 fantasy music online radio station, Radio Rivendell in a European non-profit organization. Revenues from donations, website ads (not in the audio), and its shop support the operating expenses of the radio station and its online community.

I've enjoyed this site years. I sometimes choose to turn it on as background music when I'm writing instead of selecting music from my personal library. Its stream of fantasy-inspired music includes compositions from young and independent artists.

All 8 of my fantasy novels are serving as a beta test right now so the site administrator, known globally as Lord Elrond, can test out merchandising ebooks. Heretofore, the shop sold mostly music CDs but is open to including other types of fantasy-themed merchandise.

Radio Rivendell will receive a portion from each sale of my fantasy novels.

Union of Renegades & The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Books I and II

Judgment Rising: The Rys Chronicles Book III

The Borderlands of Power: The Rys Chronicles Book IV

Rys Rising: Book I & Savage Storm: Book II

New Religion: Rys Rising Book III

Love Lost: Rys Rising Book IV

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Documentary Review - Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal

This is the most hardcore documentary that I've watched in a while. This information is real Gorilla tape and steel-toed boots reality. This one is graphic, like fear of God graphic.

This one is true.

Director Emil Chiaberi delves into the dreadful phenomena of American mass killing sprees, especially in the workplace. This social dysfunction emerged in the 1980s at the U.S. Postal service. The infamy of postal employees going on crazy workplace shootings created the phrase "going postal" that is now a sadly familiar part of the American lexicon.

The investigation placed the blame on hostile work environments in which management relentlessly bullied employees. Sadly some reached the breaking point and delivered unspeakable violence upon their workplaces.

Specifically at the Postal Service, the documentary explained that in the 1980s the culture at the post office dramatically changed. What had once been viewed as a friendly civil service became something that had to be run like a business and demanded ever increasing production. Processing machines that moved mail faster than humans could deal with it stepped up stress levels, inflicted physical disabilities, and gave management plenty of reasons to write up employees for failure to perform properly.

Postal employees, including survivors of shooting sprees, repeatedly expressed in interviews that they understood why the coworker went on the rampage. Prolonged harassment from managers and supervisors was cited as the reason for the violence.

Although the documentary focused on the glaring example of the Postal Service, the story expanded its commentary to include the erosion of worker rights since the Reagan Administration and the prevalence of employees being bullied by management. The legal system is overwhelming skewed toward supporting employers against employee complaints. Employees have no legal protections from managerial abuse.

Ever increasing demands for production coupled with reduced benefits, lack of job security, and few options for alternative employment are widespread throughout American workplaces. Unhappy workers often feel trapped in their dignity-stripping situations because they can't find work that pays a living wage or offers benefits.

The deterioration of people's ability to earn a living or at least be treated with human dignity fosters widespread alienation. Alienated hopeless people sometimes turn to violence. A business culture that encourages worker abuse and treats people like garbage sucks the compassion out of society.
Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal is such an important documentary. So many American workers suffer under the boot heels of abuse meant to make them feel small and helpless. Many people can't know their work schedules even a few days ahead of time. Countless petty supervisors hold their power to fire people and potentially put them and their families in the street over their heads. Many people have physical demands placed on them that grind their bodies down with chronic pain. More workers every year have to labor in the limbo of temporary employment and never gain a permanent position, all by design and without any hope of getting ahead.

It's completely accepted as part of our society that most people hate their jobs. The collective misery of so many workplaces has spread throughout society into mall shootings, highway shootings, and school shootings.

When most people live in hateful situations, then flare ups of terrible rage will become routine. The documentary presented awful images from the workplaces shootings. People felled at their desks with rivers of blood soaking into meaningless paperwork. Then chilling images from surveillance cameras showed brutal murders. Eerily calm murderers stalked the halls, guns in both hands, and killed people left and right as casually as playing a video game. Something had stripped them utterly of their humanity.

This documentary is terrifying. There is so much pain and fear out there. If you are being bullied in the workplace, I have no answers for you. Just please know that you do not suffer alone. Please don't copy what so many other destroyed souls have been driven to.

I applaud Emil Chiaberi for making this important documentary. See more about the film and buy Murder by Proxy on DVD or download.

Friday, February 15, 2013

World Traveler Elizabeth Baxter talks fantasy novels

The Last Priestess - One among the many novels recently published by the increasingly prolific "Small Blonde Hippy" Elizabeth Baxter

What places have you visited as you pursue your professed passion for world travel?
Traveling is one of those things that makes me feel truly alive. There's something magical about seeing a new place, new culture, new people for the first time. I love the feeling of not knowing where you'll be sleeping tomorrow and wondering what new experiences lie beyond the bend in the road. I've been to lots of places: most of Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Nepal, but my favourite place has to be East Africa. I traveled up through a number of countries, and whilst I saw some appalling poverty, I met some wonderfully warm people and saw landscapes and animals that took my breath away. The trouble with travelling is that its like a bug - once you're bitten it just gets worse. The more I see the more I want to see. Borneo and Madagascar are next on my list.

Your blog says you like cricket. Could you explain it for your American audience? Wait a minute. Don't bother. All the eyes in North America just glazed over.
Lol! Quite a lot of British eyes would glaze over too! Cricket is an acquired taste. You have to have quite a lot of patience - especially as games last five days! England play Australia in the ashes in the summer (a very old rivalry that can get quite heated). Can't wait!

Explain your online identity "Small Blonde Hippy".
This stems from my days as a student. Back when email first started becoming popular I wanted to set myself up with an account but couldn't think of a username. Well, I'm quite short, blonde, and have always been into environmentalism, animal rights, that sort of thing. So one of my friends said, "Why don't you use Small Blonde Hippy?" and it's stuck ever since. However, a username that seems quite cool when you're a student suddenly becomes a little embarrassing when you have to tell it to your bank manager or accountant!

It looks like you just started publishing your fiction in 2012. How has your inaugural year as a published writer been going?
It's been lots of fun but very hard work! There has been so much to learn. I feel I'm a better writer now than I was then but the learning never stops. This is my first blog tour so I'm learning something right now! I hope to have lots more publications out in 2013 and hope this will be a great year!

Your Wrath of the Northmen series has a first book and a prequel out. When do you expect to complete the rest of the planned trilogy?
Book 2 of The Wrath of the Northmen should be out in Summer 2013 and book 3 in Autum 2013. However, right now I'm concentrating on my new series, The Songmaker. Book 1, The Last Priestess, is out now and the second book, The King's Mage, should (hopefully) be out in April 2013.

Wrath of the Northmen mixes science and magic. Give an example of challenge faced by your hero Bramwell as he juggles these incompatible forces.
Thanderly, the land Bram lives in is a land divided. Whilst his own city is one of science and reason, other areas are deeply religious and see Bram's kind as heathens. There is a lot of tension bubbling beneath the surface. However, when a terrible winter envelops the land the followers of science and the followers of ritual have to work together. Bram finds himself in the centre of this struggle. Whilst he's a man of science by training and upbringing, he soon finds that by birth, he is much more than that.

What do you find most satisfying about reaching readers with your fiction?
Telling a good story. When I read a review or get a comment from a reader saying they enjoyed the story, that's satisfying. Knowing that they enjoyed visiting the land I created and following the lives of my characters if what writing is all about.

Places to connect with me:


Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Romantic scene from fantasy novel Judgment Rising for Valentine's Day

My fantasy novels have many characters and that means romantic relationships do arise, especially when people have to go to war and face death. In Judgment Rising, the third novel of The Rys Chronicles, the teenage girl Lydea enters the Wilderness with her mother and brother who are seeking the healing magic of the rys. She meets Tytido a warrior of the Hirqua Tribe who won wealth and glory in the war against Onja.

Tytido assisted Lydea onto her horse. She was not dressed for riding, and he enjoyed how her skirt pulled up past her knees when she sat in the saddle. Her delicate leg wear represented a feminine treasure next to the smooth saddle leather. The sight of her silk stockings from some fancy shop in distant Atrophane rewarded him with an unexpected rush of confident excitement.
Instead of taking the High Road around the south rim, as when people normally traveled to Elendra, Tytido headed up the north loop of the road. This route was little traveled and turf still spread over the ancient stones of the road. In places, erosion had dragged the hills over the road, and they had to ride over the rough ground. Despite the centuries of neglect, the original surface that had been carved from the land remained for the most part, and the ghostly outline of the road wound up the mountainside.
“Is it safe to be out here?” Lydea asked after the settlement receded from view and only empty wilds surrounded her. “I have been told about the fen, the fentha—”
 “Fenthakrabi,” Tytido said. “Do you not think that you are safe with me?”
“Well,” she hesitated, trying to be generous. “I heard that the beast can kill many men at once.”
Becoming more serious, Tytido conceded that they were very dangerous. “But it is a forest creature. One has never been seen on the High Road.”
“Then, I shall insist that we not go into the forest,” Lydea said.
“No, we will not,” Tytido agreed. “I would not go into the forest without some warriors. It is a wild place, even to us.” Tytido then related his smaller excursion into the forest on his way to Elendra in which he had seen a fenthakrabi fight a mother bear.
“Oh, I think Vetanium is enough of the Wilderness for me,” Lydea said.
Her comment bothered Tytido and he quickly tried to alter her opinion. “Nufal is a beautiful place, and once a great rys civilization occupied this valley. Humans lived here as well. Come, just a little farther and you will see.”
They had been riding around the mountain to the north of Vetanium, gradually gaining elevation, and Tytido knew they would soon reach a point that overlooked the valley.
Tytido hurried up the road and Lydea urged her horse to follow. She gasped when her horse faltered, and he immediately looked back with concern. The horse was fine, but Lydea had been frightened when it stumbled.
Straightening herself, she patted the horse’s neck. A little embarrassed, she said, “I do not ride as well as you. I am really a city girl.”
Despite her claims of urban ineptitude, Tytido admired her perseverance. In his eyes, she did not look foreign to the land. Her hazel eyes matched the sun-dried plains that unfolded in the vista behind her.
“You came across the Wilderness, Lydea. I am sure you can handle one short trip up a road,” Tytido encouraged.
“You know, Tytido, calling this a road takes some imagination,” she commented.
“In Nufal, this counts as quite a good road,” he insisted.
They ascended a steep switchback and emerged on a ledge. Lydea exclaimed with delight as she saw the panoramic view. Below her, a dense forest filled the oval valley. Mountains ringed the forest like proud family members gathered around a newborn’s crib. Lesser peaks attended the broad snow-capped mountains that dominated the hazy distances to the north, east, and south. But the massive ruins rising from the forest impressed Lydea the most. She had not guessed that the Tabren Mountains concealed the architecture of such an advanced society. The temple jutting from the canopy was higher than the largest building in Cros, and, for the first time, the mysteries of the Wilderness truly excited Lydea. Atrophane was not the greatest realm that had ever been.
Tytido dismounted and held her horse’s bridle while she got down.
“It is amazing,” she breathed, and Tytido was delighted to see the wonder in her eyes.
Walking her to the edge of the road, he said, “The city you see in the forest has by far the largest ruins, but there are ruined cities all the way around the valley, like Vetanium. This road connects them all.” He swept his hand in a circle to indicate the locations of the other cities.
Eagerly, she began to scan the valley and he continued, “We know of five ruined cities, not including the forest city. There is Vetanium and the second settlement of Elendra. To the south, on the prairie, is an old town, and far back in the mountains is what we call the Secret City.” Remembering the chilling scream from the canyon, he added his belief that Tempet and Alloi had come from the Secret City.
Pointing to the north rim, he continued, “And there, almost directly overlooking the forest city, is the fifth ruin.”
“I think I see something,” Lydea said. “Some broken walls maybe.”
“I know it does not look like much at this distance,” Tytido apologized, wishing that a grand, shining city lorded over the valley. Stepping close behind Lydea, he put a hand on her shoulder. “That is where my settlement will be. All the surrounding lands will be my estates. I plan to build a new city and call it Lydeaem.” He punctuated his statement by kissing her neck and sliding his other hand around her hip and down into the crease above her thigh.
Lydea inhaled sharply and looked over her shoulder, drawn by his browsing lips. Tytido felt her tense in his arms, but it was a good tension created by the sudden injection of affection. As her head turned, he switched from nuzzling her ear to kissing her cheek. Quickly, he arrived at her lips, turned her body, and embraced her fully.
Their kiss deepened, and mutual desires flared, swiftly increasing in intensity. Lydea wrangled with temptation as pleasure enticed her body toward freedom. The power of her feelings startled her and she attempted to retreat. Pulling away from Tytido, she tried to locate her rational mind. Even as she groped for control, the lingering energy of his touches and kisses beckoned her to return.
Tytido resisted his urge to simply pull her back to his hungry lips. He believed that she wanted him, but he accepted that he had to let her reach that conclusion for herself. Her virginal uncertainty was endearing to him as well, and he relished how much his advances had flustered her.
With the breeze cooling her wet lips, Lydea avoided eye contact and said, “Why do you want to name your settlement Lydeaem?”
Tytido said, “That is how to use your language to name the city after you, right?”
“Yes, it is correct, but, but why?” Lydea asked again although she could guess at his reasons.
“Because I want you to come live there with me—as my wife,” he answered.
“Wife?” she repeated sharply and took a step back.
Her reaction wounded him and revived hurt feelings from a previous attempt to marry. Before the war with Onja, he had been betrothed to a woman from his tribe. As was typical among the Hirqua, it had been an arranged match, but he had looked forward to his marriage after winning wealth and glory in the war. But when his betrothed had learned of his intention to move to the Wilderness, she had refused to marry him. Her family had agreed with her, and Tytido had been obligated to accept the refund of his brideprice. He had left his homeland as a single and humiliated man.
That rejection had burned deeply into his pride, but time had healed the pain. Eventually, he was glad that the Hirqua woman was not with him.
“I know the Wilderness can be a difficult place for a woman to live,” he said, attempting to reason with her fears. “But we can live better than I do now. I will have a big house built for you, and you can have as many servants as you want.” He restrained himself from moving closer to her in his excitement. “Lydea, you will be a noblewoman, ruling class. I am wealthy. I offer you life at the top of society.”
Lydea blinked hard. The strong breeze tugged strands of her golden hair in conflicting directions.
“Tytido,” she murmured. Searching for words, she studied the man whose kind attention made him more attractive with each passing day. Confronted by his passions and desire for commitment all at once, she could not think straight. Only desire and fear stimulated her mind. Tytido stood before her, a handsome strong man. Any woman could potentially find him appealing. He had charmed her as he struggled through his shyness, but she had noticed the intensity that lurked inside him. As he sparred that morning, she had seen him strike with fierce speed. He was a warrior, a killer. Alone on the mountainside, he could make her do anything. 

Judgment Rising picks up the epic begun in the first two books of The Rys Chronicles, but readers can jump in at this point in the saga too. Judgment Rising introduces a new story line and some new characters. 

Learn more about The Rys Chronicles or get Judgment Rising here:

Brave Luck Books
Barnes & Noble

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Goddess Queen ebook on sale for 99 cents

For three days I'm dropping the normal $4.95 price for The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Book II to $0.99. Starting February 10th the ebook format of The Goddess Queen goes on sale. But this price will turn into a pumpkin and go away after February 12th.

If you enjoyed Union of Renegades and have been meaning to read the next novel of The Rys Chronicles now is the time to fulfill your desire.

Buy the ebook at:

Brave Luck Books 
Smashwords - must enter code JB34X at checkout
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

The sale price on The Goddess Queen also applies if you want to buy The Rys Chronicles complete series. Get all 4 ebooks for $10.89 through February 12th.

This special price for The Goddess Queen is part of a larger group promotion with other indie fantasy authors.

Browse all the 99 cent fantasy titles on sale at: 

  • Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur by Ruth Nestvold 
  • Once Upon a Curse: Stories and Fairy Tales for Adult Readers (Anthology) 
  • The Princess of Dhagabad by Anna Kashina 
  • The Chocolatier’s Wife by Cindy Lynn Speer 
  • The Unfinished Song (Book 2): Taboo by Tara Maya 
  • Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms) by Christine Pope 
  • Rowena Through the Wall by Melodie Campbell 
  • Encrypted by Lindsay Buroker 
  • The Rose of Shanhasson by Joely Sue Burkhart 

To share this awesome ebook sale with others use the buttons below to blog about it, put it on Facebook or Google Plus or Twitter.

If you tweet it please use this phrase and hashtag:

Tales of Love and Magic 99c Fantasy, 3 Days Only, Feb. 10-12 #99cfantasy 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Apple's iBookstore distinguishes itself by merchandising indie titles

As a self published indie author I've come to accept that I will never be given any merchandising love in retail stores either online or brick-and-mortar. By merchandising I mean front page and category level display and promotion on websites or being shelved in a physical store. I will always be buried where only those restricted to bed rest will have enough browsing time to actually find me. I will not be stocked by  bookstores except for the charitable indulgences of the occasional local outlet.

But maybe that is changing. Apple sells ebooks through iTunes in its iBookstore, and it has started a Breakout Books promotional section that highlights popular indie titles, many of which are distributed by Smashwords, a distributor I also use. This is actually big news. Except for the rare appearance on Amazon of Jeff Bezos lauding some big hit self publisher, online and physical bookstores always stick to merchandising the same titles by large publishers. If you surf through online and physical venues, you'll find the same titles splashed across the shelves. This merchandising space  is paid for by big companies promoting its new products. That is all very normal and expected, but it also creates a box-store and chain restaurant type homogeneity.

Perhaps Apple by beginning to do some indie author merchandising is seeking to differentiate itself from its competitors. It will also gain goodwill from thousands of indie authors who appreciate the recognition of their value. Amazon has gained big loyalty from many authors by allowing self publishers into the game. This results in many authors promoting their books with links to Amazon, sometimes exclusively. I suspect Apple wants to get into this link-love action.

Merchandising titles from sources outside giant corporate "persons" also offers readers more diversity, especially at the front page gateway level. Yes, large publishing companies produce books that become popular, but not everybody reads them. Big publishers reject all kinds of manuscripts that have gone on to enjoy success in the indie market.

I can dream of someday getting featured in the Breakout emerging authors section at Apple. I've always sold ebooks there and the readers in the iTunes marketplace give me some of my best reviews. For now, I'm happy to see a mainstream marketplace recognizing the contribution indie authors make to the entertainment marketplace. 

Read more about this subject at:

The New York Times
The Smashwords blog

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rys Rising featured Kobo freebie today at Spec Fic Daily

If you enjoy the genres of sci fi, fantasy, and horror you should follow the listings at Spec Fic Daily. This book discovery blog is cool because it includes a variety of retail outlets. A multitude of book blogs are very Amazon Kindle focused because that's a popular device and Amazon has an affiliate program, but not everyone reads on a Kindle, so it's nice to find a place to browse genre titles and have links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Rys Rising: Book I is my ongoing free fantasy ebook to promote the whole series, and it was placed on the Spec Fic Daily home page today as the featured freebie at Kobo. Kobo is considered an upcoming ebook retailer with an international focus. I've always had some sales at this important globally focused store, and I hope today marks the point when I get to establish a better presence with Kobo customers. One thing that is cool about Kobo is that it sells its content in openly accessible formats. It's not trying to restrict you to a certain device. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fantasy author available for interview on fantasy genre podcasts

Fantasy genre podcast producers in search of indie writers are invited to contact me for an interview. I'm the author of 8 fantasy novels and have been self publishing since 2005, way before it was cool. In addition to always writing more novels I have begun producing my backlist for the audiobook market. For complete details please see my news release below. Anyone is welcome to republish the text of the news release and use one or both of the mp3 audio promos for my fantasy audiobooks Union of Renegades and The Goddess Queen.

Please feel free to share these mp3s excerpts from my fantasy audiobooks.
mp3 promo Union of Renegades
mp3 promo The Goddess Queen

News release: February 4, 2013

Get ready for more indie audiobooks - fantasy author Tracy Falbe producing second fantasy novel for audio market

Expanding opportunities for indie writers now include audiobooks. Like other authors, fantasy writer Tracy Falbe is grabbing her chance to place her novels in Audible and iTunes through the do-it-yourself option at Audio Creation Exchange

Falbe is midway through the recording of The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Book II, the sequel to her first audiobook Union of Renegades. Using a monthly installment plan with her narrator Andrew Wetmore, she is on schedule for a late summer release of the completed 158,000 word audiobook that will total roughly 16 hours.

Currently 14 chapters are complete and available at her website They are bundled into 2-chapter episodes for $1.50 each to help finance production. Completing The Goddess Queen for the audio market is important to Falbe because when coupled with Union of Renegades, listeners will get a complete story as many plot lines are tied up.

Having a viable chance to be part of the popular audiobook market is exciting for Falbe, who’s been publishing since before indie writers had good outlets for their fiction. Although the success of her first audiobook Union of Renegades has been modest, initial listener responses were positive and she has had requests for The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Book II.

“I’m planning on ramping up my audio marketing efforts once I have the second novel completely recorded. Then I’ll have enough product ready to justify marketing expenses,” Falbe said.

She considers audiobooks a logical place to expand in the worldwide digital marketplace. Since the ebook retail marketplace began including indie writers, she has been growing her audience for her fantasy ebooks. Falbe is the author of two fantasy series quartets, The Rys Chronicles and Rys Rising. In October 2012, she published her eighth novel Love Lost.

She considers the audio production of Union of Renegades and The Goddess Queen to be a pilot program for her business. It gives her a way to test the market. She dreams of enough success to invest in recording all her novels someday.

Audiobooks in mp3 format are easy for her to sell worldwide from her websites, but it was the opportunity to be distributed into the dominant Audible marketplace that convinced her to invest in audio production.

“All I’ve ever really needed is a chance to be available to fiction lovers whatever the format. Not everyone likes my work, but when they do, they want more,” Falbe said.

Tracy Falbe can be contacted at tracy [AT] falbepublishing [DOT] com 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Favorited on Etsy this week

Over the past 7 days at Etsy, I've had 6 items at my shop be favorited by other shoppers. This means that people at Etsy clicked on the heart when viewing my items to place it in their favorites section. This action also gives the item a little merchandising boost because it might get shown in the recently favorited spots.

People use their favorite lists at Etsy for a variety of reasons. Foremost you can use it to make a list of items you're considering buying. After browsing, you can go through your favorites and choose the winner. I also click favorite just because I like something and think it is cool and want to show it off to people in my circles. I suspect other people do the same thing. Even if a person does not buy a thing they favorited, it's still a little positive vote in the system because each listing keeps a tally of how many favorites it gets. You could also use the favorite button to keep track of items you want to collect into an Etsy treasury.

So what got love at my shop this week?

  1. Digital vintage image of Three Bears - high res JPEG for worldwide download  2
  2. Rys Rising epic fantasy series - Indie fiction - 4 ebook novels for nook, kindle, pc, ipad, and more 1
  3. Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood vintage full color digital illustration - high res JPEG for worldwide download 1
  4. Digital vintage full color image of Cinderella & Prince at wedding banquet - high res JPEG for worldwide download 1
  5. Digital image of red 14th century medieval knight on horse - high res JPEG for worldwide download 1
  6. Indie fantasy audiobook 19 hours of epic listening mp3 download worldwide - Free sample available 
If you're an Etsy seller please comment with a link to an item that got favorited in the past week. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why did I make up my own magical races for my fantasy series?

Many years ago when the world was not quite so messed up and a lot more ice was around the poles, I started writing fantasy novels. During the initial stages of drafting Union of Renegades, I had to make decisions about my magical races. The usual suspects are elves and dragons. I very much love elves and dragons, but I wanted to be a little more creative than just plucking a standard tool out of the common toolbox.

This is when I came up with the rys and in later novels the tabre, which are pretty much just like rys except their skin is a different color. The rys are admittedly elf-like in some ways. They have innate magic as part of their physiology, and they are pretty snooty, except for Shan, but that’s because he’s so powerful that being a snob is pointless.

What are the attributes of the rys?
  • They are long-lived but not immortal. 
  • Magical abilities vary among individuals. Most rys are “common” meaning they possess basic capabilities like casting heat spells and limited range landscanning. 
  • A rare subset of the species is supremely gifted. They can see across vast distances, read minds, influence thoughts, create enchanted crystals, cast battle magic that breaks walls and incinerates people, levitate, repel other magic, seize souls of the dying, and even alter flesh.
  • The most powerful can hibernate, a very long time if need be.
  • Reproduction only occurs if both the male and female want it to. This means that they can have sexual relations, but pregnancy will only occur if both partners wish it. As you can imagine, they don’t have many offspring, but they don’t really need to. 
  • Due to their small population, rys and tabre leaders prefer to control large human societies as a way to gain resources and display their superiority. The loyalty of many people can also have the effect of boosting their magic.
  • They can be vulnerable to physical attack when they are in spellcasting trances. This is why the elite rys often employ a cadre of bodyguards, either human or rys.
In retrospect, I realize that I would probably have an easier time marketing my novels if I had just put elves or dragons or angels in them. Then they would have familiar elements popular with fantasy readers instead of a new magical race concept that triggers no specific meaning or response in potential readers. I guess this is why I got all those rejection letters all those years ago. I suppose I’m forced to agree that my fantasy novels are “hard to market” because they are not pure cookie cutter genre fiction.

Even so I can promise you that my novels are populated by diverse characters and civilizations. I don’t sugar coat the world. Sometimes the endings are happy. Sometimes they are decidedly not. I pack in intrigue, gritty battles, passion, the occasional monster, and good parties. And for those that really get into my work, there are thoughtful elements meant as metaphors to mirror the habits and errors of human societies. 

At the very least, I hope to entertain you and make you care about the characters. That’s what a good story needs to do regardless of genre.

Get to know the rys and read this short excerpt from Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I in which Shan kills for the first time.

Shan stalked his victim with pantherish ease. His perceptions allowed him to know the exact location of the Sabuto and even which way the warrior turned his head. Shan circled the warrior and approached him from his left side. The rys knew that the warrior did not see him.

He is at my mercy, Shan thought. He could incapacitate the Sabuto with a spell of sleepiness and kill him with ease, and Shan suddenly saw how with his magic he could simply strike the human dead in a variety of ways. But Shan was determined to do it with the sword. Only experiencing the danger of close combat could teach him courage. 

Shan rushed the warrior, but did not kill him in his moment of surprise. The Sabuto attacked but his weapon could not match the speed of the rys. Shan had every advantage, especially in the night. His advanced senses let him feel every movement of the warrior as it happened, and he could react perfectly. 

Finally, Shan accepted what he had chosen to do and struck the man down with effortless precision. The slender sword penetrated the man’s heart, and he cried out once before he died. Shan pulled his sword back swiftly, as if expecting to keep the spurting blood off his weapon. He could feel the heat coming off the thick stream of blood. He could feel the body of the man perish as it was suddenly unplugged from its life-giving force, but Shan was the most sensitive to the soul lurching from the body that had so abruptly evicted it.
Shan had always been especially sensitive to souls departing bodies. The soul of the Sabuto warrior recognized him as a rys, and Shan experienced the shock and confusion of the man, who had never expected a rys to be guarding the camp. Shan watched the soul rise, beckoned by the next world. When people died Shan saw much more than humans and most rys. 

The energy of the soul dissipated and Shan was thankful that it did not linger. He looked at the body heaped on the forest floor. The bloody corpse proved Shan was a killer. Shan struggled against the self-loathing he suddenly felt. He told himself that the dead man was Taischek’s enemy and he was justified in killing his friend’s enemy. But the only thought that helped Shan at all was that he had taken his first real step toward being King of Jingten.

If you enjoyed this excerpt you can download the entire novel Union of Renegades for free.