Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 December Reading List

Gravity by Melissa West – I kept comparing it to Insurgent while reading, thought Insurgent is darker and better written. Some parts of the plot were laughable and made little sense, but at least the present tense was less jarring and I got caught by the action. 3/5 stars

Iced by Karen Marie Moning – I picked this one up solely for the cover, I didn’t even bother to read the book description. I found it quite entertaining, though I’m still puzzled what’s the targeted age audience. Some mysteries are left untold, but this is the bane with the series. And I wish the lead character wasn’t 14, ewww. 3/5 stars

The Butcher of Anderson by James S. A. Corey – Interesting take on Fred’s past. 3/5 stars

Halting State 2: Rule 34 by Charles Stross – My first encounter with Mr. Stross’ prose did not go so well. The second person POV took a little to get used to, but the main problem where the characters and the disjointed plot that failed to held my interest. I abandoned the book after reading about half of it. 3/5 stars

Mistborn. The Fallen Empire by Brandon Sanderson – The length of the book intimidated me a little (I read like three big books this year that took a lot of my time and in the end I wished they had been much shorter), but it turned out to be amazingly good. Mr. Sanderson has a new fan! :) 4/5 stars

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – I think this would have made a better impression if I hadn’t read Ready Player One recently. The way it was, it just wasn’t good enough. 3/5 stars

Gods of Risk by James S. A. Corey – I didn’t feel as invested in this story like I did with the novels. Maybe short prose doesn’t quite work for them. 3/5 stars

Dincolo de noapte. 12 fete ale goticului, edited by Oliviu Craznic – Gothic is not exactly my cup of tea, but I liked George Lazar, Liviu Radu, and Laura Sorin’s stories. 3/5 stars

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Recap

It’s that time of the year again when we’re going through the past year’s accomplishments and list the highlights.

On the writing front:

16 short stories written + one novella
Stories published in 2012 available on-line:
One English story sold for EvolutionVol. 2, available as ebook as well as print edition.

One Romanian story included in "Cele 1001de scorneli  ale Mosului SF", editor Stefan Ghidoveanu, Millennium Books, November, 2012.

There was supposed to be one more anthology published this year, but it was delayed. And no, the zombie anthology is still not out. That’s all right, it means there’ll be three anthologies featuring my stories next year, if everything works well.

My own Romanian story collection was postponed for spring. Still no signed contract, so we’ll see.

There was one other project I sent texts for, but no idea what’s the status of that one.
To shake thing up a bit, I got into self-publishing and I’ve got two titles published already:
- an apocalyptic novella: Human Instincts, June, 2012
- a paranormal story collection: Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks, December, 2012

Next in line, it’s a vampire novella, The Impaler’s Revenge.

What I didn’t get to do is write a new draft for book 1 in Stolen Wings Prophecy series and finish book 2, but, well, there’s always next year.

And to brag a little, I was nominated in the Debut category at ROMCON 2012, won my second AtelierKult contest, and was awarded second prize at Helion contest. Hmm, does this make me an award-winning writer? I don’t know about that.

But enough about writing, let’s talk about reading. It takes less effort, and it’s just as fun.

87 books read this year out of which 54 read on e-reader.  My Kindle turned out to be a great investment. And I’m getting a little better at not finishing books I don’t enjoy reading. I put down about 5 with no intention to get back to them.

Best books read in 2012:
Among Others – Jo Walton
Mechanique – Genevieve Valentine
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Leviathan Wakes – James S. A. Corey
Drowned Cities – Paolo Bacigalupi
Before They Are Hanged – Joe Abercrombie
Caliban’s War - James S. A. Corey
The Last Argument of the Kings – Joe Abercrombie
Consider Pheblas – Iain M. Banks
Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass – Stephen King
Wool 1-5 – Hugh Howey
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Mistborn. The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson

Moving on to music…

Best music albums of 2012:
Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
Garou – Rhythm and Blues
Matchbox 20 – North
Muse – The 2nd Law
Les Miserables 2012 OST

Movies – Err, I’m drawing a blank here… I’ve seen tons of movies, but nothing memorable comes to mind. I miss movies with an intelligent dialogue, I haven’t seen one in too long. One thing is clear, 3D movies are still crap plot-wise. And The Dark Knight Rises was not as good as expected. Prometheus, Total Recall, John Carter, Bourne, Skyfall, The Hunger Games were all sort of disappointing too. But we loved Brave, which shows that we’re all kids at heart. Now I’m overly excited about Les Miserables and I can’t wait to see it.

There’s no news to report about work. Things are starting to pick up a little after the last slow year. No new website, but Absolute Skating is keeping me pretty busy.

Health wasn’t so great, unfortunately. I began the year with IV’s because of my stomach and then in the summer I had the worst bronchitis in the last ten years. I needed shots and three types of antibiotics to get over it. Whoever said that only geniuses catch cold during summer was terribly mistaken. You have to be an idiot to move from 35C to 15C and expect things to be just peachy.

The worst part of it is that it happened just before going away on vacation so I spent the first half of it still recovering and unable to fully enjoy the trip. But we spent two lovely weeks in Venice and Florence and, if we ignore my health condition, it was great.

Update on the mutant cacti: four of them are still alive, though only one kept the colored top on. Once we moved them on the windowsill to enjoy the sun, the red top one let its top die, while the purple top one spent the entire summer blooming like crazy. Go figure!

I’m still proud of my new bookshelves, even if they’re fully loaded with books and threatening to fall off the wall. I’m slowly plotting to have another set built next to them, but maybe next summer.

We were running a little late with the Christmas preparations, still in the end everything was fine and we’ve been having guests ever since. Fun. We’re also having lots of snow, which is a nice change even if it was really cold for a while.

And here we are. Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Evolution Vol. 2 discounted on Amazon

Evolved Publishing is doing a post-Christmas ebook sale.

Between December 26-31, you can buy a discounted copy of Evolution Vol. 2 on Amazon.

To check all the 35 ebooks on sale go to Evolved Publishing's website.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Story: For the Love of a Man

Sender: Gliese 777 b, Cygnus
Physical address: Encrypted
Decoding: Valid
Receiver: Gliese 777 b, Cygnus
Physical address: Encrypted
Decoding: Valid
Protocol: Shortest Relay Path
Handshake: OK

Begin transmission.


Dear Mom,

I have some news for you. We’re moving! Greg was offered a position as first ecologist administrator in the Ohm system. Yes, I know it’s two galaxies away, but with the recently discovered faster-than-light traveling technology you can visit us any time you want, so don’t worry about it.

Why are we moving into a system with zero population, no entertainment and basically nothing of interest outside the personnel’s base? Because once all the FTL terminals are installed, Greg will arrive home from work 2.5 hours earlier than usual. The regular delivery service can only move our orders up one hour, which is not enough time for me to take care of everything before he arrives home, and we won’t be able to afford extra FTL travel for a while. Not mentioning the fact that Greg will see it in our joint account transfer records. And then, he’ll figure out I cannot cook. I will not lose my marriage over this FTL business.

So we’re moving. The pay is smaller and there might not be much for me to do there, but the beauty of it is that Ohm has been declared a natural reservation and no FTL travels are allowed in the area. We’ll be safe there. Please, be happy for me, Mom. Greg means the world to me, and I will do anything for him, even subject myself to a life full of boredom. Hey, maybe I’ll learn to cook!

Until then, you can still send in the casseroles as usual, just remember to add a type two preservation additive after we leave.  It’s especially made for long distance travel and it will keep the food good for years. And you won’t have to cook every day anymore. I did some research and I can easily blame the foreign flavor on the local flora. See, I have it all figured out! Greg will believe me since he can’t cook either. He loves your lasagna so don’t forget to make at least one portion per week. Thanks!

Your loving daughter, lost in the middle of packing,


End of transmission.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (7): Social Media

A mandatory part of the marketing strategy is to have a solid presence online and promote your book through your social media. If you’re not networking a lot then you apparently don’t exist.

Website – If you want people to find your books all in one place, you need a website. On mine, I have a biography, description of books in which you can find my stories, a list of stories available online in various magazines, links to reviews, articles and interviews related to my writing, and ways to contact me. I’m changing the layout for every new release and so far it’s a nice hobby to have. I didn’t bother with a domain name and paid hosting, and I won’t until writing really starts to pay off.

Blog – I’ve had one since 2006. Now that I’m a public figure as a writer, I stopped posting silliness on it and focus mostly on promoting my work. Don’t worry, sometimes silliness still slips through. I know many self-published writers do much more, like guest posting and interviewing and spotlighting each other’s books, but I don’t have the time and energy for that. Aside from writing related stuff, I do a monthly post about my latest read books (I don’t reviews anymore), I might mention some music albums I liked or movies I’m excited about, travels and of course figure skating. I use Blogspot for blogging, but I also have a Wordpress account just in case. And if I dig deep enough, I think I still have a Lifejournal account, though I haven’t used it in ages.

Facebook – People spend a lot of time on Facebook so it’s good to have a Facebook fan page too in order to keep in touch with them. There are various lists with people willing to reciprocate Likes. The problem with this practice is that not all of them actually do it, and I find it very unlikely for other aspiring writers to buy your books if they’re the only ones who liked your page. Big numbers look good, though, and can fool readers. Unfortunately, Facebook started recently to ask for money to show your post in the subscribers’ feeds so I don’t see it going anywhere. It was good while it lasted, but I’m not going to pay for that! Another thing, if I haven’t heard of you outside Facebook, don’t bother sending me a friendship request. I’m trying to keep my Facebook profile private. Oh, and did I say I don’t like Facebook? I really don’t care to read about your frustrations, or what you ate for lunch, or you washing your floor and doing the laundry.

Twitter – I started with 200 peoples I followed that I was really interested in. I used to get all my entertainment news from Twitter. Once I started to follow back, the follower number blew up. Now I follow over 2,000 people with about just as many followers and my timeline is a mess. I know I should use lists, but I really don’t have time sort 2,000+ usernames. Twitter used to be fun. Now if I go check my emails, when I return five minutes later there are like 400 new tweets and I get discouraged just by seeing the number. Sometimes, some useful tweet catches my attention, but it doesn’t happen often. Feel free to tweet me, thought, I’ll be happy to tweet back.

Tumblr – It’s something in between a blog platform, Twitter and Pinterest. It’s mostly useful if you want to reblog other people’s posts, and there’s a lot of silliness on it. I have an account, but I’m not using it.

Google+ - It looks like a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and some other socializing platforms with a few extra features. Just like Facebook, I mainly use it to advertise my blog posts.

Pinterest – I spent about a week on Pintrest this spring, looking at pretty pictures. Then I realized I was wasting a lot of time that I could have used more productively. You can’t spend your life just seeing and feeling, you need to ‘think’ too. I didn’t close my account, but I stopped visiting it. Also, there’s that copyright issue that keeps nagging me, so now I only use it to advertize my book covers.

Linkedin – I guess it’s useful for people to get connected through it for business related matters, but for me at this point it would be just another account I would have to deal with, and I already have too many so I skipped this one. (Update: I received an invitation I couldn't refuse so now I'm on LinkedIn too.)

Klout – Don’t get me started on Klout! My goal in life is not to achieve online world domination, and I don’t care for my influence to be evaluated by some computer algorithms.

Book sites you might want to have a profile on:

Amazon – Make sure all your books appear on your author page, especially if your stories are included in story collections and anthologies.

Goodreads – Make sure all your books are listed and they’re also included in various lists.

LibraryThing – Same as above.

Shelfari – Personally, I like the interface better than Goodreads and LibraryThing, but due to the smaller number of features it seems to be less popular.

Bottom of line, I’m mostly active on my blog, with updates on Facebook and chatter on Twitter.

This concludes my series of self-publishing blog posts this year. Let’s hope I’ll learn some more about it before next Christmas. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Oh, and check back tomorrow for a little early Christmas present. ;)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (6): Marketing

Covers sell. I still get tricked into buying books by good looking covers, and I should know better. Good book descriptions sell. Readers’ testimonials sell. Beyond that, marketing comes with a price, and like I said in a previous post I am not willing to pay it right now. So don’t offer me tons of reviews if I pay a certain sum or a radio interview that comes with a mandatory donation clause attached. It won’t happen.

How else can you get the word out about your books then? Some of the practices followed by the indie writers include:

- spotlight posts on various book blogs – done that, and it works well since it requires the least amount of effort from both sides. It’s usually better if they’re combined with an excerpt, interview or giveaway.

- accept to be interviewed on similar sites – done that too, and some were quite fun, except for the dreaded question ‘name your favorite writers’. How could I possibly list them all? They’re so many!

- write guest posts on blogs – I don’t think I’m experienced enough to give lessons to other writers so I don’t do ‘advice’ posts. Character interviews seem a little pointless to me if the book just came out and people didn’t get a chance to read it yet. That’s better fit as a bonus for the book later during the marketing stage. There are other subjects to talk about if you really want to, but I didn’t look into it much.

- some indie writers do all of the above on their own blogs – I guess it’s good for their popularity, but frankly I’d rather invest all that time and energy into writing, so again no. Besides, I’m a little wary when it comes to cross promoting if I haven’t read the book, no offence.

- exchange reviews with other writers – No. Well, mostly because there are tons of books out there that I really want to read and must find time to do it, but also because it doesn’t feel right somehow. So if you’re a reader and want to review my books, I’ll give them to you with the risk of a  bad review, but if you’re a writer and offer to review my book in exchange of me reviewing yours, I’ll pass. Amazon doesn’t like writers reviewing other writers anyway (which is stupid if you ask me, because I, as a private person, should be allowed to review whatever I want wherever the hell I want it in the way I see it most appropriately fit).

- giveaways and promotional prices – we talked about them in the previous posts.

- blog tours – I haven’t tried it yet, I get dizzy just from thinking about all the logistics needed to organize one. Maybe for The Impaler series…

- book trailers – I really really don’t see the point of those. I never had the patience to watch one from the beginning to end, and I honestly think they take more money to make than the revenue they bring.

I’m sure there are many other marketing strategies that work, more or less, but like I keep saying I’m lazy and I’d rather write. If you know something I missed, feel free to comment below.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about social media. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (5): Reviews

For people to buy your book, they first need to hear about it, and just being aware of its existence is not enough. They need to see testimonials that the book is worth the money spent to buy it. Hence, you need reviews.

In the beginning, to get reviews you have to actively ask for them. Don’t count on family and friends to do it, few of them will find the time to read and review, and possibly even fewer will be interested in your genre. The alternative is to find book bloggers and send them free copies in exchange of honest reviews.

After spending a lot of time on the internet, looking for blogs specialized in my genre (there’s a lot of fantasy and YA but not so much sci fi), here are my numbers (I did this for Human Instincts, not for Blue Moon Café Series):
- 170 queries sent
- 22 said no from the start
- 10 of them offered interview/giveaway/spotlight post instead
- 35 agreed to review the book
- 13 published their review already.
Keep in mind that most book bloggers worth contacting are booked for several months ahead and have miles long piles of books waiting to be read.


Another way to get your book to people is through giveaways.  On blogs works, but that doesn’t guarantee you a review. It’s better to do it on review sites like LibraryThing and Goodreads. It still doesn’t guarantee you a review, but the chances are higher to get at least some stars since people frequenting this type of sites are more used with the practice.

LibraryThing has a special program for ebook giveaways. I’ve offered 25 copies. 33 were requested and 2 reviews showed up already.

Goodreads only does it for physical book, but there are several groups that offer the same service, connecting authors with readers.

Bad reviews

Yes, it’s unavoidable. Bad reviews happen. My method to treat them is to check first what other reviews the reviewer has written. If he or she gave one star to Frank Herbert’s Dune, then they are definitely not my target audience and I have no reason to feel bad about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll focus on marketing strategies. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (4): Prices & Costs

Let’s talk about costs first.

In theory, you should pay quite a bit of money for editing, cover design, formatting, promotion and web presence, to list only a few of the time consuming, money eating activities associated with the writing process.

I managed to cut the costs so far, though, in the future it might not work so well anymore. Writing is a hobby for me, and just like with the fan sites I’m running for free, I’m dedicating my time, experience and skills, but I refuse to put any money in it. Like I said, this conception might change in the future, but so far it worked for me.

This is how I solved the money problem:
- editing – I have several native English speakers editing my stories for free. They’re not professional editors (oops!), but they’re also not my close friends. In fact, I never met them face to face, and this is a great help, because they’re not afraid to tell me when I need to change something or when my grammar sucks. You have to find people who get your writing style and preferably like it, too, so it’s a bit of trial and error at first until you find the right people, but it’s doable.
- cover design – as mentioned in a previous post, I designed the covers for my ebooks so far. I know a bit of Photoshop, but no way near as much as I’d like to. Unless I come up with a brilliant idea, for the fantasy trilogy and the sci fi saga I might need to hire a professional designer. We’ll see.
- formatting – since I only do ebooks and no print editions, following the already existing guide put out by each platform turned out to be easy enough to do. Smashwords is a little trickier, but formatting for Amazon is easy, especially if you know HTML. Besides, I’m used to keep my doc files pretty clean so I had no problem with that.
- promotion – I decided from the start not to pay for ads, reviews, or to have the books featured on various websites. I spent a lot of time contacting bloggers and offering free copies for reviews, but this is all I did.
- online presence – I’m a web designer so building a website was a part of the process that I actually enjoyed doing. I already had a blog, twitter account, facebook account, etc. and those are all free so far.

Keeping in mind that I invested no actual money in these ebooks, when time came to set the prices a lot consideration was done. I don’t plan on getting rich from this, but I’m not going to give away my writing for free on regular bases. After much study on the debate regarding the ebook prices, I decided on the following:
- $2.99 for novellas and short story collections (around 30,000 words/100 pages each)
- $4.99 for novels (over 60,000 words), $5.99-$6.99 if the novels are really long (not there yet)
- short stories as bonus when part of a series will be free (hint hint :))
- from time to time, I’ll do $0.99 promotions for a short period of times, and on special occasions, like my birthday for example, I’ll make one title free.
- also, free review copies are always available as long as you’re willing to write a review on the big online stores’ websites, book review websites, or your own blog.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about reviews. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Human Instincts Review and Interview

Thank you, Bonnie, for reviewing Human Instincts and interviewing me for your blog.

Human Instincts is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Sony, Smashwords. 

If you read it, please take the time to review it on Amazon and rate it on Goodreads. Thanks! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (3): Distribution Platforms

When you mention self-publishing, everyone thinks about Amazon because that’s where the big bucks are made, and Kindle is oh so popular. We all heard of those spectacular cases of self-published writers who sold millions of copies at $0.99 and made a fortune that way. We secretly hope to become one of them. Well, it’s probably not going to happen, but Amazon cannot be ignored, even if their algorithms changed, and indie writers are not that advantaged anymore.

A few considerations regarding Amazon:
- formatting – it’s easy if you’re used to keep clean doc files, and even easier if you know HTML.
- uploading – easy again; I like the option to stop in the middle of the two steps process and continue from the same point later on and the possibility to check how the ebook looks like before publishing it.
- time to wait before the ebook becomes available online – Human Instincts took one day. Blue Moon Café Series took five days (and counting!), but I uploaded it before the weekend so I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt. Waiting is annoying, though.
- DRM – No. If my readers want to store my ebooks on 20 different devices, they can just as well do so as long as they read them. Those who prefer to pirate the ebooks wouldn’t have paid for them anyway, and there’ll always be pirate copies on the internet. You can’t help it.
- KDP Select – No. Go exclusively with Amazon for three months for one title or another? No, thank you. I will never put all my eggs in one basket and force my readers to depend on one format. Besides, those rumors about someone having their Kindle wiped clean by Amazon? No, no. Do back up your files, people. Once you paid for something, it’s yours forever.
- tech support – quite prompt the one time I contacted them.
- reports – sale reports are made available monthly with the number of copies sold and the money gained. I would prefer to have the number of sales listed per day for my own analysis, but in the long run it doesn’t really matter. Silly story, when I published Human Instincts, I gave all my family and friends a copy so they wouldn’t feel pressured to buy it. Then, after some reviews showed up, I had three sales one right after the other and I was like “Who bought it?!”

An alternative to Amazon is Smashwords:
- formatting – their metagrinder is pickier, and even if you follow their formatting guide sometimes it still finds errors, and you have to use the nuclear method and redo all formatting from scratch like it happened with Blue Moon Café Series.
- uploading – easy if you don’t get error messages from the metagrinder. You can’t check the ebook before becoming available on their site, though, and that’s a bit of an inconvenience.
- time to wait before the ebook becomes available online – the ebooks become available in a couple of minutes, right after the conversion is done.
- you can select the format for the ebooks to be available in – I chose all, even if readers can use Calibre to convert the ebooks to their preferred format.
- premium catalog – if your ebook’s quality qualifies for it (mine both did), Smashwords ships it to other retailers like Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and a few others, including Amazon, without you having to move a finger, which is really neat. You can get approved in a couple of days, while shipping can take longer, up to a few weeks.
- coupons – discount coupons are great for promotion and sending free copies for review, especially since Smashwords stores several formats of each ebook so you don’t have to ask everyone what format they prefer.
- reports – it’s possible to download Excel sheets with all your sales, including the coupon ones, with the exact dates.

There are other options out there, but I settled for these two, which seem to cover most of the market.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about prices and costs. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (2): Getting Ready

First, you need to have a story. Typed. From the beginning to end. Finished. There’s no way around it. If you want to be a writer, you need a story. A good one, preferably several. I never lack ideas, but deciding which one to write first turns out to be a little problematic at times.

I usually write 1,000 words per day, except for the weekends, when the entire family gathers at home and it’s harder to focus. I prefer to catch up with my reading during weekends instead. It means I can write a 30,000 words novella in a month. Three months for a 90,000 words novel, but novels are trickier because they’re harder to plot right. Of course, we’re talking about the first draft here. Getting to the final draft and having the manuscript edited too can take twice as long.

Once draft 3 or 4 is done, it’s time to send the text to the editors. Since English isn’t my first language, I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to grammar and phrase structure, so I have all the texts go through several hands before publishing them. Waiting for everyone to edit and return their parts, and going over the comments and changes is a tedious job, and by the time everyone is done with their bit I’m so sick of the story that I never want to see it again. But hey, the good news is that the language in my stories is much better than anything you’ll find on this blog!

The last part of the creative process requires a different kind of artistic ability since it deals with the cover art. For “Human Instincts” I knew from the start that I wanted something with a light bulb. It reflects the idea behind the plot so when I found that photo I instantly fell for it. The colors were just right, and the entire atmosphere suggested a gritty life, perfect for my story.

It was a little more difficult to come up with a cover for “Blue MoonCafé Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks”. Fantasy book covers tend to have a certain look and feel, and although I tried various covers featuring a moon, a wolf/dog and a crow, none of them seemed to fit the mood in these stories. There’s no epic romance in them, it’s about bits and pieces of mundane (for them!) life, with shapeshifters struggling to survive in a modern city. The cartoonish look felt much more appropriate to me, and once I had that, I also had a book trailer, even if I’m not a big fan of those.

For the Impaler series (I’m still looking for a title for the entire series so bare with me) I have some awesome covers already made. I can’t wait to show them to the world, but, well, each in their right time.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about distribution platforms. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (1): Why? How? Where? When?

Why self-publishing?

Because, simply put, it allows me to write what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. There’s no pressure except for my own deadlines and the readers asking for more. And I wanted to try something new.

Why in English?

Some people consider me an established writer because I have published short stories in several Romanian anthologies and on-line magazines, and I happened to win some awards too. I, on the other hand, think people can consider themselves writers after they published at least two books, novels or short story collections or whatever, but let’s not dwell on that.

English allows me to reach a larger audience, without losing many readers. I mainly write science fiction and fantasy, and given the way the book industry is moving in Romania, you’re forced to learn English if you want to keep up with what’s published abroad whether you like it or not. So my current readers, especially the younger generation, already know English well enough to read my stories, and it’s always good to get new readers.

How I started?

In the spring of 2012, I already had a book ready, but you know how they say that the first novel is never good enough for publishing. So instead of doing that, my plan was to start small and build a backlog first and an audience, before moving on to bigger things.

Last June, I published “Human Instincts”, an apocalyptic novella, followed in December by the short story collection “Blue Moon Café Series:Where Shifters Meet for Drinks”. Next in line is “The Impaler’s Revenge”, a vampire novella, which turned into a series (I have no idea how that happened!), and should be ready sometime in the spring. After that, I’ll be working on a fantasy trilogy, “Stolen Wings Prophecy”, and a sci fi saga, “The Flying Chair Chronicles”.

To celebrate the new release, this week I’ll write a series of blog posts and share with you what I learned during the first six months of self-publishing.

Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks

It's been exactly six months since I self-published my apocalyptic novella "Human Instincts", and now it's time to make another ebook available for my readers:

Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks 

This story collection started with a challenge in the spring-summer of 2010. The theme of the new contest launched by AtelierKult, a writing workshop I’ve been a member of for the past few years, was based on werecreatures. Since I'm not a big fan of shapeshifters, my knowledge in this field was limited when I began writing, which allowed me to develop a world based on my own set of rules.

I finished up with three full stories and two half-written ones, all set in the same universe. I didn’t submit any for the contest, mainly because I had written them in English from the start, but also because they didn’t feel right at the time.

Now they do.

Once I decided to turn them into a story collection, I finished the other two stories in the fall and added two shorts as introduction and epilogue. And there you have it, the collection was complete.

Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks is now available through Amazon and Smashwords, and soon through other online stores too, at the discounted price of $0.99. After the holidays, the price will go up to $2.99. As further incentive, the first 25 readers who write a honest review about it will be entitled to a free copy of "The Impaler's Revenge" when it comes out. All you have to do is ask.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blue Moon Café Series TOC

Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks

Table of Contents

  • Once in a Blue Moon
  • Black Stripes
  • A Mutt Problem
  • Good Neighbors
  • Pest Invasion
  • The Chase
  • The Day We Shot the Moon Out of the Sky

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Evolution: Vol. 2 - 33% OFF

St. Nicholas brought everyone a present! You can now download Evolution: Vol. 2 with a 33% discount from Smashwords, using the coupon code EU66E. The coupon is good through December 12.

For more goodies go to Evolved Publishing website.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blue Moon Café Series Description

Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks

Book Description:

"The were-eagles and our kind have been at war since the beginning of time. Well, it’s more like fifty years since we’d decided to move into town, but it feels like an eternity already. And they’re not were-eagles, just like we’re not werewolves. They’re more like crows, and we look more like dogs. Mutts, they call us.

Times are changing and we do what we can to adapt in order to fit in. When you’re like us, social acceptance really is a problem. But we still have claws and fangs, and they have beaks and talons that can rip their enemy to shreds in seconds. Maybe it’s in our genes. Whenever we meet, it’s a miracle it doesn’t end in a bloodbath. It’s a good thing we rarely die, or there would be dead mutts all over the streets. Dead crows too. We’re a good match."

In a city where two shifter clans reside, the Mayor is struggling to maintain peace while keeping the population safe. Through a series of short stories, we discover what happens when intruders appear, humans get turned, the Mayor's reputation is at stake, an invasion is planned, and not everything is what it seems.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Venus ebook / About "Adevarul din privire"

I was browsing, looking for some books, when I ran into this.

Yep, "Venus - Povestiri erotice science fiction" is finally available as an ebook. The date says November 2012 so it's quite recent.

To celebrate this, I'm going to write a few words about my story "Adevarul din privire" (The Truth in their Sights) that is included in Venus.

When the call for submissions was made on the SRSFF website, the theme of the new SF and F anthology was supposed to be 'love'. I wrinkled my nose a little at the sight of the announcement, because as my readers know it already I am not really a romance writer. Still, it sounded better than the zombie themed anthology Millennium Books was planning (more on this later, when the zombie anthology gets published, hehe! :)) so I thought I might give it a try.

I don't remember what I was writing at the time, something in English, but I know I stopped to create a new document and write the first paragraph of the story. Now I had a premise, I knew what the story was going to be about, and for a long time, a month or two, that's all I had. I finished whatever I was writing, probably started something new, and later on, when I reckoned it was time to focus on the story before I would be really running out of time, I went back to it.

Other stories I plotted in advance, but with this one I didn't have a particular plan in mind. I just wrote and let the story lead me where it wanted to. It's the way I actually prefer to do things, but not the best approach if you write with a certain goal in mind, like being published in Venus, which required a certain theme to be respected. I did my best to get into a more romantic mood, I listened to French musicals ("Notre Dame de Paris", "Romeo et Juliette" both versions, "Autent en emporte le vent" etc.) on repeat, driving the ones around me crazy with my singing along (I wasn't gifted with such a great voice, I'm afraid), but nothing worked. The story refused to get any mushier and stayed true to its core.

The result was that I ended up with a policier on my hands and not for lack of trying. Sure, there is love in it, the characters' actions are driven by it, but love doesn't take center stage. It's always in the background, simmering, boiling, and unwilling to let go. But don't expect any X-rated scenes like the title of the book might lead you to believe, because they're not in there. It wasn't the right place for them.

In the end, I was happy with my story, in fact it's one of my favorite, but it wasn't what I had set myself to write in the first place. The last day before the deadline, I took a chance and submitted it. Until I received a word from the editor, I was convinced it was going to be rejected because it didn't fit the theme. Luckily, the editor disagreed and she was right. "Adevarul din privire" received high praises in all the reviews done so far.

A funny thing about this story: one of the characters is modeled after a former colleague of mine. We lost touch over the years, and when he contacted me shortly after Venus was published, my first thought was "Oh, shit, I hope he didn't read it!" :))

Ebook copies of Venus are now available on Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Cele 1001 de scorneli ale Mosului SF" First Review

The first review of "Cele 1001 de scorneli ale Mosului SF" has appeared on-line in the December issue of Nautilus.

The reviews is written by none other than Liviu Radu and he only has good things to say about the book.

As usually, Mr. Radu floored me with his comments. According to him, I have already reached the stage of established writer. I don't know about that, I can only hope it to be true.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 November Reading List

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear – Beautiful cover art and the prose is like poetry. But once you strip away the beautiful prose and world building, you realize the story is pretty simple and boring. And it doesn’t end, waaah! Not interested in the sequel. 3/5 stars

Nine Princes of Amber by Roger Zelazny – Nice concept, but the narrator’s voice didn’t sit well with me. I might read the next books in the series if I happen to be in the mood for an adventurous, easy read, though not too soon. 3/5 stars

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – I have a feeling this book is better enjoyed by male readers. Some things didn’t make sense. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t engage me as much as Starship Troopers did. Now that one was fun! 3/5 stars

Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin – I recognized several of the themes from A Song of Ice and Fire. Strange world and hard to warm up to. 3/5 stars

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I’ve never pictured myself as a geek or big video game fan, but I quite enjoyed it. It was great for a debut novel and since it’s targeted at a particular niche of readers, it made me wonder what Cline will write next. 4/5 stars

The Stand by Stephen King – The first half was a pain to read, which surprised me because I had fully expected to like this book. I remembered watching the TV series in the early 90’s and thinking “Now this is a great story!” Things got much better once all the characters got together. 4/5 stars