Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The end of Kydona, and a new and better start

Hey all, I'm very sorry at the utter lack of posts on this blog. I can offer up a whole lot of excuses, but here's what it amounts to: I'm unfortunately not going to continue with the Kydona series. Here's why.

The short and sweet of it is, I'm happy with the way the series left off. I had plans for Marcus and Nadiya, and a tentative map for a series, but decided against putting them through the hell that I envisioned for them. There's a weird thing about being an author: you come to have real affection for the characters you create. It's a strange intimacy, one that a reader experiences in lesser form when he or she really gets into a book.

Kydona was a learning experience for me. It was my first series, and definitely had its faults. I value it for helping to teach me what kind of writer I want to be, what ideas I'm interested in pursuing. Writing Kydona was also, in that way, a journey of self-exploration. It was written over the course of no less than five years, during my conflicted early adulthood--conflicted in that I was still trying to piece together a world view, a difficult task for any young person. Actually, I may have started writing the series too young. I wrote all the way up to the Bloody Ridge, at one point, before I realized that I hated everything I'd written and just started over. So the story you've read (THANK YOU, by the way) has very little in common with the one I started writing as a university freshman.

I'm leaving Kydona where it is. Marcus and Nadiya will keep their happy ending. They were going to get one anyway, but the journey there wasn't going to be pleasant, and I just didn't have the heart to force them to endure it.

Here's what's next: I've finished the first book of a new series. I've made the shift to Science Fiction, which has always been one of my great passions ever since I first read Starship Troopers, Dune, and The Forever War.

This is a military "Hard Sci-Fi", sharing a genre with the likes of The Martian. It shares the best traits of Kydona, and I'm sure that any of you who read my first series will appreciate it. The first draft is complete, and I've started getting my hands dirty editing the first draft. Hopefully I'll be submitting to a publisher by Christmas.

You can follow progress on my new series on my new blog, Reasoned Ravings. As of 18 November 2015, this blog is very obviously under construction, but I expect to update it much more frequently than this one.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading my story. I hope you'll stick around.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Bookish Owl - Guest Post

I've just been featured on book blog "The Bookish Owl"! Now this isn't a blatant self-promotion; it's a brief article on how to write good characters. Hopefully this helps some aspiring writers out there.

Check out the guest post here! And be sure to take a look at some of the other posts too. A bunch of indie authors have been featured recently, and they've got plenty of interesting things to say.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kydona topping lists on Amazon!

An interesting and gratifying realization for me today when I logged into Amazon: Kydona is the #1 free book in both Epic Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery!

Now the second sub-genre is a little odd because Kydona has no sorcery in it. Unfortunately Amazon offers authors no control over sub-genres, so I'll just have to hope that the lack of magic doesn't disappoint any of my new readers.

A little more info on the rankings:
#99 Free in the Kindle Store
#5 Fantasy
#1 Epic Fantasy
#1 Sword & Sorcery

Just yesterday, Kydona was the #70 Epic Fantasy and steadily climbing, but I never expected this kind of jump. I have no ongoing promotions and haven't been able to find any recent reviews on popular blogs, so I'll have to conclude that KDP Select is the reason for the sudden popularity. I believe the book found its way onto the Kindle Sci-Fi & Fantasy front page at some point, and the flashy new cover garnered a lot of clicks.

I'll be keeping an eye on this of course, but at this point, I'm awfully glad I signed up for KDP Select! And let me take this time to direct you again to my cover artist, Sam Carr!

[Edit] There have been exactly 1,538 downloads in the past week, most of them in the last 12 hours!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kydona now enrolled in KDP Select

I've just given Amazon exclusive rights to the first book of Kydona! After much debate and research, I decided that the temporary loss in readership via other outlets is worth the potential boost on Amazon, which is the source of 75% of the book's downloads.

The ebook is still available for free, but not much longer! If you haven't already, jump on Amazon and grab your copy before the price gets bumped!

For those who miss the boat, I anticipate holding a giveaway in a couple of months.

Please spread the word, and thanks everyone for your support!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Hugs Project

Fellow indie author Wanda S. Paryla is asking for additional support for The Hugs Project, an organization dedicated to sending care packages to soldiers serving overseas. She's written a beautiful piece on the mindset behind the project. Please visit her page. It's well worth your time.

I want to add that, as an Army officer serving in Afghanistan, ventures such as this really do help soldiers. Anyone who's read a war novel knows that one of the biggest morale boosters for a soldier is hearing his name during mail call. Words really can't describe the feverish glee that crosses my soldiers' faces as they tear open their letters or packages, even if they don't recognize the name on the return address. And the biggest morale killer is the feeling that the people back home have forgotten you. So please, if you can, help America's uniformed men and women finish the war in Afghanistan strong. Support them right up to the end.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some thoughts on ebook giveaways

Bloggers frequently bill giveaways as an ideal method of garnering reviews, and by extension, gaining exposure for your book. Give away your book, get a review in lieu of payment. This made perfect sense to me. Although I don't fully understand the ranking system on Amazon, Smashwords and other sites, I assumed that more reviews (particularly good reviews) would give Kydona a better shot of showing up on search results.

Since releasing the first book on April 4, I've participated in 2 book giveaways on LibraryThing and Goodreads. It's been a bittersweet experience. What have I learned?

Well, first of all, I think I'll be avoiding LibraryThing, contrary to my advice in a previous post. Although I gave away 85 copies of Kydona, I've yet to see significant returns. A month-and-a-half after sending out free copies, 10 recipients have reviewed the book. And I'm sorry to say that these reviews were either 1 or 5 star--literally no middle ratings. I'm unsure why this is the case for LibraryThing in particular. But the community there seems to be very critical, even judgmental. In fact, most of the 1-star reviews weren't reviews at all--just ratings without any substantiation.

On Goodreads, the results have been more heartening. A group there, Indie and Proud, is hosting a giveaway that remains ongoing. I've sent out approximately 200 copies of the book under their program. That's quite a reception, and already, I've received 25 ratings. These ones have thankfully been much, much more helpful. The majority are 3 star reviews, with a smattering of higher and lower ones, though no participants have seen fit to give me a 5 star review just yet. I don't mind this. Reading each review, I've been able to glean a lot of useful information that will definitely improve my writing. Goodreads giveaways are a helpful learning experience.

It may seem like I'm making an early conclusion, but I'm seeing trends from each group of recipients, and I don't expect those trends to change.

Kydona's rating on both these sites is comparatively low, hovering between 2 and 3 stars. Yet on Smashwords and Amazon the ratings are 4.13 and 3.70 respectively. So why is this the case?

Primarily, 1 star ratings. Not reviews, but ratings. My book isn't for everyone; I understand and accept that (and my next post will focus on that topic). I think the content put some people off to the point that they simply dropped the book partway through, and Goodreads gave them the opportunity to punch in a 1 star rating with no review necessary. It's remarkably easy to rate a book and move on. Put an extra step in that process, and people are much less likely to commit. Booksellers require ratings to be accompanied by reviews, however short. If the case was otherwise, I'm certain that my ratings would be lower across the board. If a few people disliked Kydona enough to leave a poor rating, then I assume there are others who feel the same, except that they didn't bother to review. They simply dropped the book and moved on to the next one.

So in short, here's the main lesson I've learned from giveaways:

If you give away your book in exchange for an honest review, you're going to get exactly that. You're going to get criticized. If someone downloads your free book of their own volition and they don't enjoy it, they'll simply move on.

So, if you want glowing ratings, just write a quality story and don't give it away.

If you want to grow as an author, give your book away, and brace yourself for the consequences.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Q&A and Author Spotlight on Free eBooks Daily

Free eBooks Daily, an indie book blog, was nice enough to feature Kydona on its front page today, along with an Author Spotlight and 10 Fun & Random Facts about me.

Check it out! And while you're at it, browse the site a bit to discover some other good indie reads.

On the personal front, we're winding down here in Afghanistan, getting ready for our replacements to arrive. It's an exciting if busy time. My soldiers and I are packing shipping containers, writing down our SOPs for our replacements' benefit, knocking out our daily duties, and of course, making a last frantic bid to get in shape before we get back to the real world.

However, I've found time to write bits of my next sequel, Dreadnought. Without giving too much away, this story will be told from not one, but two very different points of view. A hint: you were introduced to the first protagonist at the end of From Ashes. And another: thanks to the second protagonist, you're in for some laughs.

The story is planned and the ending is written. Now to steadily pick away at the rest.