A new Sacred Knight boxed set

Well, this one isn’t quite as late as the announcement for the new Loki book, but it is a bit behind.

Right now, it is currently only up on Amazon. I hope to have it up at other distributors, and maybe it will be by the time this announcement publishes to my blog.

A Wise Friend

I recently signed up for a lifetime subscription on a course package offered by Dean Wesley Smith on Teachable. Sometimes I just need reminders on my writing and I love the way Dean phrases things. He’s blunt and honest. Don’t expect warm fuzzies. I like that. It’s an eye-to-eye level approach and I know it sends many people scattering from the room like spitting kittens. Let them go off and lick their wounds. Writing is fun. Publishing is hard. That’s the truth Dean speaks.

Now I’m certain that Dean considers me a new author, and from outward appearances, I certainly am. The truth is that I’ve spent a majority of my life trying to be published.

I remember very clearly a day right before I turned 13. It was Saturday in early spring. I ran out to get the mail and I saw a Writer’s Digest magazine. It had my mother’s name on it.

I was devastated!

I can still remember how shell-shocked and betrayed I felt as soon as I saw that magazine with my mother’s name on it. I was the one writing and telling stories, not her!

Let me step back for a moment here. I remember spending quite a bit of my childhood coloring and painting watercolors with my mother. I always thought I was doing well… until that moment when I saw what my mom had been doing. Her work was stunning. I didn’t even know crayons could look like that. I recall sitting out on the wooden back porch, I believe it was the old gray-painted one before we put in a wider one, and looking at some of the oil paintings she’d done when she was younger. I remember the oil smell of her paint box. To this day, whenever I smell oil paint, I am taken back to that moment when she showed me her colorful world.

And I was insanely jealous.

Now, I did know that being envious of my mother was a dumb thing and so I never said a word to her about how I felt. She had so much talent.

She pitched her box of oil paints into the burning barrel.

That’s where the art she did with me ended up too.

When my brother and I were cleaning out my dad’s house after his passing, we came across some of my mother’s paintings. Now that I’m older and I’ve studied art, I can see that these were definitely student study paintings, but I also see the talent she could have grown. If she had chosen to.

So here I was, pre-teen me, standing with a fabulous writing magazine in my hand. I felt like she was trying to overtake my thing (like how she always overshadowed my attempts at art as if I were already something fabulous – dumb!). I went in and asked her about the magazine.

She smiled. “Well, that was supposed to have been a birthday present for you. Happy birthday.”

It wasn’t for her; it was for me. I was excited. I went to my room and read the whole magazine from cover to cover, including the ads in the back. My writing world opened up. I discovered so many things.

Each month as the magazine appeared, I grew more selective about what I was reading in it. But I learned a lot about the publishing industry. I knew more about it than a lot of the adults that I was attending writers conferences with. I send out so many requests for guidelines with my self-addressed stamped envelopes (SASE’s as they were known and I explained to many newbie adult writers over the years) that I had quite a collection of nearly every traditional book and magazine publisher at the time. I discovered The Writers Market book put out every year and I owned several (I still do, through I did throw some out finally this summer). I attempted to get stories published — okay, how good could they have been from a 15 year-old writer, but I was seriously making an attempt. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I finally got an acceptance letter, followed by several more, “Close, but not quite. What else do you have?” letters.

I always wrote into the dark without an outline. I hated rewriting; it was a bloody waste of time. I cycled, much like Dean talks about, if I was writing a piece out by hand and then making a typed draft which I did on a lot of short stories. Of course, that was the whole story cycled, not just part of it. If you find errors in my blogs, it’s generally because I cycle while I write these too and I don’t proofread as closely as I could; I just caught an error above and cleaned it up, but I’m certain 3 more will slip by me.

Back to my childhood writing. Because of schooling and the things I was reading in Writer’s Digest, I also got a lot of bad training. If I was getting rejected, I would go back to a piece and see what I could “fix.” I fell into the belief that I needed critique partners to tell me what I was doing wrong. Now, I did get awfully lucky here. I managed to find a couple of great writers and we offered each other peer-level critiques. I feel as if we all grew as writers. However, I can also see the damage that we did to each other and our own child artists within us. That’s why I feel like I’m starting over now. Before, I was a raw, untempered metal, but now I have been forged with flaws that must be sharpened out of me.

Hence why I really needed to find some writing continuing education that spoke to me. I am so fortunate that I stumbled upon Dean’s masterclass (and thankful that he accepted me to “come on down”) for the two years I went, and why when WMG had a sale on the lifetime subscription to the large class package, I had to jump on it.

This has been a really long way of getting to where I had originally intended for this post, but I felt it was important that you had the background.

I am currently listening to the “classic” (meaning it’s an older one) workshop on how to edit your own work. I suspected I already knew what Dean was going to say; I’ve followed him for several years now. However, I learn something or am given a swift kick with every workshop I listen to. That’s why I bought the package and why I’m listening to it; I need this.

He started talking about perfection and how deadly it is. Now, I’m about as far from a perfectionist as I can be. I don’t believe in slacking. I do like to do quality work to the best of my ability. I never mean to make mistakes, but I realize they do happen. I can also release it when I do make a mistake. I don’t beat myself up about it anymore. I learn and move on. So, I like to think that I’m in a happy medium here on this scale.

Dean suggested his wife’s book, The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’ve seen and heard about the book before. I never thought much about it because, again, I’m not a perfectionist. Don’t need to read about it if I don’t have the problem, right?

Wrong.

As part of this workshop, they had a link to the book for free. Well, I had paid for the workshop, so I felt I should download the book. As it turns out, one of the assignments is to read the book and let Dean and Kris know what the workshop participant learned from it. Since I’m taking this workshop as a classic, we don’t turn in the assignments for their feedback. I still decided to take a look at the book, even though I certainly don’t have a problem with perfectionism.

Yes, I do know it is my ego which keeps me writing. My bullish ego doesn’t know when to quit. That I will admit.

So I started reading the book. It’s not a book so much about perfectionism, but about allowing and giving yourself permission to just do the best you can. I got a whole new perspective about critiques too (which is why I can say that I clearly see the good and the damage my peers and I did to each other).

I’m only halfway through the book, but I know what I would answer back to the assignment is I was to turn it in now. I’d say that I got a great reminder about returning the focus to my career.

I was 15 years old and studying Writer’s Digest ever month when I realized that it was impossible to make a living from putting out 1 book a year with a traditional publisher. I saw it back then. I saw back then that it was going to take 8-10 books per year to actually make a living as a writer. And, because I knew that they only put out 1 book per year by an author, that meant I was going to have to have 8-10 different pen names until one of the names gathered a following.

This was back in the 80’s that I realized this.

Now, if you’ve followed Dean as I’ve told all my writing friends to do, you see that having to follow the “write and release” method that they preach is not anything new. I realized it back then. At 15! And it took Kris’ book to really push it all back into place for me.

In the tarot, there is a hermit card with a solitary figure holding up a lantern. It is a shining of the light on the dark to illuminate what was hidden. Kris writes about focusing on the career, not the book. Dean talks about writing and having fun with the book, and then releasing, and he talks about building up 100-300 titles. Yet it was the way Kris put it about building a collection of titles (an oeuvre) that was that lantern in the dark. I knew that it was all there, but I needed it illuminated because I’m so down in the weeds focusing on a few books at a time that I forget to stick my head up and look back at all of the titles. Especially those I have written, released, and they sit out there making either no money or less than $1/year. Not that they are “bad books;” they just haven’t found their audience yet. Yet.

In going out to get the affiliate link from Amazon on her book, I dropped down to check out the reviews. I read reviews on other people’s books, never my own if I can help it. The review at the top when I looked read, “A little book that’s a wise friend to writers young and old.” Very well summed up. It doesn’t get more appropriate than that.

I’m excited to see what comes to light in the second half of the book. But even if it’s not as vivid as this first part, I have learned and grown as an indie publisher. I love this age of going directly to readers and not having to wait a year or more for a traditional publisher to get my book into their chain. I love having the control be all mine.

Someday I’ll have an oeuvre that gets discovered. No, not everything will be perfect, but hopefully readers will see that my work grew and got better. It was always the best that I could do at that moment. Is that what most of my art has always been? Learning as I go?

Thank goodness for my bullish ego which keeps me persisting.

Thank you Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for your guidance and honesty with writers.

Thanks, Mom, for my subscription to Writer’s Digest.

Thank you world for a new day filled with amazing technology.

Thank you, readers, for allowing me your time. I hope I’ve entertained.

About The Unicorn & the Secret

Martias wants to spend one night feeling at home under the pine trees of his native land. Being bound with a death sentence makes it hard to bring a friend along.

Martias seeks time away from his repetitive daily life of learning and memorizing lines. He doesn’t belong with the humans. Banishment from his centaur tribe means he can never see any of them again. Yet, the forest calls to him and makes him wonder how he can dedicate himself to this life when he feels so excluded.

After persuading his only friend, a young knight in training, to go with him for just one night, Martias longs for more, maybe even a glimpse of a centaur tribe. With some convincing that they might be able to see the knights they know in action, Martias and his friend head off toward a war going on somewhere among the mountains.

Being alone gets harder when running toward battle and perils around them grow. Death might not be the worse fate imaginable. Secrets found in a cave could keep Martias from returning to his quiet life.

The Unicorn and the Secret is the tale longed for by readers of the Sacred Knight series about how Martias’ friend got his unicorn. If you like epic, expanding fantasy worlds, then you’ll love Dawn Blair’s enchanting legend, whether you are just starting this fantastical series or you want to deepen your adventure.

Get your copy now and read over Thanksgiving.

The Unicorn and the Secret

One question I am often asked is how did Steigan get his unicorn.

I’ve always answered that it happened just like the story said it did: Steigan and Martias ran away to “join” the Palin Wars, Martias sprained his ankle, Steigan found Tyana, they got in trouble, they returned home in disgrace. From Steigan’s point of view, that’s exactly how it happened and all perfectly boring.

Okay, I feel that Steigan felt shame over the whole thing and didn’t want to talk about it. That’s exactly the kind of character that he is. Remember me having to go to Annae to get the other 40 cycles of his life that he won’t talk about?

Yeah.

I realized I’d have to approach another character to get this story. Of course, the only other character there other than the unicorn was Martias.

Well, here’s the thing: Martias wasn’t talking about this time either.

I slowly realized that Martias wasn’t talking about it out of shame like Steigan, but rather because he had something to hide.

While I was writing Prince of the Ruined Land, Martias and I got together quite often to have little heart-to-heart chats. In Quest for the Three Books, he always knew more than Steigan and when he caught on that Steigan was discovering the truth, Martias betrayed their friendship. Badly! By the time I got to Prince of the Ruined Land, I knew that Martias had to have spectacular reasons for doing what he was doing.

The problem with Martias is that he loves attention. He wanted me to know his secret. He wanted me to know that while he was grateful for Steigan’s friendship, he also held grudges against it. The way that Martias views Steigan… well, it’s different. Where Steigan wakes up to the revelation that Martias is not who he thinks his friend is, Martias always guarded his emotions to protect himself.

Finally, Martias dared to let me know that his life changed while he and Steigan were in the Palin Mountains. I knew that the only time they had been there together was when Steigan found Tyana, his unicorn.

Now, I share with you the secrets that Martias shared with me.

I realize this isn’t book 5 in the series as many people are waiting for, but I hope this helps to ease the wait somewhat. And, of course, it will give some insights into what is coming.

I hope you enjoy!

Happy reading.

Finished a story

I finished a novella length story last night. Now I’m trying to figure out what the title should be. Usually somewhere in writing the story the title comes to me. Not this time.

Maybe I’m trying too hard because I know what I want to have in the title but I can’t make it work.

Of course, once I have the title then I can prepare the cover. And get it ready for publishing.

I really enjoy this world of indie publishing. I’m glad that I can write and release stores. As I’ve said before, my job isn’t done until someone reads my story.

This means that even though I’ve finished this story, it’s not done until it’s released. I’m only halfway there.

Don’t be lost in the forest of books any longer

I am swearing that I am not going to start spewing my dislike of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Not in this post at least. Now that I’ve said that, let’s move on to something I feel that Amazon has actually done correctly.

Recently, they gave authors control over their own series. Yippee! Finally!

For years, if we wanted to have titles put together on a series page, we had to contact support to do it. Then you hoped they didn’t mess it up. I have been very fortunate, except for a couple issues with the Loki series which was my own doing. I had labeled some of them at “A Loki Adventure” and the others as “The Loki Adventures.” Yes, okay, I’ve done enough Excel and Word searches in my life that I understand these are two distinctly different strings of text. And if that just went over your head, be thankful you live a simple life. My life as a multipotentialite gets interesting sometimes. Once of the highlights of last year was learning about “fuzzy lookup” in Excel which would have correlated those two pieces of text above. But I digress.

This is a tool that’s still a work-in-process, but I’m glad to see the start of its development and, of course, I had to jump on it because I feel that I have so much content that feels scattered for readers. I’m sure I will mess it up a couple times, or that I will do something that I’ll have to change later since I don’t always have the “perfect” future-sight that Ithanes has, but at least I feel as if things are getting corralled a little bit.

In experimenting with this new control, I saw that box sets can be added as related content. This is the part they are still working on, but hopefully soon readers will be able to easily see what has been compiled into boxed sets.

I have added 1-800-IceBaby to the Loki series page, which I had been hesitant to do before, and put the omnibus set 1-800-CallLoki as the related content. At the moment, you can’t see the related content, so I hope they have that figured out soon. It’s ready when the capability is there. I now can’t wait to add the 7th novella to the page.

I does also know which books you’ve purchased and you can hide them, keeping only the books you don’t yet own.

As you saw (hopefully) with the featured image on this post, all the short stories for the Wells of the Onesong Stories have been put together. The boxed set for following the imagination dragon, Stardust, has been put in the related content. Again, you can’t currently see it on the series page, but I’ll be watching because I’m excited to see how all that is going to flow together.

I hope that for all the readers out there, this does help you to find connected books by your favorite indie authors. I hope they take advantage of the control they have been given.