Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quiet, down time

The time between book releases always feels to me like it's full of dead space. It shouldn't be. It should be full of frantic, frenzied writing and promotion and surfing the waves of reviews and comments and planning and preparing and ...


Doesn't that all sound exhausting? XD

Instead, it feels like everyone (including me) is waiting for the Next Big Thing to happen.

So, who am I to let you down?

There is a a giveaway for print copies of Of Shadow Born over on Goodreads. If you are in the US or Canada, feel free to enter. If you get lucky, a book will be winging it's way to you.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Of Shadow Born by S.L. Gray

Of Shadow Born

by S.L. Gray

Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And let me tell you: I opted for the matte finish on the book this time and I'm in love. It's, obviously, not got the shiny, glossy look many of us are used to on our books, but the cover feels almost velvety and my cover artist's work looks even better when you add touch into the mix.

Definitely worth a free entry, doncha think? :)

Hope you all survived St. Patrick's Day and that the week is going well for you. Onward to the weekend!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A weekend of fun.

This past weekend was my birthday. (I am old enough to have finally discovered the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Those of you who get the reference are truly my people.) :)

Rather than spending it doing anything heavy and important, I spent it having fun. The Engineer and I attended the inaugural Comic Con in Sacramento! And, to make it even better, I got to have my picture taken with Billy Dee Williams.

As I have related in various places, when I was little and saw Star Wars, I decided I was going to grow up to play Lando Calrissian's daughter in a future movie. Sadly, that seems unlikely to happen now, but it was a great fantasy for a little kid. So, after some debating over whether at my new-not-so-small age I should still be hanging onto that memory, I decided to go for it and bought my photo ticket.

I am sad to report that I didn't get to relate my childhood dreams to Mr. Williams himself. They rushed us through the pictures so quickly that I'm kind of surprised the image isn't simply a blur. It's actually not a bad picture, though, so when I have the digital copy I'll probably share. Until then, I'll say I'm glad I did it.

But what was even more fun was doing cosplay.

My current (well, only) cosplay is Zoe Washburne from Firefly. I love the character and the actress, and hey, if you squint, I sort of fit the part. :) So I dressed, because how better to celebrate getting older than by playing dress up?

And I had a blast. Apparently, standing out at the Big, Official Comic Con in San Diego is hard to do. When I cosplayed Zoe down there last summer, I barely got any notice at all. Here? I got stopped for pictures so many times. People had conversations with me about Firefly. They lamented the single season. They complimented me. I felt awesome and I didn't mind posing with anyone.

So will Zoe make more appearances? Yeah. Probably. :) Will she be back next year? Well. Yeah. Probably. :) I hope to have another costume (or two) ready to go by then but I think Zoe's my default.

Coz I kind of like feeling like a Big Damn Hero, you know?


I have to put a plug in for my books here. They're both still available, though the promotional sales are over. Thank you so much to everyone who bought books while those were going on, or bought books at all. And if you're still thinking about it, no pressure. They're not going to go off sale. :)

I did promise that there'd be a new review coming on Twitter, and indeed, it exists. It's for Immortal Lies and it thrills me. You can check it out on Electively Paige's blog. There's a giveaway for a couple of electronic copies on her site, or, you can buy either one (or both) of my books on Amazon, BN, Kobo or Smashwords. More sites to come.

Happy Monday!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reading words before writing them.

Hey all, happy (rainy) Monday!

Having successfully released another book into the wild, I decided to take some time to relax and do some reading before diving deep into the next project. Call it a palate cleanser if you will, or giving myself time to refill the creative well. You can even just call it self-indulgent do-nothinging and I'd be good with all of that. Sometimes you just have to curl up and read.

So I've been reading, and ticking off some of my TBRs for reading challenges I signed up for at the beginning of the year. I'm happy to say that I haven't found anything that made me want to weep for wasted time thus far. Some of my reads have been more enjoyable than others, but that's to be expected, right? Fortuantely, I've trained myself out of the need to read to the very end of a book regardless of whether I like it or not. Too little time to do that if I plan to read through my entire TBR mountain range before I die or my eyesight burns out.

So that's where I've been. Reading. Well. And hanging out with my faire guildmates. Faire season is gearing up, which means fabric shopping and character development and planning all sorts of mischief. If you're in California or planning to visit during the season this year, maybe I'll see you in one of my other guises.

As I am an author first and foremost, though, the books and writing come first. To that end:

I planned to set the price on Of Shadow Born to it's regular price today. However, I forgot that Smashwords is having it's annual Read an Ebook promotion this week. What does this mean for you? Of Shadow Born stays at the lower price until Saturday, March 8th.

If you're interested and you haven't picked it up yet, grab a copy now (and use code: REW75 at checkout to get the discount)!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Release day! Of Shadow Born

It's here, it's finally here! The release day for Of Shadow Born, book 1 of the Icarus Unit series. It's now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. More retailers are coming, so keep your eyes peeled for those announcements.

This is a completely different, separate series from Immortal Lies. Tybalt lives in a world that is a mashup of pieces of this world to make something unique to him. Of Shadow Born is set in this world. in this world's San Francisco. There is a romance in Of Shadow Born.  Despite the fact that Tybalt and Violet are committed to one another and have been for a while, their romance isn't really crucial to the plot of Immortal Lies.

Two different books. Two similar genres. Two separate series.

There's a lot of debate about whether releasing two series at once is a smart thing to do, especially for someone just starting* their career. Some people say no, release at least the first three books in any series before moving on to the next. Some people say begin as you mean to go on, and if you're going to bounce from genre to genre or series to series, you should do that right up front so your readers know what they're getting.

As I have spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time saying, I'm a magpie. If I don't bounce, I get bored. So I'm going to bounce. I'm hoping my readers bounce with me. What more can I do?

There will be more of both of these series this year, barring disaster. There will possibly/probably be other projects this year, too. Not more series because two is all I will allow myself for now, but standalones? Novellas? Anthologies? All possible.

My promise is that they will all be as well-written, well-edited and well-produced as I can make them. People may like some of them and not be fond of others. That's the nature of the beast and I'm okay with that.

Because I'm going to be having fun. I hope my readers will too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Of Shadow Born: One. Last. Taste.

Just because I post later in the day doesn't mean I don't still love you. ;)

Things are still on schedule for a release on Friday morning. With luck, it will go off without a hitch. The reality is probably that it will go off mostly all right and I will come out of it only a little stressed out. Such is the life of the indie author.

But man, I am really excited to see and hear what you all think about this book. I've had such a great reaction to Tybalt and Vi that I'm hoping you'll feel the same way about Kade and Melanie too.

But enough blathering from me, right? You all really want to see the excerpt I promised?

Well then. Here you go!

If nothing else good could be said about this new life, it wasn't boring. As a matter of fact, Melanie thought while she stared up at the vaulted ceiling far overhead, she might not mind a little boredom for a change.
Instead, she stood in the middle of a marble corridor that wound through a structure best qualified as "pyramid." "Temple," perhaps, she corrected herself. Or "ziggurat." Whatever the term, it clearly didn't belong in the middle of the San Francisco she knew.
Then again, she didn't belong here at all. She'd been caught somewhere between reality and a dream. They'd stepped into shadow and walked between worlds to get here. They'd been met by Officer Garamendi, who looked more intimidating in a suit than in policeman blue. She'd been handed off to Sylvie, who'd escorted her through a whirlwind tour and now stood silent at her shoulder, waiting for a response.
"I don't know what to say," Melanie admitted. "It's impressive, certainly. Like seeing history brought to life, which is a little strange." She let her gaze wander over the smooth walls and well-tended floor. Not at all like the ruins she'd wandered while traveling. "It's alien." She winced at her words. "Not that I mean to imply that any of you—"
Sylvie cut her off with the graceful movement of one hand. "You never know, we might be. There are an awful lot of people who think the pyramids were ancient spaceships and Egyptian knowledge came direct from the stars."
Melanie should have laughed. She felt the urge but a shred of uncertainty held it back. The smile she managed wobbled a bit.
"That was a joke. I promise," Sylvie said, fingers a light pressure against Melanie's arm. "Sorry, my sense of humor's a little off. It's a self-defense mechanism when you work with people like Kade all day."
"He's not that bad, is he?"
Sylvie arched an eyebrow. "You guys haven't been together that long, I know, but when was the last time you heard him crack a joke? Does he laugh a lot around you? How about smiling?"
Melanie racked her brain for a concrete example of the things Sylvie asked. "I know he smiles. I'm sure I've heard him laugh."
"But you have to think about it," she said triumphantly. "My point is made. Someone's got to lighten things up from time to time." She spread her arms and shrugged. "That means me."
      Now Melanie laughed and it came as a relief. It felt genuine, not something forced or strained. She couldn't say that about any other moment that came to mind over the last week or so. Except a few seconds of silence in Kade's company. A wave of heat swept over her and she knew she blushed. "I can think of worse jobs."

Monday, February 24, 2014

A thank you!

Just a quick, late post to say thank you to everyone who helped boost the signal on the Urban Fantasy sale this past weekend. It went well, I think.

If you happened across my blog because of the sale, hi! Welcome! Poke around, read as much as you like, and make yourself comfortable. If you've been here for a while, I'm glad you've stayed.

I had company all weekend, so I'm still revving up for the big release at the end of the week. Wednesday, though, I think I'll share a snippet from Of Shadow Born to whet your whistles, and then Friday will be the big day.

I'm excited and cannot wait to hear what you all think of the Icarus Unit!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's an Urban Fantasy Weekend!

Hey, all!

This is the big promotional event I told you was coming. Hope you enjoy it and find some great reads. :)

From now, February 20th until February 22nd, all of these books are on sale, either for free or for $0.99, so go pick up some new reads and support some authors you may not have discovered yet.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cover reveal: Of Shadow Born

The problem with holidays is that they tend to throw me off my schedule, especially when I'm already teetering on the edge of keeping track of the days!

Hello! It's Tuesday, and this is not my usual posting day. Then again, neither was Saturday, and neither will Thursday be, when I post the news about my big promotional weekend. So, why not embrace the wackiness of this week?

I know I've been teasing about a new book coming out soon. It's ten days away now and I'm so looking forward to seeing what you think about this book. I like it, but then, you know us authors. We tend to be biased when it comes to our own words.

Regardless of the words inside though, it's the cover that first makes a reader click the link on a book, right? (Or pick it up off the shelf, but that's getting ahead of myself a little.)

So, without further ado, here is the ebook cover for Of Shadow Born, book 1 of the Icarus Unit series.

As I've said, this is still urban fantasy, though it has more romance in it, so I opted to go with more of a paranormal romance feel to the cover. With luck, the covers will all be recognizably linked as a good series should be.

If that doesn't get you going, though, take a gander at the full-wrap cover for the print version. This thing made me squeal out loud when I first saw it:

Gorgeous, isn't it? I am thrilled beyond words that accurately convey my feelings.

Now. I know it's not the conventional wisdom to start two series back-to-back, rather than giving one a two or three book lead before starting another. I, however, have chosen to go this route in the hopes that you'll bear with me and trust that both series will continue for a while. You may like one more than the other, or love them both or despise them equally, but I think those who like my writing will find something in one of them to keep them entertained until the next book is ready.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Let's talk about fear, baby.

(If you have now been earwormed by a song of similar title, I'm sorry. Sort of. Okay, not really.)

I like to think I'm pretty brave in general. I usually speak my mind. I try new things. I am willing to admit when I make a mistake. I'm not brave enough to strap on a parachute and fling myself out of a perfectly good plane and I have very little desire to go deep-sea diving,  but in my everyday, ordinary life, I think I handle fear reasonably.

But I have this pesky fear of success.

Many writers in particular acknowledge that it exists, but we don't talk about it much. We may claim, outwardly, that we're afraid of being rejected or getting bad reviews, but some of us also live in fear of the what-if. Not what-if I fail, but what-if I succeed?

What if the agent/editor really like this book and I get a contract?

What if my new release makes a best-seller list?

What if this is my breakout book?

It seems a little odd to be afraid of getting it right, and yet I know for a fact that I've been held back from this particular fear. And at the same time I'm feeling fear, I also feel embarrassment, because it seems somehow arrogant to assume that I might be right and I really might be that good. But if I am, will I live up to my own hype? Will I fulfill my own promises? Can I do it again and again?

Immortal Lies has been out for almost two months now, and I'm pretty pleased with how it's been received. The next book in that series in progress now.

I just finished the edits on Of Shadow Born. They took me ... far longer than they should have, due to this fear of mine. The edits weren't extensive. They were painless, really. And yet it's another first-book-in-the-series. It's a slightly different type of book (more romance, less snark) than Immortal Lies. If people like this book, I have to keep two series afloat and keep readers both happy and coming back and that, well. Scares me.

But I will send that book out into the world at the end of this month. If I can talk about the fear, I can beat it, and I can move on.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Time, time time.

I have never been all that great at time management.

There. I said it. It's out in the open. Again.

As I've mentioned more than once, I am pretty much a human magpie. I am easily distracted by shiny things. This can be anything from a new online game to a new website to a new book or a book idea or a discussion on a forum.

This becomes tricky when I have projects I should be working on and deadlines, even self-imposed, to meet. I can tell myself I should be writing or should be editing, etc., but making myself actually sit down, focus and do these things is rarely as simple as a should.

I'm working on that. I have managed, with a break due to recent weather, to keep up the walking routine I started at the beginning of the year. I have already written more since the beginning of 2014 than I did in all of 2013. I am definitely moving in the right direction. But it's still not easy.

I do have something like a routine. I originally planned to get up and write first thing in the mornings, but I am not a morning person. Not as much a night owl as I used to be anymore, but definitely not a morning person. I need time to wake up, to gather my thoughts, and to get all my goofing around out of the way before I can settle enough to work. After breakfast, after my walk, sometimes after a shower, I'm good to go. That's all part of setting the mood, for me, I guess.

At one point, I thought there was something said about habits only becoming set if you did them consistently for three weeks. In talking about that with Catie, though, she'd heard something saying it was more like ten weeks. How is that even fair? :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

It's raining...rain!

Apologies for missing my usual Wednesday ;post. Sometimes when you have nothing amazing to say, it feels better to say nothing at all.

We here in  California are finally getting some much needed rain. Well, Northern California, at least. It's been frighteningly dry and I'm hoping that the rain continues for a few more days at least, but it does make me feel sleepy.

It also encourages me to stay indoors and not move much, which isn't great for the exercise routine, but it keeps me near a word processor, which takes away some of my excuses for not writing. That's a good thing. :)

The release date for Of Shadow Born creeps ever closer. I posted a snippet in my last newsletter (and if you haven't signed up yet, you can do so here). Today, I'm posting what will be the back cover blurb, to give you another taste.

Let me know what you think. :)

The Icarus Unit: Guarding history. Guarding lives.

Eric Kade is one of the Shadow-born: men and women who use the power of shadow to protect mankind. Though he's recovered from the mission that claimed his father and brother's lives, he's not quite ready to rejoin the fight.

But the Unit needs him now. An artifact with the potential to change the course of the future has been unearthed and delivered to a museum in San Francisco. The specialist assigned to repair it doesn't know what she holds in her hands. Or how it will change her life.

Melanie Kendrick considers herself pretty average. Adventure-seeking isn't even on her radar, so she's completely unprepared for living shadows and impossible beasts trying to kill her.

With Kade assigned to protect her, they discover a piece of lost prophecy and a connection that binds them together. He'll have to teach her to embrace her heritage. She'll have to put up with him moving in.

And they'll both have to survive.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ah, sweet relief.

Ladies and gentlemen, near and far:

The edits on OF SHADOW BORN have been completed.

The next step is sending the book off to the proofreader.

If all goes well, there will be a new book out there on February 28th.

In the meantime, I will share snippets, I will show you the cover (wait for it) and we'll have a good time, right?

Not going to write a whole lot more today because, frankly, my brain hurts. :)

But the book is done!

On to the next.

(Oh yeah. Here's Pentatonix singing on Sesame Street, just for the heck of it. Enjoy!)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

GUEST POST: Rasheeda Prioleau on The Importance of Multiculturalism

As mentioned yesterday, today, I am pleased to host my first ever guest post. :)

Today's author is Rasheedah Prioleau, author of American Specter, which releases on Tuesday, February 4th.

Take it away, Rasheedah! :)


I have to begin by saying the word multiculturalism makes me uncomfortable, especially when what we’re talking about is inclusion of people in fiction who come from the same country. It does seem a little sad that in 2014 many in America still haven’t been able to get past skin color, sexual orientation, and/or racial ancestry especially in terms of entertainment. I believe the generation coming next will have it better. But, for now we have to push for inclusion and I do believe it is best to start in all forms of fiction including books.

I sometimes try put myself in the shoes of a white writer and I do empathize with those who just don’t have a diverse group of people around them. If that does happen to be your true to life experience it does become hard to create a fictional world of diversity and do justice to it or make it authentic. At the end of the day we as writers want to be as authentic as possible but at the same time we have to consider our audience. I am not a transgendered drag queen, but for a transgendered drag queen reading my book, it makes a difference to have a lovely character like Magic weaved integrally into the story line.

When we realize that writing has the potential to shape perspectives about people, especially once you gain a platform, then it does become our responsibility to make the world around us more diverse so that we can do justice to creating a fictional world of diversity. I am fortunate as an African American female to have had a wide array of different experiences involving a multitude of different people from vastly different backgrounds. I went to public schools in the D.C. area, and then I went to a private school in Georgia. I began college at an HBCU then I finished at a Liberal Arts college. I’ve studied architecture, art, marketing, and creative writing; all with a different groups of students. I traveled to Europe. I’ve done Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Quebec, Mardis Gras and Disney World. I’ve lived on the beach.
I’ve lived in the city. I’ve lived in the suburbs. I currently live in the country. So, I have a wealth of personal experience to draw from. That helps my writing become inclusive and authentic.

To the writers that don’t have a whole lot of experience with diversity but want to I would say just put yourself out there. If you can the best way to gain new experiences is through education. Study abroad, take a foreign language, do an art class, you can even take up ballroom dancing. You will quickly find yourself immersed within a group of very different people. Volunteering is also a great way to work with a diverse group of people. There is always something to do in your local community from beautification projects, to the Christmas parade, to story time at the library. As a writer I’m constantly thinking of new experiences that I could take on someday. I’d love to live on a reservation for a few month or work on a cruise ship for a summer. Whatever you decide to do to get yourself out there, make sure it is in a safe and controlled environment, nothing random or ridiculous, please.

When you embark on your journey to write that extremely interesting character into your next book, think about the audience who will eat that character up, but also think about the person who will be able to look up to that character and feel pride because he or she is a lot like them. If a great author can paint a beautiful picture of a typically marginalized character it goes a long way to changing how marginalized individuals are viewed as well as how they view themselves. Once again it’s not just a great thing to do it is our responsibility as writers to do it.


Authenticity and diversity and authenticity -in- diversity are getting more exposure than ever these days. I can only think of that as a good thing. Conversations that should have happened a long time ago are coming to the fore now. I think Rasheedah's right, that things are improving, understanding on all sides is slowly but surely expanding, and we're just going to see more of that in the days to come.

There are some great suggestions here, and plenty to think about.

Thanks, Rasheedah!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Paying it forward

Tomorrow, there will be a guest post here.

Up until now (or tomorrow, really), this has been a one person blog. Almost all of the things posted here have been about me or my projects or thoughts or ideas. But as I continue to build a career in the independent author sphere, I realize more and more that we all have to kind of rely on each other. Indies have started boosting each other, spreading the word about one another's books and ideas. Backing one another up.

I think that's a good thing. Actually, I think it's great.

So I've decided to occasionally give people space to speak about their own projects here. Or to speak about other people projects on their behalf. I did it a little with the Diversity in Color post (which is, again, going all year. You can still join in!). I suppose, in a way, the Month of Letters counts. Sort of.

Tomorrow, there'll be a guest post from another author. Later in February, there'll be a weekend of urban fantasy goodness. There may be things between now and then. There may not be anything else until later in the year. We'll have to see.

I want to disclaim before any of that happens: Just because there's a guest post or a blog tour hop or something like that here, I'm not necessarily saying that you must enjoy whatever that post is about if you enjoy my writing. Or even that you should. We're all different. We all have different tastes. Read what is presented, if you like, and decide for yourself.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing independently.

Ladies and gents, I am tired. And that's largely because I decided to engage in discussions on this here internet thing that I should have been wise enough to avoid. Sometimes even when we think we're clever, we get drawn into a Pit of Mistakes (tm).

I don't really want to rehash the arguments. I'm just going to give my point of view.

Self-publishing or indie publishing or publishing independently, however we choose to label it, may mean that we don't have to write to the standards of the Big 6 (or 5 or however many) publishing houses that control the traditional market. It does not mean that an independent/self-published author should be allowing their cat to walk on their keyboard for 400 pages, then putting that document up on Amazon for $3.99. Or $.99. Or anything except free if it absolutely must be shared with the world.

There are no people saying we can't charge for nonsense or poorly edited books. There is no gatekeeper. There is no guardian at the door refusing to let us do whatever we want.

But if you publish something (especially knowingly) that isn't ready to be sold to the public, it doesn't just reflect badly on you. It reflects badly on everyone publishing under the independent/self-published umbrella. It chases people away from not just your book, but hers and his and mine too.

I certainly care about my own career. I'd like to see everyone who wants to publish the book of their dreams do it and do it well. We may not all make six-figure incomes, but that's not a reason not to try, if you want your voice to be heard.

So it's my opinion that books -- yes, even indepent/self-published books who need adhere to no publisher's rules -- should be edited coherently. Have professional-looking covers. Show some authorial pride and respect for the reader spending both their time and their money to read them.

This is my pledge to you, my readers. I will strive to release books that are ready to be read, only when they're ready to be read. I want you to enjoy them as much as I do and I want you to keep coming back, not only to read my books, but to take a chance on the other independent/self-published authors who take the same care with their works.

And that's that.

(Well, not quite. There's another chapter of And The Skies Fell up this week too. Back on track. :) )

Monday, January 27, 2014

Read to write. Write to read. Yes.

There's a believe in the world of writing, or much of it at least, that in order to write well you must also read widely. How can you stay on top of what counts as current in the if you're not on top of what's being published today.

I get that. And I try to read stuff that's relatively current, when I can.

But I have also been notoriously slow about reading these past few years. I also know a LOT of writers and like to support them when I can by buying their stuff. (Note to the writers I know: Stop putting out so much good stuff, will you? Yeesh.) In theory, I should be reading it when I buy it. In practice, not so much.

So when people talk about their TBR piles or TBR stacks, I look at my boxes of books I have bought but not yet read, some going back about eight years if not more, and I sigh and despair of reading current things. How am I ever going to read the stuff I bought back then if I'm supposed to read the new stuff, and yet read series in order and  and and...

It gets a little overwhelming, you know?

Last year I read 16 books. Some of those were current. Several of them were old. This year, my baseline goal is 25 books. Some will, again, be current. Some will be old. It would be great if I read more than that, but 25 seems like a nice solid probably-achievable start.

Between them, I will write and edit current stories. Will reading old books influence my current writing style? Not in any harmful ways, I hope. We'll have to see.

Speaking of which, got a pretty great review on Immortal Lies today. I'm pleased! (Not about the typo comment, but you know, when there are still typos in the file, it's not the reviewer's fault. They have now been fixed. I hope. Sweet Pete, I hope.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

A whole different kind of writing.

I guess the title is slightly incorrect. It's not a whole different kind of writing. The words would probably be the same. The mode, however, is completely different.

What am I talking about? Nothing like jumping into the middle of my stream of thought.

I am talking about the Month of Letters, a project started by Mary Robinette Kowal (who does the audio versions of Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, and whose voice I might love a little bit). There's a lot of information about it on the website, but the basic gist is this: every day that the postal service is functioning, wherever you might be, you send one letter or postcard or handwritten something to someone else. You, in turn, receive letters from others. It's a step back to the "good old days" when we weren't all glued to our computer and communicating by SMS and 140-character tweets.

I think it's brilliant.

Back when I was in college, before the internet was quite such a focus of life as it is now, I spent a summer writing letters to a friend. Nevermind that for some reason I had assigned him the wrong last name, I had a blast writing to him and getting letters back.

Since then I've more or less stopped writing by hand. Until recently when I discovered that writing new scenes on the book I'm editing happens much more quickly if I scribble them out on paper. But it really is scribbling, as you may have noticed in my post earlier this month on editing.

So! I think I'm going to join in. I can write a letter or postcard or something a day for 23 days next month. Can you? :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On persistence.

Yep. That topic.

In order to write and do it successfully, there are a few rules that must be followed. Learn your grammar, learn your punctuation, try not to write in the rock's point of view unless the story really -cannot- go on without input from said rock.

Other than that, the main thing you need to do is write. Continue to write. Write a lot, throw it away and write more to replace it. Write it better. Write it faster. Just keep writing.

As I've said elsewhere before, if you really don't like it or rejection and critique get you so down that you can't pick yourself up again, you're allowed to quit. This is not an until death do we part kind of thing for everyone. As someone else said, if someone can convince you not to write, let them. It may have been about screen writing. It may have been writing advice in general. I honestly don't remember and I'm paraphrasing.

Point is, everyone has ups and downs. Everyone has good times and bad times and everyone has to decide, from day to day and year to year, whether or not they're going to get up from one more tumble into the crap, wipe it off, and go back to the typewriter or keyboard or spiral notebook.


Just remember that when someone is dispensing wisdom or advice and you feel like the angels are singing. We've all been there. You'll be there too.

And the world will keep turning.


(No serial chapter today. Sorry! P'raps I'll update And The Skies Fell twice next week. Or later this week. We shall see.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

What's in a name?

If you have read my author bio anywhere, you know it starts with the following lines:

What's in a pseudonym? A writer by any other name called would make words as sweet. So S. L. Gray would,were she not S. L. Gray called.

But then how would you find her books?

Aside from the obvious hat-tip to Shakespeare (yes, I'm a Shakespeare fan. I have no shame.), this is my new philosophy on pen names. I, as an author, am unlikely to stick to one pure genre. I started out writing romance. I split away from myself a little and wrote erotic romance for a while. Now I'm writing urban fantasy with varying levels of romantic content.

And going forward, I intend to write it all under the same name. There will probably not be a lot (if any) erotic romance. There will be a lot of fantasy of various flavors and some romance-centered stuff and maybe even a YA novel or three down the road.

But I'm going to publish them all as S.L. Gray. I have made the attempt at maintaining and building an audience for more than one name before and honestly, the benefits didn't outweigh the pain in the butt it would be to keep it up.  Now, mind, I am not writing in wildly divergent genres. If I were writing erotic romance and middle grade books? Yes, I might very well use yet another pen name. As I'm not? Nope. This is where I'm sitting. I like the view from S.L. Gray land.

One argument from people who suggest multiple pen names is that it helps you continue to reach readers who don't cross genres. If I have a fan of my urban fantasy who really doesn't want to read a romance-heavy story, won't I betray their trust by writing under the same name?

Nah. My readers (and readers in general) are sharp enough to figure out what they want to read or don't want to read. Why make it harder for them to find my next book by making them become fans of some other me? 

That's -my- story and I'm definitely sticking to it.

Just a note before you go: You have about an hour to enter my print giveaway. I'll be drawing winners this evening. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Five things make a post.

Because sometimes, after talking about words a lot, you run out of clever things to say.


1. If you are at all interested in self-publishing, or how it's working out for authors across the board (and not just the ones you hear about like Amanda Hocking or Hugh Howey or others having amazing success, check out the survey Beverly Kendall did. There's some pretty interesting information in there.

2. My print copy giveaway continues. There are four days left! Have you entered yet?

3. Do you know about the Kindle Worlds program? I think shared worlds are pretty amazing, or can be at any rate. And now, Amazon has licensed several worlds that are open to other authors writing in them. Like writing fan fic? Want to potentially get paid to write it? Check it out.

4. My cat, who I refer to as The Grey Cat, is sometimes goofy. This is how he sits on my bed. Ignore the stuff in the corner behind him. I'm a writer, not a housekeeper, okay?

5. The new chapter of And The Skies Fell is up. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Let's talk about reviews

Since I've been writing about words, I'm just going to keep doing that. Not my words today. Not necessarily, anyway. Words other people write about the books they read. Yep, reviews.

I'll confess right up front that I never really thought about reviews. Not book reviews anyway, not until recently. Sure, they were nice and sometimes a good review would make me pay closer attention to a new release, but traditionally, I went with what looked interesting to me or what someone else had read and now insisted I read too.

I am also one of those people who balks when something gets incredible amounts of hype. Harry Potter? Twilight? The Hunger Games? I read those books because I finally, -finally- grudgingly gave in to the overwhelming enthusiasm from people who'd read them already. So book reviews have never been that much of a determining factor for me.

Now, however, I understand that when it comes to selling things to people, I'm really kind of a fluke. There are a lot of people out there who rely heavily on reviews to tell them where they ought to spend their allotment of dollars. It makes sense. People have only so much mad money and there are a LOT of options out there for spending it. If you go to a website, be it Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Chapters, and you have the choice of two books, which would you buy? The one that has a 100+ reviews telling you how much other people enjoyed it, or the one with no reviews at all? Not even a flood of negative reviews. Just... nothing.


So! This year, I am resolving to give back to authors of the books I've read. Not just by letting them know what *I* think about their books (for better or worse; I don't like everything I read), but also to contribute to the pool of opinion surrounding their work, so other people can make decisions and maybe plunk down a couple-three of those spare dollars in their pocket.

Which means I'm also going to say: If you've read Immortal Lies, whether you loved it or hated it or something'd it in between, please leave a review on a public site. Blogs are great, but Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads are better. Reviews help authors gather up more readers and more readers keep us writing.

(BTW, if you have not entered -- or even if you have and want to spread the word -- there's still a week left on my print giveaway. Check it out here!)

Friday, January 10, 2014

So after you write those words...

Yes, I'm still going on about words. I'm a writer. It's kind of what I do.

(If you ask my mother, she may hilariously tell you that sometimes I love my words too much.

Or, you could ask my former co-workers. They used to use me as thesaurus when they were writing documents and emails. In a fit of pique one morning, I said, "I don't like to use big words around you guys. It always makes me feel pretentious."


Ahem. Anyway!

Once I have written words, I almost always have to edit them. I would like to be able to write perfect prose and never have to look back, but if that's possible, I haven't done it yet.

On a good day, my edits look something like this:

Yesterday (and probably on a few more days in the future because I'm  changing some important things), my edits look like this:

Yes, you get points if you can read my chicken scratching. I'm not sure *I* can at this point.

Cover me. I'm going in!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Counting words, or words that count.

Obviously, writing a book takes x number of words. More than 50,000 for a novel, generally speaking. Less than 20,000 to still qualify as a short story (though that's a pretty long short story if you ask me.)

Last year, I didn't write a lot of words, for various reasons.

This year, I was doing pretty good. I'd written 6000 or so by, you know, the sixth. Right on track.

And then I started editing.

Editing doesn't mean I'm not writing new words, of course, but it does mean that I'm basically switching out new words for the old ones that don't work as well. It means I'm not so much on track now and if I want to see my dates and numbers match up, I'm going to have to do a powerful lot of writing at some point.

Is it going to ruin my life? No. Is it going to make me a little nutty? Probably.

Then again, who would notice? I'm pretty crazy already. It's a writer thing.

So, if you're following me on WriteTrack and not seeing the status bar move, don't worry. I really am working. The new book is getting nice and shiny. It just *looks* like I'm marching in place.

Unless of course you're reading the serial. If you are, I have brand new words for you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A book is a book. And a giveaway!

People whose work is published as an ebook, whether through a publisher or independently, inevitably get comments and questions about when they're going to write a "real" book, or how an ebook isn't a "real" book. It can't be held or touched, the pages can't be turned or dog-eared. There is no new page smell to a digital copy.

All of those things are true.

I am obviously too old to have grown up with ebooks. I read paperbacks voraciously. I freely confess that I used to be one of those people who turned up their noses at the idea of reading books on a computer screen. Video games? Sure. Reading for pleasure? Pshaw. (Nevermind how much time I spent talking to friends and roleplaying online. That requires reading on a computer screen. Usually for pleasure. Shh, just never-you-mind. :))

Slowly but surely, I have become a convert. Not because my books are all electronic. Mostly, it's because, let's face it, physical books take up a -lot- of space. It's great to have a few treasured copies of books that really move you or mean something. Possibly a signed hardback or two. We, the Engineer and I, are both serious readers. When we moved, we moved box upon box of Really Heavy Books. Most of which have yet to be unpacked. Why? Space. Books take up a lot of space.

It's also a heck of a lot easier to carry a laptop or an e-reader than to stuff half a dozen books in your carry-on or in the car when you're traveling. Or to read in bed when your partner wants to sleep. Or any number of other reasons.

So yes, I'm a convert. I'm not saying I'll never read another paperback. Don't be silly.

Plus. Plus! In this new era of independent publishing, I have the option of physical copies of my books. Really, it's like having my cake and eating it too, only it's SO MUCH COOLER THAN CAKE!

And to celebrate all of this choice, (and slip briefly into my marketing hat), I'm sharing my glee and giving away two copies of Immortal Lies, in print.

If you're a slow convert to ebooks and you'd rather hold the book in your hand, this is for you.

If you want to see Anne Cain's amaaaaazing cover up close and personal, this is for you.

If you just like getting free books in the mail? Well. This is for you. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's Monday. I'm in a good mood. (And wordy, apparently.) Enjoy!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Diversity on the Shelf 2014

I linked to this challenge in my New Year's post, but I need to just make a post dedicated to it because it's such a cool idea.

My Little Pocketbooks is hosting a reading challenge this year. I would try to summarize the reason and the purpose, but they do it so much better than I ever could that I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel.

The point being: There's room for all sorts of characters and authors in the world. Read some of them.

I personally will be aiming for the 1-shelf goal of 1-6 books, because I can be a slow reader. I'm hoping to read more. I've already got plans for that many this year, so we'll see.

You can find out more information (and join!) by clicking the button. :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Too much? Not enough? Let's dance!

Let's do the marketing dance, that is.

One of the nice parts of being traditionally published, or so I've been led to believe, is that once you get someone to buy your book and work through the edits, you can, in theory, leave the book alone from then on. A good publisher will do the marketing for you. They might do an ad in a magazine or on websites. They might make a book trailer. They might book you on a promotional book signing tour. They might enter you in important contests or submit your book for awards.

All things that you, the author, don't have to do.

They can definitely get your book into brick-and-mortar bookstores and possibly libraries. Again, all without much, if any, input from the person writing the words. Which means, again in theory, that the author gets to go back to writing until it's time to start the whole process again.

If you're going indie, and you don't have the budget to hire someone to market for you, that stuff all falls on you. Or me. :)

The question that always nags at me is, how much promotion is too much? How much is too little? How many repeats of 'Hey, I have this book...' does it take to annoy my friends and family into ignoring me?

The answer, I guess, is everyone's favorite: It depends.

A publisher with a marketing team may not be constantly shoving the book in the average consumer's, or reader's, face, but they are putting it out there to the distributors. They're sending copies to professional reviewers and magazines. They're doing a version of stumping for the book that most of us don't ever see.
Do the reviewers get tired of having books waved at them all day? I don't know, but I hope not. We kind of need them to read. :)

For my part, I'm doing my best to balance out being the marketer with being me. You know me. The gal on the other side of the screen or the page. The person who just wants people to like the story she wrote. I figure if I can manage to stay me and still sell a couple of books, I'll be all right and no one will end up wanting to gag me.

But if you ever get the urge to holler "Enough already!", or you sprain something rolling your eyes because my name's on the screen again, let me know, will you? I'll try to listen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking forward!

This is sort of the logical extension of the last post, isn't it? A retrospective followed by a ... what's the opposite of retrospective? Predictive? Not a noun, though. Oh words, why are you so hard?


It's 2014! Happy New Year! May this be your best year yet, in every way possible!

I sort of jokingly asked the Engineer if he felt completely different, at about 12:01 last night. He looked at me like I was crazy, but the new year is meant to be a new start. Time to put the past behind us and move on with confidence. Of course it's not as easy as the clock ticking over. I usually start out pretty optimistically, as we all do, I think (I hope!).  Let's see how long we can keep that going.

To encourage me, I'm actually going to post resolutions. This will help serve to motivate me, I hope, and keep me honest. It also makes me nervous. I don't want to let myself down on any of them, and I certainly don't want other people to see me trip over any. Fingers crossed!

In 2014, I would like:

  • to clean one thing in the house, every day. I have been doing better about cleaning in the new place. I'd like to keep that up. It's less stressful for everyone.
  • to walk every day. I need to get more exercise. Writing is a very sedentary thing and I don't think I'd take advantage of a treaddesk. Besides, outside is good for you. So.  Walking.
  • to read at least 25 books. I managed 16 last year, which is not that many, but given all that was going on, is decent-ish. This year, there are couple of fun reading challenges going on, so I think I can do it. I think I can, I think I can...
  • to express love or joy, out loud, at least once a day. There's not enough of this in my life. Just needs to be done, particularly to/for/with the Engineer. Love the family you've chosen, whatever the shape it takes.
  • to write every day (AKA the one people who don't live in my head care most about). I would like to write at least 250,000 words this year. I would like to publish at least two new full-length novels. I have gravy goals, but I'm going to keep them private, for now. The writing every day bit is the important one. And, to that end, you can watch my progress on this spiffy new tracker.

That's it! I think that's a pretty decent list.

And speaking of that walk, off I go!