Author Archives: Lissa

Why I’m Struggling to Produce

I know it’s stupid, but there’s something that has obviously affected me deeper than I previously realised.

Back in 2012, when there was a scuffle on Goodreads that led to some particularly nasty people being kicked off, my books were targeted in a slew of hatred by a number of individuals Goodreads eventually permanently banned for their harassment and breaking of their terms of service. Among many of the artificial insults slung my way (because I was an author and therefore vulnerable to attack) such as my being jealous, my sending trolls after critics, and other things, was one insult that seems to have stuck in my mind all these years later.

It was targeted to my book the Edge of Darkness, which I self-published in 2011. The insult was that my book was ‘not long enough to be a real book.’

cover eod 2014 I guess that word count insult has stayed with me, because I wrote The Edge of Darkness in 2010’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event held every November that encourages you to write a 50K long book.

The world was a vastly different place back in 2011. Small press publishers didn’t have the clout they have now. Indie publishers and self-publishers didn’t have the clout and even the respect some of them have now. Some people assumed self-publishers would be producing traditional-publishing-worthy tomes but simply at cheaper prices.

I’ve made no secret the fact that I didn’t query The Edge of Darkness is because as a full-length adult sci-fi it only stood at 52K words, and traditional publishers only look at sci-fi if it’s much longer, around 70-110K. There was no way I was adding word padding to a completed story, so I was stuck. Small presses were so far off my radar I didn’t even consider handing my book over to them. I felt the only other option was to self-publish.

Three years later and I’ve noticed several things that have changed in the world around me.

The Edge of Darkness isn’t an adult book, it’s a New Adult book. My heroine, Max, is 26, but because she was a prisoner for five years she’s psychologically undeveloped and is still a young adult, I’d estimate in her early twenties. She’s still facing issues other young adults aged 18-25 face. She’s just doing it in deep space with robotic parts. New Adult was barely a genre back in 2011. Now it’s everywhere.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of digital imprints are calling for books exactly this length. They want genre books up to 50K or thereabouts. They don’t want to wallop their readers with enormous books. They want to offer somewhat shorter fiction, to entice readers into investing less time and effort reading this one book, in the hopes the reader might read more.

Storm of Blood final coverWhen I wrote Storm of Blood, I was still stinging from The Edge of Darkness ‘not being long enough’ (according to a troll who was kicked off Goodreads for harassment, so I know it’s ridiculous I’m still stinging from that one insult). Storm of Blood topped in at 80K, but writing that much burnt me out. For a long time I couldn’t face writing something so long when I’m clearly made for writing shorter fiction. I know in the grand scheme of things 80K isn’t particularly long when there’s 110K-150K tomes out there vying for attention, but 80K is pretty respectful among the traditionally published. I don’t regret writing that much, because I do feel the story is complete and every word and every scene was needed.

But the next thing I wrote after Storm of Blood was much shorter. I needed a break from the pressure of producing longer fiction. I wrote a series of contemporary romance novellas. They topped in at 25K each, but they were a connected series.

And then I panicked, because Lissa doesn’t write contemporary romance. She writes sci-fi and paranormal books about kick-butt women with magical powers.

So I don’t even know if you’re ever going to see these romance novellas, which I honestly do love and am very proud of, because this genre doesn’t fit in with my brand. I’ve left them trunked for six months while I figure out what I want to do with them. Do I want to self-publish them under Lissa, or a pen name, or even query them?

And then there’s the question of the daunting task of the next Storm Force book. Storm of Magic is coming, I swear. But trying to match 80K in a year as well as the dozens of other books I want to write, including another sci-fi about superheroes and that paranormal bisexual romance I lost half of when my computer died… add on to that the pressure to be ‘successful’ and to churn out my work as fast as I can even though I have a day job and a family and my writing is a slow process anyway because I actually trunk my novels and leave them to breathe between edits…

…and the word on the street is that if you’re not producing 2 books a year, your audience will forget you…

All of this pressure is why I’m struggling to write anything long at the moment. Well that, and the fact that I literally have dozens of ideas and trying to catch one to pin it down is like trying to herd river water by throwing darts.

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I’ve been writing short fiction, short stories, to keep up with the craft, but it’s nothing the sci-fi/PNR part of me can ever publish.

I’ll settle, eventually. I have lots and lots of books ready to be written. Maybe this is simply the post-Book 2 blues getting to me. We’ll see.

Diversity in Books: Why It’s Important and Why I Write It

#weneeddiversebooks

I’ve published two full-length novels and both of them contain people of colour as either the main character or the love interest(s).

cover eod 2014In The Edge of Darkness, my protagonist Max(ine) is Filipino.

I consciously made the decision to write her as non-white building on my father’s experience of being the son of immigrants to Australia, and because Australia’s always had a high level of Asian immigrants.

Why the Phillipines? The answer can be as shallow as ‘I once knew a beautiful man from there’. Despite my family’s strong connection to Japan, I wanted Max to represent a less popular section of Asia, one you don’t see very often in popular literature..

Max is also named after the main character from Dark Angel, played by Jessica Alba, who’s mixed race.

In Storm of Blood, my protagonist Tina is white (as are the majority of Australians, where the book is set), but her boyfriend Tengu is Chinese (from Hong Kong) and the other boy who plays a role in her love life, Lachlan, is descended from Pacific Islanders.

Storm of Blood final coverTengu appeared in the last short story from the Storm Front collection. I was looking for a lesser-known demon for Tina to turn to for help when I stumbled upon the tengu Chinese shapeshifting demon in my research. I took a lot of creative licensing in Tengu’s kind of shapeshifting and it’s really got nothing to do with the original Chinese demon I first discovered. Buddhism says that the tengu demon were originally disruptive and dangerous, but over time their image changed to one of protection, which is how book Tengu is with Tina.

And the reason I made Lachlan a Pacific Islander is because the inspiration for his looks is an actor called Michaal Copon who’s just really good-looking. He was in the cheerleading movie Bring it On: In It to Win It along with Cassandra Scerbo (of Sharknado fame), who inspired my look for Chelsea. One look at that pair in that film and I knew that was what I wanted in my book.

As a side note – I did consider making the villain character gay, but I couldn’t bring myself to possible represent that community in a bad light. Some of the characters in my novels are gay, but if there’s no way for me to make that explicit, you’ll never know who. My philosophy is that that’s pretty much how it works in the real world, too.

I feel that all-white casts in books can be generic and boring, and I always get excited when I read books by Malinda Lo who always includes diversity not only in race but in sexuality, too. But I figure, Malinda (who’s an excellent writer) includes diversity because she’s hyper-aware of it, being a minority herself. I’m not a minority, but it sure is nice when a straight, white, cis female can include diversity in her books as well.

My biggest reason for writing diversity in my books is very simple: why shouldn’t I?

The book I’m working on at the moment is a young adult bisexual love story about a mixed-race girl.

Paranormal Short Story Collections Free For 3 Days

A few weeks ago I began an experiment that is still ongoing.

I made my two Kindle Select books, paranormal short story collections The Archive of Lost Dreams and Storm Front, free on Amazon for two days.

But I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I wanted to see how the algorithm works without publicity and if they could be discovered organically.

I’m not into marketing my books, you see. I believe that if I make them available and keep them available, someone might find what they’re looking for.

However, to continue the experiment (and because I have three days leftover) I am making them free again from 15th April to 17th April.

This time I’m telling everyone.

You can find them on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers.

taold2014 kindle

Storm Front final cover

The Edge of Darkness new cover

Can you believe it’s been three years this year since I published my first novel, the deep space cyborg adventure The Edge of Darkness?

I can’t. Time has flown.

Normally when books are traditionally published sometimes they’re first put out in a hardcover version, which is more expensive for publishers to sustain, so after about a year or so they put out a paperback version as well. They normally have different covers. Seeing as how The Edge of Darkness is turning three this year I’ve decided to spruce her up with a cover change.

Behold:

cover eod 2014

Of course this cover still has the nebula in it. Because the first book I published was sci-fi, I think that’s always going to be part of my author brand.

I love the new cover. It’s ridiculously hard to find the right image, but I think I made the right choice putting Max and Ethan there. I feel like simpler is better for this, which is why I made the decision to keep the text white and unadorned.

Lost Dreams Cover Change

One of the perks of being an indie author is the ability to change the cover art of your books whenever you feel like it.

I’ve never been 100% happy with the original cover for The Archive of Lost Dreams because the Smashwords version, which uploaded to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony among others, was always a little blurry no matter what I did.

So I’ve changed the cover ever so slightly. It’s still got the same feel to it and it’s very similar to the original cover. I like this one better, though.

New Cover:

taold2014 kindle

New cover: 2014

Old Cover:

 

Archive of lost dreams

Old cover: 2013

As a side note, I’ve temporarily unpublished The Archive of Lost Dreams and Storm Front from the Smashwords store and affiliates. They’ve been available for free there for quite some time (thanks for the downloads!), but while I was doing that, I was unable to make them free on Amazon. This gives me a chance to enroll them in Kindle Select and make them free for five days in a 3 month period. Keep a look out for the free promotions on Amazon!

Storm of Blood free on Smashwords until the year of the year

The Edge of Darkness is now $1.99 on Smashwords and Amazon.

My two short story collections The Archive of Lost Dreams and Storm Force prequel Storm Front are free on Smashwords and Amazon.

Storm of Blood is $2.99 on Amazon but free on Smashwords (where you can download a .mobi format anyway) if you use this coupon:

DS73U

The coupon expires at the end of the year.

four covers

All books currently free on Smashwords et al

All my books are currently free on Smashwords and its distributors. I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep it this way – thinking of unpublishing, so grab a bargain while you can!

Storm Front final coverSmashwordsStorm of Blood final cover

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Diesel

Kobo

Sony

Archive of lost dreams

eod-cover

Storm of Blood on Amazon and a whole lot of links

Storm of Blood final cover

Storm of Blood is on Amazon.com for 99c. This introductory offer will last for all of May, and then the price will go up.

Also, just a reminder that Storm of Blood can also be downloaded from Smashwords for free using the coupon code EA42K on check out. The coupon expires at the end of May.

The first several chapters are also available to read for free on Goodreads. Check it out if you’re not sure if you want to commit to a purchase. You can also read excerpts on Amazon and Smashwords before purchasing.

Currently Storm Front and The Archive of Lost Dreams are available for free on Smashwords and for 99c on Amazon. I am trying to make them available for free on Amazon as well, but the process and not easy and I beg for your patience in the matter. You can help by visiting their Amazon pages, scrolling down a bit to ‘tell us about a lower price’, and reporting they are available for free on some of the bigger sellers like Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony and Diesel. Here, I’ll even make it super easy by providing all the links:

Storm Front:

Amazon – currently 99c.

Free on:

Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Diesel
Kobo

-

The Archive of Lost Dreams:

Amazon - currently 99c.

Free on:

Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Sony

As usual, The Edge of Darkness is 99c on Smashwords and Amazon.

Oops, I’ve Done It Again

Storm of Blood final coverWell, not so much ‘oops’ as ‘Hey there, loyal readers, would you like a new book?”

Today I hit ‘publish’ on both Amazon and Smashwords for my new young adult urban fantasy/paranormal novel ‘Storm of Blood’. As you may or may not know, it is the first full-length novel starring Tina Storm, my Australian teenage demon hunter who also appeared in the short story collection ‘Storm Front’ (available for free on Smashwords and hopefully soon to be free on Amazon)

Smashwords is available immediately, of course. Amazon will take about a day to show up on, and a bit longer for the international sites. Smashwords sites like Barnes and Noble and Diesel will be available in a few weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s available in your favourite format.

Here’s the link to the Smashwords site for Storm of Blood.

Also, Storm of Blood will be free on Smashwords until the end of May if you enter the following coupon during check-out:

EA42K

The coupon expires on May 31 2013, so if you’ve been waiting patiently for this novel now’s your chance to grab it in .mobi, Word, epub or whatever your favourite format is.

 

Storm of Blood Cover Reveal

Once upon a time I was contacted by a just starting out artist named Cameo Anderson who wanted to draw me some fan art of Tina Storm. I obliged, and you can see this work on art on my Fun Stuff page. After I saw what Cameo could do, I asked her to draw me some more artwork for use as covers.

Today, I am revealing the finished art work.

Ladies and gentlemen and kittens of all ages, I present to you:

Storm Front (Storm Force short stories)

Storm Front final cover

 

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and

Storm of Blood (Storm Force #1)

Storm of Blood final cover

Both of these covers are drawn by Cameo. Please support her by visiting:

http://www.wytheria.com/Cameo/ – Illustration portfolio
http://www.wytheria.com/sporepalace/ – writer’s blog/website
https://www.facebook.com/sporepalace?fref=ts – Facebook

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