Writing a Dream

Posts tagged “E-book

Rumbling Heart – New Cover Art

I got into the mood to work so here is a decent Photoshop job I did on a new cover for the book. The guitar was black, but I needed it to be red. Now to work on the font!

Close-up of girl with guitar


Rumbling Heart “Kickstart” Edition

In preparation for the release of 5 new books by the end of the year, I have decided to revamp my current release Rumbling Heart. In this updated release, currently called the Kickstart Edition, there will be several new and exciting extras to go along with the improved story. Here are some of the ideas that will hopefully make it into the new version:

  • A “Did You Know?” section with interesting factoids about the book, the characters, and the process used in its development.
  • Alternate Art and covers that were previously used or considered for the cover.
  • Q&A section where the author Richard Allen and Executive Producer Emily Carmichael answer various questions about the book and their methods.
  • A brand new cover which differs significantly from the current one.

As this will be the 3rd version of the book, any previous fans who redownload when the new version is released and go through the story again will notice several changes that we all feel needed to be made. While the overall story will remain intact, the most noticeable change will be overall length. The very first version was quite long, coming in at over 500 pages. The version that was at first going to be the first version was around 525 pages so there was already some significant editing work done on that one. Version two was even shorter, coming in at about 475 pages. Regardless of the fact that significant edits had already been done, we felt it best to shorten the book even further. While we do not have a page count at the moment, the effort to shorten the book will hopefully take it down to as little as 400 pages. While this is in the higher range of our estimates, we still want to be sure that the overall quality of the story does not suffer so don’t be surprised if we don’t hit that number. Keep in mind that 400 pages would be the story itself and not include any bonus content.

Keep in mind that if you already purchased this book from Amazon, all you have to do to get the new version when it comes out is download it again. There should not be any additional cost.

Keep your eyes open for more information regarding the 5 books slated to be released by the end of the year as well as more information on Rumbling Heart: Kickstart Edition.

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RHcover1x


Heroes and Bad Reviews

Sometimes distractions can lead us away from our goals. Often times I find myself getting tunnel vision when I am writing an idea and that’s not always the best thing. For the stories I am developing, I had a point A to point B plan and that was not the way it should have been. There is more to a great book than who, what, when, where, and why. An explanation can be developed from those, but not a great story. Sometimes stepping away and doing other things can help you reclaim your idea from a narrow vision and assist you in turning a good idea into an magnificent book.

In October, I purposely stepped away from my stories and kept myself from writing. Why? I felt like I was becoming bored with the process. I still had idea I knew were good, but I felt like something was lacking in my writing. I needed to find a way to develop more than just an A to B story. My first book Rumbling Heart was more than an A to B story and it shows in the quality of the development not only of the work, but also the characters and the atmosphere. Sometimes reading a book can help you reevaluate and refocus on what you are trying to do. In my case though, being able to now see things from a different angle is a double-edged sword.

I looked over my work and even over some reviews and bits of feed back I have gotten over my work. The good reviews are always nice, but it is the bad reviews that always stick with you. Why? Just human nature I suppose. Here is a snippet of a negative review RH got and my response to it.

reviewNegative reviews happen. There is no way around it. Being a writer I accept that and I know there will always be people who either do not understand my work or, for whatever reason, want to find reasons to make it seem as if I did a huge disservice to the human race. I did find it interesting that this person thought her review was constructive. You can see my response to her review in the photo as well. Her response was once again nonconstructive. I liken this review to calling someone names because that is essentially what they did. If you feel the need to call me (or my work) “stupid” without offering any reason as to why you felt that way or any way to improve it, the review is completely pointless. Offering no way to improve on something is about as bad as crying because you didn’t get your way. If I were a coach and I told a child they were terrible at football or whatever other sport I was coaching them in, I wouldn’t remain a coach very long. Obviously you cannot really liken coaching to reviewing a book or a movie or whatever else you can give feedback on. Reviewers aren’t coaches. I realize that. But at the same time people who do offer feedback need to understand that the main reason you give feedback, be it positive, negative, or mixed, is so people who develop their ideas can improve and make things better the next time around. What is the point of simply calling people or their work names? Sounds to me like certain individuals either lack the ability to express themselves or they feel the need to tear someone down.

Success also breeds negativity.

I will not say I am very successful. I haven’t sold a ton of books and I haven’t made all kinds of money at this. It was never really about money anyway. I have over the last year and a half gotten hurtful messages and emails from people who see that I was somehow able to hash it out and write a book. Not many people can say they’ve done that. Sure, some people can write a small story, but my first book was 475+ pages. A little long, but anyone has to admit that writing a book of that size takes time and commitment. My followup to my first book is much shorter, but still comes in at about 300 pages. No small feat. Another big story for me which is about 70% complete will probably come in at about 275 pages. Again, not many people in the world can say they can sit down and accomplish such a thing. I am not saying I should automatically get a great review for the effort, but I would hope that people like me…artists…deserve at the very least a review explaining exactly why our work is either good, bad, or mixed.

A good review does not always have to be positive. If you gave me 1 or 2 stars, but explained why this or that was unappealing to you, I could respect that. Not offering any explanation whatsoever makes me think the person is either just looking to be mean or trolling. In a way, they are kind of the same thing.

If you are a reviewer like I am from time to time, do the artist a favor and explain why you think one way or another. In the end, we will thank you for it and so will other readers.

 

 


Hard Call – Dropping Smashwords.com

I tried, I really did. But the time has come for me to stop using Smashwords.com as another source for my book sales. Why? Because I have had ZERO sales from ANY of their channels. This includes their extended channels which include the likes of iTunes. Over the past year, I tried to be patient and even directed people over to Smashwords to check out not only my work, but the work of others. Still, with all the self promotion, I have had absolutely no sales or any website referrals from them.

Amazon offers the KDP select option which is available to any author should they go exclusively with them and in exchange, you get to offer your book free for a few days a quarter. I tried this once and it did wonders for my exposure. Within just a couple of days I had over 600 downloads. I know, I didn’t get paid for it, but you have to start somewhere. In this case, sometimes just getting people to read your work is hard enough, let alone getting them to pay for something from an unknown author.

In the end, I am not really losing anything from this move. As I’ve said, I got no return for the work I did concerning Smashwords. For a good year my work sat there and did nothing, regardless of how much I promoted. At least with Amazon, I do get some sales there and a few reviews. That’s more than I can say for Smashwords.

Poster


Rating Books

Something I’ve actually come to love about writing is deciding which material to use as opposed to other. What I mean by this is, as like movies, books are becoming something that can actually be rated depending on the content that is included in the work.

Why did I start using my own personal rating system?

It all comes down to who our target audience is. Example. I purchased and started reading a book solely on a recommendation from a friend. They said it was a good story and a well created world. I thought sure! I’ll give it a go. And they were right…to a certain degree. They story started a little slow, but that’s most books for you. I kept with it and the characters started developing nicely. I was starting to get into when like a bolt of lightning, I found myself in the middle of a hardcore sex scene.

Now…

I am the kind of person that feels people should write whatever they like to write. If you have a knack for action or fantasy or erotica, go for it. I will never ever tell people to censor themselves. If you like to include a lot of adult language or violence or sex in your work, I say do it.

If I am all for writing whatever people like to write, then why the self imposed rating?

Sure, most of what is written and released is categorized in various genres. We have thrillers, we have drama, we have romance, sci-fi, etc. The issue I found is that just because a work is categorized doesn’t always tell you what exactly is in the finished work. I know if a book is released within the Erotica genre chances are I am going to come across a few very detailed sex scenes. On the other hand, I may pick up a thriller and have gobs of violence and other things I may not have expected. The same can be said of Sci-Fi. I’ve watched many sci-fi movies and virtually all of them have a certain level of violence in them. Some of it is stylized while parts are grotesque and graphic. I’m not in the least surprised by what I read in books today. Not in the slightest, but being a writer I want to me sure that anyone that picks up my book…and I do mean anyone…will have an idea of what to expect while reading my work.

I don’t do spoilers. I hate those. There is nothing worse than reading a book only to have someone or something spoil the ending. This is not what I am going for. Here is an example of what I have done to self rate my work before release:

(This eBook carries a voluntary rating of 16+ for language, some graphic violence, some crude humor, alcohol use, drug references, and scenes of dramatic peril.)

As you can see, I didn’t include any spoilers so the story is still intact. All this does is give a heads up of what to expect when you read this particular work. The age noted is also key. It is there to give you an idea of what ages should be considered when giving my work to a minor. As you can see, I self rate similar to how movies are rated. You know when you go to see a PG-13 movie that teens will probably not see or hear anything they’ve not come across before. Anything under that age, well you may want to reconsider or join them for the picture. I do the same thing with my books.

Keep in my I rate my books based on my own opinion. In no way should my rating by taken as gospel. I’ve made it no secret that I do not have kids. I do however have nephews and nieces and I think about how they might react to something they see in a movie or on TV. Would I not want them to see certain things? Of course not. I wouldn’t want to expose them to graphic violence or sex. Besides, it’s not my call what they get to see. The call is up to their parents. Their parents are given a little guide with which to make a decision. Books are changing just as TV has. 25 years ago it was rare to see graphic violence or hear certain cuss words on television. That’s all changed now. Still, as you watch TV you probably notice the little TV-14 in the corner of the screen before the show (or another similar rating).

It’s not about censorship. It’s about keeping people informed. I will continue to write about things I want to write about and if they are violent and full of sex, so be it. That being said, I still like to give a heads up to people so they know what they are getting into before they start reading.

Here are examples of other ratings I’ve seen in books, all voluntary.

From “We Are All Retarded” by Ruby M Jones –

This electronic book voluntarily carries a warning of ADULTS ONLY. The material in this book is intended only for mature audiences. Persons under the age of 18 should not be allowed to read or possess this book because of its frank and explicit nature. Parents are strongly cautioned and warned that this body of work is not intended for children.

Here is the one I put in Rumbling Heart.

This book carries a voluntary audience recommendation of 14+ for language, adult situations, violence, alcohol use, and scenes of dramatic peril. Parents should exercise caution when purchasing this book for younger readers as is it not intended for those age 13 and under.

 


“Dream Catcher” Update

The story is running long in places I would rather it move along a little faster. Editing will be a little bit of a pain, but I am still happy with the story overall. I may not have mentioned this in the past, but the story takes place in the same universe as Rumbling Heart does. It doesn’t continue the story of the other characters though. It moves on to new characters that also live in Eureka, CA. The characters named so far are Casey (Protagonist) Emma, which is another main character as well as supporting characters such as Walt, Carla, and even Joanne Kay (an ode to a friend of mine).

The story focuses on Casey and his life working for the local Eureka newspaper. He’s been lucky in life. He’s never really had to worry about money and his parents are still happily married. He was able to attend college and his high school days were relatively easy and carefree. He’s had the life most of us hope for at 25. Easy, productive, painless. All seems well until he meets Emma, a 21 year old artist he meets at an art festival who’s harboring many secrets. At first, Casey accepts that Emma isn’t your average woman. He realizes she hides things from him, but he’s alright with it…until things start going a little crazy.

As the story progresses, Casey finds himself wanting to know more about her, even to the point of using his connections at the newspaper to find out more about her past. What he discovers is far worse than he could have ever imagined.

Casey thought he knew what it was like to know someone who is damaged. As he digs up Emma’s past, he realizes he knows nothing about true pain.

(This eBook will carry a voluntary rating of 16+ for language, some graphic violence, some crude humor, alcohol use, drug references, and scenes of dramatic peril.)

In Search of the Dream Catcher working cover


Book Release

I was thinking I would release my next refinished work Recorded Butterflies Some time in the early fall. I am rethinking that decision.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing on two separate projects. When I feel exhausted by one I switch to the other. This is going against my regular pattern of sticking with one project till I finish it. I’ve found that the worlds I’ve built in my books are really all the same one. With that thought in mind, I decided to have my new work based in the same world as my current one, but with a whole new cast of characters. I will still finish up the Rumbling Heart series, but the next work after that will have new people, new ideas, and will probably a little more extreme in many regards.

While RH has it’s lighter moments, there isn’t a large amount of comedy in it. The piece I am working on with all new characters is called In Search of the Dream Catcher and it will have more comical or lighthearted bits within it. That being said, I have also decided to make it, at times, much darker than my previous works. There will be a fair amount of grit included in it and I hope it will get people at the very least thinking about certain points and topics. While it’s not a preacher’s piece, it will ask readers to look into uncomfortable situations and have them think about the way the world is. In some ways, it will also consist of material that is even more personal that my past works.

People purposely avoid things that make them uncomfortable. Sometimes they will avoid them even if it means neglecting a friend or a family member. Many of us want to believe that when the chips are down and a friend of ours is hurting, that we will be there to help them. Sure, we all want to think we are the better person. Dream Catcher will drop the situation in your lap and get you questioning your devotion to those ideals.

With all this new information, I am also announcing that with my next release, I will release not one book, but possibly as many as 4 all at one time. Why you might ask?

People don’t like cliffhangers.

I’ve discovered while writing that often times you are forced to end a story at a critical juncture. While it can add to the dramatics of the story, it can also serious annoy your readers. I know, back when I used to watch television, I hated when a series finale was ended with a cliffhanger. It would make me feel ripped off and now suddenly I am being asked to wait all summer till the fall premiere to find out what happens. Don’ you hate that? It’s even worse for something like a movie or a book. In some cases, you have to wait years to find out how it all ends up.

Rumbling Heart, I feel, is a good enough story with a satisfactory ending…and I could have left it right there and I think people would have been alright with it. But no. I had more to write so the story continues and when I am finally done telling it, I don’t want to leave my readers out in the cold. It is my wish to release Recorded Butterflies, Emily Martin, and A Little Pain all at once so if people want, they can read the entire saga one right after the other without having to wait months or years to find out how it all ends. I am forced to break them up into separate books. Otherwise, the story would be about 1600 pages long…and that’s a REALLY big book.

Dream Catcher, as I mentioned, will be in the same world, but with different characters. I am not ruling out bringing back some of my older characters. But I’d like to be able to set them aside so that they don’t overstay their welcome. I think of it as sort of like a television series that’s jumped the shark. You and the rest of the audience knows that it should have ended way back in season 4, yet here it is in season 8 and the characters are turning into shells of what they once were. I never want my characters to end up like that. Can they come by for a little visit? Sure! But once ALP is released, that will be pretty much it for those characters. Could I revisit them in say 10 years? Maybe. We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out. Until then, I am working like mad to finish up these two final works. Release date? I’d like it no later than December, but sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the best way to make things right.

In Search of the Dream Catcher working cover


In Search of the Dream Catcher – A Working Cover

Sometimes I make covers for stories just so I can have a reason to see them through. I’ve paused working on this story, but with the picture in my head now I have reasons to finish it. I’ve shared the photo before, but here is a blog post explaining how I made it and why I used certain elements.

A lot of us write in blogs or diaries or have similar ways of expressing ourselves. I have several ways. This is just one of them. Making covers can be a distraction for me which I sometimes need. When I’m in a terrible mood or look to give myself some work, I make covers. Often times they turn out terrible, but sometimes they look nice enough to share and even to use. I used the pages of several old writings I did when I was in high school. I purposely took the photo in low light to give it an aged effect. I then ran it through photoshop to give the writing an embossed look. I wanted the writing to appear very thick. I wanted it to jump out and grab the attention of the viewer while still looking somewhat unreadable. I wanted the lines on the paper to still appear so it gave it look of normality; like this was something anyone could do at anytime if they wanted. What’s written on the pages? Well, some of the words you can still clearly see while other parts seem like nothing more than jumbled lines. There are also no names or titles which gives a feeling of anonymity.

When I am done working on another project, I will surely get back to this one. I don’t plan on it being extremely long…maybe 275 pages or so. Compared to some of my other works, that’s fairly short.

In Search of the Dream Catcher working cover


Recorded Butterflies – Cover Reveal

Here it is. Simple, nothing splashy. Just the way I like it. Can you find the butterfly? You will probably miss it the first time.


Is Smashwords Even Worth the Trouble?

I’ve been using Smashwords for about a year now and I have to say, they suck…for sales. I’ve sold plenty of books on Amazon. They’re the biggest for ebooks so it makes sense. I’ve sold a few on Barnes and Noble as well. On Smashwords…zero.

For those not familiar with Smashwords.com, they are another place to upload and self publish your work. The site is relatively easy to navigate and their uploader is decent. The only problem is they don’t give me any sales whatsoever. That along with the fact that you have to format your work a certain way and also add a Smashwords.com disclaimer in your book to be considered “eligible” for their premium catalog makes it very hard to like them. In most ebooks, we already place a little copyright message letting people know it’s against the law to redistribute our work without our permission. Smashwords takes it even further, making you practically use the disclaimer they have or no premium catalog for you. With all the hoops I;ve had to jump through with Smashwords, it hardly seems worth the effort. Even with entry into their premium catalog, I’ve recorded exactly no sales from any of my works so why do I keep using it?

I really can’t tell you.

It seems kind of pointless to keep up with it. I do it right now so I can know I have the most exposure for my work, but with no sales generation I am about ready to dump them and just go with Amazon. If anyone can think of a good reason to stick with them, let me know. At this point, I am on my way to pulling all my works from them and just doing Prime Service with Amazon so I can get some free sale days out of them for exposure.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase