Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: publishing (Page 1 of 22)

Nocturnal Rebellion is available for pre-order

Whew, finally!

Nocturnal Rebellion is now available for pre-order.

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

It’s Monday. Nose, meet grindstone

First off, the pre-order for Nocturnal Rebellion should go live late tonight or early in the morning (fingers crossed). It is later than I wanted or anticipated but, as is so often the case, real life interfered. I learned long ago when that happens, it is best to wait it out instead of trying to push through. Mistakes happen when I’m too distracted by real life and I don’t want to hurt a book by not giving it my all.

Unfortunately, this means I am behind on several other things as well. Today and tomorrow, hopefully, I can get caught up on some of them. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, the updates for Vengeance from Ashes for the expanded edition are rolling along. (The link is to the original edition.) It is odd going back to a book I wrote several years ago and knowing this is my chance to make it into the book I initially visualized. I’m not knocking the original. I love it and I had a blast writing it. But I only had a vague idea where the series was going at that point. Now that idea has solidified — as it should since I’m three books and several short stories into it — and things I hesitated to put into the original can now be woven back in. I can’t wait for you to see the final result.

Now I need to figure out what I’m going to work on next. Yes, I know. I am supposed to have a schedule and I do, of a sorts. But the muse is being unnaturally quiet right now and that is kind of scary. It usually means she is about to hit me with something I most definitely hadn’t planned on. So, in order to head her off at the proverbial pass, I’m looking at what I have planned, what I have already roughed out and will decide in the next day or two what it will be.

Of course, Myrtle the Evil Muse says she has the right to object — of course, she does. She’s evil. Sigh.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes. It is still in rough (as in I haven’t done spell check, etc) format. For those of you who have read the original, you will see a few alterations from the original, nothing that changes the story in any way.

***

“Prisoner Four One Niner Baker One-A, prepare for transfer,” a disembodied voice said from the overhead speaker.

Lips pulled back, teeth bared in an animalistic sneer, the prisoner sat up and swung her legs over the side of her bunk. As she stood, she turned away from the cell door. Her hands automatically went behind her head, fingers lacing. Almost without thought, she sank to her knees, legs spread, ankles crossed. Then, realizing what she had done, she cursed silently, hating herself and those responsible for bringing her to this state.

Two years. Two very long years in Hell had taught her how to act. Her body responded automatically to the commands barked at her. Only when she allowed her mind to surface, to let herself fully experience what was going on around her, did she hesitate. But not this time. There was no reason to disobey, no threat yet to meet.

Those years may have taught her all too painfully how to act, but they hadn’t broken her. Not yet at any rate. Even so, they had come close. Two years cut off from those she cared for, from almost all human contact. Stripped of even the most basic of human rights and dignity, she knew she was little more than an animal to break and tame to those in charge. She knew it just as she knew she could do nothing about it.

Just as she knew she’d been betrayed by the government she’d served and had been ready to die for.

What she didn’t know was why. Why had she been betrayed? Worse, why had those who’d served loyally at her side been targeted?

The soft swoosh of the heavily armored door sliding open broke the silence of the small cell a few moments later. With her back to it, she couldn’t see who entered, not that she wanted to. One of the first lessons she had learned after arriving at the Tarsus military penal colony was not to look. That had been a very painful lesson, one that landed her in the prison’s infirmary for several days. It was also a mistake she’d never repeated.

That had been one of many lessons she’d been forced to endure since arriving there. With the commandant’s tacit – hell, as far as she knew it was his overt – approval, the guards could be as sadistic as they wanted. Correction for even the most insignificant infraction might take the form of a rifle butt to the ribs or kidney, and that was if she was lucky. If not, the beating that followed would leave her hurting so badly she could barely move. Even then, the guards wouldn’t send her to the infirmary. After all, it was so much more fun to watch her suffer, reminding her that she alone was responsible for what had happened.

Fortunately, she’d heard the horror stories before arriving at the penal colony. Even though she hadn’t been ready to believe them, they had helped prepare her for what she’d face. Even so, it had been a shock the first time one of the guards beat her down for asking what would have been a simple question on the outside. That had been enough to convince her that the best course of action was to remain silent unless it was imperative that she speak. That wasn’t to say there hadn’t been times when circumstances forced her to break that rule and she bore the scars to prove it. All she wanted now was to live through the remainder of her prison term. Survival was the first goal. Vengeance would come later. Not for her, but for those brave and loyal souls who had followed her despite her protests and who had paid the ultimate price as a result.

She swallowed hard, forcing her mind away from past horrors, as boots clomped across the small cell in her direction. A rough hand grabbed her right arm, twisting it painfully behind her back. She flinched as a security cuff was locked tightly around that wrist. Her breath hissed out as the process was repeated with her left arm. Moments later, similar restraints were fastened about her ankles. Then a gloved hand closed around her left arm and jerked her to her feet.

Guard Captain Gavin Haritos spun her to face him, grinning sadistically. His fist caught her with a vicious backhand. With a sharp cry of pain, she staggered back. The short chain connecting her ankles tripped her. Only the man’s quick grab at the front of her jumpsuit kept her from falling. He pulled her forward and, with the ease of much practice, draped a heavy hood over her head before she could react.

Haritos’ cruel grip on her arm kept her on her feet as he hauled her out of her cell and down the long corridor. Blood pounded in her ears, almost deafening her. Fear and hatred raced through her, sparking every fiber of her survival instincts. She knew this was going to be bad, very bad. It always was when the guard captain came for her. But she could do nothing to stop him, at least not yet.

“This is your lucky day, bitch.” Haritos shoved her into one of the three lifts at the end of the corridor and she heard him slam his fist against the control panel. A moment later, the lift gave a slight lurch and she felt the car start downward. “You’re being transferred, Shaw. But don’t get your hopes up that it means the rules no longer apply because they do. If you’re smart, you’ll remember those poor bastards sentenced here with you. Everything you say and do from now on impacts them.”

A soft moan escaped her lips before she could stop it and fear raced like an open current through her. No matter how many times she’d been in this position before, she couldn’t help it. A transfer could mean almost anything, none of it good. Not as long as the survivors of her unit were still on Tarsus.

Bile rose in her throat as the lift came to a sudden halt. But it wasn’t that which caused her breath to catch. The guard captain’s low chuckle sent a shiver of fear down her spine. Once before he had stopped the lift short of their destination. He’d told her then it was time to deliver a warning.

Warning!

He had beaten her so badly that day she had prayed for death. Was he about to repeat that performance? If so, why? She had done nothing to break the rules. She hadn’t been out of her cell in weeks, her only contact had been with the guards who checked on her three times a day.

Without warning, Haritos’ fist connected with her stomach. Pain doubled her over. Tears filled her eyes beneath the hood and she fought the urge to vomit. The neck of her jumpsuit tightened uncomfortably at her throat as the guard captain’s hand fisted in the material. Using it to hold her in place, he continued his assault. Her head snapped back and she tasted blood. She lost track of the number of times he struck or where each blow landed. All she could do was stand there, held in place by the hand at her collar, and pray the beating ended soon.

Suddenly, Haritos released her and she fell to the floor of the lift. Before she could struggle to her knees, his heavy boot caught her in the ribs. Once, twice, he struck, each time forcing her to cry out in pain. Her ribs ached and it hurt to breathe. Her face, especially her nose, throbbed with each beat of her pulse. From the stuffiness of her nose, she knew Haritos had broken it – again. Her right eye felt puffy, swollen. It had been a long time since she had been beaten this badly and why?

Why now?

“Listen carefully, bitch,” Haritos growled as he once more hauled her to her feet. “This is only a temporary respite for you. Sooner or later, you will be sent back. Remember your people are still here and we can do whatever we want with them. So keep your mouth shut. We’ll know if you do or say anything about your time here.”

To her surprise, Haritos said nothing more. That was unusual. Whenever he’d come for her before, he’d taken perverse pleasure in detailing what horrors awaited her. The fact he’d gone silent worried her. And what did he mean by this being a respite and she would be back?

Dear God, what was happening?

Haritos remained silent as he forced her off the lift. Doors opened and then closed behind them. She didn’t know how to react when, for the first time in months, she felt the sun beating down on her. They were outside. But why? Where were they going?

It didn’t take long to find out. Haritos led her up a ramp. The hood obscured her sight, but she could hear the muffled sounds of a crew working to prepare a shuttle, maybe even a courier ship, for launch. Haritos pulled her to a halt and told her to stand still. Then he released his hold on her arm and she sensed that he had moved a short distance away. There were soft voices. Straining to hear, she only caught a few words. Transfer. . . prisoner. . . dangerous. . . tried to escape. . . take no chances. . . don’t listen to anything she says. . . .

Dear God, was she actually being transferred out of the Tarsus penal colony?

Hope flared only to die as quickly as it had been born. She remembered Haritos’ warning. Her people, those few who had survived the ambush only to be betrayed by those who should have stood for them, were being left behind. That meant she had to do as the guard captain said. Otherwise, her people were as good as dead.

No!

Before she could do anything – not that there was much she could do, bound and hooded as she was – Haritos was once more at her side. She stumbled forward as he grabbed her and led her further up the ramp. He hissed one last warning not to do anything foolish. Then he turned her over to someone else. Flanked on both sides by unseen guards, she was led into another lift. A few minutes later, her restraints were removed and then her hood and she found herself standing in the center of a small cell. She didn’t need to hear the announcement for all hands to prepare for departure to know she was on a ship. But a ship to where?

And what about those who’d been sent to the penal colony with her? Why weren’t they being transferred with her?

Now, almost a week later, she stood in yet another cell, this one planetside, and worry warred with anger. She’d overheard enough from the guards on the transport to know her fears were true – the others had been left behind on the penal colony.

That’s when an anger so great it overrode the fear of the unknown had flowed through her. For the first time in two years, she’d been separated from the survivors of her unit, those poor, brave souls who had fallowed her into hell and back only to find themselves brought up on charges right along with her. It didn’t matter that the commandant of the penal colony hadn’t let her see her people. She’d managed to get word of them from time to time and that had been enough to let her know they were all right – or at least as all right as anyone could be after being sentenced to the Tarsus penal colony.

It still amazed her how the prison grapevine managed to keep tabs on everyone and pass along information. It might be inconsistent, but it was there and it had been all that kept her sane. She’d never thought herself a social animal, but two years of rarely seeing anyone but her jailers had been almost more than she could handle. Thank God for the grapevine and the bits of information it brought her.

During transport from the penal colony, no one had told her anything. Held in the transport ship’s brig, she had no opportunity to learn anything about their destination or why she had been taken from Tarsus. A guard brought her food and drink at regular intervals but he never said a word that wasn’t necessary. He certainly hadn’t volunteered any information. Still, she’d managed to work out that she was alone in the brig by the way his steps never stopped before he appeared at her cell door and because no one had responded when she’d tapped out messages using the code learned on Tarsus.

She had just noticed the slightest change in the rhythm of the ship’s engines, indicating it had assumed orbit somewhere, when another guard arrived with a change of clothes for her. She’d looked at the plain black jumpsuit with suspicious eyes. Nothing about it marked her as a prisoner. It could have been something worn by almost any worker on the docks or in a warehouse. That should have reassured her but for one thing. There was nothing about the guard’s manner to indicate she was about to be freed. In that moment, she’d come the closest to breaking her rule of “never ask a question you don’t know the answer to” than she had been since her first few days on Tarsus.

Half an hour later, she’d been seated on a shuttle. The guards had secured her hands behind her back before locking her safety harness in place but they hadn’t hooded her. They obviously weren’t worried about her recognizing where she was. Of course, the only way she could do that was if she could actually see something of the lay of the land. So she’d craned her neck in an effort to see into the shuttle’s cockpit. One corner of her mouth lifted ever so slightly at the sight of the high rises ahead of them. Her heart beat a bit faster and her breath caught as she recognized the skyline of Fuercon’s capital city. New Kilrain. She was home. But why?

Now, after being processed into the same military brig where she’d been held during her trial, she still didn’t know why she’d been brought back home. It couldn’t be good. They may have taken away her prison issued jumpsuit, but she’d still been brought there shackled and had been processed into the brig as quickly as humanly possible. It had almost been as if FleetCom was afraid word of her return might leak out. But why?

Damn it, what was going on?

Of course, there’d been no explanation. Nor had she asked for one. It would be a long time before she forgot that lesson. Too much talking, too much curiosity was a bad thing that almost always resulted in painful punishment. She might not be on Tarsus any longer but that didn’t mean things would be any different here. After all, who policed the jailers? No one, at least not on Tarsus and she wasn’t willing to risk it now that she was home. That was especially true after the way she and the others had been betrayed by those they’d been loyal to

Freed of her restraints and alone, she looked around. One cell was pretty much like any other. Across from the door was a narrow bunk. Hygiene facilities were at the foot of the bunk. It was almost exactly like her cell back on Tarsus. There was nothing she could use to escape and nothing she could use to kill herself, not that she planned on taking that route out. At least not anymore. No, there were others who needed to die before she did.

“Prisoner is secured,” the guard who had brought her to the cell radioed as he stepped back.

Ashlyn Shaw, former Marine captain, didn’t move. Instead, she stood in the center of the small cell, her brown eyes focused on some point beyond the guard, her hands behind her back even though the restraints had been removed. As the security field across the cell door activated, she gave no sign of realizing it even though the faint, high pitched hum was something she’d learned to listen for over the last two years. That sound, like a distant bunch of angry bees, meant she’d fry her nervous system long before pushing through the field. Freedom might look close, but she’d be dead – or worse – before she actually found it.

At least the guard didn’t close the physical door. For the first time in what had to be months, she could look beyond the confines of her cell. It might not be the same cell she’d occupied since her conviction. Hell, this wasn’t even the same planet. That didn’t matter. All that did was the fact that the open cell door gave her at least some semblance of not being completely cut off from all other life on the planet.

As the guard disappeared from sight, Ashlyn remained where she was, motionless except for the rise and fall of her chest and the slow blinking of her eyes. She listened, counting his footsteps as they slowly faded away. When she’d been escorted to the cell, she had focused on what was directly in front of her. She had not wanted to give the guards on duty the satisfaction of seeing her look around in curiosity. Now, with only silence filling the air, she allowed herself to relax a just a little.

Once convinced the guard was gone, she moved to the door, careful not to get too close to the security field. Looking to her left, she couldn’t tell how far away he might be. All she knew for certain was that her cell was located at the end of the corridor, the door situated so she couldn’t see much beyond the far edge of the cell. So there might be any number of other prisoners close by but, for all intents and purposes, she was alone – again.

That was fine. Alone meant fewer chances for anyone to figure out what she planned. But it also meant she had to keep up appearances. She couldn’t let them guess what she had in mind. So she lay on her bunk, her back to the doorway. She wouldn’t let those she knew were watching over security monitors see her curiosity or her concern.

This was as close to home as she was likely to get in a very long while. If the opportunity to escape presented itself, she’d take it and be damned with waiting on the military courts to finally get it right. Once free, she’d deal with everyone who had betrayed her and then she’d find a way to free those who had been sent to the penal colony with her. After that, she really didn’t give a damn about what happened.

***

I hope you enjoyed the snippet. Until later!

 

Another United Miss and an Update

A quick post this morning. The next few weeks are going to be busy, busy, busy. I think I’ve figured out what the problem is with the conversion of Nocturnal Rebellion. I’m going to do a trial run this morning — after my second cup of coffee. If everything works, I’ll follow by uploading it to Amazon and putting it up for pre-sale. Once I have, and once it goes live, I’ll let you know.

Not only am I doing that but I am working on the “special editions” of the Honor and Duty series. More specifically, I’m working on Vengeance from Ashes right now. While the expanded editions won’t change the overall story arc, they will provide more of Ashlyn’s backstory as well as adding some scenes I cut from the originals. I’m really excited to get VfA to my beta readers by the first of the week to see what they think.

Once that is done, I’m going to take a couple of weeks (well, probably a month) to write something a bit lighter. That means a revisit to the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. I have several things already drafted that just need to be fleshed out. More on that later.

In the meantime, real life continues to happen. It wouldn’t be a normal week without hearing yet another story about United Airlines. How long is it going to be before the feds finally step in and start fining them enough that they either sell or get their act together?

This time, a mother and her three-year-old son were flying from Hawaii to, iirc, Boston. One one of the connecting legs of their trip, mother and son went through check-in, their tickets were scanned and they were seated, waiting for take-off. Along comes a flight attendant who asked if the child belonged to the mother and she, naturally, said yes. A few moments later, another passenger came up and said that the seat the child was in was his. Yep, you guessed it. He was a standby passenger who paid a whopping $75 or so for his ticket as opposed to the close to $1,000 the mother paid for her son’s ticket. He gets to stay on the flight and she has to hold the young child in her lap for a three hour (approximately) flight.

In an interview with the mother, she explained she was afraid to cause a scene, referring to what happened when the doctor was dragged off another United flight last year. Plus, she had her son with her and didn’t want to risk anything happening to him. I can’t blame her for that. United, in return, offered her compensation as a “gesture of goodwill” days after this happened and they have said they will make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

The official explanation is that the child’s ticket wasn’t scanned right, so it didn’t look like he had boarded. That let them offer his seat to a standby passenger. Now, I have a problem with this. For one, they had eyes on the child as evidenced by the flight attendant coming by and asking the mother if the child was hers. For another, even if they made a mistake, it would have cost them a lot less in the long run — both financially and in good will — to have told the standby passenger they’d made a mistake than to have the woman hold her son in a manner the FAA says is unsafe for a lengthy flight. Oh, and it is against United’s own policy to have a child more than two-years-old sitting in a parent’s lap for a flight.

This is yet another indication of problems within the United culture. They look at the immediate dollars they can put in their pockets over the long term damage such actions might have. It is clear they are failing in their training regimen as well. The flight attendant should have either questioned how old the child was and then why he didn’t have a ticket or they should have informed the pilot and ticketing agent they had a violation of their own policy if the child was forced to ride in the parent’s lap.

But no. It was more important to get that whopping $75 from the standby passenger. How much is that decision going to cost them?

United, for your continued survival, you need to wake up and start acting like a responsible business.

Update and a few thoughts

It’s done and with many thanks to Sarah A. Hoyt for the cover design. Now that I have it in hand, I’ll finish up the edits and get Rebellion up for pre-order Monday or Tuesday of next week. Pre-order will be for a shorter period than I usually do and those who pre-order will get a discount on pricing. I’ll announce when I set it up.

I love this book. It was harder to write in a number of ways than the other books. Not because it basically ends the current story arc, although that was part of it, but because of what I put some of the characters through. No one gets through this book unscathed in one way or another. But let’s be honest, you can’t go through life without taking a few knocks or stumbling some here and there.

I also started the real work of pulling together the special edition of Vengeance from Ashes yesterday. The storyline for the book and the series remains the same. The special editions will simply add material — a scene or chapter here and there. Think of it as the director’s cut of a movie. It’s fun not only because I’ve learned a great deal as I’ve written these books but because I get to go back in and add some material that will bring more depth not only to the characters but to the overall plot.

I’m also starting the real work of turning the very rough draft of Victory from Ashes (still not sure about that title) into something publishable. I have the cover for that book, sans tagline, in hand but I want to talk with Sarah about tweaking a part of it before the book comes out. As with Rebellion, Victory will wrap up at least a major part of the current story arc for the Honor and Duty Series. Also like Rebellion, it won’t mean the end of the series or characters, at least not all the characters. You never know who will die in a war and that is what Ashlyn and company face now. In order to keep the series interesting to me and to you, it is time to move on to the next phase of the story and see what happens next.

Now I’m off to find more coffee and hopefully wake up enough to get to work. Remember that Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the Nocturnal Lives series is currently on sale for $0.99.

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

 

State of Saturday

Soggy.

Very soggy.

Fans are set up drying out baseboards and drywall. Carpet is pulled back and fans are on it. The sun is out for a bit but more rain is coming in. The estimated rainfall for my neighborhood is nearing 4″ in less than 18 hours with more on the way.

But, with everything on hold right now, I’ve started the final read-through of Nocturnal Rebellion. I really love this book and hope you guys do too. Now to find more caffeine and get back to work.

Later!

Random Thoughts

A couple of things caught my eye this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and scanning headlines and social media. The first is that I am really, REALLY glad I don’t have to be on I-30 this morning in Arlington. Traffic is never fun during rush hour but this morning it is much worse than usual. Several hours ago, police began a slow speed chase in Hunt County of an RV. According to reports, the driver allegedly shot a woman who managed to escape and call for help. However, there were children onboard so the cops had to act carefully to make sure nothing happened to them. Long story short, the RV caught fire in Arlington. Fortunately for the kids, the man did go to the back where they were and let them out. Then, according to latest reports, he shot himself. Tragic events that could have been much worse. Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will learn more about what started this terrible chain of events but, no matter what, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved and most especially to the kids.

I’ve kept quiet, for the most part, about what happened in Manchester. For one, I wanted more information before commenting. However, as it becomes more certain the bomber was an Islamic extremist, I have a couple of things to say. First, we can’t condemn every follower of Islam for what this man — and I use that term loosely — did. As with any religion, there are fanatics. Islam has more than its fair share but to paint them all with the same brush would be just as wrong as painting every Christian with the same brush as Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps.

Second, we can no longer sit back and rely on memes and hashtags and “I stand with …” to fight back against those like the bomber. It is time to cut the head off the snake, salt the ground, saturate it with pig’ blood and end the matter. ISIL and organizations like is hide behind the Koran, knowing the West will bend because they are simply following their “religion”. Nope. They are not religious warriors. They are terrorists and the sooner we deal with them as such, the better. We are at war and, whether we want to admit it or not, war is not civilized. We can’t expect the enemy to play by any rules, much less ones we try to impose on them. It is time we adapt and overcome. If not, we will continue to see soft targets being hit and, next time, it might just be on U.S. soil.

On a lighter note, it’s 40 years ago that Star Wars opened. Some of us remember when there were no prequels — hiss, burn them!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased or downloaded through KU, Battle Wounds. I have a favor to ask as well as a question. The favor is simple. If you’ve read Battle Wounds, or any of my other work, would you take a few minutes and go to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. The thing is, reviews help not only entice other readers but Amazon has a threshold number of reviews you have to reach before it starts listing your title in the “other customers bought” section.

Now the question. It takes time to write novels — duh. I’m averaging one every 3 – 4 months. There are a lot of variables. Sometimes is isn’t quite as long and other times it is a bit longer. So, would you like to see more short stories, not only in the Honor and Duty series but my other series as well, in between? This wouldn’t impact release times for the novels. Let me know.

I guess it’s time to get to work. Nocturnal Rebellion is coming along. It looks to be on target to come out next month. Target date is June 20th, give or take a day or three.

A few thoughts.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller. I made up stories when I was young to entertain myself and, later, my friends. Once I learned how to write, I started putting my stories on paper. Somewhere, I have an old spiral notebook with what would now be called fanfic (I didn’t know the term back then) that I showed my 7th grade English teacher. I’ve kept it all these years because she was the first to actually see my creative writing. That was important all on it own. Making it more so is the fact she encouraged me to keep writing.

Now that I write as my profession, I face the same challenge every other writer and want-to-be writer faces — how to get my work out in front of the public. There is no one right way to do so. What works for one person might not work for the next. It is also hard work and something we have to dedicate time to doing. Because self-promotion isn’t something that comes easy to a lot of us, the temptation to take shortcuts is very real. Some authors, and even some publishers, succumb to it. They might get away with it for awhile but they are eventually caught.

Authors have had their accounts closed at Amazon and other e-stores for buying reviews or for creating sock puppet accounts and posting reviews of their own work. It is clearly written out in the rules, and easily found if you search the FAQs at Author Central that an author can’t review his own work. I’ve seen reports of Amazon not allowing friends and family post reviews — those reports have not been substantiated, at least not that I’ve seen but it is something to think about. Amazon has even initiated a rule, iirc, where paid reviews have to be noted as such.

Why has Amazon taken this stance? I can’t speak for them but my guess is it is two-fold. The first is that there is a very definite ethical issue with an author posting reviews for his own work. The second is probably more important to Amazon. It comes down to the bottom line. False reviews, be their bought or straw man reviews, impact the number of books sold and the last thing Amazon wants to do is deal with returns when the customer realizes they’ve been had.

So, when I see authors wanting to review their own work (and, at last count, I’d seen approximately half a dozen contemplating it in the last six weeks or so), my radar goes off. If you are so worried about your ranking that you are contemplating reviewing your own work to get said ranking up, you need to step back and consider why readers aren’t liking your book — or why they aren’t leaving reviews. It’s hard, I know, to look at your baby and admit it might be ugly. But it is necessary sometimes.

Facebook groups and mailing lists are another sore point for a lot of people. Authors, usually indies and that pains me to say it, all too often add people to their groups or pages or mailing lists without asking permission. Don’t. Just don’t. When folks find out they’ve been added without permission you risk not only having them leaving the group but blocking you. That means they won’t see your announcements about upcoming projects or sales. It might also mean they tell their friends what happened, leading to more bad PR for you. The same goes with mailing lists.

This morning, I woke to a couple of emails from the same author but from two different mailing lists. Both had the same message. I posted a generic message on Facebook about how I didn’t want to be added to groups or pages or lists without being asked and that if you have a mailing list, make sure you aren’t sending out multiple copies of the same message to people. Considering the number of folks I’ve seen similar posts from recently, I’m not the only one having this sort of trouble, whether with the same authors or others.

Anyway, the author saw my post and admitted he was the guilty party. That’s his right. Just as it is his right to be a bit defensive about what I said and his own motivations. However, in the end, he asked what he could do to promote his work if it wasn’t by doing this sort of thing.

My first reaction, one I didn’t follow because I was on my way out the door, was to say not to own up to being the guilty party in public. For one, we are in a private writers group on FB where he could ask. If he didn’t want to do that, he could have PM’d me. No, he wanted to do it in public and he is going to have to deal with the consequences of it.

Now, I’ll admit, none of the instances I’ve mentioned rise to the “OMFG, have you lost your mind” level of bad author behavior we’ve seen some folks do. There have been cases of traditionally published authors going off on their editors in public, commenting on not only the editor’s work but getting profane about other aspects as well. Talk about killing one’s career. Then there are the authors who have made it their life’s work to rebut, usually with a full head of steam and no thought to the consequences, every negative review given on their work.

So, no, these two scenarios are nowhere near that level. However, as indie authors we fight an uphill battle. Part of that is a battle of appearances. As I discovered last week, using one word you didn’t mean to can bring down an avalanche of condemnation. Doing anything that doesn’t appear to be on the up-and-up does the same thing. So when I see an author saying she’s putting a book up for a certain award of hers up for an award and wants you to vote for it and spread the word, I take a step back from that author. Sure, ask your fans to nominate the book if they think it worthy, but don’t nominate yourself. That’s like reviewing your own work.

But that’s just me. To each his own.

Shrug. Just remember that people might not remember an author’s name if they dislike what that person does but they will remember the author was an indie. That is changing but that stigma that we aren’t quite good enough, haven’t paid our dues and are taking shortcuts still exists in the minds of all too many. So let’s not play into their hands.

 

Release Day!

It’s here. It’s finally here. Battle Wounds is live on Amazon.

Battle Wounds is the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned. It will probably come out around the time the next book in the series does because, well, that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided and I learned long ago that it is easier to give in to her than to try to fight.

Anyway, I’m excited to finally release Battle Wounds into the world. Here’s the blurb:

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

 

Quick update

Just a quick post this morning. Real life called, demanding my full attention until later today. But the good news is Battle Wounds is off to the beta readers and, unless they find something really off with it, it will be released Tuesday as planned.

This short story has been a battle, not so much to write but to keep it from turning into more than it is. When I first planned the short, it was with much the same eye as the other shorts in the series. I wanted to give the readers a little insight into Ashlyn Shaw’s background, the events that helped shape her into the person she was when Vengeance from Ashes opened.

What I hadn’t expected was for the threads that have been laid in the three novels to find their start in this short story. That slowed me down because I didn’t want to give away what is going to happen in the novels (in case someone reading the short stories hasn’t read the novels yet). So that took a bit of finessing and, as I wait to hear back from my beta readers, I’m hoping I managed to do it.

Once I get the story back and make any edits necessary, it will be converted and uploaded to Amazon. Then it will be time to finish Nocturnal Rebellion. After that, Victory from Ashes (which will probably be renamed) and so much more. But, for now, I’m off to deal with real life stuff and will hopefully be back with a second post later today.

In case I’m not, have a great weekend and read a book!

TGIF

The title says it all.

Not that I’m taking the weekend off. There’s remodeling of the bathroom to do and writing — lots of writing — and somewhere along the line, I’d like to sleep. But it’s Friday and that has to count for something. Right?

So, let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way before I forget it. Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor and Duty series, will be published a week from Tuesday. If I remember correctly, that will be the 16th. Since it’s a short story, I’m not putting it up for pre-order. But I will make an announcement when it is uploaded and then when it goes live. So keep checking here and on Facebook.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to a short snippet from Battle Wounds.

What else?

Oh, another book recommendation (and I will have more tomorrow). If you are a fan of space opera, you need to check out Sarah A. Hoyt’s latest entry into her Darkship series, Darkship Revenge. This is one of my favorites in the series.

After winning the civil war in Eden, Athena returns to her calling, collecting powerpods with her husband Kit. Now weeks away from Earth, she goes into labor. To make matters worse, a strange ship attacks Athena and Kit’s Cathouse and kidnaps Athena’s husband. That ship is called Je Reviens. It’s a named steeped in history—and not the good kind of history.

Hot on Kit’s trail, Athena discovers that you shouldn’t name a ship Je Reviens unless you intend it to return. The genetically modified Mules are back, and they have a plan to prevent themselves from being exiled ever again. And if the Mules win, the best thing humanity can hope for is slavery.

The worst is death.

While a bio-engineered plague wreaks havoc on the forces of liberty, Athena must risk herself, her husband, and her child for the survival of humanity.

The Mules may be about to find out what revenge truly is: one angry mother.

 

 

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