Tag Archives: Book Launch

#amtalking: #interview with @authorLeeFrench, Ghost is the New Normal

Author Lee French is a prolific writer, with more than twenty books to her credit. Her work is featured in many anthologies, and she is a driving force in the Pacific Northwest Indie author community. She is a strong proponent of NaNoWrimo, and works with me as Co-Municipal Liaison for the Olympia region. Her insights and commentary regularly crack me up, but more than that I really enjoy her work. Two of her series, The Greatest Sin and Ilauris, have become favorites of mine. Her YA series, Spirit Knights, is an excellent adventure series, completely appropriate for teens and readers of all ages.

CJJ: Your new book, Ghost is the New Normal, is the fourth installment in the Spirit Knights series. This series is set in Portland, Oregon, and features an unusual cast of characters. Claire is sixteen and is in foster care. Her new family has connections to her deceased parents, and this unusual connection is the core of the story. Claire’s father was a Spirit Knight, a member of a group dedicated to hunting ghosts in Portland. Tell us about the Spirit Knights and the story so far.

LF: At its heart, the Spirit Knight series is about the same thing all my books center on—family. The people in your family, whether it’s the family you were born with or not, are the people who affect you the most throughout your life. All three of the primary characters, Claire, Drew, and Justin, have lost their parents, and all three are affected differently by that. It’s how they deal with those issues, feelings of betrayal, survivor’s guilt, abuse, and loneliness that makes their stories worth telling.

CJJ: Claire is a unique girl. She is fun and feisty, a girl who makes mistakes along with her successes. But even when she has stumbled big-time, she picks herself up and keeps going. When did you have the idea to write her story in the first place?

LF: Claire began life as a Werewolf: the Apocalypse character. That’s one of White Wolf’s role-playing games. Her humble beginnings as a relatively dumb, brute-force werewolf provided a foundation for someone who solves problems by punching them in the face. At her core, she’s an exaggeration of the “strong” female character, softened into realism by adding layers of humanity over that.

CJJ: You write in several different genres. As an Indie trying to carve a niche for your work, has that presented a challenge for you?

LF: With work in five different subgenres now, it’s challenging to find readers who like all of it, which means I have to approach each subgenre’s books as a separate entity. I can get crossover between epic and sword & sorcery fantasy, and between superheroes and urban fantasy, but never the twain shall meet, and nothing else intersects with cyberpunk. As a result, my fans are in three disparate groupings. Marketing to one grouping is time consuming and often expensive. Marketing to three is more than I can handle, so I try to take turns with each thing.

TL;DR: Yes, and I don’t recommend it. Stick with your genre until you achieve success in it.

CJJ: You have an eye for graphic design and have done covers for several books. You have also worked with several professional designers. What should the cash-strapped Indie consider when looking and budgeting for a cover designer?

LF: Pre-made covers are economical, and you can see the quality before you buy. If you don’t personally have design skills and software, it’s a good route to take for your first few books. If you do have the skills and materials, it’s important to understand the specific market of book covers in your subgenre. There are expectations about covers, and there are techniques specific to covers that should only be subverted once you understand them. Just like with writing. Research your subgenre and fit into it.

CJJ: If you could go back to your first books and do anything differently what would that be?

LF: At this point, I look back at that first year of publishing and wish I’d known someone who could’ve given me good advice on what to do with those first 5 books. I read lots of advice, but have come to appreciate that some of it wasn’t good. Most specifically, I think I would’ve dumped a lot more money into the first few books, for editing, covers, and initial roll-out. I’ve since gone back and had the editing and covers redone.

CJJ: What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?

LF: Meeting people. I’m horrible at remembering names, I have a hard time digesting information I only get aurally, and I have anxieties that kick in around large groups. Attending parties where the purpose is meeting people in the biz is a special form of torture. As my own sense of personal success builds, I’m getting better at it, but the socializing will always be my least favorite part of this job. After writing blurbs. Blurbs suck more.

CJJ: What has been the biggest happy-dance moment for you as an author?

LF: Joining SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, was always a sort of pie-in-the-sky thing for me, up until I did it as an indie last December. The moments that allowed it to happen—hitting #1 on Amazon in multiple high-level subcategories—were pretty good too. Those kinds of moments help create a sense of legitimacy in my own mind, which helps me convince others I deserve a seat at the table.

CJJ: You and Indie author, Jeffrey Cook, wrote Working the Table, the Bible for Indies who intend to have tables and sell their books at conventions. Tell us a little about that book and how it came about.

LF: Jeff and I worked 32 shows in 2016, plus another dozen or more in 2015. Between the two of us, we climbed the learning curve pretty fast. Watching others work and settling into what we found both comfortable and successful has given us a reputation in the Pacific Northwest among a fair-sized swath of indie authors. A few people suggested we should write a book with all our tips and tricks, which we brushed off because neither of us felt especially wise or learned in the subject. At one show, a friend issued the ultimatum that if we didn’t write it, she would. I did some research and discovered Amazon had no such books, so we wrote it. That book took about 3 months to produce and was probably the least stressful authorial experience I’ve ever had.

CJJ: Where will readers be able to find you this spring and summer?

LF: This is my current schedule through August, but more shows may be added:

  • Wen-Con—Wenatchee, WA
  • Norwescon—Seatac, WA
  • CapitalIndieBookCon—Olympia, WA
  • Miscon—Missoula, MT
  • GEARCon—Portland, OR
  • MALCon—Denver, CO
  • GenCon—Indianapolis, IN

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Lee French can be found blogging on all aspects of her writing life at Scripturience, www.authorleefrench.com

Follow Lee on Twitter: @authorleefrench

Lee’s Facebook page can be found at:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLeeFrench

You can find Lee’s books on Amazon. Her books are also available at Barnes and Noble, Kobo,  and  in all other digital formats as well as in print, and as audio books.

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending too much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don’t get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

She is an active member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Olympia Area Writers Coop, as well as being one of two Municipal Liaisons for the NaNoWriMo Olympia region and a founding member of Clockwork Dragon Books.

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#amwriting: Valley of Sorrows

Map of Aeoven Centaur font full color harvest colorsOn May 1st the final book in the Tower of Bones series, Valley of Sorrows,  will launch. I can’t tell you how much this means to me, to have Edwin’s story complete.

This story winds up two threads, and takes place partly in the Braden Gap, and partly in Aeoven. That gave me the opportunity to draw some new maps, which really made me happy.

And, this book may wind up Edwin’s story, but there will be more tales set in Neveyah–I love that world and the people too much to just walk away from it.

Valley of Sorrows spawned a spin-off book:The Wayward Son. That book is on the editor’s desk and set to be published in August 2016. It is a companion book that takes place concurrently with Forbidden Road and details some, but not all, of the events that occurred in Aeoven during Edwin’s absence.

BradenThe way I ended up writing a companion book is that the original manuscript of Valley of Sorrows was really two separate stories. I didn’t want John’s thread to take away from Edwin, Freidr and Zan’s story, but his background is intriguing–so I took him back to the day he returns to Aeoven, the same day Forbidden Road opens.

While the two stories dovetail in some places, and characters make cameo appearances, this book is not so much a book about the action as it is about a man learning to live again, despite his battle related PTSD.

Two years ago, when I pulled Tower of Bones and Forbidden Road for re-editing I made a bold move–I changed the name of a once-minor character, from Marta to Halee.  I did this, because she suddenly had a major role to play in the both the Wayward Son and the last quarter of Valley of Sorrows. and her name was only one letter off from Marya’s name: Marta…Marya–and they were often in the same scene together. Both books have been selling fairly well and so far, if anyone has noticed, they have not complained.

I really like the way Edwin’s story has gone. In this book he is a good, decent man, who has been pushed to nearly the breaking point, but he is still doing what he has to. As I said, this story ends very differently from what I had originally planned, and I wrote the ending both ways. If you really are curious as to how it ends the book is available for preorders now at Amazon and will go live on May 1,2016:

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LAUNCHING MAY 1, 2016:

The long-awaited conclusion to the Tower of Bones Series

VOS sword left graphics no tower front Cover copyBook III, Valley of Sorrows

A grieving man whose life has gone to hell in his absence,

A son whose action sealed his father’s fate,

A crippled warrior facing his future,

A broken soldier seeking redemption for an unspeakable crime…

Driven by prophecies and racing against time, four mages sacrifice everything in a final bid to save their world from the Children of the Bull God. Can Edwin Farmer  raise the new shield before Lourdan and the Legions of Tauron arrive to conquer Braden?

The Gods are at War, and Neveyah is the Battlefield.

Click here to pre-order Valley of Sorrows

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Happy Earth Day!

I will be celebrating Earth Day in Olympia, Washington at the Procession of the Species and the Arts Walk. Local authors Shannon L Reagan, Jeffrey CookLindsay Schopfer, Lee French, and I will be down at The Pet Works at 4th and Adams for both days of Arts Walk, which runs 5 pm-8 (or maybe 10) on Friday, 4/22 and also from 12 pm-8 on Saturday, 4/23. We’ll be signing books and generally having a blast. A lot will be happening in the parking lot, and several other artists will be sharing the space with us.

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Mountains of the Moon Launches

Map of Neveyah, for MOTM 6-14-2015Mountains of the Moon is the newest release in the World of Neveyah. It is set in the same world as the Tower of Bones series but it is the original story that was written as the storyline for an old-school RPG game, along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games.

A prequel to Tower of Bones, the book follows the adventures of Wynn Farmer as he and his companions travel high into the mountains to stop the Tauron, Bull God, and his minotaurs from overrunning Neveyah. Nothing goes as it’s supposed to, and Wynn’s general naiveté often causes his companions serious trouble.

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015Wynn is seriously ignorant of the world in general, and at the outset, he’s in over his head, and he knows it. This book also introduces several characters as young men,  two of whom play a large role in the Tower of Bones series, Rall Ivarsson, and Jules Brendsson. Both these men figure strongly in later books, and at the time of Tower of Bones, Rall occupies the office of the Holy Seat, guiding the Temple of Aeos, and is the most powerful man in Neveyah.

Wynn’s story is sometimes hilarious and was fun to write–a contrast against the frequently dark situations they find themselves in. The world of Neveyah is a harsh place at times. Magic is a fundamental facet of life there, and many of the magical creatures that inhabit the world are just as deadly as the minotaur hordes of the Bull God.

THE BLURB:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

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Mountains of the Moon is on sale at these fine online stores for $2.99 ebook and $17.99 for paperbook:

Barnes and Noble for Nook or paperback

Amazon.com for Kindle or paperback

Also available at SmashWords in a variety of ebook formats for your phone or tablet!

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FOR CARLIE M.A. CULLEN’S REVIEW OF MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, CLICK HERE Wow! She liked it!

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And also, a reminder that I will be signing books at AFK Elixers and Eatery all afternoon and evening tomorrow, Saturday the 27th of June, 2015. Please–feel free to stop in and chat! I will be there with local authors AJ Downey, Sechin Tower, Lee French,  Lindsay Schopfer, Stephen Matlock, David Moore and Jeffrey Cook.

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Timber Rose, by J.L. Oakley – official launch

Timber RoseToday is the launch of J.L. Oakley’s ‘Timber Rose.’ As a third-generation, life-long resident of the Pacific Northwest, I am proud of our rich history. I know it’s not fantasy, but I am a multidimensional reader and I’ve been looking forward to this book all year. I loved her first book, ‘Tree Soldier.’ 

Oakley will be officially launching  ‘Timber Rose’ at Village Books in Fairhaven, in Bellingham Washington today at  4:00 P.M.  If you are a Northwest resident and can make the drive to Bellingham, by all means do so.

Here is the Blurb on the back of the book:

1907. Women climbing mountains in skirts. Loggers fighting for the eight hour day. The forests and mountains of the North Cascades are alive with  progress, but not everyone is on board. Caroline Symington comes from a prominent family in Portland, Oregon. Much to her family’s dismay, she’s more interested in hiking outdoors and exploring the freedoms of a 1907’s New Woman than fancy parties and money. She plans to marry on her own terms, not her parents. When she falls in love with Bob Alford, an enterprising working-class man who loves the outdoors as much as she, little does she know how sorely her theories will be tested. Betrayed by her jealous sister, Caroline elopes, a decision that causes her father to disown her. The young couple moves to a rugged village in the North Cascade Mountains where Caroline begins a new life as the wife of a forest ranger. Though she loves her life in the mountains as a wife and mother, her isolation and the loss of her family is a challenge. As she searches for meaning among nature, she’s ushered along by a group of like-minded women and a mysterious, mountain man with a tragic past.

‘Timber Rose’ has already received a fine review from Barbara Lloyd McMichael of the Bellingham Herald. Published on April 3, 2014, you can read McMichael’s review of Timber Rose here:  Prequel taps early 20th century for drama.

tree soldierI’ve known and admired J.L. Oakley for several years, having ‘met’ her in the virtual universe in 2011, when we both entered the  ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards) contest that year. This year she entered her book, Tree Soldier, and has made it to the second round of the contest.
Janet is also an active member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, of which I am also a member. She has been a presenter as several PNWA conventions, and is a well-known historian here in the Pacific Northwest.
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And if you are curious to know more about her, here is Janet’s official bio:


About the writer:

Janet Oakley is an award winning author of memoir essays and novels. Her work appears in various magazines, anthologies, and other media including the Cup of Comfort series and Historylink, the on-line encyclopedia of Washington State history.  She writes social studies curricula for schools and historical organizations, demonstrates 19thcentury folkways, and was for many years the curator of education at a small county museum in La Conner, WA.  Her historical novels, The Tree Soldier set in 1930s Pacific NW and The Jossing Affair set in WW II Norway were PNWA Literary Contest finalists.  Tree Soldier went on to win the 2013 EPIC ebook award for historical fiction and grand prize for Chanticleer Book Reviews Lit Contest.

She writes both non-fiction and fiction, applying her research skills to both types of writing.  In 2006 she was the manager of a History Channel grant, researching old court cases in early Washington Territory.

She especially enjoys the hunt in old newspapers, court cases, and other delights in archives around the country.  The history of the Pacific Northwest is rich and not as well known in the rest of the country beyond Lewis and Clark’s passage through, yet crucial happenings took place here that influenced the formation of United State of America.  In December 2012, an article on a  19th century bark that was a part of the coastal trade between Puget’s Sound and San Francisco was published the prestigious Sea Chest.

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This wraps up my post for today, but if you have a chance, get to Village Books in Bellingham and meet Janet, a.k.a. J.L. Oakley.

fort-nistqually-talk-june-6-2012

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HUW the BARD Launch

HTB New Front Cover with gold frameToday is the official launch of HUW THE BARD, a novel set in the alternate medieval world of Waldeyn.

I am doing something quite unique, for me–I am hosting a Virtual Launch Party via Facebook, complete with virtual canapes, champagne, and caviar. The link for this event is here: Huw The Bard Launch Party. Any and all are welcome to stop by and share in the revelry.

This is the hard part of going the indie route–I wrote, had it edited, got it published, and now I have to sell it. There is an art to this, I ‘m sure! Some people with moderately good books are quite successful, and others with truly great books, not so much.  Even Charles Dickens had trouble selling his work, back in the early days of publishing. In fact, most of the early authors of books we now consider classics were unheard of in their own time, except by a few intrepid readers.

So now, in this modern era of social media, I am trying to let the world know I wrote a book. I want folks who might be interested in it to be able to find it.

But I want to do this in such a way that I am not spamming my Facebook friends — because they get enough of that already without me adding to it. Hence, my launch party, open to the public and of course, my friends. How this will go, I don’t know, but I have been looking at other avenues of exposure, and now begins the (tasteful) twitter campaign. Also, many of my friends are supporting me by posting reviews, excerpts and cover reveals on their blogs, which is a huge help.

Carlie M.A. Cullen posted a lovely review.

Maria V.A. Johnson also posted a great review.

Fresh Pot of Tea, Alison DeLuca hosted the cover reveal, and posted an excerpt of the book.

So if you are available, feel free to stop on by  the Launch Party, have a virtual canape and swap a joke or two with me and my friends. I will be posting medieval music that I have come across on YouTube, and of course, we will talk about the book.

HUW THE BARD on Amazon.com

YouTube video book trailer featuring the music of Tom Cusack

 

Lute onBlack Background

 

 

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