Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Writing Belle

Merry Christmas! Here's to wishing you a wonderful, fabulous, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime holiday season! Stay safe over the holidays and be sure to read lots of books. And eat plenty of cookies! As for myself, I will be enjoying a couple of precious days of Christmas fun with the family and friends before I finish the preparations for releasing State of Rebellion on January 24th. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Barriers to International eBook Sales: Guest Post by Tara Maya

Tara Maya is the author of The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate, an epic fantasy for young adults. She has a successful blog/website, and is one of those writers that draws on a myriad of life experiences to create her sweeping stories. Today Tara is talking about some of the aspects of selling eBooks on the international market. Included below her guest post is information about her book - along with an excerpt - and links to find out more about her. 


3 Barriers to Ebooks on the International Market

There are three important barriers to selling ebooks on an open international market.

Technological Barriers
As far as your computer is concerned, there should be no international borders. The internet is global, but there are connectivity issues for some countries. The United States has the greatest penetration of ereaders, with the UK about a year behind, and other countries behind that.

Eventually, however, most countries will probably make the same leap from paper to ereaders. Third World countries where paper books are expensive may leapfrog directly to ereaders in the long term.

Penetration of the ebook technology impacts sales in the short term, but is it a good idea to sell international right (while keeping US or UK rights)? Of course, this will depend on the author, but in the long term, authors should assume that the entire global market will switch mainly to ebooks.

Legal Barriers
Traditionally, authors sold rights to publish their work separately through different local publishers on a national basis. Nations, meanwhile, regulated books sales within their borders. The two systems meshed.

Now, in theory, indie sellers on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and other international venders, can opt to sell their books worldwide in one swoop. Yay!

Unfortunately, the laws of the various states still impede free global commerce. Many states have protectionist laws, which apply both to merchandise in general, and—unfortunately—ebooks in particular. A number of countries have prejudicial taxes levied against ebooks (but not paperbacks) or against international venders (to support government-favored businesses).

A more serious problem in some nations (such as China or Iran) is censorship. Not long ago, for instance, China passed a bizarre law forbidding time travel as a literary device in fiction. While the recent Star Trek movie has made me sympathetic to this urge, it’s obvious that such laws are extremely hostile to both an open market and the flowering of the creative arts.

Language Barriers
Even if technological penetration proceeded evenly and if there were no protectionist or censorship laws imposed by nation states, a huge barrier remains from the point of view of an author selling ebooks internationally. This is the oldest barrier to intellectual cooperation of them all, the language barrier.

Writers using English have access to the largest and most progressive ebook market, and therefore are going to be most tempted to ignore other markets. Writers in Lithuanian are more likely to pursue translation.

There are three possible solutions to the translation problem. One is better translation software, but this seems remote at the moment. Present generation software translators do not even suffice to translate email legibly, never mind literature.

The other is a more accessible service market of translators. Right now most qualified translators will not work on spec, and the cost of their services is well beyond what indies can afford.

One third option would be if a large company such as Amazon, Google, Kobo or some new player, were to have their own team of translators (perhaps aided by software to make their work economically practical) who would offer to translate books sold through their sites. They could vastly increase the number of books they could offer to international customers, and by keeping translators on salary, decrease the risk to translators of translating less popular works.

Meanwhile, any author who can make their book available in languages like French, Japanese or German can take advantage of the smaller pool of competitors.


The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya


Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn't appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

"Join our circle, Dindi!" the fae voices gurgled under the water. "Dance with us forever!"

"No!" She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, "Dispel!" but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn't be coming up again.

"Dispel!" It was a man's voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

"Better?" he asked.

She nodded. He was young--only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

"Good." He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi's hand touched skin--he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

"It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that," he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. "What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?"

About Tara Maya 
 Tara Maya has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She's pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies.

Tara’s blog http://bit.ly/12dFdNy
Tara’s Twitter http://bit.ly/162sCtE
The Unfinished Song on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1400mMq
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cover Reveal for STATE OF REBELLION (and release day sign-ups)

Title: State of Rebellion 
Series: Collapse Series #3 
Author: Summer Lane 
Release Date: January 24th, 2014 
Publisher: WBP 

Everything has changed. 
After a devastating ambush that left the militia group Freedom Fighters struggling to survive, Cassidy Hart has been lucky to escape with her life. 
Along with her Commander and former Navy SEAL Chris Young, she's made a shocking discovery concerning the whereabouts of her father. The militias have moved further into the mountains. And the secret that is kept there will come with a price. 

But when the National Guard arrives, Cassidy is faced with a choice that will force her to decide between her friends and her family. Omega is getting stronger. The fight for freedom looms on the horizon. 
It's all or nothing. 
And Cassidy has no intention of giving up.

Add it to your To-Read Shelf on GoodReads!

State of Rebellion will be available 
January 24th, 2014. Sign up to take part in the release day festivities on the Google Form below! It's very easy. All you have to do is post on January 24th. Plus, all hosts will be entered in a release day giveaway!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmastime for The Collapse Series: 99 Cent Sale!

Hear that? It's the sound of Christmas. 
Well. That and the sound of overcrowded malls, packed parking lots and empty wallets being opened. I mean, if you're looking at Christmas from a purely professional standpoint, it's a rather hectic time of year, right? 

So, yeah. I thought I'd join the mad rush: 
The Collapse Series will be .99 cents from December 9th-15th. Both State of Emergency and State of Chaos will be on sale on Amazon. Think of all the things you can do with Kindle copies of the Collapse Series! 

  1. Read it in the dentist's office. I have done this. Many times. (With other books, of course...)
  2. Use it as inspiration to prepare for the apocalypse. It happens. Trust me, I've got the fan mail to prove it. 
  3. Give it as a gift on Christmas. (Hey, the holiday spirit is calling)
  4. Read it while you're waiting for your facial clay mask to dry. Just don't get the Kindle wet. Okay? 
  5. What? Don't tell me you can't think of anything else to do with it. Be creative, people. 

Thanks so much for supporting my books! Thanks to you, the Collapse Series continues to be a bestselling series for almost an entire year - just a few more weeks until we hit that mark! 
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What's Up with Me! Updates in a Writer's Life

It's been a very long time since I've done a What's Up with Me! post. This is in part due to the fact that I've been very busy. It's also because I like to keep my What's Up posts quarterly, so I can sum up my months quickly. Not that I'm in a hurry or anything. (anybody who knows me well knows that I like to do things fast!) Here's what I've been doing during the last few months: 

  • Writing State of Rebellion. The third installment in The Collapse Series is due out January 2014. I've been working on this book since July of this year, and it's been a process getting it written and edited - you wouldn't believe how much work goes into just one novel. 
  • Running Writing Belle. Did you check out the awesome 2013 Fall Author Program Writing Belle hosted this year? Lots of authors, lots of interviews and lots of guest posts. It was a whirlwind organizing it all. 
  • Publicity. The Collapse Series has done so extraordinarily well that I've had to run at a full sprint to keep up with all the publicity and hubbub about the novels. Stories like the one in The Fresno Bee and the upcoming spread in Traffic Magazine have kept me plenty busy answering readers' emails and questions. 
  • Work, work, work. I've got a couple of surprises coming up for you guys. These are things I've been working on for a long time, and I think readers will be pleased when they find out what's about to happen! Meanwhile, count on a mid-January 2014 release for State of Collapse. 
Be sure to check back here on Monday. The Collapse Series is going on sale for one week for Christmas - both books in the series will be .99 cents! 

Until then, stay warm, friends!! It's COLD outside!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gentleman of Fortune: Evelyn Tidman talks PIRATES!

The Christmas Season is upon us at last! I've finally managed to wash up the last Thanksgiving dish (it's amazing how many plates and bowls it takes to cook Thanksgiving dinner and dessert!), and now it's back to work. Evelyn Tidman, the author of Gentleman of Fortune - a swashbuckling novel about the the adventures of the pirate Bartholomew Roberts - is visiting Writing Belle today. I've been very excited to interview Evelyn because adventure stories on the high seas have always been among my all-time favorite tales. 

Me: I have always been fascinated by pirate stories. Tell us about your book. 

Evelyn: GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE is a swashbuckling adventure about the eighteenth century pirate Bartholomew Roberts and his crew. It is the story of a man who is at first reluctant to join the pirates, but finds himself ‘persuaded’ because they need a navigator and sailing master. Before long, he becomes their captain, and the most formidable pirate in history. He is so successful that the Admiralty sends two naval ships to put a stop to his career—well British trade in the Atlantic has come to a standstill because of him. And then there is the beautiful LĂșcia . . .

What kind of research did you have to do to create your story?

The initial research was to find a suitable candidate, since I wanted the story to be as true to history as it could be within the realms of a novel. I needed someone with enough historical information so that I could put all the pieces together. I also wanted someone who could be a hero, a good-looking man (Roberts was known to be tall dark and handsome, so was known as Black Bart!) and with some saving graces. And above all, I wanted a good story. Bartholomew Roberts fitted the bill completely.

As it turned out there was a wealth of information on Bartholomew Roberts, written down by someone that many think to have been Daniel Defoe. He even had the opportunity of interviewing some of Roberts’ crew (I won’t say how, as it would spoil the book). And then came the background knowledge. I had to find out how to sail a square-rigged ship and how one ship differed from another. I had to learn what life was like on board. I had to learn about slavery, and the different locations the pirates visited, and clothing, and food—and the list is endless! But I wanted it to be as near to fact as possible. 

Tell us something interesting about Bartholomew  Roberts, a fun fact! Or two!

How many facts would you like? He was a fascinating man. For a start, he was tea-total. While his crew were often blind drunk, he was stone cold sober. Was that because of his upbringing in Wales where Presbyterian preachers were proclaiming abstinence from alcohol? Or was there some other reason?

Also, strangely for pirates I thought, he was very strict about how they treated female captives. His articles or laws that all members of the company had to sign stipulated that a female was to be treated well, and a guard was to be posted to protect her honour.

Roberts was no murdering cutthroat. Once a ship surrendered (and they nearly all did) the captives were treated well, the pirates preferring to lure men into piracy rather than force them.

Unusually for this time period, when slaves were captured, those that wished to could join the pirate crew and have equal shares with everyone else. Those that did not wish to join were put ashore at a place where they had a chance of escape. When, on one occasion his crew violated this command, Roberts was gutted.

And Roberts captured over four hundred ships in just two years. That’s an average of nearly four ships per week, a phenomenal tally. No wonder the Admiralty wanted to take him out!

What got you started writing a book like this? Where did the inspiration come from? 

I was always fascinated by pirate stories. I grew up on Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, Long John Silver and so on. I wanted to write an entertaining swashbuckling adventure about pirates, but I wanted it to be real, not Hollywood fiction. I wanted to know, and in turn to tell my readers, what kind of people eighteenth century pirates were. Were they all bloodthirsty murderers like Blackbeard was supposed to be? What made them become pirates? What was pirate life like?

How much of your book is fact, and how much is fiction?

It is mostly fact. Even some of the dialogue is real. Everything the pirates did is true. I did not have to invent much at all! Indeed, I had to leave out quite a large slice of what Roberts’ company did for there was so much information! Of course, I have dramatised the story, and added a little something which I have pointed out at the end of the book. Only eight people in the story are fictional. Obviously, as a writer, there has to be a certain amount of author’s licence, but I have kept it to a minimum.

Is Captain Roberts your favorite pirate? (I must say my favorite pirate would be Jack Sparrow, even if he IS fictional!)

I love Jack Sparrow too! But I loved all the pirates in my book as I got to know them. Their personalities came through in the original research and I have tried to preserve that. But, tall dark and handsome as Roberts is/was, I’m half in love with him! 

I'm curious as to how you create your novels. How long does it take you to write a historical fiction novel?

In this instance, it is difficult to say. Probably about eighteen months including the research which I tend to do in the evenings instead of watching the TV. I wrote it on a typewriter to begin with ten years ago, and then transferred it to a word processor and eventually to the computer. (All that retyping!!) Once I start writing, I think it takes me about six months plus another six months for editing.

What's next for you? What's your current WIP?

I’ve written another book, ONE SMALL CANDLE which is the story of the Pilgrim Fathers and their epic voyage to New England on the Mayflower, which is also available through Amazon both on Kindle and as a paperback.

Currently I am working on another true story about the English civil war, focussing on an aristocratic family and a siege. The first draft is already written, and I am working on the edits now. Give me about three to six months and it too will be on Amazon.

Thank you so much for stopping in, Evelyn!! Have a wonderful Christmas season! 

Thank you Summer for inviting me.

About Evelyn Tidman
I was born in London (I won’t say how many years ago – never ask a woman her age!). As soon as I could read and write I began writing stories. Marriage to the love of my life and four children interrupted this creative flow for a number of years, but during that time I discovered history. Not the dry nuts and bolts history of school, dates and politics and this law and that law. But real history, about people and events. How people lived, how they coped, the day to day minutiae of life and loves and happenings.

Pirates have always held a fascination for me, ever since Errol Flynn in Captain Blood. And Hollywood has given us a fair assemblage of swashbuckling adventures in that genre, with Pirates of the Caribbean the last in a long line. All of it, of course, bearing little resemblance to the real thing. So what was the ‘real thing’? That sent me to research and find out. Could there possibly be a hero or two lurking in the pages of history?  Or were they all cut-throat villains? 

So I discovered Bartholomew Roberts. He was an ordinary man, with absolutely no intentions of becoming a pirate until circumstances overtook him. I found it fascinating how this man, once hooked, took to piracy with intelligence and vigour, yet at the same time had a reasonable side to him, a human side. His treatment of the few women prisoners he captured was humane, kindly even. He released slaves on the ships he captured, and some of the men joined the company. But he struggled to keep control of his large company which came to resemble a small army. Not a drinker himself, he had to deal with unreasonable, belligerent and sometimes vicious drunks among his company.

This man, then became the subject of my book Gentleman of Fortune. I enjoyed researching his life, and that of his crew, and the research took me to realms I never thought I would need to traverse – sailing ships, and slavery, and Africa, and the Caribbean, and South America.

Meanwhile, I live quietly with my husband on the Norfolk coast in England, and enjoy the sea and the countryside. 
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