Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

I think my subconscious is smarter than me.  For two reasons.


I’ve mentioned before that I’m a modified discovery writer, so you’d think, perhaps, that I don’t concern myself with story structure. You’d be wrong. Instead of planning–and outlining–a story following the three-act structure or any other, I usually look at the structure of a story I’ve already written to see where it needs to be tweaked.

Now, my current series is a little bit of a departure for me. DUAL MAGICS is a conventional series made up of four books which each tell a story that together make up a larger arc of the entire series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

BECOME . . . BECOME is more one story that has a significant break in time–almost twenty years–and therefore falls naturally into two books . . . sort of.


And frankly, this made me a little nervous. It’s really hard to keep the first book from ending on a cliff-hanger. And, as a reader, I hate cliff-hangers. They make me feel like my arm is being twisted to force me to buy the next book just to see what happens. And that doesn’t sit well with my Scots-Irish blood even if I would have bought the next book anyway. I’ve worried that without a clear conflict for this book it would be virtually impossible to bring BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING to a satisfying interim resolution. And I worried that without that conflict–apart from the overall arc of the series–the story sort of meandered. And, to tell the truth, that worry was part of the reason this book has taken so long to write.

So, yesterday, as I was starting the read-through of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I tried and experiment. I just looked at the one-eighth marks, where major plot points should happen, to see if there was something there that I could build up into a conflict for this book. And what do you know? It was right there all the time. It’s an interior conflict for my main character, but it’s a separate conflict that ties into the main conflict of the two-book series. I’ll need to add a bit here and there to pull it up into the light. But the main plot points fall pretty close to all the right places. Now, as I continue the read-through, I’ll be making notes on where I need to add a few internal thoughts or a bit of dialog to just bring this conflict up where it can be seen.


Chekov’s Gun. You know, “If there’s a gun over the mantle in the first act, someone has to fire it by the third act.” Or something very like that.

Well, I’d thrown a character into the middle of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. He’s a character who made a brief appearance in BECOME: BROTHERS. I didn’t have any particular reason for reusing him. He did provide a minor complication, but . . . just being there, again, and causing that little problem made him important. Like Chekov’s gun. And I thought I’d probably take him out in the revisions for that reason.

Nope. While I was starting the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, wouldn’t you know that same character turned up again. And he’s in a perfect position to set off a major part of the main conflict.

I swear I didn’t plan that. But I’m sure going to use it.

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I still hope to finish this chapter of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM soon.


Probably not today, but hopefully tomorrow so I can move on to the read-through and revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.


But I’ve had some of those other authorly things to take care of this week, too. When I started, last spring, to publish my books more widely than just to Amazon, I used Pronoun as the distributor for the DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

And Pronoun closed down on January 15th. The plan was to start up a newsletter, which I’ve procrastinated on for years, but I really, really need especially to assist in marketing the audiobook version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. And then add the subscription link to the back matter of the books before I redistribute them through Draft2Digital.

But, I keep running into things I need to take care of first before I can finish setting up the newsletter. So, two things:

  • I’m going ahead with the publication through Draft2Digital. I’ll just have to upload a new file when I get everything together–eventually. It’s not that big a deal. I’ve been doing one book a day. By Saturday, I’ll have the series, including the short story “Modgud Gold” republished through Draft2Digital.
  • I also need to prep a short story to use as a subscriber incentive. The problem there is that I haven’t written very many short stories–I’m just more comfortable writing at novel length. And most of the ones I have written have been published. However, I do have one–“Infected With Magic”, which I haven’t published mainly because it’s the germ that started MAGE STORM (which will be my next epic fantasy after I finish the BECOME series). And it’s probably my best short story. It was good enough to earn an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future in 2011. But, of course, that means that I need a cover for it, and at least read it through again, and formatting. And all of that before I can try to finish up the setup for the newsletter. Which is partly why I decided to just go ahead and the get the books out wide again.

And, of course, all of that takes time away from the writing.

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After spinning my wheels on this for over a week, I finally wrote that new chapter yesterday, in two sittings (only broken up because I had to make and eat dinner).

So, progress is finally being made again on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.


I’ve also roughed in the idea of another new chapter a little farther down the road, keeping a certain fraternal relationship just a little stirred up.

Now, I need to proceed with the read-through of what I’d already written. And try to force myself to remember that it’s still only a first draft. It’s much too early to start serious revisions. Even though I have a strong suspicion that I’m going to want to cut a lot out of the next two chapters, which I think are slowing the story down. That’s a decision for after I’ve typed “The End”, not before.

Hopefully, now that I’ve got some significant time off, I can make good progress on at least getting the first draft finally done.

Meanwhile, I think I’ve got everything ready to finish getting the boxed set of the first three books of the Dual Magics Series and the short story “Modgud Gold” up for wide distribution when they’re free of Kindle Unlimited next week.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

I put WAR OF MAGIC up on Pronoun yesterday.


Then I need to plan a promotion for this series. With a little bit of luck, the audio book of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE will be available at the same time. It’s still pending review on ACX.

TSC Audio

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Okay, so far I’ve only tried Pronoun and there’s not much to report there other than I’ve gotten the process down to where it goes a lot smoother, now.

I started with BECOME: BROTHERS.


And went on to the first three books in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

Though I haven’t yet put the boxed set up on Pronoun, because the short story, “Modgud Gold” is included in the set and it doesn’t come out of Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited until the 27th. The fourth book in the series, WAR OF MAGIC,


also can’t go wide until the 23rd, for the same reason. Though I can prepare those files so they’ll be ready to go with little fuss. I’ve barely started that process.

Now, of those, only BECOME: BROTHERS and THE SHAMAN’S CURSE are available anywhere but Amazon, yet. It takes a few days for them to show up on the other retailers. And then I’ll have to rescan the universal links so that they point to all the retailers where the books are available. That takes about a minute, so not a big deal.

Also, I haven’t yet sold any through Pronoun, but that’s not entirely unexpected. It’s going to take time–and probably a bit of promotion–to get discovered on those other sites.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up my refurbish of BLOOD WILL TELL


with the intention of trying it and the sequel on Draft2Digital. Ultimately, the only way to know which I prefer is to try both, at least through a pay cycle or two. After the initial set-up, switching from one to the other, if that’s what I decide to do, ought not to be too difficult.

My other books are tied up until mid July, because of Kindle Unlimited. So, I’ll have time to work on prepping those. And I haven’t made a final decision about what I’m going to do with the other short works.

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I’ve posted before about the complexities added by the order in which individual books can come out of Kindle Unlimited. And boxed sets just add another layer. All the elements of a boxed set have to come out of KU before the boxed set can go wide and the boxed set also has to come out of KU before any of the individual elements can go wide.

As my books begin to come out of their last 90-day enrollment in KU, I have to get serious about planning out a strategy. (To be honest, I’ve been slower than I should be about this. On the other hand, I know I’ve got a couple of months coming up in which I can devote a lot more time to this.)

Looking at things by boxed sets:

  • BECOME: BROTHERS was never in KU in the first place.Brothers
  • Both of the books in my ChimeriaChimeria series are already out of KU. But I want to give these a brush-up before taking them wide.ChimeriaBox
  • Most of the Dual Magics series is also out of KU, with the exception of the final book, WAR OF MAGIC, and one short story that is also included in the boxed set.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  • And the three stand-alone YA novels included in the boxed set BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC are tied up until the boxed set clears on mid-July.By Sword Boxed Set

So, that’s likely the order in which I will tackle this. Chimeria first, then Dual Magics, and finally the three YA novels.

Now, it’s down to deciding on a strategy:

  • Back to Smashwords?
  • Try Draft2Digital?
  • Try Pronoun?
  • Try to do everything individually.

Time to dig more deeply into the pros and cons of each of those choices.

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So, one of the first steps in figuring out how to take my work back to wider markets is determining the schedule. And the first step in that is finding out when the various books, short stories, novella, and boxed sets can come out of Kindle Select. It’s the boxed sets that make this a little complicated.

The KS term for THE DUAL MAGICS BOOKS 1 – 3 boxed set ends on May 23, but the set includes:

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

  1. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, term ending May 27
  2. THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, term ending June 1
  3. BEYOND THE PROPHECY, term ending May 29
  4. And, the joker in the deck, the short story “Modgud Gold”, term ending June 27

Apart from that “bonus” short story that I threw in, they’re all nicely grouped. I’ll have to pull the novels out of Kindle Select a month before I can do anything else with them. Not ideal.

On the positive side, WAR OF MAGIC, which isn’t in the boxed set, has a term ending date of June 23, so at least it will fall right in line when I prepare to take these wide.

On the negative side, I can’t do anything productive about these until late June, except start taking them out of Kindle Select.

But BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC is even more interesting.

By Sword Boxed Set

The boxed set KS term ends on April 17, but the contents:

  1. FIRE AND EARTH term ends May 13
  2. THE BARD’S GIFT term ends also May 13
  4. And the “bonus” short story “Becoming Liones” term ends July 4

Obviously, the thing to do with this one is take the boxed set out of KS last since it’s next term end date would presumably be somewhere around July 17.

Which, at least coincides closely with DUAL MAGICS. Looks like I might be busy for a couple of weeks early this summer.

Then there’s my CHIMERIA series.


This and the two books included in it, BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER all have term ending dates of May 24. Easy. Except that I really don’t want to lead off with these. They were among the first things I published. I’ve been re-reading them and I seriously think they need a bit of work before taking them out to a wider world–and not just because my craft has improved in the meantime. These–and the handful of other short stories and one novella–will likely go last–which means late August at the earliest.

Well, at least I have plenty of time to research my options.

Meanwhile, I’ve got one more little scene to write and I’ll be ready to publish BECOME: BROTHERS


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I first started publishing my stories five years ago. I stuck my toe in the water with a short story, “Heart of Oak”.


Then followed up with my first published novel, BLOOD WILL TELL.


When I started, I published widely–directly to Amazon and through Smashwords to other marketplaces, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBookstore. I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. Three other novels, three other short stories, and one novella followed. I didn’t do very much in the way of promotion and no traditional marketing at all. And mostly, I broke even or maybe did just a little better than that.

And then, in July 2014, two things happened. I published the first book in my epic fantasy series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.


(By the way, is it bad that I can type the link to that book from memory?) And, within a couple of weeks, Amazon started its Kindle Unlimited program.

Somehow, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made it onto Amazon’s lists, which really boosted sales. It’s still my most successful book. And I’m still mystified by how that happened, because I still wasn’t doing any real promotion or marketing. But, because of that boost on Amazon, I did notice something else: That first month, I had sold about 8 copies of TSC in all of the markets I reached through Smashwords and about 1500 on Amazon.

And Amazon had this new Kindle Unlimited feature that was only available to us independent authors under certain circumstances–one of which was that we make our books available exclusively through Amazon. Well, that was pretty much a no-brainer.

I withdrew the book from Smashwords and joined Kindle Select. That went so well that I published everything new–four more novels (three in the DUAL MAGICS series and one stand-alone) and a new short story–exclusively through Amazon. Gradually, I withdrew all my other work (except one short story that I’d always intended to leave free) from Smashwords and made them exclusive with Amazon, too. That’s nine novels, four short stories, and one novella.

And I’ve had no complaints about that decision until recently. Over the last month, page reads–the measure by which Amazon pays authors for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited–have fallen to almost nothing. I don’t have the data to determine why this is. I don’t know if Amazon’s relatively new feature, page flip (for which they purposely don’t count pages) has anything to do with it or if it’s something else. Disabling page flip certainly hasn’t made a difference–though I’m in process of finishing up that project anyway.

Maybe all the Amazon customers who would be interested in my work through Kindle Unlimited have already borrowed it. Though, sales continue at about the level I’d expect six months after my last release.

Either way, it’s time to start exploring my options again. I’ve started looking at the schedule on which I can remove my stories from Kindle Select. This is slightly complicated by the boxed sets. I can’t publish the boxed set or any of the books or stories in the boxed set anywhere else while any of them are still in Kindle Select. However, they all seem to be grouped in the May/June time frame, for some reason, with one outlier in mid April.

As I prepare to publish BECOME: BROTHERS


and get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, hopefully this week but certainly this month, I have a decision to make.

  1. I can publish it exclusively with Amazon, at least temporarily. This ties it up for three months. On the other hand, I haven’t completed–heck, I’ve barely started–my research into the best way to take my books wide again, so I probably wouldn’t be ready to do that immediately anyway.
  2. Or I can publish to Amazon first, without tying the book up in Kindle Select and continue my research into other options.
  3. I don’t see any value on holding off until I’m ready to go wide, so I can cross that option off, at least.


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