Smashwords epublishing: turning The Nordic Historian into a published ebook

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Yes, I did it again.

I threw in the towel in my search for a literary agent.  As with Witness Tampering, I have decided to upload The Nordic Historian: Battle of the Celts into an ebook for sale.

I utilized Smashwords for the complete publishing this time. I set the price for $.99 for all retailers.  Once you use Smashwords’ styling guide (a good hour or three of investment) you have a document which should convert to any ebook format for any retailer. Smashwords makes the entire process easy and they even give you a Smashwords specific ISBN.

Click here for my Smashwords’ page for The Nordic Historian.

Click here for my Smashwords’ page for Witness Tampering.

To see my last post on The Battle of the Celts, the first in The Nordic Historian series, click here.

Let me know what you think!

 

The Nordic Historian: Battle of the Celts is completed. Time for the next round of agent queries

My 6th book (3rd novel) is finally completed.  I have the “book jacket” query attempt below, so let me know what you think?   Does it grab your attention? Would you want to see a few pages of the book?

My last post (I know…I don’t put many on here lately) talked about my decision to throw in the towel with Witness Tampering and go to the self-published ebook route.  Sales have not been great because nobody can find it on the websites. I’m pretty sure everybody who has bought a copy so far has got it from my direct marketing.  Oh well, it still is fun to have a book out there.

With that said, this new book is in a more sought after genre and my  hopes are my attempts at getting a agent to pick it up are increased.  I’ll keep you posted (pun intended).  Check out the first part of my query below: 

“Throughout history, power struggles between secret, sorcerer tribes have controlled the rise and fall of world civilizations. Warrior sorcerers, aided by Manipulators, Spanare, and Betrayers, infiltrate society and dictate the fate of nations and empires. 

Only rarely in a century does a tribe discover the most powerful type of sorcerer—a Historian, who can unlock the secrets inside of the tribe’s artifact, the ultimate source of their power. After a hundred years of searching, the Nordic tribe stumbles upon their young Historian with college sophomore, Adam Dietrich. The Celtic tribe, an age old enemy of the Nordics, also learns of his existence, and dispatches two Warriors to murder him and thus prevent the Nordic rise of power. The Celts, experts in controlling nature, attack by morphing blades of grass into flying, edged weapons, and Adam barely escapes with the aid of the Nordic Warrior, Gorin. Gorin then introduces Adam to the underground Nordic city, and reveals the Nordic quest for world peace. At the same time, Nuline, a young Celtic Historian, wrestles with her deadly powers and her tribe’s thirst for unending, brutal war. Her fear turns into rage when she learns Adam is behind the death of her lover, a Celtic Betrayer. Meanwhile, Adam is haunted by visions of past Historians, yet nothing is revealing the location of the Stein—his tribe’s artifact. Time is running out when Adam leads his new friends into a trap, and comes face to face with Nuline and her Celtic Warriors.”

Mystery fiction book “Witness Tampering” for sale as ebook

After 14 months and over 100 query letters emailed out to potential literary agents, I now know breaking into the literary world is harder than I ever imagined.

Yes I realize it could be because my book is not well written, or  the genre is oversaturated, or  I do not have enough “creds” to get attention from literary agents. Whatever the reason, it is clear my book is not getting published anytime soon if I continue the traditional approach.

My first response to this was to rewrite the book yet again to make it better. Check.

My next response was to improve my query letter. Check.

Following that, I began to write a new book, this one is using my old history book I had written and is turning it into a fantasy book (stay tuned for more on that). Check.

Finally, I opted to go with self-publishing the book and selling it as cheap as possible on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for use on the Nook and Kindle. Check.

Below is a description of the book, followed by links to get your very own copy.  And yes, make sure you let me know what you think. I haven’t had anybody guess the ending yet!

“Detective Carl Krieger excelled in his ability to solve even the most serious sexual assault; that was until somebody brutally stabbed one of his victim’s pastors and began to violently terrorize those closest to Krieger.

Most police officers would hate to have a position in the Family Services Team—investigating sexual assaults, child abuse, and domestic violence. However, Krieger enjoyed the challenges that came with those cases, and he readily took on an investigation against William Harper, the host of a conservative radio talk show suspected of sexually abusing a thirteen year old girl. When a mysterious car starts to tail the Grand Rapids detective, he wonders if a satanic cult is to blame. But after a victim disappears and a pastor is murdered, he becomes convinced that William Harper is behind it all. Soon the hired murderer snipes Krieger, stabs his best friend, and eventually even goes after Krieger’s wife. He turns to his partners for help, only to discover that they don’t believe him and that he is on his own. With suspects and betrayal around every corner, he will be pushed to the edge—risking his marriage, his career, and his life.”

CLICK HERE to order a copy for your Kindle

CLICK HERE to order a copy for your Nook

CLICK HERE to order it in most other formats

New abstract cityscapes

For those of you that like the new abstract cityscapes, then check out the host of new ones I recently finished.  For those of you who prefer the more contemporary realism cityscapes, don’t fret, I have not permanently changed my style.  I merely created a series to decorate my living room (nice benefit of being an oil painter).

Ionia Abstract is the only new painting for sale.  You can find it either at the Cityscape gallery or the Flora & Abstract gallery. The rest are for my wife and our house.

I added the pics of some of them (see above and below). Let me know what you think?

 

 

Finally, some new paintings

I know I have been slacking with the new paintings.  Writing has seem to have taken over my free time this last year. However, I did complete some very fun Cityscapes.

Below is Basilica of St. Adalbert, a painting I had been working on for quite some time. I recently went into an entirely different direction and the finished project is here.

The next one was done with the finishing work of a palette knife. Nothing breaks you free more than switching to a knife instead of your usually bristle brushes!

Carolyn Schaner’s awesome photos

I knew Carolyn Schaner came from a talented family, but I was blown away by the beautiful images this young lady has captured.  And she goes to my church, attends Michigan State University (GO STATE!!), and she rows – how cool is that?!

Her photos are for sale, and her website has an easy order type layout with an available price list.  She did it up right.

Also, she has entered Art Prize 2011 in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her work is on display at West Coast Coffee on Monroe Cn NW, right in the middle of downtown, next to the police department. 

So check out her website at Absolute Clarity Photography. And if you are in the area, come and check out her Art Prize entry “BLOOM” with voting code of 56211.

Don’t “info dump” in your novel

In my last post, I talked about something totally not related to painting. I talked about how I was trying to get a fictional book published and how I made the first hurdle of having a literary agent interested in the book.

They read the first 10 pages and wanted more, so I sent them the requeated 40 more pages and a synopis.  Well…well, they passed on the book. I know. That sucked.

The silver lining here is that I got great feedback from the literary agent. Kudos to the Talcott Notch literary agency for taking the time out to give me some advice. Especially thanks to Kelly the intern. She said something along the lines of how I “overused extraneous details which greatly interfered (or slowed) the pace of the book.”

What the hell does that mean?

Well that was the question I had anyways. I emailed an actual  professional author I know, Kristina Riggle. If you have not read any of her books yet, you have to.  She is awesome. Anyway, she knew exactly what Kelly was saying.

It is called “info dumping.”

Basically it is when amateurs like me have to fulfill our desires to show the reader what the main scenes and characters are like early on. I mean, they just have to know what the hallway in the police department looks like and how tall the main character is, right?

Take the professionals’ advice…don’t do it. Don’t “info dump!” Hell, don’t even describe people that well. Let their dialog and actions describe them. Don’t give all those only-interesting-to-only-you facts about the city or the company you are writing about.

Don’t use all 5 senses to describe a room. Kristina used the example of decribing a newsroom by the sound of the presses and the smell of the ink. That is it. No more info needed.

Unless you are writing literary fiction, don’t do it! I think my problem is that I had been reading books off a list of the top 100 books of all time. Guess what – they are literary fiction. Guess what my book is – NOT literary fiction. I wrote a crime fiction book. You know…plot oriented.

If you are writing anything that is other than literary fiction, do youself a favor and do not “info dump.” Actually I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t “info dump” in a literary fiction book either. :)

Believe me, you would hate to go from the up of an interested literary agent to the down of be “passed” over because of it.

Good luck to any of you who are writing or painting or doing anything that is a gift to do. We are truly blessed!

The first stage in getting a novel published

This post is about my journey to get a fiction novel published. I wrote a 110,150 word crime fiction novel called Witness Tampering that I am actively querying literary agents for representation.  

My post title says “the first stage in getting a book published,” but I guess I really have gone through many stages over the last year and a half.

The story actually begins before that, but for now I am excited that a literary agent in Connecticut liked not only my query letter, but also the 1st 10 pages that I had emailed to them.  They actually said that they were interested and wanted a synopsis and the 1st 50 pages. Yeah!  I mean, this is a huge deal…ok well in my mind it is anyway.

To me, it means that somebody in the business likes my overall genre/idea and feels that, well for at least the 1st 10 pages, that my writing doesn’t totally suck!

The journey began several years ago when I decided to write a fiction history book. It involved the interaction between two friends – a teacher and a cop.  The teacher ends up sharing the history of the world from 10,000 BC until the present while they drink beer and eat pizza. They do this because the teacher is a psychology teacher in high school and has been preparing to teach his first history class. The cop, whose family was away for the weekend, had nothing better to do other than to listen and give the teacher crap as he, himself, slowly  finds history interesting as the weekend progresses.

Sounds cool, eh?  Well apparently readers felt that the story between the friends kept getting interrupted by the history, or there was not enough detail in the history because it moved too fast. I had the 90,000 word manuscript test read and they all said the same thing. So for now, that book has been tabled as non-fuctioning.

That brings me to my fiction book, Witness Tampering.

This book is over 110,000 words and I started it in the fall of 2009 while my history book was being test read. After tons…I mean TONS…of drafts, I am finally ready to seek agent representation. That process is interesting in and of itself and maybe I’ll post more on that later. 

But for now, I am just glad to pass step #1.  I call it “the I don’t completely suck at writing and have wasted my time” step. :) 

I would be curious to hear from others who are going through this process. Just leave a comment on this post.

Either way, it is awesome to be able to tap into your childhood creativity again, whether it is with painting, writing, singing, or whatever.

New oil paintings of a tree in the breeze

I know…I know…I haven’t had very many new paintings this last year.  But, but it is not what it seems. I did not just become a lazy bump on a log. First of all, I have poured tons of energy into my Functional Fitness blog, http://kemmefitness.com.

More relevant to my free time, however, has been my writing.  At first, I wrote a history book. It was a completely new and fresh idea – a history book about world history from 10,000 BC until present day as told from two friends, a teacher and a cop. Well….it apparently was a hard read. A comment that summed it up was, “I liked the characters, but then they talked about history too much, or else I loved the history, but didn’t get enough of it because the two characters moved on.”

So then I started Witness Tampering, a crime fiction novel. It began about a year and a half ago and, actually as I type this, I have several queries out there for agent representation. It only took about 7 drafts to get there. Oh, and don’t forget, I wrote my Functional Fitness ebook, The Body That God Intended Us To USE last summer.

But, I did finish a series of 3 paintings that tie in as one, titled “Dianne’s Breezy Tree.” Check them out below, and let me know what you think.

How to salvage a painting you are frustrated with

We’ve all been there. You know, that point in a painting where you say, “this sucks.”  You realize that it is not going the way you envisioned and it is quickly turning into something that you will gladly coat with gesso so you can start over with a new painting.

I always think the same thing. How did I get here? I planned ahead and had excellent reference material. I blocked in my colors and paid attention to the lights and darks. I kept checking the composition as I slowly started to fill it in and develop the details. Then, out of nowhere, I realize that I hate this mess of color in front of me.

Don’t get me wrong. There is something extremely liberating about grabbing out my bucket of gesso and covering over a painting. I simply chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. I never keep unsucesssful paintings around.

But instead of throwing in the towel so easily, I have a few ideas to get you to change your mind about your painting.

Tip #1:  Grab your palette knife and scrape off as much paint as you can. You will still have the general shapes and colors, but you no longer have the piles of paint that were built up as you struggled and struggled to get a certain area perfect.  You might be surprised how a thinned out canvas can reinspire you to go at it again.

Tip #2:  Turn your painting upside down. Many artists do that periodically anyway in order to check composition, color arrangement, and shape design. But it also helps at times to pull you out of a funk with a painting.

Tip #3:  Set it aside. Just put it away while you work on other paintings for a few months. Maybe you just need a break and will get back in the mood. Sometimes I think I simply have lost the mood I had when I envisioned the painting and I have to wait until I get it back in order to continue.

Tip #4: This is the most fun tip of all. I have at times given up on a painting, when I say, “oh what the hell.” I grab a large brush and just do extemely bold brush strokes. If it doesn’t turn out, I was scrapping it anyway. Check out “Indian Creek Canal – Huntsville.” This was actually a painting that I gave up on after blocking in the color. It sat in my studio, unfinished, for almost a year. One day I came up with the idea to paint with only large vertical and horizontal brush strokes. The result was something totally unexpected…and I loved it.

So the next time you are about to shove your palette knife through the center of you canvas, just take a minute and try one of my tips. You never know what will come out of it. Besides, you have nothing to lose.