Friday, August 31, 2012

My Next Book Maybe - What do You Think?

Reed strode down the familiar halls of the Mercenary School toward the auditorium. Since he'd been taking assignments, he hadn't been around much, but the place had been like a home to him since he was a teenager. He knew little about his father; he hadn't seen him in years, but he knew his father had close ties to this school. It was what had prompted him to apply. His foster parents and his caseworker had objected hotly, but he was sixteen at the time and they couldn't stop him. With an acceptance letter in his hand, he walked away from the foster system and into the life of a mercenary. Six years later, he graduated at the top of his class, and now he was just returning from his third assignment to see a bulletin requesting all the school members, those of age anyway, to attend a meeting.

The auditorium was filled with familiar faces. Most were familiar enough to greet by name, but there were new faces there too, some young enough to be new students, but some older graduates too, just not on Earth all that often. The school was more than just a school; it was a hub of their existence. When the school called a meeting, everyone came if they could.

As the last of them finished their greetings of old friends and had shuffled into available seats, the school commandant stepped out onto the stage and waved for silence. "Good evening, gentlemen." There was an audible 'ahem' from the audience "and ladies," Quigley amended with a nod in the direction of the sound, winning a chuckle from those nearby. "Nice to see you all here. I'll get right to the point since I know you are all busy. As you all know, the war with the bugs drags on. There's not a one of you who hasn't lost some family member or someone you know to this war. I called you all here tonight to ask for volunteers. I can't go into all the details here. Suffice it to say, should you decide to volunteer, it will change your life. Think it over. I know you all have obligations. Not volunteering will have no effect on your career. Should you decide you would like to know more, I will meet with you in my office in an hour.

Reed knew such an open-ended invite would likely turn out very few volunteers. Then again, that might have been the point. Reed was curious though, plus he'd never been to the commandant's office. He'd never believed in rocking the boat. Doing so attracted attention, and that was something he'd always avoided. He did put off the visit as long as he dared; he didn't want to appear too eager either, only to discover the job something he'd want to avoid anyway.

Reed entered the outer office to find eight other people there, six of them, the three girls and three of the men looked to be in their last year of school, the other two men were older than Reed by at least a couple years.

The students and one of the older men sat around a coffee table talking about simulator scheduling, while the other man was looking at something on one wall. His attention drew Reed's and he realized that the entire wall was carved marble. Curious, Reed moved closer, seeing MIA engraved at the top of a long list of names. Next to them were places and dates.

At a glance, Reed recognized many of the place names, but then he saw something that took his breath away. The name 'Rafe Meyers' was on the list. Why would his father's name be on this wall? The date beside it was nine years ago, and then Reed realized that was about the last time he'd seen his father. My father died and no one told me. It's not as if they didn't know who his father was. Every time he visited, the system would find some reason to move him to another home, and sometimes even to another city. The moves made making friends nearly impossible, accentuating Reed's already strong desire to do things by himself, to depend on only himself. 'Loner' appeared in his file many times.

Reed was only four when his mother died, but he still remembered his father carefully explaining why he had to go with the nice lady and that he would come find him every chance he could. He gave him his big ring to show he intended to keep his promise. And he kept his promise, finding him at least every year as close to his birthday as he could manage. Reed turned the heavy ring on his finger.

Reed's thoughts were interrupted by Commandant Quigley entering the room. "Hello ladies and gentlemen. I'm glad you've come. Have a seat and I'll try to explain what this is all about. Feel free to ask any questions; it's very important that you understand every aspect of what you may be volunteering for. I reiterate - you can back out with absolutely no repercussions, all the way up until the last moment.

Reed raised his hand, and at Quigley's nod, asked, "What are those names?" He pointed at the marble wall. "Why are they listed as MIA and yet there's a place listed with them?"

"A very good question to start our discussion with, but let me go back just a bit further before answering. You all know from your history how, after the capture of a bug queen, we were able to turn the tide on the war and begin to push them out of our territory. What really happened was obscured, and in many cases, outright hidden." He pointed to the wall Reed had asked about. "Thanks to what we learned from our captive bug queen, we were able to turn their magic against them." He gestured to the marble wall again. "Because of our captive queen, we were able to create those men and women, and many others like them. We have come to call them Guardians; they are the linchpins of the war. As you can see," he indicated the wall yet again, "being a Guardian can be quite hazardous."

"Why are so many of them listed as MIA, and yet have a location listed as well? Reed asked again.

"Guardians are our most powerful weapon, and as such, they are pitted against the worst the bugs have to offer. Sometimes they lose. Those people listed here are volunteers from this school who died protecting the federation and pushing the bugs back. The date and place are where they were when they died; the MIA listing is because nothing could be recovered, despite our best efforts."

When Quigley paused, one of the girls rose, muttered an apology and left, followed closely by one of the young men.

Quigley watched them go, remaining silent until the door was closed behind them. "Being in the line of fire isn't the only reason this is voluntary," he continued, now scrutinizing those remaining in the room.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August's Sales, a Month of Record-Breakers

This month has been a record breaker for me. On the 6th, my publisher told me I'd sold 25 copies already this month and at that rate I might rival the record in-house sales for a single calendar month. Now, the fact that I'd sold 25 books was really awesome news. The fact I'd sold them in only a week was even better. Dare I hope such a thing could continue?

Shortly after that, I was able to order a box, and as soon as it arrived I sold 2 to my boss and 2 over at the neighbor's lodge. I gave one to my brother's oldest and best friend in exchange for mutual reviews. He too just wrote a book. Another I gave to the man who helped me tons with much of the sword work in the book. And then, low and behold, some people bought some through my website. I don't remember where they all went exactly, but suddenly I have only 11 here at home and 2 at work.

That's all so very exciting. For me it's kinda hard to wrap my brain around. My first book never did so well, despite all my efforts. I don't count when my sister bought a stack to give out as Christmas gifts, or so I heard as a rumor, she never told me herself nor did any of my family say they received one. At any rate, my biggest royalty check for King by Right of Blood and Might was $80something.

On the 8th, my publisher tells me I've sold 40 books and that I'm right on pace to challenge the best in the company, his own book Philadelphia Story, which sold 131 books in one calendar month. That's 40 book sold in only 8 days - wow! Also at that point, when I sold 4 more books, I'll have sold 100 total books since it was published. Doublewow!!!

On the 14th, I broke the three digit marker and reached 100 books sold in one month. What a mile marker for me. I've never been on such an exciting ride before. I always thought it was so very cool to have someone out there read and like my book(s), and it is, and every review is such a thrill. I'm so hungry for feedback, honest feedback - tell me what you REALLY think - it helps, no matter what you say.

Then, on the 18th,  he posts in his group (and I quote) "It is official - Anna L. Walls release, Prince in Hiding, is now the best selling book in any individual month in BCP's history! and it is only the 18th of the month - Congratulations Anna!" (unquote). So, I sold over 131 books Woohoo!!! Happy dance time. Oh wow!!!

But that's not all. Just yesterday, the 23rd, he posts: "And Prince in Hiding's rock and roll month continues with another milestone passed, Anna L. Walls PIH just sold its 200th copy of the month! Yay Anna!" Oh my sakes! 200!!! And that's only this month and that was only the 23rd. How many will I have sold by the 31st?

200 books sold - more if you count those sold before August. Will it continue? I can only hope so. There are 2 more books in this series. My son asked, 'so when will there be a movie deal?' I wish haha (but secretly I hold a tiny hope that such a thing will happen someday).

What am I doing? I don't really know. I just do what I do every day. Keep it all visible and pay it back whenever I can to those who help me along the way. It's the best I can do. I hope to be able to do a book signing this winter. It didn't work out last winter so who knows. Cross your fingers for me. Do you think I'll make it to the New York Times Best Seller's List? or something similar? Ooh who knows?

Friday, August 17, 2012

What of You in Your Writing

Do you ever include any of your own moods or events into your story? Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Your character should too. How about a bad hair day? Have you ever had this really annoying song stuck in your head? Or how about some incident - something like a random accident - something like stubbing your toe and now you're limping for a day or two, or cutting your finger and now you're left handed for a while? All of these little things add flavor to your character and helps them come to life without detracting from the overall storyline.

Be careful though, all you want is a little flavor. Though a limp might slow your character down, or having to write left handed might cause some difficulty, these are all things that are plausible and believable. Having a song stuck in your head could be fun to play with. You could have your character singing in the shower or while driving, or even while walking down the street, and then you could stop and cuss yourself out for keeping that annoying song alive a minute longer.

Never be afraid to add moods too. I have, and they too add flavor. It's okay for your character to just get up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while. Maybe he or she didn't get much sleep during the night for whatever reason. Heck, for a girl/woman, it could be PMS - for a boy/man it could be his girlfriend's/wife's PMS. Or how about those days when everything just strikes you as funny.

Your story, whatever it is, is supposed to be life for your character, and like life, we all have random things happen. As you write, things happen to you too. Go ahead and saddle your character with the same thing. Have fun with it. Paying attention to all these little details can be perhaps daunting or tedious, but if you let it, it can also be a release.

Go ahead, let your character step in a hole and twist an ankle. See what kinds of twists your story takes then.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making of a Mage-King

Have you ever had a series of dreams that simply dominated your life? This is the way Making of a Mage-King came about. As I wrote, my nights were rife with dreams of future scenes or events, and sometimes, though I knew they related, I had no idea how. You know how dreams can be? Twisted and nonsensical. Some say it's my muse. I've even heard it described as channeling, and it certainly felt that way from time to time.

I've posted about dreams before and how they fueled my writing most of the time. This story was by far the most loaded up with such dreams - actual dreams - with very little altering to fit the moment.

So here's the evil fun part: Though such dreams increase in book 2, White Star, and even more so in book 3, Mage-King, they are in all three books. I challenge you to find them. I'm not sure what I can offer you for doing so. I'd gladly sign your book but you'd have to send it to me. Course, I'd gladly do that anyway. I'm going to have to figure out how to sign eBooks too. Hmmm maybe I might be able to send you a copy of the next book if you find the dreams in the first book. I'd have to think on that. What do you think? Do you think you could find the dreams that fueled this story? Have fun looking.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Starting with an Idea

This is how many of my books start, though sometimes these things end up as just a scene within a different story. Last night I had a dream. In this dream, magic was commonplace and we were moving a castle. You might think this entailed a good deal of work but it seems, either it didn't, or someone else was doing all the heavy lifting. Anyway, as is common with many of these dreams of mine, this one had a history, and I remembered that I'd had a previous dream on the same subject. In that one the final location was picked out for where we were going to move this castle.

During the course of last night's dream, the passage of time was marked by the seasonal transformation of a hanging plant I was tending. There were other details about the move too. At one point we were crossing or going down a large river (it had to be very large) and there was debris floating along with us, but it was passing us by. 

As the season progressed, the plant lost it's leaves, and then the moss growing on the outside of the pot fell away revealing a round black pot like you get a plant from the store. This pot was different from the 'other' such plants I had, so I transplanted it. Why I wasn't worried about these plants surviving the winter hanging in their pots, I don't know, but winter was setting in and it was time to find a place to stop for the winter.

The lord of the castle came up to me as soon as things were settled and we were discussing the inefficiency of the move. We should have been moving at least as fast as everything else floating on the river, if not faster.  I apparently was the person responsible for seeing that this didn't happen again.

Hmmm - I wonder what the next dream installment will bring.