So, I’m finally screwing my courage to the sticking place and trying a Kickstarter for my next book. It will be for my YA dinosaur epic Mark of the Conifer.

Hatched beneath a solar eclipse, the young raptor warrior Sunstrike enters the world in the shadow of Sol— the goddess of the dinosaurs. Sunstrike is devoted to Sol’s holy law and takes pride in keeping the Pact, the sacrificial regard between hunters and hunted.But the balance of nature is destroyed, and darkness spreads over the land in the shadow of the Empress Charr, a vicious tyrant bent on ruling the North American Cretaceous. Her conquering regime carries a strange and terrifying magic: the knowledge of fire.

His faith in Sol shattered, Sunstrike sets out on an extraordinary quest for justice. When he becomes the protector of the last free herd, he faces challenges to his honor, his courage, and the lives of his friends that will reveal a terrifying destiny.

Sunstrike must face the Empress, even as his dreams foretell that to fail will mean the end of the world — and to win will mean the ultimate sacrifice.


If you’d like to get official updates and so on, the Facebook page is here.

Official start date is Sept 1st!

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Arpeggios of Art

I wanted to do some character art pieces for the Highsong series in order to promote it. I’m an artist myself, but I do not do my own book covers. (Those are done by my good friend Erika Baird.) It’s just a personal preference thing, and I love the covers Erika does. In my pursuit of traditional publishing, I’m hoping to do some illustrated YA. But there’s nothing like some art of your characters to bump things up a bit.

Writers tend to really, really forget that illustrators are amazing. I’m part of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books WRITERS!!!!!  and illustrators) and recently attended WIFYR (WRITING!!!! and illustrating for young Readers.) The illustrators tend to get left by the wayside, despite being storytellers, too. Visual storytellers. And the job of a good illustrator is to sell your book by making its cover look awesome.

If you are self-publishing, please take the time and the money to get a great artist. Don’t do it yourself if you have no background in illustration or commercial art. If you are a graphic designer and that’s all, you probably are not going to be able to pull off a fantasy art cover with firebreathing dragons. (You might be good at setting the text, though.) As a self-publisher, the art for your book should be your biggest expense.

A few rules for dealing with artists:

  • Don’t insult them by offering pittance. They have bills to pay. And you get what you pay for.
  • Give the artist room to interpret. That’s their job. If you send them ten pages of description of what you want the cover to look like, that’s really annoying and insulting, AND is overstepping your boundaries. They’re the artist, remember? It’s their job to interpret in their own unique style!
  • Choose an artist based on their style. Don’t ask a fine-art painter to try and give you an anime comic kind-of cover. You’re asking for disappointment and a frustrated artist.
  • Be professional when you approach an artist. Query them the same way you would an agent. Ask them their fee, but also let them know what your budget is. If the answer is no, move onto the next artist you had in mind.

I can hear people saying “Well, don’t you ask Erika for all sorts of stuff?” I don’t, actually. She’s an awesome artist and I know it. All I do is suggest a subject matter and ask her for a color scheme. She reads my manuscripts, so she knows what’s going on in the story. And what she chooses to do is always great and a pleasant surprise. Highsong‘s cover was a gift from her, but when it came time to do Risen I asked for a blue color scheme. My third book is Ninth (which is in rewrites at the moment), but I’ve already put in a request for a black and red scheme. I look forward to what she comes up with!


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Concertinas of Consortiums

So, I live out in the middle of nowhere. I know that I say I live near Austin, but that’s because that’s just way easier to say. But my tiny library has ebook borrowing, so I figured I’d post about it.

I had seen a sign in the library about it, and the Highsong series is out there, so I figured, what the heck. I asked the librarian while I was checking out: “So, if theoretically someone wrote an ebook, how would you get that ebook?”

Answer: the library has what’s called a consortium, a collection of ebooks that are accessible by about 80 libraries in the Central Texas area. That’s a lot of people reading my ebook.

So then she asked the title, and I said, “Highsong.”

“And who’s the author?”

I honestly didn’t know what to say to that. I know we’re supposed to be all gung-ho about marketing a book, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit it.

I needn’t have bothered. “Oh, you’re the author! Oh! We’ll get our head librarian to read it and then if she likes it she’ll put it into the consortium. What’s the genre?”

“YA science fiction.”

“She’s always looking for YA.”

So there you go. Another tip for you to try. Because believe me, if my middle-of-nowhere podunk library has access to an ebook consortium, odds are yours will, too.

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Canzonas of CreateSpace, Part 1

I thought I would give CreateSpace a shot, since I’d heard about it and it wouldn’t get in the way of the Highsong series being Amazon exclusive. I’ve also had quite a few would-be fans say they don’t have Kindles but would like to buy the book in book form.

So, things you need to know.

1. Your formatting is the same. Whatever you used to make your ebook look good, you will need to have the same tricks for your CreateSpace book. (As a matter of fact it asks you at the end if you want to go ahead and make your print book an ebook on the Kindle.) I had actually discovered a much better way of formatting on Risen, so I had to go back and reformat Highsong in the same way. There is a print preview that is a godsend; I uploaded mine about 5 or 6 times to play with margins and such.

2. You will need to resize your document’s page. I opted to do the 6×9 book size, since my story is a novella. So this little trick is actually under File>Page Setup, which I usually never bothered with unless I was printing. (Which in a way, I am.) Under the Paper tab, you can set your page size from 8.5×11 to 6×9.  Your formatting, if you’ve done it right, won’t be an issue with the resize, but you will have to play with your margins a bit. I’ve read way too many self-published books that had giant, straight-laced margins that crammed the writing into a column, and I didn’t want that. I switched between playing with CreateSpace’s preview and Word’s margins before I got what I liked. I didn’t play with fonts for chapter headers or anything, but definitely after doing this I’m excited to do so for future projects.

3. Uploading your .pdf will take forever and you must babysit it.  One of the more annoying aspects of my experience. I am an illustrator, so I took my ebook covers and footled around with them to make them accessible enough real book covers. You can generate your own template for a proper bleed and all, and CreateSpace asks for Print Quality .pdfs. Therefore, your .pdf, which is the only image format accepted, will be huge and take forever to upload. I had to keep resending and resending the thing, because the upload bar would get to 22% or even 40% and then decide it needed to quit. Oddly enough, surfing the Net while I uploaded seemed to help. (I would have thought it counterproductive, but whatever works.)

I am waiting on my proofs for both books now. A little hesitant, since this is the first time I’ve done something like this, and print-on-demand has such a bad rep. My next post will let you know how it goes, what mistakes I made, and what I did to correct them.

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Risen Available on Kindle Now!

Just in time for Cyber Monday!

Purchase it here.

Nearly two years after surviving the incident on Ptaal, the unique psychic abilities of Harp Hess and his dolphin companion Sia have captured the attention of the Ninth Democracy. Isolated from his mother and trained at a secret facility to battle the alien threat of the Viciss, Harp is reluctantly on route to his first real battle.

But an ambush leaves Harp and Sia stranded, in the company of a ragtag militia desperate to save a doomed planet. As Harp struggles to form an uneasy alliance, Sia realizes this time, their greatest enemy may come from within …

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Rigadoons of Regret

Finally, FINALLY, Risen is being published, I swear! Just in time for Cyber Monday, the sequel will be available.

I apologize that things took so long! Most of it was computer trouble, but a good chunk of it was also getting other writing projects ready for critique and presented to agents and whatnot.

But for those who follow the blog, I have some art to reward your patience!

RisenThis was done a while back, just as concept for some of the characters that appear. Leviathan the humpback whale, Trig the Pacific white-sided dolphin, and of course Zei, Sia, and Harp from Book 1.

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Risen Resurrection

So, it’s been a while. I’ve been working on many other writing projects, but the sequel to Highsong is nearing completion. I’ll announce the official release date soon, but in the meantime here’s a nifty preview of the cover for Risen. RisenCoverLoRes


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