Tag Archives: Citlalli

Free to write whatever I want

Is it odd that I find the fact that my books aren’t selling oddly liberating? That was a thought that hit me as I worked on the third book of the Citlalli series, and I found myself confronted with the need to make some hard choices when it came to a few critical aspects of the plot. It is a choice I have known I was going to have to face at some point pretty much from day one, and that was one of the main reasons I switched from Virtual Bookworm to CreateSpace in the first place, but still I know that, if the book had been selling, I would have found myself wondering which plotline would play better with my readers… I would have found myself trying to play it safe. That is human nature, but as things stand I am free to make my choice with no external influences. In fact if the books had been released by a traditional publisher I might well have found myself deprived of the right to make that choice at all. More often than not, that freedom is one of the first things authors working on a series have to give up when they sign on that dotted line.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like it if my books were a source of income. Like everyone else I have to eat, but the bottom line is that at the end of the day I have a roof over my head, I am reasonably happy, I can publish what I want, when I want, and my dogs are fed, so I have no reason to complain.  It is a matter of perspective, of keeping my priorities straight, and figuring out what matters to me… and of feeling grateful for the fact that I am in a position to follow my dreams, to write and publish my books on my terms, and to live my life more or less like I want to.

Do you have a favorite?

One question a few people have asked me is which one of my books is my favorite. That’s a tricky one , but my answer is mostly that while I try not to play favorites, that doesn’t mean I can’t give you a hint of where to start if you want to pick one of my books. To begin with let’s get Scales at a Glance out of the way. If you are interested in music theory then that’s the best bet. If, like most people, that is one subject you could hardly care less for, well, then you will probably want to avoid it.

Soulless was my first attempt at writing a full length novel, and I still think the concept is well worth it. At the same time there is no denying that it has a few of those kinks that are commonly associated with first novels(though I did fully revise it, so hopefully it’s not that bad any more).

Citlalli has its own set of issues. To begin with there is the fact that it is something of a work in progress, not to mention that it is long (something like 800 pages and counting, to be accurate), a fact that makes tackling it a prospect that may seem a little too daunting a starting point for those who don’t know me. It is a project I hold very dear, one I have been working on and off on for a very long time, but at the same time it is one I’m not sure anyone else is ever really going to care for. I would love for people to read it and enjoy it, but it may be too much of a commitment for someone approaching my books blind.

Finally there is Laira, I’m not sure I would describe it as my favorite, or my best, work but I do realize that it is by far the most accessible one of the lot. It is a straight-forward, science fiction novella that, if nothing else, can be read in a couple of hours.

So while I don’t really have a favorite, there is one book I can recommend as a starting point (unless you have a deep aversion to science fiction, that is)… make that two if you care for music theory.

And now to the next batch of projects

With a few projects fresh off the press I should probably be taking the time off right about now to savor the moment. I’m not. In fact I’m already hard at work in the next batch, and I’m also already  dealing with something of a log jam.

The horror story I mentioned a few days ago (that would be the idea that I said was acting like a mosquito buzzing between my ears some ten days ago) is not much of an issue any more. The rough draft is done and I am already busy beating it into shape. It is relatively short and will probably be released simultaneously in English and Spanish. In other words, that one is coming along nicely, and is past the point of giving me any real trouble.

The short project I began to distract myself between books two and three of Citlalli (the one I had thought would work as a side project while I wrote the first draft of book three) is more of an issue. Back when I started I thought it was going to be something like 40,000 words. If things had gone according to plan everything would be great, and I would currently be happily reviewing it. The problem is that I seemed to have miscalculated things a bit…. okay, so maybe it was more than a bit because the last time I checked the word count for that one stood at almost 75,000 words, and I wasn’t even even half way through (in fact I’m starting to get worried about the page count, price point thing when it comes to that one). Of course, I realize that calling that a ‘problem’ is not entirely fair, as I am I’m having a blast working on that particular project, and that in turn brings me to the real problem: the fact that that one is nowhere near done means that I am falling behind when it comes to book three of Citlalli, and to make matters worse that is one of those things you just can’t rush.

As for that book three of Citlalli. Well, I guess under the circumstances it is coming along as well as could be expected (I’m almost half way through the rough draft), but with two other projects vying for attention, one of them massive, I’m afraid that there may be small delay when it comes to getting that one out.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how things play out, though for the time being I am having to fight the urge to rush things in an attempt to meet a self-imposed deadline!

Updates, updates, updates

As you may have noticed, we have (the beginning of) a new look.

Anyway, the truth is that I’ve been working behind the scenes to shake things up and in the next couple of days those changes will gradually be going live. One of those changes is that this blog now serves as the homepage. A series of links that will get you to the older parts of this site are available via the menu above.

Also, my new books have been officially released. As soon as they are added to the amazon database I’ll be uploading the excerpts.

I hope you’ll like them, and sorry if things are a bit chaotic for the time being!

Er… update? Okay, the books are now live and the updates are done. Phew, I’m so glad that one’s over!

News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

Well it looks like I am going to wind up with two versions of these two books. It may not be what I intended, but in a really twisted kind of way I think it may end up being for the best.

What happened was that while I was working on the interior layout of Citlalli and the Shards of Light I decided to go for a different font and a bit more space between the lines than the one I had used in book one (in fact I decided to go for what was basically the same layout I had used for Laira). The obsessive in me wasn’t particularly happy at the thought that I was going to wind up with two different layouts in two books that were part of the same series, so I decided to update the layout of the first book while I was at it… and then I was made aware of the  fact that not only was there a fee for updating the files of a book that had been signed up for CreateSpace’s expanded distribution package, but also that if the page count changed by more than 10% I was going to need different new ISBN anyway (and seeing how that page count was going to jump from something like 372 to 436, that was definitely me). That was not a happy thought, and then the situation was compounded by the fact that I was going to have to increase the price of Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind from $17.95 to $19.95 just to keep the title commercially viable using the expanded distribution. Things were not looking good, and I was seriously considering the possibility of scraping the whole thing and just learning to live with those two different layout, but then I decided to turn CreateSpace’s update policy to my (and hopefully your) advantage. Continue reading News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

The books are coming!

They are almost here! I know I’ve been talking about this since what feels like forever, but if everything goes according to plan Citlalli and the Shards of Light, Scales at a Glance, and the Spanish language versions of both Scales at a Glance and Laira will be released on May 23.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m already hard at work in two or three projects that will hopefully be released next year? (and here I had thought that once this batch was done I’d be able to sleep for a month!)

CreateSpace, an update

Almost a year ago, as I was getting ready to release Soulless, Laira, and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, I wrote a post in which I tried to explain my decision to switch from Vitrual Bookworm to CreateSpace.  I admit that at the time I was somewhat worried about how that one was going to turn out. Now, as I prepare to release the next batch of titles, I am happy to say that for the most part my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one.

Yes, I still feel that if you don’t know what you are getting into, have never had anything to do with the publishing business before, and you want to have the comfort of knowing that there is someone in charge you can talk to, who will listen to your concerns, know your name, take care of the details, and who will actually be in a position to help you out if you run into trouble,  you may well be better off with a well-established, small to mid sized publisher that charges a reasonable fee, even if the they can’t match what CreateSpace  has to offer in terms of royalties. Of course, the key words in that statement are ‘well-established’ and ‘reasonable fee’ because this is one field in which there are way too many scam artists. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is one instance in which the belief that ‘you get what you pay for’ will probably come back to bite you. Remember that if your setup fee is more than five hundred times your royalties per copy sold via external channels chances are seriously against you ever breaking even.

Anyway, and getting back to the subject of CreateSpace,  I have to say that, in addition to the fact that you don’t get as much support as you would with a (good) smaller outfit,  I also remain convinced that the issues with CreateSpace‘s TOS (namely the fact that they reserve the right to make any changes they see fit) are a problem. In spite of that, at least for experienced authors who can supply their own cover and their own interior layout (and who are not above playing a round or two of contractual Russian roulette), they offer what is by far the best deal out there. They provide a very efficient service, and a finished product that has a reasonable quality (thought there may be some minor issues with curling covers under certain condition, and with the printing of interior images).  I can also say that, for the most part, the system works as advertised.

BTW, while I mentioned above that a personalized customer support is one of the big advantages of a more traditional publisher, that doesn’t mean that you have no recourse when dealing with CreateSpace. Their customer support is pretty reliable (for the most part), and they will (usually) do their best to help you if you run into trouble, so you are not entirely on your own. It’s just that you don’t have a specific contact you can address your concerns to, and that precisely because they have a such a large staff, you never know what you are going to get.

And finally, in the comparison I gave CreateSpace three stars out of four, but that was based on how they compared to other the other publishers, and it did include their layout and cover design packages, which may have distorted things a bit. If I were to evaluate CreateSpace based only the company’s own merits, without the design extras, and using a one to five scale, I would probably give it four stars for experienced authors, and three for newbies who are at least somewhat familiar with the basics of the publishing business.

Getting tired of apologizing (a sort of update)

No, this blog isn’t dead, it just looks that way.

The truth is that I am currently busy working behind the scenes (the new books should be available in about a month, though I don’t have a specific date), plus I am also working on an update to the POD comparison, and on a few other things. Seeing how I still haven’t figured out how to fit twenty-eight hours in a twenty-four hour day something had to give, and unfortunately that something turned out to be the regular blog updates, as demonstrated by the fact that it had been two weeks since I had posted anything.

I’m still reading, I’m still dismayed whenever I read the news… and I am also busy writing. Hopefully in June things will finally be back to normal.

The covers are here!

As you can probably tell, I’m finally done with the covers!

Overwhelmed

The past twelve months have been fairly productive ones –in fact they were great in that regard, so I’m most definitely no complaining about that– but today is one of those days in which I feel like I am being pulled in a dozen different directions. Right now I’m trying to put the finishing touches on last year’s projects. There are four of them. There is the sequel to Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, a fully revised version of Scales at a Glance, and two translations (Laira and Scales… are about to be released in Spanish). Anyway, each one of these four books must be proof-read one last time, formatted (and believe me when I say that that is not and easy task when it comes to the two versions of Scales, which feature about a gazillion figures each) and then there is the whole cover design thing. Oh, and if that weren’t enough there is also a blog that has to be updated, not to mention that I’m already working on two new projects and those too demand their share of time (those would be the third part of Citlalli and a sort of history book). I know this is just the final push and that it will be over in a couple of weeks, but I freely admit that at times the balancing act gets to be a little too much for me… I mean, right now I feel like I could really use a twenty-eight hour day! That wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t because today I got so overwhelmed that I would up getting distracted and didn’t even do the things I was supposed to do. That is one of my problems. As soon as I realize that there’s no way I’m going to get everything done I tend to get disorganized.

Well, there are worse things in this world. Here’s hoping that tomorrow things will work out a little better!

Plans and the real world

ARGHHH! Okay, now that I got that one off my chest I have to say that I am having some trouble with my writing… no, I’m not stuck, but rather I have a project that seems to have taken a life of its own and now I find myself facing a bit of a dilemma: I began writing that one in what amounted to a hiatus of the second book of Citlalli (I always take a small break before I start revising it to gain a modicum of distance). That hiatus was supposed to last a couple of months, which could be stretched to maybe four.

Well, those four months are almost over and the other book, which I had originally envisioned as having something like 25,000-40,000 words is well past the 60,000 mark and I am only half way through. That means I have to choose between postponing Citlalli to finish at least the first draft of the new one first, or putting this one on hold even though I am only half way through. As you can probably guess neither one of these seems to me like a particularly pleasant choice, but a choice I’ll have to make.

Did I mention I’m not happy about that one?

When things don’t turn out as you had hoped they would

Six months after my books went live in amazon I can honestly say that they haven’t sold well. Seeing how I am a writer, not a publicist, this is not entirely unexpected and I had originally thought I would let this particular milestone slip by unnoticed. That would have been the logical thing to do (we tend to celebrate our successes, not our failures), but the thing is that the fact that my books haven’t sold made me think about what this ‘failure’ means and to try to examine it more objectively… and then I decided that that was something that might actually be worth sharing in a world of ever-cheerful, self-promoting, self-published authors.

Continue reading When things don’t turn out as you had hoped they would

To be continued…

Okay, this one is about my own books. I know I rarely talk about my own projects here, but today I decided to make an exception. Right now I am working on the second book in the Citlalli universe and as I try to keep things coherent I am developing a far more intimate understanding of the advantages and the challenges posed by working within the context of what is basically a known universe. The biggest advantage is that, with a couple of exceptions, I don’t really have to worry about getting to know the characters anymore. That was one that gave me some trouble in the first one, as it took us a while to get comfortable with each other, but at the same time now I live in constant fear of contradicting myself, or of realizing that something I mentioned in book one has effectively caused me to paint myself into a corner in one of the sequels. I mean, when I write a stand-alone story I can always go back and make whatever changes I deem necessary to make sure that the whole thing works out in the end, but with a series the first book is already out there –firmly set on bytes and paper– and while I think book two is coming along nicely… well, there are still books three and four for me to consider. Continue reading To be continued…