Monthly Archives: December 2012

2013 Goals

I’m a firm believer in goal setting for my writing. How can you know whether or not you’ve arrived if you don’t have a destination in mind? Consequently, the final week of every year is devoted to reviewing last year’s goals and setting new ones for the coming year.

I’m always over ambitious, and for some, that would be a downer, but not for me. I mean, why be safe and set goals I won’t have to stretch for? I figure if I don’t aim high, I’ll never know if I can soar. I didn’t meet all of my 2012 goals, but I met enough that I’m very pleased with my progress. 2012 has been a very good year. I expect 2013 to be even better!

This year, I’ve discovered a new guide to my goal planning. Dean Wesley Smith is doing a blog series on getting ready for the new year. He starts with a retrospective of publishing changes in 2012 and then moves into goal planning, so be sure to look at the first three posts that he references. I’m currently taking an online class from Dean and learning a ton about publishing and my own strengths and deficits, so taking his advice is a foregone conclusion for me at the moment.

For 2013 I’m planning to follow Heinlein’s Rules as closely as I can:

  1. You must WRITE.
  2. You must FINISH what you write.
  3. You must NOT REWRITE unless to editorial demand. (That means an editor who’s paying you, not one you hire. Fixing typos / mistakes is acceptable.)
  4. You must put your work on the MARKET.
  5. You must LEAVE your work on the market.

I’m also setting a word-count goal: 3,000 words/week for 50 weeks, totaling 150,000 words for the year. Dean suggested 250,000 words for the year, but 150,000 will be enough of a stretch for me! That’s NEW words, by the way. He’s not counting revision and editing work (which I shouldn’t be doing since it violates Rule #3), nor time spent on covers and layout and publishing work.

So, depending on how my year works out, I should have a new novel and quite a few short stories, or perhaps two new novels by the end of 2013!

Onward and Upward!!

Longer Days, Shorter Tales for Christmas!

Are the cold, short days getting to you? Did you spend your money on that Christmas list only to find the sheet had an extra fold at the bottom with two more names? Hey, it’s not the end of the world- really, that’s so day-before-yesterday. And the Independent Bookworm has your solution.

Hope, Illustrated

The Book of Tales makes the ideal Christmas gift and digital stocking stuffer (imagine that, a digital stocking…). You can’t get anything lighter or more compact, and these dozen tales from the Lands of Hope are calculated to raise even the glummest spirits with noble beasts and brave knights, so different and yet so much like the ones we’ve known. It’s suitable for all ages: who doesn’t like the good guys winning? Here are hawks that rule, trees that speak, hero-ants (and a spider that isn’t a villain); a miller’s daughter who saves the day, the first tides, the last giants and more.

This work features the illustrations of talented young artist Teddy Newby, and words cannot describe what a pleasure it was to share my observations of this world, so close to my heart, with another person. Remind me to tell you about the time he convinced me what month of the year one tale took place!

Best of all, giving the gift of Hope couldn’t be easier, thanks to Smashwords. Insert your friend’s email address, and a couple of clicks later it’s on the way, and Smashwords makes your ingenious generosity available in all major formats.

So dig in, for yourself or someone else, and by the time you’re done it will seem like it’s staying light out until after, um, lunch.

A Writer’s Notebook

Do you keep a journal?  A writer’s notebook?  A diary?  No matter what you call it, keeping a place to jot down thoughts, ideas, speculations is an excellent idea for a writer.  An excellent book about keeping a writer’s notebook is Breathing In, Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher.  Breathing In, Breathing Out was published back in 1996, but the information is just as good today as it was when it was first published.

I have never used a writer’s notebook on a daily basis, but I do have about five notebooks filled with “notes” that I’ve written down through the years.  Sometimes I write snatches of songs or pieces of poems.  Sometimes I jot down brief scenes that pop into my mind.  Sometimes I write about hopes and dreams.  Often I write tightly, using brief words and phrases.  Days, even weeks or months may go by without my making any entries.  Then I may write several pages in just a few days.

Some of these musings find their way into a story.  Some aren’t worth the page they are written on!

I like to revisit my notebooks from time to time.  Sometimes re-reading an entry will spark an idea that I never even knew I had.

Looking through an old notebook, I came across these entries that I made back in the 80’s:

                         Icy roads. Sand trucks. Lights shining on sand spilling out in fine streams, falling, sprinkling, covering the ice.  Biting into the slick glass covering the road.  Pitting it. Tires whine and grab the sand gladly, inching up and down the hills.  (Local term:glare ice). 


Dark.  Dark is no light.  No street lights, yard lights, porch lights, or house lights.  No star light or moonlight.  Thick clouds  cover the night with blackness.  Nothing.  Nowhere. Stumble. Touch. Fall. Feel. Darkness.


                           “Silver Sounds to open Golden Gates.”  A circle of skin stretched tightly over a wooden hoop.  All around the circle hung tiny silver bells.  Each time she tapped the skin, the bells sang softly.  Janita heard voices coming from the bells.  She snatched her hand away from the bellskin.


Hummm.  Now that last entry fits right into a fantasy story.  Janita has to be the main character, of course.

Do you keep a writer’s notebook?  How do you use your entries?


Fabulous Give-Away from Fantasy Author Tracy Falbe and Rys Rising


You can’t do much better than this… outside the Lands of Hope of course

I am delighted to have Independent Bookworm serve as tour host this week for Tracy Falbe’s promotional tour and give-away. I have read and raved about Rys Rising which I think is a terrific piece of epic fantasy, and you can get it for free right here. So do that. Now Tracy is sponsoring a $25 Etsy gift card and the details can be found by clicking on this link:

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite for a great book. Enter the contest above and I hope you enjoy Tracy’s world as much as I have!

In this scene Dacian introduces himself to Onja. Their encounter is brief but it pushes him into his first true questioning of tabre authority.


Excerpt from Rys Rising: Book I

Dacian walked over to the cook but continued to scan the market. Exaton had just finished haggling with the cloth merchant and he started telling Dacian about his purchase, but Dacian only half-listened. Ifil and Lang reunited with them as well. They were carrying bundles and sharing reports on the various goods they had seen.

Exaton asked Dacian how his parents were. He answered absently, but then he saw the female and fell silent. Her entry into the market square was noticed by all. Bartering and conversations diminished as the scandalous female returned from her forbidden journey. All rys knew each other, and Onja was known to be a problem. Although being abandoned by her parents was not uncommon or particularly stigmatizing, she had always been defiant and rude to her foster parents, and gone through three different guardians before recently reaching ryshood at age one hundred and disappearing from Jingten.

She seemed to welcome the stares of the tabre vendors. A simple hooded cloak of human-made brown homespun draped her body to her ankles. The hood drooped across her forehead and a few black strands of hair hung out. A crow flapped down and landed on her shoulder.

“I wonder who will take her in this time,” Ifil whispered.

Exaton said, “Unless I’m wrong, I think she is no more a rysling. She will make her own home I expect.”

“I will go speak to her,” Dacian announced. The symmetry of her face and the indigo gleam in her black eyes were making him truly contemplate female beauty for the first time. He liked the vulnerable thrill of the new sensation.

Exaton, who had so recently urged Dacian to break his probation, now counseled prudence. “Leave her be, Dacian. You’ve your own problems with the tabre right now. Mixing with her will make them worse. She is a deviant. They won’t tolerate her, especially after this. Even rys are sick of her.”

Dacian dared to give his elder a judgmental look. He disliked how he seemed to reject her and so suddenly accept tabre authority. It was not right. He broke off from his companions and approached her boldly.

Dacian snaked his way through the crowd. He caught her attention while still a few steps away and she stopped and looked at him. Dacian raised a hand toward her but then lowered it because his reaching seemed inappropriately eager, almost rude.

“Welcome home, Onja,” he said, presuming to say her name.

Shyness made her cast down her eyes. His friendly confidence befuddled her after months away from her kind.

“I am Dacian,” he added.

Her lips twitched with a little smile before she looked up. “Your name is known to all, acolyte of the Kwellstan Sect,” she said.

By the way she called him acolyte, he was not sure if she was impressed or ridiculing him. Automatically, his mind sought her thoughts, but he could discern none of her feelings with any certainty. Her aura was like rowing into a thick fog on the lake. He could only be sure that there was water beneath him and he could not see the shore.

“Where have you been?” Dacian asked.

She looked among the other nearby rys. Her shyness slipped away as she announced that she had traveled to the west. A path could be found through the mountains, and many humans lived in the lowlands.

Patting her bird, she announced, “Any who would hear about the west may gather around and I will answer questions.”

Her offer easily aroused curiosity and many rys decided to hear what she had to tell even if they would never dare to travel outside the valley. Dacian nodded eagerly and several rys gathered behind him. Onja looked around for a likely spot where they could sit together, but before she could proceed, the crow screamed and flew away. A score of tabre from the tower led by Daykash Breymer entered the square. The Daykash was resplendent in his red, black, and gold-lettered robes, and his acolyte and priest attendants followed him like an extension of his body.

The tabre flowed around Onja, and the Daykash stopped in front of her. They were of the same height, but her youthful face with its crisp features made his old smooth face with its high forehead look like an eroded hill.

“You will surrender yourself to the custody of the Kwellstan Sect,” the Daykash announced.

Onja blinked rather innocently. Glancing at the stern tabre on all sides, she said, “It would seem that I am surrendered.”

“Then come with us,” Breymer said.

He started to turn, but Dacian pushed through the ranks of tabre and intercepted the esteemed Nebakarz. “Greetings, my great Daykash,” Dacian said.

“What is it?” the Daykash said sharply.

“With respect, my great Daykash, why do you take this rys female into your custody?” Dacian asked.

“How dare you?” Breymer spat, and a white hot flash of anger showed in his eyes. “No one can question my actions. Be silent!”

The priestly tabre lord spun with a regal flourish and led away his party with Onja. Dacian stood still as the tabre passed by. He met Onja’s eyes as she was hustled away. She seemed not to be afraid.

The tabre departed on the road around the lake to the tower. The rys and tabre in the square dispersed into murmuring cliques. The arrest of a rys was quite unprecedented, and no one knew what it might mean for the rys female who had been so suddenly interesting. Even the tabre admitted that they would have liked to have heard her reports of the west.

Exaton, Ifil and Lang came up behind Dacian, who remained standing where the Daykash had left him. With soft sympathy, Exaton said, “You see now how it is best not to mix with her, Dacian. She provokes the tabre with the liberties she takes.”

Dacian said nothing. Glumly, he helped his friends with their packages back to their boat and hunkered in the boat as they rowed across Lake Nin. Along the shore, he could see Breymer marching on the road with his group and his…prisoner? The concept was ugly. Surely breaking the ban on travel out of the valley did not warrant confinement. Why can’t rys go where they want? Dacian wondered.

Still glowering at the tabre on the shore, Dacian asked Exaton what they would do to her, hoping that the older rys might have some historical perspective on this incident. Exaton only shook his head.

They are not going to do anything to her, Dacian decided.


Tracy Falbe invites you to give her characters a chance to feel real to you. The Rys Rising fantasy series is driven by magic, passion, bravery, ambition, conquest, and defeat. Rys Rising: Book I is a free ebook and hopefully your gateway to an epic reading experience.

Start reading Rys Rising for free and enter the prize drawing.


Beyond Naked: My Audiobook Adventure

This morning about 7 AM I emerged from my sound studio having recorded the last word of my Tale of Hope “The Ring and the Flag”, which I’m making into an audiobook. I don’t know about you, but I read my stories to myself all the time. As I write the first draft I tie-break between phrases by hearing them out loud. I speak as I polish, all the time- some chapters I’ve probably chanted ten times over. And if you don’t know, I’m an amateur ham from way back- I’ve acted onstage since I was six (when I was type-cast in my first grade church school skit in the role of Jesus). I heard that audiobooks are cool because they bring in a new audience- the people who don’t read but who do listen to stuff on their way to work, while doing the laundry, and so on. And the websites I’ve looked at say people like hearing a tale narrated by the author. I figured what could happen?

Now I know.

My main publishing platform Smashwords has made an agreement with Podiobooks to link up their e-book pages from the former to audio files at the latter. You can listen to a chapter in your favorite genre for free through any MP3 device. Just like other audio exchanges, you can seek a pro to read your book (and pay them) or do it yourself. First choice easy! I listened to a couple and became somewhat excited- you know the sound quality is first-rate, you can picture the beautiful boom mike with the nice diaphragm to block your spit and soften your “p”s. On the other hand, these folks are almost TOO professional, you know? I was thinking, nice diction, but where’s the passion? I can do this. Hah!

One of my first two tales- back when I was silent.

One of my first two tales- back when I was silent.

So I spent a couple dozen hours in my “studio”- which I will freely confess means I carried my laptop and lapel-pin mike down to the basement of my house. The unfinished basement, with cement walls and floors, the central air vent shooshing a foot over my head and the sound of whoever just flushed the toilet trickling down the pipe to my left for two solid minutes. The cats, of course, have a need to know what on earth I’m doing balancing my water glass on the dryer and putting all these sheets of paper on my daughter’s music stand. Six-fifteen AM, the perfect time to record. Only a cat is insane enough to be awake at the crack of dawn. And if you’ve fed them, they keep reasonably quiet.

Of course I surfaced all the flaws in my writing I missed during the endless rewrites and polishing: reading your story out loud is ESSENTIAL, and I already agreed with the principle, but I keep finding more. Repeated words, that’s the thing that always kills me- for you, maybe something else. But with all that, I must say I come away liking The Ring and the Flag a lot, even more than I did a year ago on publication. It’s a very intact story, has some terrific plot elements, and I’m pleased to note that it lent itself very easily to the audiobook format (they like “chapters” to fit between 20 and 40 minutes ideally, and it was no problem to make my story sections match up in a neat half-dozen). I threw in a couple of special effects, and got to sing the soldiers’ marching-song. Perhaps best of all, the “studio” was only ten feet from the cat litter boxes- so I needed no help imagining the stench of the monster!

I learned to do two or three takes of every paragraph even if the first one sounded fine. Later I was shocked to realize what had transpired around me while I was carried away with the tale. I got the pops and cracks out with just some elbow grease. But the background noise was clearly my worst enemy. I used the Audacity recording utility which is freely available online and has eighteen times the features I could ever understand. Noise Removal was probably a solid six hours of my work, after cuts and choice of takes, just trying to get the hiss (roar, really) of the world down to a reasonable level without making my voice sound like the computer in “War Games”. Even so, I’m not sure what I’ve got here.

But frankly, I’m almost hoping you’re distracted by the equalization levels. Anything to get away from the sound of my own voice! I can’t believe I’m writing this- I’ve always been deeply, madly in love with the sound of my own voice. No fooling, I talk to myself all the time and belly-laugh at how witty I am. It’s pathetic. But to lay your own voice, reading your own tale, out there for the world to judge- well, it’s different. The actor’s nightmare includes appearing without any clothes on. But the thought of my voice on the web is the angst beyond naked. What if people don’t like the story AND think I sound like a dork?

So now there’s a pile of story I’ve heard many times, a paragraph at a go, but I must sit and hear it all again. If I can just bring myself to face the sound of my own voice- which is SO much different than reading out loud live and direct. Survive that, put in a few tags and an intro, and I’ll be ready to post. Hopefully you’ll have it within a week, certainly by Christmas. And if you or any of your friends are the sort who like to hear the tale, by all means let them know when it comes out. I’d be very interested to hear how I can improve. And if you like to listen while you’re in the laundry-room, I guarantee this story will make you feel right at home!

Now I think I’ll go put some clothes on.

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