Another Update

Okay, so apparently ‘update tomorrow’ means ‘update a few months from now’. Sorry about that. I’ve been busy, but who hasn’t. Since my last update, I’ve put out a book (The Pawn’s Play, now available on Amazon and CreateSpace); had two adventures while trying to drive home in a tropical storm (it’s a really bad idea to lock your keys in your car while it’s running in any case. Doing it at midnight, during a tropical storm, while your phone is in said car is worse.); bought a new (used) car and accidentally rear-ended my Dad’s car while trying to take it home (no injuries, no damage to his car, mine was drivable but the headlight was damaged and it was weeks before I could get it fixed); gotten a new addition to the family (in the form of an awesome cat); been snowed in for days (see my previous driving record, I am not driving on ice!); and been a panelist at Marscon (don’t think I made too much of a fool of myself, and I sold twenty-two books out of thirty.).

Anyone here who found out about me/my blog from Marscon? I’d love to know. I’m also working on writing a newsletter. I’m trying to set up a widget where you can sign up on this blog and my website to be added to my mailing list, but if that’s not set up, then you can email me at hjhardingbooks@gmail.com and request to be added. First newsletter will hopefully be out by the end of next week. Judging by the frequency of this blog, newsletters will not be overly frequent, so don’t worry about being spammed.

For anyone interested in knowing, I plan to attend Ravencon, but I did not sign up in time to be a panelist or even to reserve a table. I may have a few copies of my own books to sell, but more than that would not be fair to those who did pay to reserve a table. I would however be more than willing to talk about my books to anyone there.

The sequel of Secrets of the Moon Fox is not out yet. I was hoping March, but since I’m less than a quarter of the way through revising, it might be later still. The sequel to The Pawn’s Play, titled Knightfall, is through revision and should easily be available in the spring. Still needs to be professionally edited and any changes from that, but I’m not expecting any holdups.

First chapter of The Pawn’s Play can be read here for free. Please check it out. Like I did for Secrets of the Moon Fox, I would like to propose a contest letting a reader win a free autographed copy (by the way, the contest for Moon Fox is still open, details are at the bottom of the post on the link). The Pawn’s Play is a more tongue in cheek book than Secrets of the Moon Fox. It was actually supposed to be humor (sort of), and was inspired because my sister asked me to write a vampire school book. That didn’t happen either. But all the buildings that are named at Hyde are named for people who have something in common. The name could be first or last, real or fictional. First person to correctly identify what they have in common and the name behind each building gets a free autographed copy.

  1. King Library
  2. Shelley dorm
  3. Price dorm
  4. Griffin Infirmary
  5. Victor Science Building
  6. Addams dorm
  7. Barker Central building
  8. Meyer dorm
  9. Stevenson History building
  10. Poe Humanities building

Some are easier than others, but there are no tricks and no one is named twice. Either leave a comment or email me.

Monday I’ll have a writing blog. Promise. (I think. Fingers crossed.)

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A Lunatic Post

A Lunatic Post

So, last week’s post didn’t seem to go over well. I’m disappointed but not surprised. I had trouble writing it, and it didn’t seem to go where I wanted it to. Hopefully this one will be better. I’m afraid it is a little ramble-ly, though. This post also contains minor spoilers for Secrets of the Moon Fox (Available on Amazon), and small plot hints for The Pawn’s Play (Available in November). Nothing that should spoil your enjoyment.

I read a fascinating article last week. This month, in the Western Hemisphere, there will be two new moons in the month of September. September 30th will be the second new moon. In the Eastern Hemisphere, October will have two new moons. The article proposes calling the second new moon be called a ‘black moon’ to go along with the second full moon as a ‘blue moon’. Personally I loved the idea.

I also found it ironic because in The Pawn’s Play, set in an unspecified year, I put a blue moon at the end of September. Actually, I probably cheated a little, as I don’t think you can have a blue moon on the 28th of a month. Not with a moon cycle of 29 days, but I thought it was 28 days at the time, and I’m leaving it for plot reasons. Then again, as strange as that school is, a slightly different lunar cycle would be the least of differences.

Secrets of the Moon Fox has a Werefox as a protagonist. But, as she eventually explains, being a Werefox is not anything like the stereotypical Werewolf movies. It is a purely genetic condition. One is born a Were, or one is not. Also, they have discovered in the past hundred or so years that it actually has nothing to do with the moon, but rather with two chemicals that are found in Weres but nowhere else in nature, and peak in a 28-29 day cycle. Yes, this is my own invention, but there are explanations in the book. Because of this, Weres do not always change on full moon, but each has their own cycle. Many believe there is some type of magic involved, because despite the fact that a Were’s first change isn’t until they are five years old, they almost always (95-99% chance) change on the lunar phase when they were born.

But as I was considering this yesterday, I realized that there would have been centuries where they did believe it was affected by the moon. So it only makes sense that there are a host of beliefs and superstitions about the moon and the changes involved. I’m having fun developing that.

According to the Kikisutai Clan, it is unlucky for twins not to share a lunar cycle. It is unlucky for a husband and wife to share a lunar cycle. That one is based of practicality. If they are both running around as foxes, who’s watching the children, etc. And, there is a personality theory based on lunar cycles.

Those who change on full moon are the performers, the show-offs. They thrive on having every eye on them, and they know how to keep those eyes there. Last quarter changers are the questioners, the philosophers. They ask the questions about life, and are always searching for knowledge. New moon Weres are the behind the scenes people. They see what needs to be done, and they do it, without seeking the public eye. First quarter people are the ones who are always striving for a challenge, always trying to do more.

Those who change between the four phase days are a combination of the two phases they are between. It is considered lucky to change on one of the four phase days. Naturally, like all attempts to diagnose someone’s personality through external forces, it is only so accurate.

After coming up with this theory, I went and looked up what the lunar phase for the day of my birth. I am almost exactly between last quarter and new moon. That… is actually semi accurate. You can find out the lunar phase for your birth by doing a google search for ‘Lunar phases’ and your birth year. What are you?

Contest is still open. You can win a free personalized autographed copy of Secrets of the Moon Fox, if you can tell me what the original planned release date (July 12), the actual release date (September 9) and the sequel planned release date (January 5) have in common. You can win a personalized autographed copy of either Secrets of the Moon Fox or The Pawn’s Play, if you tell me the easter egg based around the release date in the book. Because it is currently Kindle exclusive for ebooks, Secrets of the Moon Fox is available to be read for free in the Kindle lending library. I only ask that if you like the story, please leave a review.

P.S. Please tell me you understand the pun in the title.

Why I chose to Self Publish

Secrets of the Moon Fox is a self published book. I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that. So, why did I self publish instead of publishing through a publisher? Is the story worth less because of that? What are the advantages of each?

Let’s start with the worth. There is still a bit of a stigma for self publishing, that only those that can’t be published traditionally do such a thing. And places that do that are frequently called ‘vanity presses’. That stigma is shrinking as more and more excellent books, fully the equal of traditionally published books are self published.

A good story is a good story regardless of who puts it out. I have read fanfiction that was better than the story it was based on. But, like fanfiction, self publishing is so easy to do that anyone can put out something, regardless of skill, ability, or quality. Presumably traditional publishing has had at least an editor go through it and correct spelling and grammatical errors. I experimented with self publishing some years ago and released a book before it was ready, and it shows. No, I won’t tell you what it is, but it is still available. I haven’t gotten around to taking it down. This time I made certain to hire an editor, something that is highly recommended for any professional who chooses to self publish.

A commercial publishing company is concerned with being able to make a profit. They don’t like to take chances on unknowns. Be that a story that doesn’t quite fit their divisions, a subject that might be a little too controversial or an author they have never heard of. They are however particularly interested in self published books that develop large audiences. For example, Eragon, or The Martian. Both were self published books first. Though it is worth noting that those stories are known so well because they are exceptions to the rule.

What are the advantages to traditional publishing? Well, your book is more accessible. Secrets of the Moon Fox will not be available in your local bookstore or library anytime soon. CreateSpace is a print on demand company. They only print a book when someone orders it. They don’t supply to bookstores, because bookstores don’t want to buy them because they can’t give them back if they don’t sell.  It’s a process called remaindering. No one denies that a book published through a traditional press is truly published, so there isn’t any of the possible stigma. The larger presses offer an advance on royalties that the writer gets immediately (though if a book doesn’t out-earn its’ advance, the publisher will be much less likely to sign on a second). They will send out copies for review and do a little advertising for you as they certainly want you to succeed.

What are the disadvantages? Time. If Secrets of the Moon Fox were accepted by a traditional publisher tomorrow, it could be somewhere between a year and a half and three years to end up on book shelves. Minimum would be eight months to a year if they had incentive to hurry, like believing the book topical. Control. As an unknown writer, I have very little leverage to negotiate with, meaning the publishing house could want to make changes in the story, and has final say on the title and the cover art. If I had a good agent, I might get a say, but the publisher generally has control. Speaking of an agent, most of the larger publishing houses won’t even look at your manuscript without an agent. I am not denigrating the role of agents, they are very important. One writer at Marscon put it this way. “The right agent is worth their weight in gold. The wrong agent is their weight in gold around your neck while in the ocean.” An agent also has to be paid. Ten to fifteen percent is current standard. So ten to fifteen percent of what you make would go to your agent. And what you make is a much smaller percentage per book sold than you can make through self publishing.

So, with self publishing you mostly flip those. You are on your own. If you want something done, you either do it yourself or you hire someone to do it for you. I hired an editor and probably should have hired a cover designer. When I had time to do so, I didn’t have money and when I had money, I didn’t have time. So I actually used a photograph I had taken. I am on my own to promote this book (which actually isn’t much different than if it was traditionally published). I did have to put out money to do this, as opposed to traditional publishing. Not to CreateSpace, but to buy ISBNs, to hire a proofreader, etc. But I didn’t have to wait years, and considering I started this story over ten years ago, I think it has waited long enough. I was able to pick the exact date I wanted the story to come out. I picked September 9th for a reason. Actually, my original plan was for July 12th, but life was far to chaotic at the time. My next book is due to come out November 1st because the sequel states that the school the series is about was founded then. Which is itself an Easter egg, because November 1st is my birthday.

Fun Contest: July 12, September 9, and the date the sequel is currently planned, January 5, all have something in common. I will send a free personalized autographed copy of Secrets of the Moon Fox to the first person who can tell me what that is. It is plot relevant but you don’t have to have read the book to figure it out. I also planted an Easter egg in the book about that date. I will send a free personalized autographed copy of either this or my next book to the first person who tell me that one. Winner’s choice. Yes, that one you do have to read the book for.

This is getting really long, so I think I’ll end this post here. Please remember to check out my website here. Secrets of the Moon Fox can be purchased here or in print or kindle on Amazon here.

 

 

Update

So, I wrote a post in the middle or end of June. Not one I was particularly proud of, but a post. But due to getting locked out of my account and life getting extremely busy. I never posted it. Sorry about that.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past two months. Moved into our new house; painted my bedroom and helped paint several other rooms; tried and failed to find places for all my books (who needs a bed anyway); tried and succeeded to be accepted as a guest at next year’s Marscon (YAY!); had extremely bad luck with cars (hit/ran into a car while walking, minor injuries; accidentally rear-ended a car, no injuries, no damage to their car, significant damage to mine; been rear-ended myself, no injuries, negligible damage to my car, no idea about theirs; and blown out a tire, now replaced); planned a camping trip (leave today); started to build a website (still in progress); and arranged to publish my novel, Secrets of the Moon Fox.

Yes, Secrets of the Moon Fox comes out this Friday in print and ebook. Audiobook format should be available soon. I am extremely excited. First chapter can be read here. No, this blog will not become a ‘buy my book’ advertisement center. I do hope though that you will pardon me some excitement.

This is the post that I originally wrote back at the end of June. It does contain description of mildly violent and traumatic events. Hopefully not to the point that it will trigger anyone but I felt the warning should be given. I have not edited it to change the reflection of time so the Tuesday referred to was in June, and this post was written about a day or two after the death of Anton Yelchin. Haven’t done the interview yet either, so you can still send questions. Provided nothing goes tragically wrong during the camping trip, I will post again Wednesday or Thursday with a link to my new website and more information about my novel.

Turning your experiences into Writing gold.

I ran into a car last Tuesday. Literally. I was crossing the street, not at the crosswalk because the sidewalk was under construction. I passed a truck that was stopped at a stoplight, but the truck coming the other way and I didn’t see each other in time. I remember trying to stop, even putting my arms out to stop myself. That was probably a mistake, because my arms landed on the car that was still going faster than I was and in a different direction. I careened into the side, hit the street and rolled. Through it all, I can still remember my incredulous thought of ‘I actually got hit with a car!’ as if these things just didn’t happen.

I was fine. Got up right away and started looking for my shoes, both of which had been knocked off. One was at my foot, while the other was a couple feet away. A couple scrapes, some bruises. I’m sore, but I’ll heal.

I’m not telling this story for sympathy, or in some misguided attempt to compare or compete with the recent tragedy of Anton Yelchin (RIP). I’m fine and the accident was probably mostly my fault. I’m telling this story because it is a recent experience that can and likely will shape me as a writer. Being mugged at gunpoint a few years ago did. So did the forty-two hour train ride that I took when I was ten. Not to mention the years of living in Russia.

My experiences both are and are not unique. Many other people have been through one or more of the experiences I have. Maybe there are a rare few that have been through all of those. You have my sympathies. But even still, it won’t be the same. My sister took the same train ride I did, and was in Russia when I was, and even longer. She’s even had her own experiences of being hit by a car (no injuries) and being held up her first night at work (she thought it was a drill). But what we went through and what we remember are different because we are different. Because of our temperaments, ages, and other experiences, what we went through was unique to us.

They can also aid in writing. What I have been through, what I remember, allows me to portray certain things in a way that feels authentic, because I remember what I felt and thought when something happened to me. When I was mugged, I found myself unable to look away from the gun. So on at least two occasions when I was writing about a character who was untrained in fighting being threatened with a weapon, they couldn’t look away either. I’ve had characters take trains in Europe that are nigh on identical to the ones I rode in.

Oh, you don’t have any exciting experiences to recount? I’ll bet you do. Maybe something you don’t even realize is unusual to someone else because it’s common for you. Or maybe you should consider your less exciting memories. When I was about nine, Mom set up this little play tent in the back yard of our house in Philly and let my sister and I camp out there. I remember waking up in the early morning and finding slugs had crawled on the mesh door. Not an important memory. Doubtful it’s one that has had any major impact on my life, but it is a memory. It wouldn’t make a plot, but if I ever do a story about people camping, I can throw in something similar for color. Or mention just how loud leaf bugs are when they hit a tent. (Different camping trip).

To make the best use of your memories, exciting and small, I would recommend journaling. It’s amazing what you forget that you are sure is indelibly etched in your brain. I have found notes of stories that I have forgotten writing, and been surprised about how different the story has become. I’ve read old journal entries and been surprised that I had forgotten things that seemed so important at the time. Write it down, tell someone, do what it takes to remember the little details because those details will be what adds wealth and depth to your stories.

Share a memory? Large or small, the choice is yours.

Note: I have an agreement for the interview mentioned in the last blog post, but it has not yet taken place. So you still have a chance to ask a question. Either here or email me at hjhardingbooks@gmail.com.