Last December, I released my short story, The Biting Cold, as part of an anthology with Susan, Connie, Debra, JC and Jen. It went very well under both schemes we used. But it’s time to release it on its own. And to do that, I need an ISBN, a cover, the cover copy, and a price/package.
The ISBN I buy in bulk, so I just pull the next one off the list.
The price? Well, Amazon won’t let me put in anything less than 0.99 cents or pennies. I will put this story initially in the Kindle Select listings, so that Amazon Prime members can read it under their Kindle Unlimited contracts and I get paid for the number of pages read. This story was only ever intended to capture marketing information or be a tease to get readers into the Athanate world.
The cover copy I have from the anthology, but I want it shorter and sharper to stand on its own:
What price would you pay?
Dr. Amanda Lloyd, a dying psychiatrist with just days to live, is desperate to give the only testimony that will keep the criminal mastermind of a human trafficking network in jail. She can’t spare time for the handsome, mysterious patient who claims to be a vampire.
Unless what he offers her is exactly what she needs…
And the cover…
I’ve no intention of going out and paying a studio for a cover. So, what does the cover need to depict? “Vampires and romance”.
I don’t want fangs or a bitten neck on the cover, which leaves me with one obvious way of implying vampires (apart from the title itself), and that’s the font. I went looking for letter shapes that looked like knives or fangs, and I found Abaddon. Not perfect, but *free*. To ram the point home, so to speak, we need some blood dripping off a fang – ten minutes with PaintShop Pro.
The romance, well everything is a cliché. Naked male torso, serious abs and pecs. Bodice. Flesh. Kissing or embracing couple. Hands entwined. Red rose. Lipstick imprint. For no other reason than it was abstract, cheap and easy, I took the lips. Mwah.
What would be ‘nice’ for the cover to depict? Detroit, cold, winter, legal setting, a tale with a twist. I wanted to keep the cover simple and abstract, so the cityscape was out, as was the twist. They are respectively too detailed and too complex. The legal setting was interesting – there are lots of visual clues you can use, but I didn’t want to clutter. So I went for cold and winter, at which point, Jessica, Joshua and I came up with our interpretations and the attached are the result.
The covers have been getting votes on Facebook already. In case you haven’t seen it there, please vote here in the comments. Left to right, cover number 1-3. (I’ll be releasing the book on the 8th August).
As promised, the story of Amanda and Scott will continue for at least one more short(ish) book, and then will bind into the main Bite Back series.
I have been looking at names for the next book… maybe Heart of Winter
Okay. The first half went to my editor, Lauren Sweet, and came back with a sort of B+. She liked most of the major scenes, the general setup and she thought the twists were cool. There are three scenes she really didn’t like and I’m going to have to make them rock before I pass the first half to the wider readership of beta reader reaction.
While Lauren’s been doing that, I’ve been working on the second half. I have five major scenes which are done, five that are pretty much done and the remainder are in better than skeleton form. There are some thoughts I’ve had about another little twist or two and I have a character who leaped out onto the page while I wasn’t concentrating—do I keep her?
All in all, the whole book should be in final draft form during November, and the first half will have been mostly copy-edited. With that situation, I am reasonably sure that Cool Hand will be published by Christmas. It’ll be closer to Sleight of Hand in size than the others. I’m estimating 120k words.
I did promise myself last year that I wouldn’t be working with Lauren right up until the morning she got on her flight for her vacation. I hope I keep to that.
The book does wrap up some long running loose ends and set some new ones scampering off… 🙂
The Biting Cold
I also committed to doing a short story for an Urban Fantasy anthology to be released at Christmas. My story is called The Biting Cold. This is in its final draft and with Lauren (who likes it). I’m just waiting for a detailed report before sharing it with my co-authors.
What’s the deal on the anthology? There are six of us:
Jennifer Bock (JT Bock)
We are each writing a short story to be included. The anthology will be published in time for Christmas and is (very loosely) Christmas themed. The only way you get to read the anthology is to send any one of us an email request, and we’ll send the ebook back to you.
Of course we then have your email, and of course we will not abuse it, or sell it to others or market it in any way like that. We will send you an email alert when any of us has a release. 🙂
I wouldn’t have joined this group if I didn’t believe all of us are worthwhile indie writers with the sort of books I think you’d all enjoy. I highly recommend them and I know many of you are already fans of theirs.
What’s my short story about?
Detroit in winter.
A city in the grip of decay.
A legal system struggling to deliver justice.
An amnesiac woman who is dying.
Psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Lloyd is focused on living long enough to give her expert testimony in court and put a vicious criminal away. The defense are fighting for a postponement she can’t allow, and questioning her memory problems in an effort to discredit her.
She can’t spare the time for the patient who claims to be a vampire.
Unless what he offers her is exactly what she needs…
And it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to PNR! Lol.
The lines are open folks.
Hidden Trump in German
This is due out this month! I will post separately about this.
Sleight of Hand in audio
This is also due out this month! Also, another post to cover this.
I’ve got the main image for the cover of Cool Hand. I just need to pick a background that depicts (little spoiler) New Mexico.
My daughter and son are going to rework all the covers for Bite Back. Expect something very different next year.
Sales are okay…
The only ‘marketing’ I’ve done is to keep Die verborgene Hand down at 0.99 Euros to try and make the release of book 2 that much more of a splash.
My Seville trip post. I know, I know, I’ve been so busy. However… the fanatic watchers have now published a slew of photographs, and since I was there, some of them are of me! I will put this together with an anecdote or two when I next take a bit of a writing break and I’ll post it here.
Those writing breaks… Yeah, guys, I’m like everyone else; I have to do tax returns and challenge crazy insurance quotes and all the other drek that comes along. The rest of the time, every day, I get somewhere between 1k and 4k words down into the book.
Recommendations for reading: Another post. Christmas time (ish). I hope.
Bian’s Tale. Looks like I’ll pick it up next year now. I have read some more out-of-print books with fascinating detail about Saigon in that time, but the main thing I’ll be working on when I get back to it is getting that story sharper.
You can deconstruct any genre, and make it seem trivial. Urban Fantasy (UF) is no exception.
Kick ass heroine is excluded from her family/pack/societal group, because of flaw/rules/genetic purity, and this makes her angry and defensive, which manifests as extreme sass and confidence. She feels no- one loves her, but a gorgeous man/were/vampire/demon is smitten with her and they make beautiful love and alarming mayhem in defeating the threat to the societal group/world, aided by the very flaw that excluded her (and some nice weapons).
Well, they tell me there are really only five stories anyway* (*needs reference), so any book in any genre is going to sound trivial when deconstructed.
I love UF because it starts from a position of breaking rules. UF didn’t exist and publishers didn’t want it or invent it; it caused problems for them because there wasn’t (and still isn’t in many actual bookstores) a shelf for UF. Writers and readers created it by taking other genres and smashing them together under great pressure. Sorta like making diamonds from coal.
But can writers continue to break the rules and not lose their UF audience?
I’m about to find out.
I’m always intent on there being as much reality as possible in what I write. It’s too easy for writers (all of us) to ‘magic’ it. Yes, we’re trapped and the situation is hopeless, but here’s a spell you (the reader) didn’t know existed that is tailor-made to smart-bomb the enemy. Kazam! Game over.
At the other end of the world-building, is the ‘because’. Why is she angry? How can she do that? Because. A ‘because’ just makes you accept whatever is there without explaining how it came about. I try to avoid this and make real-life reasons for the situations my protagonists find themselves in.
So, Amber in the Bite Back series is self-confident and can kick serious ass because she spent ten years in the army learning to be like that. She is super-fit and strong because she is OCD on exercise. She has angers that she has buried for a reason. And I make this plain within the stories as they unfold. And that’s sorta neat, but it doesn’t break any rules.
What of my other protagonists, and the reasons they are like they are? There’s no room in the main novels, so their tales need to be separate entities. And their tales may not fit comfortably within the UF fold.
Bian is the first of these. Many readers have enjoyed her and some have actually said she’s at least equal favorite with Amber, which is an enormous vote of support. And there are reasons for the way she behaves; the outrageous, provocative, flippant, teasing attitude masks a horrific odyssey. Bian’s Tale crosses the divide from Urban Fantasy to Horror.
Hacha del Diablo is second. This is a prequel to Sleight of Hand, a story from when Amber was still in special operations, deep in the jungle, losing members of her squad one by one. I guess if it’s a genre then it’s Military Horror. It certainly isn’t Urban Fantasy, and mixing it into my UF world breaks the rules.
Hope you like breaking rules with me.
Welcome to my blog, where I’ll be posting my thoughts (ramblings) on writing and updates (shameless self-promotion) on the Bite Back series.
Here’s a little bit about me:
My name is Mark Henwick and I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often.
An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing.
And here’s a little bit about ‘Sleight of Hand’, book one in the Bite Back series:
“Vampires are the flickering illusions of Hollywood. They don’t exist. We do. We are the Athanate.”
For Amber Farrell, post-military life as a PI has its ups and downs: She’s been hit by a truck. She’s being sued by a client. Denver’s newest drug lord just put out a contract on her. The sinister Athanate want her to come in for a friendly chat. And it’s only Tuesday.
Enter Jennifer Kingslund: rich, gorgeous – a tough businesswoman who’s known for getting what she wants in the boardroom and the bedroom. Someone’s trying to sabotage her new resort and destroy her company – and she wants Amber to find out who.
The answers lead Amber past Were and Adepts, right back to the Athanate – and a centuries-old war that could threaten not just Denver, but the nation that Amber swore to protect and serve.
And all sides want to claim her for their own…
Interested in finding out more about Amber? Check it out: http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n