Blog Archives

Wednesday musings on writing

It occurred to me earlier today that I’ve been working professionally in the writing dodge (and by professionally I mean people have given me money in exchange for my words) for about twenty-two years, now. My writing career can legally drink, if not rent a car. Which is probably for the best, if you think about it.

So while I may bitch and moan about sales at times, in retrospect I’m actually pretty happy with where I’ve gotten to at this point. Between my SF and romance names (by the way, you all DO know that I write science fiction and urban fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, right?) I have seven full-length novels, three novellas, two novelettes, and twenty-six short stories to my credit. That’s not bad at all, especially since I’ll be bringing out at least another three novels this year as well as more novellas and short stories.

And not only have I been publishing, but I’ve been gifted with a fiercely devoted band of readers (you know who you are, and you are all in the will), plus I’ve been getting critical attention for my work. Night Owl Reviews just did an interview with me, and the lovely and talented Cynthia Sax will also have an interview on Degree of Resistance up on her website soon. So, yeah, I’ve actually done pretty well in my career so far (take that, Imposter Syndrome!).

Fabulous, I hear you say, but why are you babbling at us about this? Well, 1) because I can, and 2) it helps to work out what I’m going to do next. This year I’ve decided to concentrate on leveling up to the next professional step; namely, increasing my readership, shooting for a USA Today bestseller list slot, and maybe even winning an award or two (although I’m reminded of the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett, he of the insanely successful and brilliant Discworld series, never won anything until late in his career. People rarely take humor with the seriousness it deserves. But I digress). And the best way to do all that is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep entertaining folks, which, yeah, just twist my arm already.

Did I mention that you’re all cruel but beautiful, and I love you oodles for reading my stuff? Because I do.

It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.

And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.

To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year)  I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).

So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.

Author swag, promo, and wine — oh, my!

facebookad_countdown3So I’m running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to get my gift basket and author swag for Wild Wicked Weekend put together, and I like how things are shaping up. The gift basket will have a tiara, three–count them, three–bottles of wine, both Two Thrones books and Degree of Resistance (CreateSpace worked a miracle and the print copies should arrive the morning I leave for San Antonio), some lovely chocolates from World Market, Belgian hazelnut cookies, a VISA gift card, a Burt’s Bees care package, and a purse-sized lint roller and bottle of hand sanitizer for purposes of practicality. If you’re coming to San Antonio next weekend, make sure you bid on my basket — it’s going to be awesome. Also, come find me at the group signing and get me to personalize your books.

lhI’m also busy doing promo on Facebook and Twitter for Degree of Resistance, (THREE MORE DAYS, PEOPLE! Get your copy at 99¢ while you still can!) and I came close to disaster a few times. See, in order to have the ad graphic appear instead of the graphic link to Amazon I have to upload the ad first, then paste in the text with the Amazon link. The link is still active, but that way I get to choose what graphic gets used in the post.

Under normal circumstances this little dance works splendidly, except that my graphic is only one of two graphics on my desktop at the moment and I almost posted a picture of Louis Herthum a couple of times. Which wouldn’t be bad, mind you, especially since he provided so much inspiration for this book. But it’s rude to involve people in your PR without their permission.

That being said — damn, he’s cute.

Lord, it’s Sunday night already

NotEnoughCaffeineI honestly don’t know where this weekend went to. Well, no, I do — it went into sending out copies of Degree of Resistance to my beta readers, finalizing the cover for DoR, setting up pre-sales at Amazon (available here if you’re of a mind to pick it up for 99¢ before it goes up to $3.99 on release day), cleaning my utter sty of an office (whereupon I discovered that one of my furry darlings peed in my office closet, which required me to move everything off the floor so that I could attend the stain with the portable rug cleaner and some Nature’s Miracle, whee…), doing laundry, attending a meeting at the local Democrats office, having coffee with one of my beta readers who reassured me that she was enjoying the story so far (and she will tell me if I’m screwing up), adding DoR here to the Bookshelf, creating ads and doing promo on social media, and formatting the DoR ebook. I’m going to hold off on doing the print version until I have all of the other edits done, but in the meantime I can get the print version of Palace of Scoundrels finally done and published, which would be nice seeing as it was released in, oh, late October.

Yeah, well, we were kind of busy around that time.

Anyhoo, yeah, the weekend kinda got away from me and I still need to put all the laundry away, pay bills, and finish cleaning the office (aren’t you envious of my glamorous life?). But by God I’m going to hit the ground running tomorrow, especially since I don’t have to start Round Three of edits on DoR until Wednesday (I swear to God I actually have a schedule this time), and that means I can continue to edit the alternate history mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll that’s been languishing on my hard drive for the last three years and get it ready for release on 2/28.

Two books released in one month. Yeah, I like the sound of that.

Cover Reveal: Degree of Resistance #SFromance #cyborg

And here, finally, is the cover for TNFKAI, now titled Degree of Resistance. The manuscript is off with the betas and editor (three betas have already contacted me to say they’re loving it), I’m about to set up pre-ordering on Amazon, and I am VERY excited about this. Release date will be 2/21 and I’ll be throwing a release party on FB to celebrate with giveaways and lots of hilarity, so mark your calendars!

degreeofresistancecover

State of the Writer

melwritingHeya. You haven’t seen hide nor hair from me for the last week or so because I’ve been editing TBFKAI. I’m currently working on the last chapter, after which it goes off to the betas for critique and review and I pour myself a large Angry Orchard and enjoy some season 5 Longmire. Here’s my schedule between now and 2/21, which will be the release date:

  • Send MS off to beta readers and editor
  • Finalize cover for ebook and print
  • Set up pre-sales in Amazon
  • Start doing teasers on FB, Twitter, and Google+
  • Send out teasers, cover to newsletter subscribers
  • Set up a release day party
  • Get crits back from beta readers and editor
  • Incorporate comments/corrections into MS
  • Do a third editing pass
  • Do a spelling/grammar editing pass
  • Do a weasel word editing pass
  • Do a polishing pass
  • Format .mobi version, upload to Amazon three days before release date
  • Format .epub version, upload to Smashwords for distribution to B&N, Kobo, iTunes, et al
  • Format print version, upload to CreateSpace
  • Release book on 2/21 with FB party and wild shenanigans

After which I may sleep for a day. But only for a day because after that I have to finish Behind the Iron Cross and start the whole thing over again. Plus there’s the alternate history mystery I’d like to finish editing and publish. *rubs face* It shall get done somehow, selah.

The Muse Is In Town, I see

museI can tell because the mojito-swilling lush just dumped a buttload of backstory on me about the book formerly known as Intersection and now I have to carefully work slivers of it into the edit. I was hoping to be finished by today and have the book off to the betas and editor. Now, maybe I’ll be done by Sunday. Maybe.

*rubs face, looks around for the rum*

On the plus side, understanding the backstory means that vague issues that have been nagging at me are finally quiet and I’m starting to feel good about where the book is headed, so I have that going for me. On the minus side, I couldn’t have figured out any of this stuff when I was working on the first draft?

Apparently not. Welcome to my PITA brain. Which also decided to entertain me last night with dreams about being arrested by NOLA police and having to go on the lam, and then a very weird interlude at a party where for some reason I was lazily making out with Alan Tudyk while Ramón stood by chatting with folks. While I am fully aware that Mr. Tudyk is a handsome man and eye candy for those who love gingers, he’s never really pushed any of my buttons so I don’t know why my subconscious decided to pull him out, so to speak.

Someone suggested that he represents myself and that I’m in need of some self-care. Of some sort, anyway. Ahem. Which is probably true, but will have to wait until after I get this book edited and off to the waiting readers. No, wait, then I have to do the print version of Palace of Scoundrels (PSA: for the love of all that’s holy, I’m begging you, PLEASE leave reviews on Amazon for Palace. Lack of reviews means the sales are tanking and I can’t justify writing another book in this series unless I can make money on it. Thank you for your understanding and support) so that I have print copies to take with me to Wild Wicked Weekend next month. And then I have to do the final edits, formatting, promotion, and release for TBFKAI. And, and, and…

I just got back from vacation, didn’t I? Doesn’t feel like it. Never mind, back to the salt mines…

Marvelous Monday Reads: Race to Redemption

Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, angels! Today I’m featuring Shari Elder and her new SF romance Race to Redemption. Take it away, Shari!

Thank you so much for hosting me. I’m thrilled to be here and have the chance to share my story. Race to Redemption (Green Rising Book #1) is science fiction romance jam-packed with action, one panty-melting hero, sexy alien races, and a kickass heroine. In the story, a pilot and a doctor race across the desert to prevent a deadly plague while fighting the pull of their own hearts.


race-to-redemption-evernightpublishing-nov2016-smallpreviewA woman who lost everything.

Intergalactic storm racing champion Elaina Carteret had it all – fame, wealth, men – until a horrific accident took it away. To get it back, she agrees to pose as Lainie Carter, medical transport pilot and corporate spy. Her risk-taking attitude infuriates Dr. Erik Johansen, who runs the outpost with an iron hand, a permanent scowl and the tightest bod on the planet.

A man desperate for redemption.

Unable to forgive himself for a past tragedy, Erik works himself into an early grave. He has no patience for the insubordinate Lainie Carter, who can’t take an order, disrupts routine and flames his body to ash.

A planet at risk.

When the outpost is attached, they’re thrown together in a race across the desert to stop a deadly biogenetic weapon As a fragile trust blossoms between two damaged hearts, their pasts resurface and threaten their growing bond.

Story Excerpt

Elaina and Fintarl transferred the meds from the craft to the supply hut. This was her last stop today. Her routes varied daily her first month on the job. Someone was either trying to ramp up her knowledge of the terrain and facilities quickly, or prevent her from finding out too much. The collections of mysteries and snippets of information she’d gathered made her head hurt. All she wanted was a bath to wash away the stink of too much desert driving and a nap to give her mind a few minutes to turn off. Fintarl’s toothy scowl warned her that wasn’t on the agenda.

“Boss man. Want.”

She raised an eyebrow at the Ranharran and took a deep breath before heading to Erik’s office. He kept their exchanges to a minimum during her regular drop-offs at this facility. She was getting under his skin, she knew it. A meeting had to mean she pissed him off somehow. Good. It gave her another opportunity to ramp up the heat. Anger was close enough to lust to wedge open a door.

Shoulders pulled back, head high, she barged into his office. She’d always been good at bravado and she liked to keep him off balance. “Hey farm boy, you wanted me?” She flashed him a flippant smile to push the double entendre right into his face, and all she got was a grimace in return.

I’m only getting started, Dr. Johansen.

Settled on the mud blocks that passed for seats, she arced her back to offer up breasts wrapped to perfection in a tight white tank. The perspiration worked in her favor. It molded the top around her so she was as good as naked, maybe better. Her bare legs, firmed by countless hours in the gym, crossed in front to put all that toned flesh on center stage. Take a good long look, boss man.

Days of beard growth and a rumpled shirt signaled erratic hours and insufficient sleep. It seemed to have gotten worse since the last time she’d seen him. Was it only days ago? The world of secrets and hurt he dragged around on his shoulders was devouring him from the inside out. Why he avoided her when he could benefit from the physical release she offered confused her. He didn’t even have to like her to screw her. Still, he stayed away.

Erik pushed his too-long hair off his face with one hand and a package across his desk toward her with the other. The flicker of lust that darkened his eyes when she ran her hand from breast to thigh, he quickly buried. Droplets of sweat glistened along the carved muscle of his forearms. A tattoo—a yellow sphere sitting on a black line encased in a blue circle—peaked out from his shirtsleeve. Like Saskia. How odd.

“One of my better ideas, yes?”

“Ms. Carter.” Stiff formality. “On the job for a month and you’re already messing with the medical packaging? Until you show me a pharmacology degree, don’t do it again.”

“Seriously, Erik? It’s the Ranharran equivalent of string and paper. No harm done to the medicine, and I can increase the load by thirty percent. The more I move the better for everyone.”

“You’re missing the point.” He enunciated each word like it hurt to say. “The meds are volatile. Any shift, no matter how small… Damn it, Lainie, do you have any idea how dangerous this stuff is? You could get someone killed.”

“I’m trying to save lives.” Her eyes closed, she swallowed hard, trying to keep her frustration from spilling out. A raised voice wouldn’t get her very far. She already tried that. “I don’t get you, Erik. This compound is thirty miles from the Karas border. Your medical supply closet’s always running on empty, the transportation infrastructure on this planet is deteriorating and rumors that the Den Vedran Corporations are arming the Ranharran mercenaries are escalating. With unpredictable storms that can close transit corridors at any time, I’d think you’d welcome ways to move more medicine.”

His faced blanched at one point through her tirade, but was now back to its normal grim. “Not. The. Point. I won’t have my orders questioned by anyone. Without some discipline, I can’t ensure the safety of everyone under my protection. I’ll make it easy. Don’t tamper with my meds, or I’ll get a different pilot.” His lips thinned so tight they trembled. She wanted to kiss them calm after she beat him with a stick.

“You don’t want to get rid of me. Whose face would you use for target practice?” Her voice lowered, forcing him to lean closer. “And whose body would you think about when you jack off in those late hours when you’re crawling for relief?” She was guessing, but the way he struggled to suppress those flashes of longing when she got close to him convinced her she was on the mark.

“You’re trying to annoy me. Okay, it worked. No tampering, no arguments. Meeting over.” He ran his hands through his hair and pulled at the roots. His eyes looked haunted and decades older than his thirty-six years.

This was not about packaging or her rule-breaking proclivities. Whatever he kept sealed down tight was driving him to an early grave. Without thinking, she leaned over the desk and traced a finger along a blond eyebrow. He recoiled like he always did when she touched him.

“Yes, I do it to piss you off. You’re wound up so tight, farm boy, you’re going to snap.” Her finger slid down his cheek to his chin. “Let me in, Erik. I could help you reduce all that tension, but you stay so far away. So I poke.”

She pressed her breast against his arm to make her offer clear. “No commitment required. Just two people trying to get through the long, lonely nights.”

He pulled back. “I said we’re done here.”

She swallowed her anger and flipped him a bow. “Your highness. I’ll visit Sen and Qirta before I head back to Mendasa.”

“No miskberries.”

Sen’s favorite treat were hidden in a secret pocket in her bag. What Erik didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

Where to Buy

Evernight | Amazon | Bookstrand

About Shari Elder

Hello, I’m Shari. By day, I crawl out of bed, mainline coffee, walk the dog, get my kid off to school, hop on the metro, and save cities within the four walls of my office. Usually by email.

At night, the other Shari emerges.  I take off the suit, curl up on the couch and let my imagination play, with words and images until stories take shape (while periodically checking on my teen-ager, hiding out in the bedroom and plotting world domination).  As my alter ego, I save cities in a cape and spangled tights, wander space and time on a surfboard, fly over the Himalayas on feathered wings, make six-toed footprints in indigo talc snow on the sixth planet in the Andromeda galaxy or eavesdrop on Olympian gods while pretending to whip up a bowl of ambrosia.

In all these wondrous worlds, romance and passion blossom. I can’t resist a happy ending. And I am particularly prone to writing happy endings for those who have given up on ever getting one. That gives me immense satisfaction.

Join me on my journey. The best ideas emerge from team work.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Apparently I owe the producers of Longmire an apology. Kinda.

longmireIn my previous post, I lamented the last ep in Season 3 of Longmire because it pretty much blew my sense of disbelief on a number of points. That being said, one of those points was further illuminated in Season 4, where in ep 3 we find out that Barlow had hired a soldier from Jacob Nighthorse to kill Walt’s wife for what turns out to be a logical reason — she was campaigning against the construction of Jacob’s casino, and Barlow was counting on it to bring in people for his nascent golf course and other businesses. To the producers’ credit this was brought up in one of the previous seasons. It still seems a bit of overkill to murder a woman dying of cancer, but at least I can follow Barlow’s reasoning now (although it would have been nice if this had been made a bit clearer in the S3 ep. A line from Barlow saying, “I had her killed her to protect the family business that I’m giving to you, you little pissant” would have sufficed).

stayontarget2Still doesn’t excuse the other issues, but as a friend pointed out Absaroka County gets a surprising ton of dead bodies considering that it’s in a low-population state, so if you can buy that, you can buy iffy characterization choices and Walt and Henry getting away with stealing a dead body and having it accepted as evidence.

In other news, I’m closing in on the end of Intersection, as demonstrated by the already out of date target counter at right (word count is currently up to 62,058). With luck and a good tail wind, I should be typing “The End” sometime late tomorrow.

Which will be good, because it’ll give me the length of my upcoming vacation to let the backbrain cogitate on it and work out kinks, at which point I’ll be ready to edit it into shape when I get back. Release date is scheduled to be 2/7/17, and I’ll be making it available for pre-order as well as sending out ARCs to reviewers and bloggers. If you want to leave a review or do a blog post featuring the book, let me know and I’ll make sure you get one of the ARCs along with a media packet.

Did someone remember to salt and burn 2016?

Gah, what a year. Okay, there were a few bright spots (I became an international bestseller thanks to the German translation of Trickster, hit Las Vegas, Toronto, San Antonio, Orlando, and Tampa on various trips, and managed not to die unlike so many others), but on the whole I’m glad it’s all over with.

louisherthumSo, first goal of 2017 — write 3K a day and get the first draft of Intersection knocked out by 1/10. I’m currently at 42,337 words, so hopefully I can stay on schedule and take the draft on the upcoming cruise with me to edit, with an eye to having it published by 1/31 in time for Wild Wicked Weekend. It helps that I already have the rough draft of the cover done and an editor is chomping at the bit for this puppy.

And yes, I’m editing on the cruise, because there is no such thing as a vacation day for an author. Oh, what larks that would be. Instead, we have guiltily stolen hours here and there where we peel ourselves out of our writing dens and totter out into the daystar, blinking and cowering.

Now, that being said, I will state that the time I’ve spent watching Seasons 1 and 2 of Longmire since Christmas are not stolen hours. Oh, no, my friends. They are research, I tell you, research into the golden smart-assed gloriousness that is Louis Herthum, may he win something nice for his marvelous work in Westworld. He did inspire Intersection‘s male lead, after all, and I like hearing his voice in my head when I write Ben so I need to watch him work for … motivational purposes. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

(Have I mentioned that I love my job? God, I love my job.)

But Longmire is also really damn good — I have no idea how I got the impression that it was some sort of grim post-modern Western. Oh, wait, yes I do — it was A&E’s crappy advertising. Arrgh. But it turns out to be this gorgeously shot and incredibly well-written police procedural that just happens to be set in a small Wyoming town. Also, I could watch Robert Taylor glower from under his cowboy hat all day long, but that’s another blog post. So I still have two more seasons on DVD, then I can finish off the fifth season on Netflix, then wait patiently for season six to start sometime this year.

Jesus. I’m actually watching TV again. Damn you and your charming performances, Louis!