This is Real, This is Now!

It’s Launch Day for MOONLIGHT AND MOSS!

You know how it goes: It feels like I’ve been waiting for this day forever, but on the other hand, it all went so fast, once I finally decided on a release date.

That, they say, is normal to the point of being trite. Here’s the really weird thing, though: I feel like it all happened so long ago! I’ve been working a lot, lately, on the next book in this story-cycle, so that now when I talk about my work I get all mixed up about which story I’m talking about. I hope I don’t end up giving away any spoilers that way!

Each of the books in this story cycle is designed to stand on its own. The end of each book winds up the main plot and finishes the current story (with just a few Questions to give you a hint at what the next one might be about!)

You still might prefer to read them in order if you can, though, to avoid spoilers. Seven Turns happens, chronologically, before Moonlight and Moss and also focuses on Callaghan McCarthy. I am pretty sure there will be one more story (not counting the Christmas Episode – stay tuned!) with Cally at its heart. I have tentatively titled the next tale “Rivers and Roads.”

From here, I can see at least seven stories about Woodley, USA and it’s quirky denizens, and that seems like an appropriate number of rivers to cross. But you never know. There are a lot of people – and you know what I mean and do not mean when I say “people!” – calling my name. People who want their stories, also, to be told. I guess I’ll find out when I get to that bend in the road!

…and then they came upon the Thing…


(With many thanks to The Men for their amazing song and all the inspiring imagery it lent me.)

Moonlight and Moss Launch Party!

It’s official! Moonlight and Moss will be released on May 31, 2019. The launch party will be on Saturday, June 1, at 3:PM at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.

I can’t say enough good things about Page 158! Not only are they the coziest independent bookstore I’ve ever been inside of, but the staff are all friendly, fun, and knowledgeable, and the proprietors are active participants in the community. They really love supporting local and independent authors. If you live anywhere near Raleigh, you need to visit this store!

But especially visit it on June 1, 2019. Not only will I be debuting Moonlight and Moss, but There Will Be Cake! Just sayin’. 🙂

If you can’t make it to the party, we’ll be live-streaming it on my Facebook author page: facebook.com/kimbeallauthor and I hope to see you there!

Moonlight and Moss – Coming Very [Very!] Soon

It’s official! The release date for Moonlight and Moss is May 31, 2019. But you can pre-order it right now (see links below)!

Now, I’ve never understood authors who make their pre-order price higher than the regular price. It’s like you’re punishing your biggest fans for their enthusiasm. I think my Biggest Fans should be rewarded! Honestly, I’d make the Kindle version like 1 cent for pre-order but Amazon doesn’t allow anything lower than $2.99, so I did my best! The pre-order price is $2.99 – after June 1, the price will be going up to $4.99. Barnes & Noble has made the paperback available for $11.99; after release it will go up to the full price of $15.99.

My journey to deciding to self-publish was fraught with self-doubt and anxiety, but I’m glad now that I did it. The interior design stuff (especially getting the pagination to match up with my table of contents) was kind of a nightmare! But I really had a lot of fun being an active participant in the cover design. I’m really proud of the final product, and I hope you’ll like it, too!

Let me state unequivocally, here, for any other authors considering whether to self or traditionally publish:

Fear of “loss of creative control” should never be a factor in deciding whether or not to publish traditionally because, frankly, it’s a complete and utter myth.

Even with traditional publishers, the author retains authority (that’s where the word “author” comes from, peeps!) and has final say over any and all suggested changes. Fear of “loss of creative control” was not why I decided to self-publish Moonlight and Moss. I chose this route because it became evident to me early in the querying process that it was highly unlikely any traditional publisher would ever be willing to pick up the second book in a series. Once I finish Cally’s story arc in the Woodley, USA universe (this will happen when Rivers and Roads is released in 2020) I will begin a new series. It will probably also take place in Woodley, but since it will be a whole new series with a whole new main character, I will be ready to begin pursuing traditional publishing again.

Because I have other things to do besides going crosseyed formatting text for PDFs and .epubs. I have many books to write before I sleep!

Oh, and that reminds me: Who would you like the main character of the next series to be? Is there anyone you’ve already met whose story you’d like me to explore from their own point of view? Or would you like a new main character all together? Let me (as the YouTubers say) know in the comments below.

[Pre-]order Moonlight and Moss:

Somebody’s Calling Your Name…

To Self or Not To Self

As promised, here is my little tale of “Why I Might Have to Self Publish Whether I Like It or Not.”

As most of you know, I am currently actively seeking representation for “Moonlight and Moss,” which is not technically the sequel to Seven Turns, though it takes place in the same universe. And has the same main character. And happens chronologically just a few months after the end of Seven Turns. But still, it’s not a sequel, per se! I have been careful to make sure it could stand alone, if someone reads it who has not read Seven Turns. Beta readers have assured me it is in fact perfectly easy to follow even if they do not know what happened in Seven Turns.

Still… try explaining that to a literary agent. I mean without adding the above ninety or so words to an already-probably-too-long query.

Agents, as a rule, are not keen on picking up an author mid-series, and I can’t say I blame them. Some are OK with this, though, and I will continue to search for one.

But why not just publish Moonlight and Moss through my existing publisher, you ask? The one who published Seven Turns? Well, this is where it gets tricky. I like my existing publisher just fine, but they don’t have the capacity to give my work the kind of service I feel it deserves. They do not have a marketing department, for one thing, and yes. Yes, yes! I’ve already heard it a million times! “But today’s authors are expected to market themselves!” Yes, I know! And I do! I do All The Things. I’m not very good at it, but just look up at the top of this page and click the link to the previous post to find out why I am not interested in learning how to become good at marketing.

“Fine, then,” you say. “This means you are doomed to obscurity because unless you are published by the Big Five, the success of your writing is based solely on  your marketing skills.” This is not completely accurate for two reasons: 1) There are more than five publishers who don’t expect their authors to be the only person on the marketing team and 2) my work is, in fact, good enough for the Big Five. (But that’s a different discussion all together.)

The thing is, it’s not just about marketing – it’s also about distribution.

I had never heard the word “Distribution” before Seven Turns came out. Well, not in the context of publishing. I didn’t realize, until after I started trying to market my work, that bookstores do not like having to deal with Amazon. My publisher – like many other small, independent publishers – distributes only through Amazon POD. I noticed early on in my marketing efforts that the minute I used “the A-word,” as they called it, bookstore managers would grimace and shake my hand and wish me luck. I didn’t understand what was going on until the owner of my own lovely local indie bookstore explained it to me.

Apparently, Amazon treats booksellers like crap. Amazon considers its colleagues in the publishing industry to be competition, and Amazon does not appreciate competition. It wants to be the only game in town. For this reason, it does not offer retailer discounts on books, nor does it offer a return policy on unsold copies, as do the book distributors who work for other publishing companies.

Get Local at IndieBound.org
Buy books locally at IndieBound.org

Mind you: your local bookstore will happily order a book for you from Amazon, but they will not make any profit on it, and they will have to eat the shipping costs, as well, but they will do it for you because they want to be your friendly neighborhood bookseller. They will not stock Amazon KDP-produced books on their shelves, though some do happily stock them for me if I order them myself with my author discount, then carry them to the store myself and hand them to them to sell on a commission basis.

This works fairly well for me, for my local booksellers, but I am not going to be able to physically carry or ship copies of my book to every bookstore in the country, and that’s where I want my books to be available: in every bookstore in the country. For that, I need a distributor.

So what I am searching for, now, is a publisher who works with an actual distributor, so that booksellers can obtain copies of my books the way they do the other books you see on their shelves. I may be able to find this publisher on my own, or I may need to obtain representation from a literary agent to find one for me. I’d much rather have an agent, if I can.

Except that “the serial problem” mentioned above is making this already daunting task several orders of magnitude more difficult.

I have been advised by industry professionals to just scrap the entire Callaghan McCarthy/Woodley, USA storyline and start over with a new series, which agents will be more willing to look at. But I’m not gonna do that, y’all. I’m not going to pull a George R. R. Martin on you! I promise I will finish Cally’s entire story arc before I start writing the stories of some of Woodley’s other denizens.

This means that if I do not get some more traditional nibbles for “Moonlight and Moss” soon, I will go ahead and self-publish it, so that people who are clamoring to find out what happens next with Cally and Ben and George and Emerald are not left hanging. I had originally intended to release about one volume a year, when I set out, and I am determined to remain as close as I can to this schedule. If this means I have to self-publish the next two volumes, so be it!

And then I’ll start in on the story of one of Woodley’s other quirky citizens. Who would you like it to be?

New Year, New Story, New Plan

So I took a break, after finishing the final draft of Moonlight and Moss (working title – but probably actual title, too!) to clear my mind before diving into Query Hell once again.

During the month of November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a little (for me) vignette about what Christmas is like in Woodley, USA. I really like how it came out! It’s been fascinating to find out why it snows every Christmas in Woodley, in a part of the country that ordinary doesn’t get snow at all. And, I found out what happens if you don’t have a wish to whisper into Santa’s ear at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Christmas at Vale House

I’m so pleased with it I’m going to polish it up and self-publish it as a gift to my readers. Someday I’ll also include it in the boxed set once the third Woodley novel comes out. The title is A Midnight Clear. Chronologically, it falls between Moonlight and Moss and the third volume which does not, yet, have a working title.

Now that I’ve got all the Beta-reader input back on Moonlight and Moss, I’m going to comb through it one last time to make sure it’s as perfect as possible before I begin submitting it for publication. I have received some great coaching on querying from people in the industry (particularly from Meg LaTorre at iWriterly, who gives a great online class on query-writing) and maybe I’ll have better luck this time finding good representation for traditional publishing.

That was my New Year Resolution for 2019: to find a new traditional publisher.

And here I must apologize to you, dear readers. Since I am, in fact, looking for a new publisher for “Moonlight and Moss,” this means it will take longer to hit the shelves than I anticipated, had I stayed with my current publisher. I feel terrible about this, because I know so many of you are clamoring for the next story. Believe me, I can’t wait for you to see it, either! But I really do feel these stories at least deserve a publisher which has distribution and marketing capabilities, and I must do right by them and find one.

To make it up to you for this delay, I’m going make the story I wrote about Luke, the proprietor of Motherboard Pizza, available for free. I can do this for the e-book version, anyway, though Amazon does require I put a minimum price of $2.99 on paperback copies. It includes a map of Woodley and the floor plan of the ground floor of Vale House, if that sweetens the bitter pill at all!

Also, I intend, in the interim, to give you some sneak-peeks at sample chapters of Moonlight and Moss, here on my blog. Stay tuned…

I know that’s not what you’re asking for, though, and I do promise to get “Moonlight and Moss” out there as soon as humanly possible. Without taking shortcuts on quality or on carefully reviewing publishers’ qualifications, of course!

Cats Never Cooperate

I have reached the Beta Reader stage with Moonlight and Moss! This means the story is complete and I have combed through it dozens of times, ironing out plot conundrums and making sure what I’m trying to say is clear to the reader. Probably. The only way to know for sure is to ask some actual readers.

Fortunately I have a wonderful group of highly literate friends who don’t mind being brutal if they have to, and who will absolutely tell me exactly what they experience as they read my, what, I guess it’s twentieth draft, now.

I’ve only sent them the first half of the manuscript so far, though. You see there’s this cat. I know this cat needs to be in the story, I just can’t figure out where it belongs. Should it come sooner in the story? But then if it does, what shall I do with it when the Really Bad Guy is on the loose? I don’t want it to get hurt! (No. I will never, ever, ever write a story where an animal or a child suffers. Nope. Ain’t gonna do it.)

It would also work just fine if it jumps in at the end of the story, but it’s just so darn adorable, I really want to see more of it. So, I keep moving it around. And, of course, every time I move it I have to change the scenery around where it was, and also the ones where it went later. It is this one, final detail that is driving me bonkers and keeping me from being able to say my manuscript is complete!

So, well, if you are one of my Beta Readers and you finish the first half and want to know where the second half is, all I can say is: It’s the cat’s fault!

NaNoWriMo Preptober Exercise #28

Journal on What Worries You About Your Story World

What worries me is that I am still not sure what the deal is with the faerie city beyond the meadow. I really only know marginally little more than Cally does. In a very real sense, she and I are both figuring it out as we continue to press forward. (That’s another thing I should have said about her in Exercise #21: What You Love About Your Character(s). She generally doesn’t just get dragged along by the story, she pushes it forward, herself, with her inability to just turn her head and look away.)

I don’t think I’m a pantser. Not really. I guess more of a plantser. I do believe in the value of planning and of a rough outline and synopsis at minimum. At the same time, though, I have faith that the Answers to unsolved conundrums will come to me. I’ve seen it happen too many times to not believe this, so I just make note of these unsolved questions, take a deep breath of faith, and press on. I wish the Answers would come sooner, I guess, but they come in their own time. For instance, I finally figured out, after all these years, who Emerald is, after I finished Seven Turns. I’ve known of her existence for over twenty human years. Maybe it only comes when I’ve written whatever I need to write, first.

Would Seven Turns have been the same if I’d known all along? Probably not, though whether it would have been better or worse is a question I’ll never know the answer to, now. Certainly Cally’s confusion is palpable because mine was also real. Only, I fear this may come off more as “disorganized author” to a reader.

But I suppose there’s always that. Having started on Volume 2 now, there are things I want to change about Volume 1 to better support things I want for Volume 2. A dilemma Tolkien Hisownself famously may or may not have solved successfully. At least I’m in good company! And in truth I suppose this always happens to Real Authors, pants or no pants.

At least it’s not actually too late to change Vol 1. a bit if I want to. I had affirmed that I will have a contract in hand by next #PitMad and so not be able to participate this time, either, but in any case, I will (like Cally) just press on.

Things I don’t know yet that are worrying me
(but that I know will be OK!):

  1. The exact nature of why the Vale is so important; what would actually happen if it were breached, from either end?
  2. How the White Council opens or closes (or adjusts, like a tap) the Way In to Woodley.
  3. The nature of the Intrigue in fairyland; who the bad guy(s) is/are and what they want.
    (I always hate the Bad Guys part of any story, as a reader and as a writer. I wish I could just get away with dispensing with the whole concept. I would happily have watched 14 hours of The Lord of the Rings movie even if it were all scenes in the Shire: wandering through the village, a protracted Bilbo’s birthday party, and weeks on end of evenings spent in the Green Dragon. Why does there always have to be A Problem? That’s a Meta-Philosophical question about life in general, I suppose. And I’m not at all satisfied with the sophomoric stab the Matrix takes at the answer. Personally I’m going to blame a virus or parasite in the human brain. Or aliens. Maybe the aliens are a virus!)
  4. I am still not 100% sure whether Cally will go with Ben, or not, when he has to go. I think I know, sometimes, but…well, maybe I’ll figure it out when she does.
  5. Who Done It. Okay, I’m fairly sure. And I even think I know how we can satisfy the Rule about having to meet him/her early in the story. Just not sure he/she should really be all that bad..?

This whole thing is starting to feel more and more like a DC Comic every minute…

 

NaNoWriMo Preptober Exercise #7

I’ve decided, since I’m working on Books 2 and 3 anyway, to make Book 2 my NaNoWriMo project this year. Working title will be: Moonlight and Moss.

The exercise for Day 7 of Preptober  is “Journal on what excites you about your story idea.” (Today is the 20th so I’m running behind, but aren’t we all? OTOH I already have many of the future exercises already complete. So there’s that.) Anyway here is what I journaled:

It excites me that my fans (yes! I already have some!) will be excited to get back to Woodley and re-visit some of the characters they love. I am looking forward to finding out more about George’s story and about who/what Emerald is. It’s not as if even I know all the details, at this point. I am also looking forward to actively exploring what lies beyond the meadow. I get a little short of breath when I think that at some point Ben will go with Cally into the meadow – it’s hard to get any privacy at Vale house. 🙂

Katarina will pack them a picnic basket and Bethany will insist they take a blanket with them “so grass won’t get everywhere” wink wink nudge nudge.

I do plan to delve deeper into faerie lore, and this makes me nervous. Faerie is not a thing in which one should go messing about without advance preparation/education, and even then, it’s still kind of perilous. I must trust to my allies, I guess, just as Cally must. I think Rum will look after me, but I am still more than a little apprehensive about meeting Ben’s mother, and I think his daughter might give me some gray hairs, too. Good thing I like gray hair!