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Quick Rant re: IL/Amazon

I was reading about the Amazon Associate program and how, once I get my books rolling, it would help me by increasing my income from sales generated by my website by a few extra percent.

So I went onto the affiliate program website to sign up and get “Residents of IL are not eligible”.

A quick google search revealed that because the Illinois government decided to try and force affiliates to collect sales tax for e-commerce, Amazon was forced to pull the program. Really, Illinois?

This is simply ridiculous.

#endrant

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Bruce Blake

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently pondering my situation and reading the thoughts of others (like Russell Blake, for instance). What have I been pondering, you might ask? Well, the dilemma of getting exposure and selling more books.

Up until recently, one of the best ways was to sign up to KDP Select and run free promos. Some authors were wildly successful under this program (like my friend Martin Crosbie), experiencing tens of thousands of free downloads and thousands of sales. It seems to be general consensus, however, that, due to Amazon changing the way their algorithms determine popularity lists, the effect of free promos for the independent author has greatly diminished (this appear to have happened around mid-March, just before I did my first promo). While my sales have increased (I have sold as many by May 19th as I did for all of April), the big push is no…

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Killing Your Characters

With The Cerberus Rebellion in the hands of my beta-readers and 3/4 short stories finished, I’ve been working on plotting out the character arcs for my main characters over the rest of the series (right now, 5 more novels).

When I first developed the general idea for where I wanted this series to go, I had a pretty solid idea for how I wanted each character to end up. As the first novel developed, however, my long term goal for person shifted.

My plot, as it stands now, is radically different from what it was. First off, I had to kill an important secondary character in order to nudge one of the main characters down a certain path. As I’ve developed the arcs for the series, I’ve realized that at least one of my POV characters needs to die at some point toward the end of the series to bring closure.

This is really the first time that I’ve considered killing off a main character. In all of my other works, the main character comes through at the end.

I think the catalyst for this change of perspective was reading the Song of Ice and Fire books by George RR Martin. I won’t spoil it further than saying that he doesn’t mind killing off fairly important people.

I think that the multiple POV approach to writing provides the backup necessary to be able to kill off main characters because new ones can slide right into place and the other POV characters can continue the story.

When I initially killed off this secondary character, I went back through and read all of the chapters that he/she were involved in and realized that there wasn’t much to attach the read to him/her. So I went back through and beefed up this characters involvement in the story and the interactions with MC(s).

I haven’t received any feedback yet, but I’m hoping that my re-work of the character provided enough substance to make their death felt.

So what’s your opinion on killing off primary or important secondary characters?

New Home

So I went ahead and started a WordPress.com site/blog. It’s a little bit new, so please bear with me while I work on getting it set up and ready to go!

Also, I registered “GunpowderFantasy.com” as my domain name!

Expect to have a blurb up for The Cerberus Rebellion by the end of the weekend and hopefully a cover by the end of next week!

Junk it!

So I was writing a chapter that, when I had started it, felt like a good idea. It filled in some information, introduced a new POV character that I intend to carry on to the next book and did some world building in the process.

And then, about 1,000 words into it, I hit a wall and realized that the chapter wasn’t contributing to the story as much as I expected it would and was in fact breaking up the pacing of the story. So I did what I always do, threw it into my “Snippets” folders and started a new chapter.

I have over 6,000 words in my Snippet folder. Some of it may be salvageable, but for the most part there’s nothing for me to do with those words.

It seems strange on one hand that I can put so much effort into a chapter and then throw it in the bin. Oh well, back to work!

Plotting

So I’ve read several different blogs on the benefits of Plotting (or Outlining) vs Organic Flow. 

Personally, I’m very much a Plotter. I like to lay out my full story ahead of time so I have a guidepost to go on. It’s mostly just ideas that I’ve had ahead of time that I want to make sure I get back around to. Now, that isn’t to say that I strictly adhere to my plot and leave out any chance of Organic Flow. Quite the contrary, my in depth plots tend to spark organic flow as I look to them for guidance. 
I’ve been thinking about how far ahead I should plot. So far with my current world, a sort of Gunpowder and Sorcery Fantasy, I’ve chapter-by-chapter plotted out the full first novel. But I’ve also come up with several significant plot points that I will be working into later installments of this series. 
I also have a general idea of where I want the novel to end.
I’ve considered going through and fully plotting out two or three novels ahead in chapter-by-chapter form, but I think that until I get through Novel 1, I won’t be positive where I want to take certain aspects of the following novels.
Do you plot ahead, or are you an organic flow person? And if you do plot, is it just a general outline or in depth chapter by chapter ideas?

Top 5 Mobile Apps For Writers

     With the increasing penetration of the mobile world into every facet of our lives, it was inevitable that the mobile world would eventually develop things that would become useful to writers, instead of just providing a constant distraction.
     As a member of a generation that has seen the mobile world explode and smartphones and tablets become massively popular, I find myself almost as comfortable writing out a blurb on my smartphone or tablet as I do on my laptop. In fact, with the exception of writing for long periods of time for my main branch works, I usually don’t spend any time on the computer anymore. Being that my smartphone is nearly always within reach, its important to me to have applications available that will allow me to work on my ideas without necessarily requiring that I be at a computer.
    Below you will find 5 primary apps and 5 secondary apps, in no particular order, that have become a major part of my writing on my mobile devices.

The first app is Evernote. For a long time this app was just something that I used to jot down an idea here or there, without any real thought as to how it could be used. When I only had 1 device to worry about, Evernote’s cloud sync option didn’t really appeal to me. I always had my device near me, so why would I need to worry about syncing my notes.

Now that I have multiple devices, however, I’ve found it very handy to write up a plot idea, a chapter snippet or any other random bits for my works in Evernote. The program automatically syncs between my smartphone and my tablet so I can always go back and continue with what I was working on, regardless of what device I was using when I had the idea.

Android Market: Evernote for Android
iOS App Store: Evernote for iOS

Next is the app Read It Later. This application allows you to save full pages of websites, blogs etc to the cloud and, as the name implies, Read It Later.

This app is exceedingly useful to me as I have very little time to read as it is, so searching for an article that I found interesting doesn’t really fit into my schedule. And where bookmarking a page would be useful on a single device, I don’t always remember where I saved a certain bookmark for a certain page. This app allows you to save the page for offline or later reading and access it from any mobile device or from a web interface if you want to use your computer to access the pages that you’ve previously saved.

Android Market:Read It Later for Android
iOS App Store: Read It Later for iOS

Moving right along, two of the most popular office suite apps available right now are Documents To Go and Office Suite. These apps allow you to view and edit documents and spreadsheets and view pdfs. I’ve found this very useful for when I want to write up the beginning of a chapter or a short story and then continue it later on my PC. This takes out the step of having to copy and paste from a note taking document.

They both have very similar features, though the main difference are that  Documents To Go will allow you to access your Google Docs account, whereas Office Suite doesn’t, and Office Suite is not available on iOS at this time.

Documents To Go
Android Market: Documents To Go for Android
iOS App Store: Documents To Go for iOS

Office Suite
Android Market: Office Suite for Android

Dropbox isn’t strictly a mobile app. However, when combined with Documents To Go or Office Suite, Dropbox can be a life saver when it comes to limiting the number of different copies floating around on your various devices. Dropbox gives you storage (by default, 2GB for free) which is sync’d across multiple devices and platforms. You can use this to sync multiple files between your computers, as well as on your mobile devices.

Drop a file from your laptop into the Dropbox file, download it on your smartphone or tablet via the Dropbox app and edit using one of the document editors. Save and re-upload to have the changes available when you go back to your laptop.

Android Market: Dropbox for Android
iOS App Store: Dropbox for iOS
Website to get started: www.dropbox.com

Everyone needs a dictionary or thesaurus once in a while. And that’s where the Dictionary.com and Thesaurus apps come in handy. I know I’m kind of cheating here by squeezing two apps into one section, but they go hand in hand.

These next apps aren’t necessarily beneficial just to writers in the area of their work, but are more general use apps that I’ve come to know and love.

Blogger is the official Google app that allows you to access, edit, read and publish posts to your blogspot account. Handy for writing up a quick blogpost while you’re out and about and don’t have access to your laptop or the time to sit down and do a full write up.

Amazon Kindle should be a fairly obvious one. It’s one of the most popular formats for ebooks.

A similar program that I’ve found handy is  FBreader for Android. I’ve used this to export my own ebooks before they are published (using the bookbrewer website) to take a look at formatting and what not.

PocketCast is a great app that allows you to easily organize and listen to podcasts.

Pulse helps you keep your RSS feeds straight. With a maximum of 60 feeds (12 per page, 5 pages) you have the ability to keep up to date on blogs and news feeds in an easy to use interface.

Finally, I would suggest looking into an alternate Twitter App. I personally use Tweetdeck on my phone and am currently using Plume on my tablet because I like its tablet interface better. These apps are exceedingly useful in keeping on up your social media presence.

If you have an app you’d like to suggest, or have a problem with one of the apps that I suggested, let me know in the comments!

Welcome everyone to my Author’s Blog!

Here I’ll post exclusive content for works in progress and other insights into my process. I’ll post links to purchase and sample existing books as they become available!

So feel free to follow this blog and keep coming back as content is added!