Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adrift on the ocean of challenges, and Kindle Unlimited

Ah, where do I begin? It seems like I blogged something just last week, but it turns out that I haven't posted since July. What what? I'm sort of surprised about that, too. Sort of, but not really. I wasn't intentionally hiding away or purposely avoiding the blogosphere. Think of me as having been adrift in a yellow rubber life raft all that time. Think of me as a half drowned rat in tattered clothes, clinging to that little useless rope attached to the life raft, while violent ocean waves toss me around.

It's a fairly accurate analogy of my life right now. Actually life has been like that since right before my grandmother's funeral last month. It's getting better. Slowly. Kind of. At least, changes are happening. I guess it's too early to diagnose whether they're good changes or bad. It's probably safest to wait and see. So, while we wait and see, what have I been up to?

Well, I've been getting the family finances in order. This hasn't been a pretty process. Hubby's job is stable... for the time being. It's supposed to be stable. It's a good job and a good company, but I've learned not to trust the permanence of it despite company promises. You never know these days. You could have the most stable job in the world, and with times the way they are now, you could be presented with a layoff at any moment. So I'm taking it as it flows. Right now, the man is gainfully employed, and I am fixing all the damage a year of no work does to one's pocketbook. And credit. A year of unemployment, plus six months of being severely underemployed toppled us, and as much as I'd like it to be over quickly, it's going to take time to repair the damage done.

More goings on... I'm back in school. Well, as of this coming Monday, since that's when classes officially start. However, one of my professors has already begun assigning essays, and since I'm already organizing assignments, reading texts, and answering questions, I figure it's safe to say I'm a student again.

What else is going on? Let me think... Oh, I joined Kindle Unlimited. I joined July 18th. I realize that's hardly an event event, but still it's an interesting thing to talk about. Personally, I love the service. It might not be so good for authors, I have no idea, but for me, it's saved me a lot of money in downloads. The cost is $9.99 per month, USD. I've been keeping a spreadsheet listing all of the books I've downloaded from Unlimited, the prices of each book (had I purchased them outright), and whether or not I read a book completely or returned DNF - did not finish. To date, I've downloaded 15 books and read 14 of them (I'm currently reading Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem, which is #15). Overall, I've saved a total of $67.84.

I wasn't charged for the first month of service. Billing starts tomorrow for me, so if I were to subtract the monthly fee, I can say I've saved $57.85 on books. I'm happy with that. Very happy.

Kindle Unlimited is basically a subscription service where you can download titles (only titles marked as part of the Kindle Unlimited program), read them for free, then return them. You don't keep the books you download, and you can only hold so many books at one time. I think the limit is ten. After I signed up, about a week or so thereafter, I went into the service and kept adding books to see what would happen, what the cut off point would be. When you are maxed on books, and you attempt to download another, it prompts you to go to your management dashboard and return one of the books you already have. Easy peasy. It's stress free. You don't have to worry about going over and then being billed extra or anything like that, which is something I had worried about. I know, I know...I'm a worry wart. I can't help it.

Like I said somewhere above, I'm not sure about the pros and cons for authors, whether it would be worth it to enroll your books. I've heard that a reader must read past the 10% point for the author to be credited any royalties. I don't know what the percentage of royalties is supposed to be. I've heard it's $2.00 per download read past 10%, I've also heard it's half the purchase price of the book. I don't know. But with many of the ebooks I've downloaded, regardless of the length, most of the books skip over the cover image, the TOC, and the introduction and land you right at the beginning of the story. To see the cover you have to scroll backward to view it. It was that way before Kindle Unlimited, and most of the books I've downloaded from the service itself start you out at 8-10% anyway. So, if the 10% rule is true, I don't think most authors have anything to worry about when it comes to the 10% mark. Which seems like a fair system to me.

However, if someone downloads your book, never reads it, then returns it to make space in their library...well, that just sucks. I don't think the author gets paid when that happens. But then again, the person didn't read the copy, so I guess one way to look at it is like this: a person in a digital bookstore is browsing. While browsing, they pull your book off the shelf, wander around the store with it for a while, but in the end, they put it back. No harm done.

At any rate, I like the service. I've gotten a lot of use out of it. Bonus points that a lot of classics are Kindle Unlimited books. I'll be needing several of those while taking classes, I'm sure.

Moving along... I wouldn't say I'm on a writing hiatus necessarily, but the words are flowing much more slowly these days. I have a release coming out later in the fall, and I'm scrambling to wrap up Vampyre Night for release. Also, a close friend of mine has reintroduced me to Wattpad (I joined in 2009), and I'm considering posting a story or two there for free. Nothing erotica though, since I don't feel comfortable posting it on a site that's so youth oriented, even though there are protections on the site in place. So what will I be adding there? Romancey stories, that's a possibly. Horror and sci-fi, probably. If you're on Wattpad, and you'd like to keep tabs on me there, my profile is listed here:
http://www.wattpad.com/user/CoraZane . If you'd like to get updates on when and what I'm posting at Wattpad, click the follow author button on my profile.

Last bits of news before I get on with Sunday chores... My website is down while I contemplate a new design. Also, I deleted my LinkedIn. If you were looking for me on LinkedIn and couldn't find me, I'm sorry. I deleted the page. I liked the site just fine, but the time I'm able to devote to social media is limited. Also, most of the people viewing my LinkedIn profile and sending me friend requests were marketers. I can see the value of a marketer, don't get me wrong, but five hundred of them when I'm interested in books and publishing industry related topics...well, it came across as unproductive. At the very least, it seems like my time would be better spent elsewhere. For example, Twitter and Facebook.

Over the next few months, at least through early December, I imagine my posts will be sporadic as I take on schoolwork, housework, writing work, and family life. To psyche myself up, I keep saying over and over, "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this." I may look like a shipwrecked, half-drowned mouse by the end of it, but I'm soldiering on. But enough waxing poetic for now. Take care, my friends. Until next time, happy wishes!  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cora's Top Picks : Summer Loving - 20 Sultry Stories


Get Ready for Summer Loving! 

Summer speaks of balmy days, white-sand beaches, itsy-bitsy bikinis and romantic flings. The 20 sublime stories in this collection celebrate those decadent days and naughty nights with lots of sizzling summertime sex. Erotic luminaries Donna George Storey, Sophia Valenti, Lucy Felthouse, Emerald, Jodie Griffin, May Deva, Teresa Noelle Roberts, A.M. Hartnett, Primula Bond, Sammi Lou Thorne, Elise Hepner, Tenille Brown, Tamsin Flowers, Kathleen Delaney-Adams, Thomas S. Roche, Cheyenne Blue, Delilah Night, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Justine Elyot, Angell Brooks, and Alison Tyler spin their sultriest stories ever. 

 Summer might only come once a year. But with this red-hot collection, you’re guaranteed to come all year round! 

You can buy Summer Loving for Kindle at Amazon for .99 cents. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Loving-Alison-Tyler-ebook/dp/B00M0DYL28/

Summer Loving is one of Cora Z's 2014 Top Picks for erotic fiction. 

Genre: Erotica 
For readers 18 and older only.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Conveyor Belt of Life



So much is going on at home, I can barely organize my thoughts. I've put off writing this blog post for several days, because it has felt overwhelmingly difficult dealing with anything and everything that requires more than five minutes of my attention span. 

My grandmother passed away on July 12th. She was my last surviving grandparent. The last of her generation. For the past several years she had battled with cancer that started in her breasts and later, after a double mastectomy, spread to her lymph nodes and throughout her body. Cancer ravaged her. I can't think of another word for it. 

I drove my mother to see Grandma last month. I think it was last month. The days blend. That's how it is for me lately. It's difficult to concentrate on anything, much less keep up with important dates. Anyway, the trip. Mom and I did a day drive, which is to drive across state, see the family, then drive back home all in one hit. It's a long long drive and a physically draining trip. It was worth it, of course, but I didn't take into account how mentally taxing that trip would be. 

I guess I was expecting to see the Grandma as I remembered seeing her last time. Frail, but getting around. Opinionated. Independent. I wasn't prepared to see a woman reduced to bones, and that's what I saw when I walked into the room. I recognized her face, she had the same curly gray hair, but the rest of her was bones covered with a sheet. You knew she was dying when you looked at her. I can't tell you how heartbreaking that is. You have to keep up good spirits, and you can see what's happening. You can't deny it.  

Mom didn't think Grandma would make it to her birthday (she didn't), so she brought Grandma's birthday gifts: a couple of pretty nightgowns with dragonflies on them. And then we sat with her for a couple of hours. Grandma didn't seem to know who everyone in the room was, but she did have a few lucid moments, and I know she definitely remembered who I was. She bragged to one my cousins that I'm the granddaughter who writes books - so, evidently she recognized me, remembered what I do, and was proud of me for it, which I will be eternally grateful for. Just that she recognized me. That was probably the only thing good I took from the entire trip. I was too sick with a cold to hug on her too much, because she had no immune system left.

I held it together for my mom while we were there, but this has been a terrible summer. Everything is in chaos. A couple days after mom and I made the day trip, Mom called grandma at the nursing home/hospice. Grandma didn't remember her daughter's voice, not even when Mama said her name. She didn't even remember that we had come to visit, due partly to her advancing dementia and partly to the amount of morphine they were giving her to manage the pain.

Her funeral was yesterday. We couldn't all attend. We had to arrange and rearrange to make it so Mom could go. So I ended up taking care of things for Mom while her and dad made the trip. This is the bad thing about living in a state away from the rest of the family. 

Today, I am empty. I feel like I've been baking in the sun. My skin feels hot and tight, and my nerves are on edge. I'm burnt out from the emotional roller coaster of the past month. We knew this was coming, and we've tried to prepare for it. But you can't really prepare for it. 

For the past three days - the day before the funeral, and today (Monday / Wednesday) - I've been wrangling with college scheduling, paperwork, registration. The college website is in need of updating. The information found there is incomplete or outdated, or otherwise there are important steps missing to what you need to do. In person, no one tells you where you need to go or what you need to do to satisfy requirements, you're supposed to magically know, I guess. They look at you like you're an idiot when you start asking questions, and try to quickly shoo you out the door. If I had a dollar for every time I've been given the deer in the headlights look, or the "you're an idiot" look over the past few days, I'd be able to buy dinner for four. That has been my experience with registration so far. Add to that, my heart isn't in it. 

MY HEART IS NOT IN IT, which makes it extremely difficult to weather anyone's bullshit. 

I just want to cry and sleep, but there's no time to do either of those things.   

Last night while dozing with SassiePup, I had this nightmare that all of humanity was on this large, slow moving conveyor belt. At the end of the line was this drop off into...I don't know what or where, but when one generation would reach the end mark, they would simply drop off the conveyor one person at a time, until none were left, then this bar would raise and the next generation would be progressed along another conveyor belt to the drop off point, and the process would start again. 

In the dream, I watched my grandmother, as I'd seen her on her death bed, dropped off the conveyor. The moment she was out of sight, the conveyor moved under my feet. I was moved forward to a waiting point, and when I looked around, I realized that was where my parents had been standing five minutes before. Terror shot through me. I looked up and saw my mom and dad's conveyor moving into the final section of the conveyor belt. The section closest to the drop off.  

I woke up with this horrible sense that everything was ending. And that it was inevitable. That life is just a short ride on a conveyor to a drop off point. Once you're tossed off, someone else takes your place, and life just keeps going. Rinse and repeat. It was a horrible dream. I haven't been able to forget it. It's still very vivid in my mind. 

I'm supposed to give a Savvy Author's workshop on Critical Reading starting the 21st, but I've postponed it til late September. I don't have any new dates yet. I'm terribly sorry about that. I hope those who registered will understand and forgive me for the delay. Our family needs time to grieve. I need time.

Until things settle down with family, I won't be online as  much. I'll still be reachable through Facebook and emails on and off throughout the day. I keep those channels open because Oldest is deployed, but for the most part, I'll be offline and focusing on family. Thanks for understanding. ♥♥♥

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

My Summer, Summer, Summer...Turns Me Upside Down

A cozy summer rain shower as seen
from the patio.

I have so much going on right now and so little time to cover everything. Last month an astrologer friend told me July was going to be a busy month for me. I thanked her and sort of let the news roll down my back, but man, she wasn't kidding!

I wrapped up A Trick of Light last month and immediately began revisions on the cowboy story. The cowboys are an ongoing headache. I got the edits back for Wicked Obsession last week, and just today I managed to work my way through the list of suggested changes. I want to read through it one more time, then it's off to a friend's formatting service to be formatted for both Smashwords and CreateSpace. When I know how many pages the finished formatted product will have, I'll start worrying about the cover. I have a stub cover ready, but I want to make a few improvements to it before the book goes live. I'm still buried under back list books that need my attention, and I can see already it's going to take time to sort it all out. Breathe, Cora. One book at a time. I have to tell myself that daily.

On the 1st of July, I registered for fall semester. I'm officially a Delta Knight. (If you've ever seen that movie, you know why I'm giggling about that.) I received my student ID a couple of days ago, so everything processed and is on track for August. I go in for orientation and to speak to my adviser next Monday. Once that's done, I'll be free and clear to focus on my Savvy Author's workshop that's coming up on the 21st.

Whew! That makes me twitchy just thinking about it. I won't have another free day until after August 3rd, and then I'll only have two weeks free until school starts for both Mini and me. I'm thinking an early August vacation is in order...if I've gone off my rocker by then. ;o)

That's all the news for now. I need to start the laundry and go pick around in the kitchen and start dinner. Until next time, happy wishes!

In the spirit of Summer, click here and *dance, dance* with me! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Writing Process – Blog Tour :: In Media Res and the BBE

Welcome to my stop along the "My Writing Process" blog tour!

Hi, I'm Cora Zane, the author of Wicked Obsession, How to Date an Android, What She Doesn't Know, and the Werekind Werewolf series of erotic romances. I've also appeared in several erotica anthologies, including The Dirtyville Collection, Never Say Never, Coming Together: Hungry for Love, and Morning, Noon, and Night

For a complete book list, please visit my website.

I was invited to participate in this intriguing write-craft Q and A blog tour by the lovely and talented Yolanda Sfetsos. Next Monday, Nancy Henderson will be joining the tour, and sharing interesting tidbits about her writing process. Her blog and website are linked below.


Onward to the Cora Z. Writing Process Q and A! 

What am I working on?


I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a backlist vampire novel that I plan to self-publish at the end of the month, and I'm revising a category romance novel that I plan to submit in July.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?


Everyone's perspective is unique. The same goes for a writer's style and voice. You could tell a room full of men and women to write a 100 word flash fiction story revolving around a popular trope or theme, and everyone in that room would bring a unique story and perspective to the table. My work is different, because I'm me. :o)

Why do I write what I do?

Everything I write about has to be deeply interesting to me in some way, or I'll end up abandoning the project. Regardless of what genre I choose to write in at a given moment, most of my work explores my characters' secret desires, both whom and what they've always longed for. Until the start of the story, they've simply been too afraid or too busy to go after what they really want in life.

How does your writing process work?

When I get an idea for a story, it may be a scenario or a character that catches my attention first. If I start with a scenario, I play around with a chain of possible events to see if my idea can be worked into something I can actually write from start to finish. If I come up with the character first, I open up a new file in Word and try to figure out where that character comes from, what their job is, who their friends are... A character may morph into someone else several times before I make the decision to actually use them in a story.

I also plot heavily before I ever begin writing. I do a lot of pre-writing. Many, many pages of pre-writing. I try to figure out what the logical plot points might be, and I build back stories for my main characters - profiles that may or may not ever end up being used in the written work. I do that to help cement their personalities, and when I actually start writing, I begin in the middle of the book, in media res.

I call the midpoint starting scene in my draft the Big Bad Event (BBE) of my story, because everything my character does after that scene is done in order to fix what's broken and resolve the conflicts in play. Everything at the beginning of the book leading up to the BBE is story setup and initial character development.

Most of the time, this process works for me. When it doesn't, it's usually a sign I didn't flesh out the plot or develop the characters enough before I started writing. 


•••

Thanks for dropping by for my stretch of the My Writing Process blog tour. Next Monday, June 30th, Nancy Henderson will be blogging about her writing process at Always a Story. Nancy Henderson is the author of Blackbird, Stranger in His Bed, Wicked Redemption, and Nathan's Return. She also writes humorous cat stories. If you're a cat person, you definitely won't want to miss Litterboxes and Hairballs

Until next time, happy wishes!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Revisions, Revisions Everywhere... and a Blog Tour Date

I sent off Wicked Obsession for copy edits/proofing today. Yay! I'm super thrilled about that. Once the files are back I'll move on with the formatting, but for the next two weeks, the vampires will be out of sight and out of mind. 

Instead, I'll be deconstructing and reconstructing the 50k+ cowboy novel I've been workshopping for the past week. Whew! This is going to be a job. I'm not even going to joke around about it. I'm a very messy first drafter. Most of the manuscript is already printed. There are only three or four chapter files left to go, and I'll have the entire thing ready for a read through and initial (post-it note) markup. 

I have Post-it notes and highlighters, and paperclips and pens. All that jazz is ready to go. I start feeling a little sick every time I look at the growing mountain of manuscript pages, but I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get her done.

One more thing before I go...

On Monday, June 23rd, I'll be joining the My Writing Process blog tour. I'm super excited about this blog tour. I love reading about author's writing processes, how they get their books written, and that's what this tour is about. My post will appear here on the blog, so if you're subscribed to my blog through Networked Blogs, Feedspot, or a similar RSS service, the post will appear in your feed aggregator, as usual. If you're a blog hopper, I hope you'll drop by on my special day to say hello. 

If you're an author and you'd like to join the My Writing Process blog tour, hit me up. I have an invite left, and I'm itching to use it. Send me an email (there's a contact form on my website), and I'll send you the easy-peasy instructions and your blogging date.

I'm off to read a before I zonk out for the night. I'm currently reading Horror 101: The Way Forward. (various authors) It's a collection of essays on different aspects of the genre, and the horror business - everything from film making to writing novels. Interesting stuff! 

What about you? What are you currently reading? If you have any recommendations (I read everything from non-fiction, to erotica, to romance, to horror), leave it in the comments! 

That's all for now. Until next time...happy wishes!


•••


Available Now - Wave Rider

Sunny Richards' vacation at an exclusive Bonaire resort takes an adventurous turn when she meets a sexy Venezuelan surfer staying in one of the waterfront chalets. He invites her to his suite where he introduces her to his equally handsome friend, Matteo. The three spend a scorching hot evening together riding wave after wave of pleasure. It's a sexy summer vacation Sunny will never forget.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/429335E

For readers 18 and older. 
Genre: erotica, vacation fantasy (M/F/M, menage)  Only .99 cents

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Ready for Revision

Updates. Yes, I finally have updates. I'm still working with Wicked Obsession and getting it ready to be proofread. Most of the issues I've faced with this book are spacing issues. I converted the novel from pdf to a word document, so I had a lot of words crammed together and nothing was separated into proper paragraphs after the conversion. What a mess. Nothing too taxing to fix, just time consuming.

I've been doing a light edit over the material as I go through it, and I've caught and changed a few little things. Nothing major. Overall, the manuscript is very clean. Then again, it should be, since I'm working from a previously published copy.

Anyway, I've about got all that spacing business fixed. I'm planning to hire someone to do the proofreading, but I have to be cost conscious about it. The most common price rate seems to be $1.00 a page and up, and Wicked Obsession falls into the 65k/200+ page category. So, I'm shopping around looking for someone experienced who will take less than the cost of my soul to do the proof reading. I may have to go with beta readers instead. We'll see.

A couple of days ago I announced that I'd reached 50k on the category romance I've been workshopping. It ended up a little over that mark, well within the target word count zone. Oh, I'm talking about the cowboy story, by the way.

Today I picked up extra Post-it notes, found my highlighters, and scrounged up several ink pens that still write. Now I'm all set. On Monday, I begin revisions on the cowboys. I'm hoping for a quick and dirty revision, if you know what I'm saying, but this book has already seen three rough draft incarnations, so I'll probably end up sobbing over this monsterpiece all the way to submission day. That said, I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. This book needs major revisions, and I'm not even going to kid myself about that. I'm rolling up my shirt sleeves, and in the weeks ahead, I'll post progress as it happens. I want this book finished. Wish me luck!

As of last Tuesday, I have all the stories pulled together for Twilight's Edge. I thought that day would never come. I have the table of contents jotted down, and now I just need to find the time to put it all together and begin revisions. The Desire comes first, so it will likely be August before I begin revising the fae stories. One thing for certain, I'm going to have a for real, girl's day out celebration once that book is finished and uploaded. I'm totally not kidding. This book has been a royal bugbear. More so than A Trick of Light could ever hope to have been. As of this post, I have the ebook version of Twilight's Edge scheduled for an October release. It's going to be my Halloween-ish celebration book for this year.

On the side, in my free time, I've been working on my vampire opus. I think this will be my next BIAM project. I have a full draft written for this book, half a second draft (lots of changes and tweaks) and a file containing dozens of subplots, still the book still isn't what I initially imagined it to be. More tweaking ahead, I realize. This book is the book of my heart. It's the book the experts tell you to write "just for yourself" because it's that magical book you yourself want to read. The experts failed to tell me the book of my heart is also extremely difficult to write. Yeah, I know. I need to just get out of my own way and get back to the core idea. That's so hard to do sometimes. I could probably write a whole blog post about nothing but that - taking a story back to it's core idea. Then again...meh.

Okay, I need to get back to work. Now that the house is settled for the evening, I need to jump on my to-do list and tackle a few things. Until next time...happy wishes!