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Bone Flower Goddess – Cover Reveal

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I’m pleased to announce that the final book in my Aztec epic fantasy series, The Bone Flower Goddess, is at the editor for the final proofread and will be out for sale early in March. I’m not setting a firm release date, because I want to put it on sale as soon as I have it finished, but it will be out by March 15th, in both ebook and paperback. Read more about the book below.

BoneFlowerGoddess2Death is her gift.

Discovering the truth about her forgotten past sets Quetzalpetlatl—former Queen of Tollan and High Priestess of Quetzalcoatl—on a new journey, to rebuild her life from the ashes of the Feathered Serpent’s deception. Her top priority is to rescue her son from the underworld, but the Lord of the Dead will only resurrect him in exchange for the most powerful of the gods: Quetzalcoatl himself.

For such a dangerous mission, Quetzalpetlatl needs help. She finds allies among the gods, but the only one willing—and powerful enough—to take on the Feathered Serpent is the one god who’s responsible for so much of her personal pain these last thirty-five years. The Smoking Mirror holds the key to everything she’s ever longed for…if she’s willing to give him the one thing he’s sought for countless bundles of year.

But with Tollan’s throne and the future of the Tolteca empire at stake, is the price one that humanity can afford to pay?

OmnibusWith the trilogy complete, I’m also collecting all three books into an unabridged omnibus edition. The ebook edition will go live at the same time that Goddess goes up, and it will be sold at a discount over buying all three of the books in digital. I am making a paperback version as well, but at this point am only planning to sell it at conventions because of pricing issues  related to the sheer size of the book. You can read the blurb for it here.

Also, going forward, I’m planning on investigating options for an audio book version of the trilogy.

 

Bone Flower Goddess 1st Draft Completed

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I finally put the wraps on the first draft of The Bone Flower Goddess, the final book in The Bone Flower Trilogy, and to celebrate, I’ve posted an excerpt for fans. Beware: if you haven’t read Bone Flower Queen yet, I don’t recommend reading the excerpt, for it’s spoilerish for that book.

DanceofDestinyI don’t have a concrete release date yet, but I’m aiming for early 2016. It still needs to go through my beta readers and a rewrite before heading to my editor, but it’s a big step to finally finish that first draft. I’m aiming to make this book as good as the others and a satisfying wrap-up to the trilogy, so I’m grateful for your patience while I work to make it the best book I can.

In the meantime, readers can look forward to a new installment in my Aztec West series before the end of the year. It’s another novella, this one a direct prequel to “The Hearts of Men”, and it’s called The Dance of Destiny. It also has a preliminary cover (which is still in need of some work on the light and dark contrast)! Stayed tuned for more information.

New Bone Flower Queen Cover

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bfqprelim7I’ve finally finished the revamp of the cover for The Bone Flower Queen, and I’m also almost done with the cover for The Bone Flower Goddess, but will hold off on revealing that one until it’s closer to release date. Right now the new covers are only on the ebook versions, but I’m getting ready to update the paperback covers on both books, so if you’re wanting to snag up copies with the old covers, now’s the time to do it.

It took me a really long time to come to the final concept for this particular book. It went through numerous iterations, and one of my early attempts will actually be the cover for The Bone Flower Goddess. I originally had an idea to do masks on the cover–seemingly easy to do and thematically relevant–but only one of the masks actually turned out looking good. Eventually I abandoned that concept and went back to the drawing board. I also messed around repeatedly with the cover for The Bone Flower Throne, until I had an overall look I really liked (I ended up really not liking the one I posted in the earlier blog post and decided to go even simpler.).

Bone Flower redo 3I still wasn’t sure about what my central object would be, but after several hours of false starts, I finally came up with the idea of the obsidian mirror. I was still wrangling with the jaguar issue though; everything I’d done so far looked a little too realistic and not necessarily “Aztec” or “Toltec”. Eventually I did a line drawing of an actual Aztec jaguar statue, and am pretty pleased with how it turned out. Aside from the smoke, all of the art on the cover is original, drawn in Gimp. I like getting to stretch my creative muscles like this. Self publishing has been very good for my internal artist, which I’d put away for so long….

I’d hoped to revamp the paperback’s sizing, convert it down to 5.25X8, but having discovered that it would require an entirely new ISBN for both books, I’ve decided I’m going to stick with the 6X9 format and just update the covers. I also have plans for a paperback omnibus edition that I’ll sell only at conventions, but CreateSpace’s page limits might make that impractical. We’ll see. At the very least, there will be an omnibus ebook version, which means a fourth cover (Yay!).

 

New Covers for Bone Flower

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BFT_ebookcovOne of the many advantages of being an indie author is that you can change strategies midstream, and do it rather easily and painlessly. If something isn’t working, you can reevaluate and make changes, and don’t have to convince a publisher to go along with you.

After much soul-searching and frustration, I’ve decided that things aren’t working with my Bone Flower books. Sales are poor, and even when I ran a .99 promo, I made very few sales, nowhere near enough to even recoup the costs of the promotion itself (and we’re not even talking BookBub size prices. We’re talking $5 at the cheapest, and $45 at the most expensive.). I don’t have a ton of reviews, but enough for me to feel confident that the story is not the issue. That leaves other factors to play around with. Maybe my blurb is all wrong (and yes, I’m toying around with a new blurb, but not seriously yet). Maybe my price-point is wrong (I already lowered both books by $2 in their ebook form, matching the pricing of similar books in my genre. Amazon still thinks I need to drop them another dollar, but I’m not convinced there yet). Or maybe my cover is giving the reader the wrong impression about my book (bingo!)

My editor at Panverse discussed this with me back when sales were struggling and we kept getting puzzling reviews from folks who thought the book was supposed to be young adult. We hadn’t advertised it as young adult; we advertised it as history fantasy and historical romance. I’ve been asked over and over what age group I would recommend the book to, and 99% of the time, it’s the parent of a 12 or 13 year old asking. We both pondered about where they were getting this impression, and eventually we started wondering if it was the cover.

Throne’s cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love it with all my heart, and I love the cover for Queen as well. They are beautiful pieces of art, and people always compliment them, but when I tell them that the book is in the vein of Game of Thrones when it comes to content, they are surprised. “Yeah, I didn’t get that impression at all from the cover.” I sold quite a few books at AnomalyCon a couple weeks ago, but I do wonder how many epic fantasy fans–my target audience–looked at the covers and moved on to the next table because they saw YA fantasy and said, “Not my thing.” And all but one of those sales went to women; the man who bought a copy was a new friend who’d spent all weekend listening to me talk about it on panels we were on together. Statically, men are the core audience when it comes to epic fantasy, and I’m having a really hard time reaching them.

So as much as it pains me to set aside the beautiful covers, I have to think about marketing and genre, otherwise I’m going to continue to languish in sales obscurity. I need covers that shout “Epic fantasy!”, so that I can at least make epic fantasy readers pick up the book and turn it over to read the blurb, or see the cover in search results on Amazon and decide to click it and read the blurb and reviews. And that means new covers. *sniffle*

Bone Flower redo 1After examining quite a few covers on Amazon, I decided the easiest style was an object focus, like GoT or Lord of the Rings. I’m already considerably in the hole on both books, so I needed to do this on the cheap, and those were styles I felt confident I could mimic with my own skills in Gimp. I’ve been working on it for several weeks, toying with different concepts, and abandoning some, but I think I’ve finally nailed down the basic overall look. I might do some more tweaking in the future (going to a textured background rather than a stylized image, for example) but for now I’m testing out the new cover style with Throne, and will run some promos in the near future, to see if there’s any improvement in sales. If the new cover is working, I’ll go through the process of revamping the paperbacks as well.

I’m still in the process of figuring out the covers for both Queen and the final book (which I’m just over 50k into), so I’m holding off on those until I see how things go with Throne over the next month or so as I do promotion.

Bone Flower Queen Cover Reveal

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I’m pleased to finally reveal the cover for the second novel of the Bone Flower Trilogy.

 

BFQ Cover Mock 50 percent

Very beautiful work by World Fantasy Award nominated artist Zelda Devon (who also did the first book’s cover). I love how this cover continues the stone imagery theme from the first book’s cover. I couldn’t be more pleased.

More news coming very soon!