Archive for the ‘Self Publishing’ Category

Release Day! Fugitives of Fate

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Today the ebook version of my first alternate history romance, Fugitives of Fate, comes out.

Driven by fiery visions of the end of the world, Aztec Emperor Cuauhtemoc averted the Spanish Conquest, and now he seeks to end the inter-tribal fighting that would have condemned the empire. When he discovers a woman from his visions working in his palace, he knows he must win her trust: only the infamous La Malinche can help him turn his enemies into allies.

Malinali has spent her whole life in slavery, passed from one abusive master to the next, and to her, Cuauhtemoc is no different than the other noblemen who’ve made her years miserable. Cuauhtemoc, however, is a determined man, and with time and work, her suspicion turns into trust, and trust grows into love.

But is love enough to truly change destiny? Especially when the shadow of unraveled history threatens to turn them into the enemies they were meant to be?

I’ve been waiting a really long time for today to finally arrive. Quite a long time ago, when I was in the midst of writing lots of stuff for my One World alternate history series, I started what I thought was going to be a short story but it soon turned into a novella, and to my surprise, it turned out to be a genre romance. I knew nothing about writing or selling romance, for I was firmly grounded in the speculative fiction scene, and I didn’t think there was a market for it; I’d never read anything like it in any of the magazines I usually read, and it was a novella–that dreaded length that no one in spec fic publishing would touch unless the author was a big name. So I set it aside and sort of forgot about it for several years while I worked on other projects.

It was actually just after the WorldCon in Chicago that I went home and, on a whim, opened the file and gave it a read. And to my surprise, I really, really liked the basic storyline, and thought it would make an excellent novel. I knew little about romance as a genre though, so I started reading historical romances, to learn the ropes, and joined RWA, which I’d heard really excellent things about from other SF authors, and started attending the local chapter meetings. Eventually I sat down to rewrite the story from the ground up, cutting out the more in-your-face speculative elements while keeping others that were absolutely necessary to the universe (folks who have read my One World short fiction know what I’m talking about), and in 23 days, I had a novel-length manuscript finished. It was the fastest I’ve ever written a novel draft

But my usual problems surfaced: my agent didn’t want to take it on because she didn’t think there was a market for it, and though eventually, I did get some interest from a traditional publisher on it, they wanted me to change it so fundamentally, it would be like starting over from scratch.

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time shopping this around to traditional publishers; I was busy working on Bone Flower, and so this always got put to the side, and I was making the move into self-publishing and starting to feel more and more comfortable with it. In the end, I decided to move on with it on my own, so I could keep creative control and tell the story I wanted to tell rather than trying to box it into traditional genre niches. I figured that the best I could hope for was a small press, and from experience, there isn’t much they can do that I couldn’t do on my own, so why not keep the control and put the book’s fate in my own hands?

So, it’s available everywhere now, and early reviews are looking quite favorable. I even got a very nice blurb from my favorite romance author, Jeannie Lin:

“Fugitives of Fate creatively reimagines the lives of two legendary figures, bringing life and humanity to a glorious empire that we only hear about in terms of its demise. I was thoroughly fascinated and enthralled.”

Click here to find links to your favorite vendor. It’s also available in trade paperback.

New Aztec West Novella – Death’s Good Dog

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DeathsGoodDogThe first brand new, never before published Aztec West novella, Death’s Good Dog, is now available for sale on Amazon. Because I’m trying out KDP Select, for at least the next three months it will only be available on Amazon, but if you use an ereader other than the Kindle, never fear! The file is DRM free, and so you can convert the Kindle file to the format of your choice using programs such as Calibre. Because the novella is enrolled in KDP Select, it can also be borrowed for free by Kindle Unlimited users.

So what’s the novella about? Here’s the blurby goodness:

In 1521, while the Spanish were conquering the Aztec people, the Archangel Michael defeated their gods. Three hundred years later, the fierce, bloodthirsty gods of Ancient Mexico still sit dead on the shores of the Black Lake in the underworld, watched over by the only two gods the angels spared: Lord Death and his servant, the Black Dog Xolotl.

When Xolotl accidentally resurrects the old gods and unleashes them on a world that’s long forgotten them, he must return them to the underworld before Michael finds out, or he will be the next god sitting dead on the Black Lake. It shouldn’t be too difficult to wrangle them up though; newly reborn gods don’t remember who they are, or that feeding on human blood will reawaken their powerful magic.

But he might pay dearly for that underestimation when he matches wits with a god driven by a thirst for children’s tears, and the certainty that Xolotl is a traitor against his own kind….

A little background on this story:

About four or five years ago, shortly after I wrote “The Hearts of Men”, I wrote another story set in that same milieu but following a different god than in HoM. It didn’t turn out very well, and I thought it was much too dark and Xolotl was a horrible, horrible character. I put it aside for a few years while I worked on other things, mainly finishing Bone Flower Throne, but while shopping for an agent, I decided I wanted to write a novel-length work in the 1850’s sword and sixguns milieu of HoM.

I wanted to delve deeper into the underpinnings of Mextli’s and Coyolxauhqui’s return from the dead, and thought back not only to that other story I’d written a few years earlier, but even further back to a story I’d actually published back in 2007, “The Divine Conquest of Mexico”. The basic premise of that story was Quetzalcoatl finally decides to return from exile in Europe and travels back to Mexico as a member of Hernan Cortes’s crew, but once he arrives, he finds the angels are planning the conquest of his fellow gods, to ease the way for their human followers to conquer the Aztecs and their allies. I liked the idea of bringing the two religious/mythological traditions into conflict with each other, as a kind of explanation for why the Aztec empire crumbled so quickly, and so decided to peel that element out and use it as the basic building block of the HoM milieu. I also decided that rather than creating the universe completely anew, I’d just make it a natural progression from what I was creating in the Bone Flower books. That way I could continue exploring the changing lives of characters I’d grown to love in the Bone Flower books. So I wrote the first draft of a novel that followed the adventures of the god Xolotl, the cowardly servant of the god of the dead, who accidentally raises all of the other gods from death and he must collect them all before the villainous archangel Michael discovers what he’s done. Episodic misadventure than ensues.

I ended up setting the novel aside though. My agent didn’t want to touch it, since we were having difficulty finding a buyer for Bone Flower Throne and this was more of the same, just even more uncategorizable than BFT. Eventually I stepped away from my agent to go it alone, and shortly after landed a deal with Panverse for BFT, but in the meantime, I set aside the Xolotl novel to focus on Bone Flower. But I always wanted to come back to it and see if it was salvageable, and having reread it a few months ago, I thought parts of it could easily be broken out into shorter pieces and reworked. Death’s Good Dog is the first part of that novel.

More shorter works will come in the coming months, including one telling Coyolxauhqui’s side of the side of the story, and another where we meet Coyolxauhqui and Mextli’s mother, Coatlicue, who is a two-headed snake who controls an army of the undead. I’m very excited to be working on this series again, and I hope fans of the Bone Flower books enjoy these stories while they wait for the final book in the trilogy.

Short Fiction Ahoy!

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Heartsofmencover6x9I’ve spoken elsewhere about my plans to put out a series of stories in the same universe as “The Hearts of Men”, and I spent some time putting together covers from public domain imagery and artwork (as well as some of my own original digital drawings). The plan was to release them all at the same time, but being Ms. Impatient, it bothers me to have an ebook sitting completely done but unpublished. Two more stories are lined up, but are in the rewrite stage, and with work progressing on the final book of The Bone Flower Trilogy and my first historical romance coming out June 1st, I knew it would still be a couple months before I’d have the time to devote to getting them in final draft form. So I said to heck with it and released the ebook version of the series’ inspiration, “The Hearts of Men”. Here’s the blurby goodness:

When Mextli awakens again for the first time in centuries, the moon is missing from the sky and demons are terrorizing a small southwestern town. He doesn’t remember who he is, but the boy Timacoz is convinced he’s the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, returned to save them all from the sorceress who controls the demons and holds the moon hostage.

Mextli agrees to help, but it may be more than he can handle, especially when the voice in his head keeps telling him to kill Timacoz and eat his heart….

If you’ve already read HOM, there might not be any need to rush out to get this, but it does have new artwork, and it’s completely free to download. As much as I would have loved to purchase the rights to reuse the story’s original Realms of Fantasy illustration, I just don’t have that kind of budget for short fiction. I’m doing this on the barest expense, and it will give me a chance to test out Kindle Unlimited with the forthcoming stories; I might have been able to go exclusive with HOM, since the only copies still being sold out there are the paper ones, but I didn’t want to chance crossing the Zon, and besides, I wanted this one to be permafree, and the only way to do that is to go wide (and even then it’s difficult to get them to price-match). So you can get this first one not only at Amazon, but also at Kobo, B&N, Google Play, and Apple.

I can’t say for certain just yet when the second one (completely new!) will be out, but the cover is finished, and the first drafts of both stories had been written several years ago. I just have to go in and do some significant rewriting, to make everything fit neatly together. The plan is to get those two out before the final book in The Bone Flower Trilogy. So stay tuned!

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.

Book Birthday and a Sale!

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BFQ Cover Mock 50 percentToday The Bone Flower Queen is now available in e-book format at all your favorite online retailers!

Suddenly the ground rumbled and I looked around, my calm forgotten. Was it an earthquake? Behind me, the maguey plant’s thick, fleshy leaves waved as if caught in a great wind, yet none of the plants around it moved, and no wind was blowing. The rumbling focused between me and the maguey plant, as if something large and sinister burrowed towards me….

Having defeated the sorcerer god Smoking Mirror and reclaimed her throne, Quetzalpetlatl and her brother Topiltzin set out to found Quetzalcoatl’s new holy city and end human sacrifice throughout the Toltec world.

But Smoking Mirror hasn’t abandoned his own ambitions for power; with his allies–both mortal and divine–threatening war among the gods, he’s shifted his focus to Quetzalpetlatl and her budding magical powers. Along with her deep, personal connection to his hated enemy Quetzalcoatl, she would be the perfect addition to his ranks, if only he could convince her that she’s working for the wrong side in this conflict.

And he knows the one secret that will tear apart everything she thinks she knows about her beloved god…and herself.

What are readers saying about it?

This is a lovely continuation of the first volume–I really like the focus on Toltec society and the wealth of details, as well as the focus on women’s experiences (there’s a lovely and heartbreaking depiction of motherhood). The final revelation (and I’m not going to spoil) is a game-changer.”

“Every bit as good, if not better, than the first.”

“T.L. Morganfield’s characters were well fleshed out in the first book and become even more so in this one. The tension between the hero & heroine is amazing and you cheer for them through the entire book despite their odd circumstances. Morganfield’s mastery at setting draws you into the story so much so that you forget you’re sitting in the present reading. You feel like you are walking through the Aztec culture.”

BFT_ebookcov“There is real love for the craft here. Real care and respect for the culture being represented…I simply cannot wait for the next (and final, ugh!) book in The Bone Flower trilogy!”

Buy it now! Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple | Google Play

To celebrate the release, I’ve temporarily marked down the e-book of The Bone Flower Throne to $.99. This reduced pricing will last through Friday, then it will returned to it’s newly-reduced cover price of $4.99, so hurry and grab your copy if you don’t already have one! Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple | Google Play