A Lark

I think larks are birds. This post is not about them.

So, I was thinking to myself the other day, you know what would be awesome? An audio version of Kill It With Magic. Then all you people can listen to it while driving around or working out or whatever it is people who listen to audiobooks do when they listen.

So, again on a lark, I decided to list my book for auditions over at ACX, and oh my god, people actually read part of my book out loud. Out loud, like in audio form, for auditions, and I almost had a heart attack because when the first one was reading she stumbled over a sentence.

I pulled it up, intent on making a change, and do you know what I found? No typo… she just randomly inserted words.

It made me smirk.

Then I listened to the second audition… and was blown out of the water. The scene she read was amazing. AMAZING.

I might be biased though. I’m going to have to let other people listen and give me opinions.

In other news, I asked one of my friends to read through Abby Banks and give me title ideas… and she read the whole thing in one sitting because she’s awesome and crazy.

Also, Pursuit (Lillim 4) is with the formatter now. Look for its release in March.

You should see Abby Banks in April, if all goes well. I have to get it beta read in February.

Finally, Hatter is Mad is now available in paperback. Pick up a copy if you’re inclined to read things on dead tree flesh. I have to say that Shawn’s cover is simply amazing in print form.

Speedy

The other day, I was working on Abby Banks and decided to take a break. During my break, I was reading some writer blogs, and they were talking about how many words they write an hour.

So what did I decide to do? Time myself for an hour. What did an hour of writing on Abby Banks net me? 1500ish words. That was with a five or ten minute break around the forty minute mark.

In my second experiment I netted 1800 words. So I guess I write fast? Who knew.

I knew that once I “get in the zone” I can pound out the story, but I had no idea how quickly I was writing things down. I’m sure part of it is the new outline structure I’ve adopted. It’s really more of a goal statement for each chapter.

Anyway, enough bragging. I have about 3 or 4 chapters left until Abby Banks is done with the first draft. Then it’s second and third draft time, after which, it will hit the beta reader like a brick to the face.

I’m super excited about this one because it’s really different. It is pretty much the first thing I’ve ever written that wasn’t supernatural. I’ll leave you with my preliminary blurb.

 Abby Banks is your typical sixteen-year-old girl, except that her entire life has been one big lie. Kidnapped as a young girl and fostered by a government agency as collateral, Abby never knew she was important… until her mom’s terrorist organization unleashes a devastating attack on the facility.

Only she doesn’t want Abby back. What she wants is a heart transplant… and she would have gotten it if it wasn’t for Stephen, a down on his luck secret agent with a reputation to repair.

Will Stephen be able to keep Abby safe? Will Abby be able to stop her mom before it’s too late, or will they both wind up as speed bumps on her mom’s road to world domination?

Pursuit – Preorder

I got the final version of the cover for the fourth Lillim Callina novel, Pursuit, today, and in honor of that, I decided to put it up for preorder on Amazon. Check it out here.

Pursuit

Seventeen year old Lillim Callina has faced her fair share of high-powered bad guys. From fire-breathing dragons to Celtic Death Gods, Lillim has seen them all, but when a rival from her past threatens not only her, but her parents, friends, and way of life, only one question remains.

How many people are going to die before Lillim brings him to justice?

 

Search Terms

I noticed an interesting thing the other day. Do you know what the top words people search for when they go to my website?

“j a cipriano kill it with magic torrent”

That’s crazy, right? Someone actually wants my book bad enough to torrent or pirate it, or whatever. I’m just amazed. Okay, new rule if you want it that bad, leave a comment anywhere on the blog, and I’ll send you the first book >.>

Moving on, I got Pursuit back from the second beta reader. She hasn’t read any of the other books, but she said it was still an excellent read. I rewrote some sections based on her suggestions and added almost 3k words to the story. It’s much better now!

I’m also expecting to see a cover for Pursuit in the next week or so.

Lately, I’ve been working on Abby Banks, and I’ve written about three chapters? I’m not sure, but the novel is coming along nicely. I think this one is really good. I also came up with an ending, finally.

I’m thinking Abby Banks is going to wind up being a trilogy. It just has that feel to it, but I make no promises.

I also ordered the proof for the print version of Hatter is Mad. I should get it in a few days and assuming it isn’t way horrible, you’ll be able to purchase a print version. Woo!

I also spoke with my editor, and I should get Fairy Tale back around February 10, 2015. Look for it about a week later!

Hatter – Live

Okay so yeah, you can now purchase The Hatter is Mad in ebook format on Amazon. Alternately, you can click here and be taken straight to the book, or, alternately to that (see what I did there?) you can click the book on the right side of your screen.

You may also know a new cover on the right for a book called Fairy Tale. It is now available for preorder. The book is with the editor now, so be confident you will actually own a copy once the preorder is finished.

I got this cover a while back and, in the words of Napoleon Dynamite, “it’s pretty sweet!”

Lillim Callina - Fairy Tale

Seventeen-year-old Lillim Callina does not like living with her mother, which is why she hired fairy contractors to rebuild her apartment. But when the fairies vanish overnight, a routine task becomes an all-out battle for the future of Fairy.

Enjoy! Oh and buy my crap!

Lessons Learned

I submitted Hatter is Mad to Amazon a few hours ago, so the ebook should be live tomorrow morning. It usually takes about 12 hours. I got it back from the formatter last night, and I probably should have submitted it then, but well, I was lazy. Unprofessional, I know.

The print version will come about a week later.

So, what have I learned from my second book? Be professional.

Murphy was in full swing with this one, and I guess I’m a Type A personality when it comes to my books because I just found myself getting angrier and angrier. This, honestly, didn’t really do anything to help.

To negate this, I’ve decided to throw some money at the problem and see if it goes away.

See, I had two wonderful critique partners for Hatter is Mad, but I can’t expect them to keep up with my pace, at least at the moment. One of them finished the book in July. The other… didn’t finish. She only got 2/3 of the way by Nov. 20, which is when it had to go to the editor. While I got it to him at 11:30 PM on the 20th, that wound up being the 21st since he is in the Philippines.

Realistically, I should have had it to him in August. Because he got it in November and got sick, and really busy, I got Hatter back on Jan 4th instead of Dec 14th when all my promotions for Kill it with Magic were scheduled.  To make matters worse, my formatter closed for new orders from Dec 13th to Jan 1st. It wound up not being an issue because I got the MS back so late, but it was incredibly frustrating.

When I did get the MS back, it was well edited, but had I gotten it to him earlier it wouldn’t have been an issue if he was a little late.

In the future, I am going to go with professional readers. Yeah, that’s a thing. I mean I won’t balk if someone wants to do this for free, but for Fairy Tale, Pursuit, and Shattered I went through Frostbite Publishing. I got the books back a week later with comments and surveys on every chapter. It was extremely helpful.

This allowed me to give Fairy Tale to the editor a week early. Which is stupid since the book was done a while ago, and I was just trying to find a beta reader. If I’d used the professionals earlier, he’d have had the book back in October or whenever it was I finished it.

My friend Shawn made a wonderful cover for Hatter. It was free. I like free. However, it made me feel like a jackass whenever I bugged him for the cover.

For Fairy Tale, Pursuit, and Shattered, I decided to go with a professional cover artist (two different ones) because Shawn didn’t feel like he had time. I’m fairly pleased with the results. Mostly it was because I got the cover back like a week after I ordered it, and I didn’t feel like a jerk bugging them for it.

Honestly, this post just feels like bitching to me, but it really isn’t. I’m not upset, really. I just need to treat this as a professional thing if I’m going to self-impose deadlines on myself. Otherwise it goes from being a fun hobby to a source of stress, and I have enough of those.

Hatter is Mad – Chapter 1

So there’s news afoot. I got Pursuit back from the beta reader, and not to put words in her mouth, but she said that it is easily the best Lillim book so far.

The formatter also let me know that I will have Hatter back today. In honor of that, I’ve decided to post the first chapter here.

***

Chapter 1 – Hatter is Mad

I fell forward, arms flailing wildly as I tried to right myself before face-planting into the cement. I jerked to a stop mere inches from the ground and let out a short cry of pain.

“You should have been watching that last step. That one’s a doozy.” Melanie Stone grinned, holding me with both hands by the scruff of my overcoat as she stood just outside my door.

I grunted as she helped me regain my balance. I wriggled my toes in the pink footpads of my pajamas and sighed. I thought about changing, but I didn’t have time if I wanted to answer the door in any respectable amount of time. So there I was, standing there in my navy blue overcoat and a pink onesie with sparkly ponies on it. I’d probably looked more ridiculous at some point in time, but I had a hard time remembering when.

Why did I grab my overcoat instead of a bathrobe? It was enchanted with spells that made it bullet proof, stab proof, and fire proof. Besides, there was near limitless space inside to hide my own personal armory. However, none of that helps when you trip and fall through your own doorway as you scramble to open the door.

Stupid jacket on the floor! The fairy cleaning-service was really slacking lately. If this kept up, I might actually have to start cleaning up after myself. I shook my head in disgust. That was so not happening. If there’s one thing Lillim Callina does not do, it’s clean.

I glanced at Melanie Stone and smirked. She stood even shorter than my five foot nothing with curly, golden locks that made her face look pixie-like. It also made her black combat boots and matching trench coat and hat look almost cute, like a five year old who had gotten into her father’s clothes.

She tipped her hat toward me, took the cigar from her lips, and blew a small cloud of smoke from the corner of her mouth. Behind her I could see her latest fling, Antonio. He was over six feet tall and wore on each pinky finger a diamond ring that looked more like some lucky girl’s engagement ring than something a man would wear. Hey, I wasn’t judging. It was just that where I came from men dressed like men. My father wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a dainty band like that on his pinkie. He could also chew coal and spit out diamonds, so there was that.

Antonio stood motionless between the open door of his Beamer and the car itself. Apparently he was in some kind of major hurry, which begged the question of why he came along at all. He looked like he was probably up to no good, and not because most people dressed in custom suits gave me that vibe. No, it was because he was tagging along with Melanie Stone, the resident trouble causing private detective in these parts. Then again, I guess a good fit for her would be an eccentric millionaire who liked to ‘play detective’ from time to time.

“My dearest Melanie, to what do I owe this lovely visit?” I asked as I stepped back to shut the door in her face as kindly as possible.

“I’m well. Thanks for asking,” she replied, leaning against the door frame so I couldn’t close it without hitting her. “How are you? Still posing as vamp bait?”

I glared at her as the heat rose on my cheeks. “No. I’m over it,” I growled.

“So Caleb finally called you back?” she asked in that annoying way she did when she already knew the answer.

We’d met six months ago while I was posing as a teenage runaway at a vampire owned half-way house. Why was I doing that? Because Caleb left me in the middle of the night without so much as a goodbye, and I was angry. I bounced around supernatural feeding grounds busting heads for a while after that.

If Melanie didn’t find me, ignore the fact that I was only seventeen, and teach me some tricks of the trade, I’d probably still be luring vampire johns to their doom.

“No. I still haven’t heard a word from him.” I sighed and stared at my feet. “Why do you ask?”

“Lillim, I do actually care about you. You’re like the little sister I never wanted,” Melanie said and harrumphed. “And there have been some weird occurrences over the last few days. If I trust my gut at all, it tells me your ‘things’ have something to do with it.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “As far as I know, there’s nothing abnormal going on in the supernatural world.”

She put her hand against her face and rubbed her temples before letting out a long sigh. It was her dealing with me gesture. I saw it nearly every time I irritated her. Melanie blew out a slow breath that reeked of tobacco, and my stomach tried to crawl out my throat.

“I was never really good at asking for help. You know that.” She stopped talking and stared at the floor as if looking for the right words. “I know you’re good at finding things, specifically strange things.” She waggled her fingers for emphasis. “Things others aren’t so good at finding, if ya catch my drift. Antonio might have found something, and I want you to look into it.”

“I have been known to find a bauble or two upon occasion. What do you need found?” I smiled and leaned against the door. As much as I disliked Antonio without actually meeting him in person, I was sure he was a millionaire and could totally pay me. I liked that a lot. In fact, it moved him to nearly the top of my list of my people to not hate without a good reason.

She pulled a sealed envelope from her coat and thrust it into my hands. “Let me know when you find out what’s going on. Your usual rate is in there with a little bonus. You know, for ice cream.”

Melanie was one of the few people who knew I could be bought. Especially if I was being paid to do something I was already interested in. This though, this seemed a bit off. She referred jobs to me before but…

“Trust me. This is right up your alley.” She turned and moved down my walk toward Antonio and the Beamer. He seemed even more agitated. Briefly, I wondered why he was in such a rush. “And next time, try not to answer the door in your pajamas. It’s really unprofessional, though the ponies are cute.”

I fought the urge to yell at her as I shut the door. Instead, I leaned my back against the doorframe and tore the top off the manila envelope. A smile crossed my face as I dropped its remains to the floor. A while back Melanie told me how she liked to save manila envelopes for use at a later time, to save both money and hassle. I smirked as a glossy photo slid out of the mangled envelope and into my hand.

If Melanie hadn’t given it to me, I wouldn’t have spared it a second glance. It was of the most completely average looking man I’ve ever seen walking down a street carrying a briefcase. He was wearing a royal blue suit with a navy fedora. Even his shoes were blue. On his wrist was an oversized watch that seemed blurry in the otherwise clear photo. It was circled in red marker with There it is written next to it.

I turned the picture over. Written on the back were several completely incomprehensible symbols. I set it on the pile of candy wrappers covering every square inch of my desk, and I looked inside the envelope. There was a neon blue post-it note that said, “He’s murdering the time.”

First World Problems

So I have good news and bad news. The good news is I got Shattered back from the beta reader, and well, she didn’t hate it. She was able to pinpoint the problems I was having and help me out, but her comments made me realize I’m an idiot.

The major issue with the book is that the reader comes into the story during the middle of Dirge’s timeline.

Let’s see if you can follow my thoughts here for a minute. The way I have it currently in my head, Shattered would technically be the third book in the Dirge Quartet. This, in my stupid head, wasn’t a problem because I’d written it to be more of a supplement to the Lillim books.

However, my lovely wife pointed an interesting fact out to me when I was trying to figure out how to fix the book. No one is going to want to read books 1 and 2 AFTER book 3 and potentially book 4 are out. The most likely two outcomes are:

  • Readers ignore the prequels to Shattered
  • Readers wait until the series is finished, then start.

It doesn’t even really make sense to put out book 3 before book 1 and 2 are written because I’ll be constrained because Shattered will already canon.

And, the real kicker is this, there’s two books that take place before the Dirge timeline even starts.

That’s five books that take place before Shattered.

So, all that being said, Shattered is going to get delayed until at least the first two Dirge books are written…

Sorry.

I spent all morning going through my notes and actually writing a timeline, detailing what happens from “the beginning.” I’d show it to you, but that’d give everything away.

I’m fairly certain I can do it like this:

  • Rising
  • Uprising
  • (Unnamed First Dirge Book)
  • Requiem
  • Shattered
  • Besieged

I did, however, work on a blurb to the pre-Dirge, (would that make it pre-pre-Lillim?) series, though. I’d like to share it with you.

When I was born, the Dioscuri had a noble leader, a good king, and an insurmountable army.

This story is not about them.

Except for the part where I kill them.

Hatter Returns

I got Hatter is Mad back from the editor yesterday. Mostly grammar and typos. I mean, who misspells lavender… there was even a red line under it…

I made all the changes to the manuscript, and let me tell you, even copying over edits that are mostly commas and a word or two here or there is quite taxing. It took me like four hours. The sad thing is, there will probably still be typos.

I just sent it to my formatter because I don’t do anything myself. I formatted my short story and that was relatively easy, but it’s a short story, not a 50k+ novel with chapters and headings.

He says I should have it back in four-five days. That means this time next week you’ll be able to buy Hatter. I know I’ve said it before, but it really is much better than Kill it with Magic. I mean, it still requires you to like young girls with swords fighting monsters, so there is that.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but I sent Shattered to the beta reader last week. Every time I read it I think it’s horrible, so it was time for someone else to look at it.

Pursuit is scheduled to go to the beta reader on 1/12/15. I keep waiting for her to email me back and tell me her eyes are bleeding.

Alone in the Dark

Remember a while back where I said I wrote a short story about Lillim? Of course you do. Anyway, I’ve decided to make it available on kindle for $.99. It’s only like 5 pages long so that seems sort of expensive, but it is part of kindle unlimited so if you have one of those accounts you can borrow it for free. Then again if you really want it, just sign up for the mailing list and I’ll send it to you, free of charge.

And, since I’m so nice, I’ll even give you the first two lines right here!

**

“Now Lillim, once you escape the vampire den, make sure you come straight home.”

Those were the last words my mother said before she shut the door, leaving me, her thirteen-year-old daughter trapped in the basement of a rotting building a half hour before sundown.