Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spirit Blade

The cover is here...

Fabulous artwork by Paul Davies (pdportraits.co.uk).

The serialization schedule is posted on my website at melanienilles.com and links will be updated as they become available.

Hunters (Spirit Blade Part 1) is now listed as FREE at Smashwords and Page Foundry. It will soon reach other retailers and hopefully sooner than later become free at Amazon. For now, it's $0.99, the lowest price it can be until it price-matches.

For quick reference, here's the publishing schedule for the serial:

Part 1: $0.99 FREE (Available NOW)
Part 2: $0.99 (10 August 2014)
Part 3: $0.99 (24 August 2014)
Part 4: $2.99 (7 September 2014)
Part 5: $2.99 (21 September 2014)

Complete Novel: $4.99 (5 October 2014)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited

I've had this on my mind because Amazon is the leader in ebooks and 60% of my sales come from them. There, I've exposed some personal information.

I like Amazon. What they've done to change the landscape of publishing is a boon for everyone. They gave authors a choice of not having to live with publisher rejection and readers a wider array of books to suit their tastes. What's not to like?

What I have to say is only my opinion and my personal preference.

I do not believe that the Select program is good for all books, but I have seen how it has helped some authors. To be part of the new Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 monthly fee for all the kindle books you want to read, as far as I understand it), an author has to opt-in to say that Amazon will have their book exclusively for 90 day periods (after which they can pull them out).

As I stated above, Amazon brings in about 60% of my sales currently, but my books are available across multiple retailers. If I pulled them all to go exclusive with Amazon (a requirement to enroll in Select), I'd be cutting off a lot of potential readers. I like Barnes and Noble--my kids and I shop there on occasion and I also have a Nook. I have a Kindle too, plus smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. on which I can read books from any retailer I want using their software or Adobe Digital Editions.

As an author, I don't have any intention of cutting off 40% of my readers and potential readers just because of a deal at one that may or may not increase my sales, particularly when it involves a flat, shared amount. My books range in price from $.99 on up to $9.99 (omnibus edition of Dark Angel Chronicles). I'd either be cutting off my income or increasing it, depending on what price a particular ebook is. For shorter works, I can see the benefit of being exclusive, and in that I may try it on the Adronis books.

And I'll bet a lot of authors will be considering the same thing. I can see the KU program becoming a short-story to novella mixture rather than novels that could be making more outside of the program.

As a reader, I don't read enough to make $9.99 a month worthwhile. I tend to read more nonfiction and, due to the nature of what I've been studying, I like to have the print book on hand for that. I rarely buy books by the big publishers. If I read one or two indie books a month at $2.99-$4.99, I'm better off paying the individual rates for the books and saving a few bucks, plus the authors earn more. However, If I was interested in reading something from big publishers, $9.99 for unlimited books that normally cost that much or more would be a sweet deal. Throw in a few indie books on the side and I'd still be coming out ahead.

KU can be a benefit to some or a money sink to others. Consider the cost-benefits to you as either an author or a reader, or both.

With it just unrolled, I think a lot of people will give KU a try and many authors not in the program may suffer a slump in sales for a few months, and going into end-of-summer and fall, that's a terrible time for a slump on top of the usual slump. I cringe and wonder how bad it will be but I also realize that some people will realize that it isn't worth their money, as the books they want aren't included or they aren't reading enough to justify the fee. Yes, I try to stay optimistic, but I've also been wrong.

There are no absolutes for authors or readers. As an author, we have our readership and financial situations to consider. As a reader, it's an economic and selection choice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weird Al

My husband, a different Weird Al (his name is Allen and he is weird at times--I make sure to tell him), shared this with me, so I'm passing it on because it's so appropriate. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


The barn owner's husband has given my boy the nickname, but in all the crazy race horse and quarter horse names registered, I'm sure there's a Mister Beaujangles somewhere. :P

Beau is back to good health and soundness again. It's a relief to say it. After getting a new saddle which has set me back $$$ and a special girth, I darn well better get to use them. However, my first duty is to the wellness of my horse before my own riding.

It's been seven months of difficulties with a short spurt of riding back in March-early April. We had just returned to a bit of normalcy after last summer's extreme ulcer issues when the farrier trimmed my boy's heels too short in December. I still rode him, hoping that would help them grow faster. Not sure it helped in that regard, but by the first of the new year, I quit riding him and started hand walking. I did that for about four to six weeks while reading up on hoof issues and found some helpful advice.

After a few times of bringing back his toes while the heels grew out, he started to walk more comfortably. I've since learned that what I was doing was raising the angles of his hooves to where he could be comfortable again, where they were more correct. I had success and started investing in barefoot trimming books.

Then April came and with it, a horrendous coughing. I was still battling thrush in his hooves at this point. For another six weeks, Beau had respiratory problems that ended up making me give up riding. Then, as the weather improved so the barn owner could keep a hose out (without it freezing overnight) to water his hay, he improved considerably only to fall ill. He went off his hay for two to three weeks, was depressed and lethargic, and ended up with his legs swollen (stocked up).

That's when I had a breakdown of thinking I was going to have to put this boy down. I almost couldn't take it anymore. Almost. Something got me through and I had a talk with the barn owner. We made a simple deal that helped both Beau and I. Beau got time out on a small turnout pasture during the day and I had another project to keep be busy while he recuperated.

Beau did improve in both feet and breathing. But then he had issues with some winter hair not wanting to shed from his back and being ravenously hungry after being taken out of the pasture--sometimes I would get there to take him back to his dry lot. I observed in hand grazing that he had become very fussy about the grass, something that had never been an issue. Since he was better in the other ways, I asked that he be kept in his run and put back on hay. That helped, since he wasn't fussy about the hay.

Then, I noticed he wasn't putting weight on very well. With everything else improving, I couldn't see why, but I didn't want to start riding until he had a little more weight. Although the horses get regular deworming, upon the advice of my instructor, I gave him a complete dewormer. The next day, a bunch of that winter coat came out and about ten days later, he started to gain. Upon seeing that, I started to ride. That was last week.

It's been a long hard road for my big boy, but he's looking great and moving better. His hoof issues have prompted me to start studying barefoot trimming. I've bought a hoof angle gauge to make sure I don't take off too much heel myself, as I had done back in May while he was sick. I also switched thrush treatments and found that I like the Thrushbuster better than No Thrush. As a liquid, the TB gets into the deeper pockets of his collateral grooves more easily to control the thrush and allow his hooves to grow more healthy. Unfortunately, that's in his heels, which don't grow nearly as fast as I'd like. I don't know if we'll ever truly conquer thrush or just keep it at bay.

Throughout all these troubles, Beau has turned me into a very conscientious horse owner and made mt look at my own health. I've changed a lot to make myself better. And I invested in the new saddle and girth to make him more comfortable for riding.

Everyone who sees Beau says he's the prettiest horse at the barn. And he's one of the prettiest movers--he has some close competition from a couple of tall morgan geldings bred more for sporthorse than typical morgan showing. It's unfortunate that his beauty comes with such high price to maintain, but I've been counting my blessings that it's been possible. It's money I'd rather have spent on fun stuff (like paying for the new saddle already) or other projects (I'm sure my husband would have preferred some of that go to home projects), but at least I was able to provide the care he's needed to get through all the problems. Now, the object is to pay off that new saddle, which is worth Beau's weight in gold--it fits us both perfectly, allowing me to sit perfectly balanced to give him the best ride possible.

I'll continue fighting the fight for my Beau, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. Nevertheless, without him, I wouldn't be the rider or person I am today. I hope I can make him the best horse in the world.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

what's to come

Just a few small updates on Spirit Blade.

Editing is going well and I'm only waiting on the cover art to get the first part out.

As far as the serialization is concerned, I've decided to make a small change. In following the natural high points that come up in Spirit Blade, I'm going to break it into five parts. I don't want to break it up too much, but I want to stick to a natural flow to make this serialization the best it can be.

Finally, those on my mailing list will receive a coupon code for Smashwords for discount downloads to get the first part free immediately, and possibly the second part free ;) Sign up at melanienilles.com. This is just one of the advantages to signing up, besides book giveaways and knowing when new books are available at major retailers.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Counting my blessings

Yesterday, I was thinking about independence. Today, I'm counting that as one of my blessings.

I did have contracts with a reputable small publisher six years ago, but after they delayed the release of my first book, I asked to be released from the remaining contracts. They agreed and, at the end of the contract period for the only book they published, I asked to end that. Today, I have twenty titles out and am proud to say I'm indie (although I own my own publishing company for business purposes). I count that as a HUGE blessing, because I retain all my rights and control all the minutiae that comes with publishing. I decide on my own covers, edits, etc. I am not bound to anyone else but myself and my readers.

I am ultra-grateful for my readers, the greatest blessing of being a writer.

I'm grateful for many things in all those, like finding the wonderful cover artist working on the Spirit Blade cover at this time and the usual--family, friends, health, etc.

Outside of writing, it was the weird incident of the storm changing course and avoiding us that prompted this post. Large hail and damaging winds would have pounded our house, but by some freak occurrence, the storm changed course and instead of continuing northeast over us, it decided to change to straight east, avoiding us completely. I'm grateful it did and feel like my guardian angels were watching over us here.

I will also be grateful to get my pickup back from the shop. That machine saved my life when a young kid sideswiped me almost four weeks ago. I want to hug the big gray heap of metal that protected me from the distracted kid who wasn't obeying traffic laws. And I'm grateful that the damage was less than what's required for damaged title reporting.

I'm grateful also that I've had the opportunity to work with a couple of horses this summer besides my own, who has been recovering from one thing after another. I hope he's finally fully healed and healthy and ready to continue on his career path, the reason I bought him almost seven years ago. Those small projects have kept me going, and I can't give enough thanks to the person who suggested I take them on when I said I wanted another horse to work with in this challenging time when I haven't been able to work my own. It's the process of training that most motivates me and having to give that up, even for a short while, has been debilitating on my psyche. It's been one disappointment after another, but having goals with other horses to work towards has kept me going.

I try to see the positive in most things, but there are times when it seems like I hit bottom. For a while this spring, I did hit the bottom of my faith in my horse's future; but I've seen that there are other ways to keep myself useful and not thinking about the problems. It's still not easy and I fear having to give up horses for whatever reason, but until that day comes, I will keep doing what I love.

The future hasn't happened, so one can say what will or will not happen. You can only live in the present and take each moment as it comes. There's an old saying that I can't remember the source: "Yesterday's history. Tomorrow's a mystery. And today is a gift; that's why they call it 'the present'." Live in it.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

It's the 4th of July here in the U.S. and that means a lot. It's the celebration of the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed by the founders of this nation.

On this Independence Day, independent authors are also celebrating the right to publish their works as they see fit, free of restrictive contracts (non-compete clauses, life-of-copyright stealing by publishers, etc.), free to market however we choose, free to mix genres, free to publish in whatever formats we choose.

We are grateful to our readers, to whom we sell our works with only one middleman--retailers--or none at all. We, the authors of this digital era, have declared our independence from the slavery of publishers and thank you, the readers, for supporting our right to price our products fair to you and in exchange for being allowed to make a fair wage by selling the fruits of our labors to entertain you.

If you would like to show your support, please do so by buying indie books, leaving reviews for your favorite authors, and spreading your love for indie books.

Thank you!!


Spirit Blade

The book is coming along well in the final stages. Editing is going smoothly. The cover is nearly finished. And now, I have this...

A description:

Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the spell and dagger the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence and is ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by the power of an ancient device.

But the shevoru, the spirit blade, may be the only hope to save the world from annihilation when demons from a forgotten era rise again.


The cover will be revealed soon!

You'll find all the updates available also on melanienilles.com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mail list sign-ups

As I posted on Facebook earlier today... "If anyone has sent a request in the last couple of months to sign up for my mailing list, you might want to send me a message directly. I just discovered a spam folder undeliverable message using an email I didn't recognize from the service that my website designer set up for that purpose. I caught it but now wonder how many others might have been deleted as spam, since I don't open any messages from emails that look suspicious. If I haven't sent a receipt confirmation in return, in the last few months (before then, all was well), please send me a message directly to my main email..."

Also: "ps--this is why I encourage people to follow me in multiple ways. One or another will fail part of the time. Technology is never perfect."

Now that I know what to look for in the error message, I am going through those messages in the spam filter as they appear. Unfortunately, I don't know how far back this error goes and how many requests may have been trashed, as I clear my spam folder on a daily basis.

The contact form at melanienilles.com/contact.html is working but was forwarding forms as error messages. My website designer is looking into the problem. In the meantime and probably indefinitely, I'll be looking more closely at my spam messages.

Thank you for your patience and loyalty!

Book sale

Tiger Born will be on sale for a limited time from most retailers, starting today, and free on Smashwords (check the listing for a coupon code to enter on checkout). That limited time will only last a week at most, except Smashwords. The SW sale runs all of July. You'll find several of my books on sale there. Click on the links below for your favorite retailer.

The second book in the Demon Age series, Spirit Blade, will begin serialization in a few weeks (aiming for my birthday on July 24 for Part 1) with the complete novel available October 5, 2014.

A cover for Spirit Blade is coming soon, along with a description:

My books on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/melanienilles

Tiger Born purchase links:

Barnes and Noble

The building Spirit Blade page.