Hey Guess What!

I’m still out here. No real excuses for the lack of updates of late. I realize it’s almost been a month since the last blog post and I think things might be ready to ramp up soon.

You see, I’ve been busy writing a book. Imagine that! Okay, well, the book is written, but I’ve been honing the shit out of it with the critique group and my front-line editor. I’m giving a wild-ass guess of mid-to-late October release for Pathways of the Dead, but that could slip a few weeks depending on how quickly my beta readers and the editor get things back to me. I’m about 70% through with my self-edit pass at the moment, after which the beta readers get unleashed to feast upon the words, along with the front line editor. Mix and match their suggestions and changes with a few more of my own changes and ship it off to my final editor. Can we get that all done in 8-10 weeks? I guess we’ll see, but I’m not going to rush it.

For those handful who care, I actually think it’s a decent book and I’m my own harshest critic when it comes to these things. As with any book, there will be issues in the final version, no doubt, but for the first time I feel like I have a command view of what’s going on and how to steer it correctly. I guess I could still steer things into an iceberg, but I’m not about to sit here worrying over it.

Along with all of this loveliness I’m also wrapping up the revisions for a Corridors of the Dead re-release that fixes some of the most egregious problems with the prose. That’s right, I’ll admit it, two years on and I’m not satisfied with the book. I love it for what it represents, but it needs some TLC to get the rest of the way there. That one should be around the first week of September, and it includes the first chapter of Pathways along with a new forward to entice you into taking the plunge. For those folks who purchased the original edition on Kindle, I’m going to ping Amazon about sending the updates, but rest assured that nothing too major has changed. I’ll have a more detailed post ready to go about those changes as we approach launch.

Last, I just want to say that I appreciate the folks who have stuck with me for the last few months. This book has been nowhere near as difficult as Room 3, but it’s had its challenges. That’s why I’ve been MIA for so long.

I’m going to try my best to keep you guys updated. At the very least, a book is surely coming.

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How to Use Draft2Digital to Simplify the Publishing Process

Today we’re going to be talking about Draft2Digital, a service that can take just about any Word document formatted with a semi-consistent style sheet, turn it into the proper eBook format for a service, and submit it to that service.

Draft2Digital media-leaderboard

It’s been four months since I published a book, and in this industry four months can be an eternity. Little did I know that a lot of folks consider Smashwords a bit outdated (and I can agree with that) and that its throne as a multi-level distributor is being chipped away by a new company, Draft2Digital. I learned about the new kid from a group of self-publishers who are big advocates for the site, and while it sounded great, I had some valid questions.

I signed up, though, and published a couple of books through them. Are they perfect? No, and this still isn’t the silver bullet that we’d hoped for, but it’s pretty damned close. Let me walk you through the experience and maybe see if you’d be interested.

First things first, you’re going to need to pull all front matter, covers, back matter, etc. out of your draft. No author bio, no blurbs, nothing like that. Further, no copyright page, as Draft2Digital will create that. Just for posterity’s sake, here’s what The Station looks like before going into D2D:

Draft2Digital - Initial Doc

Then, if you haven’t yet, you’ll need to sign up for Draft2Digital. It’s currently a beta product, so you’ll need to request an invite code. Don’t be intimidated by this part of the process. I received my invite code within three hours, and the most I’ve heard is a couple of days. It doesn’t seem to be a very arduous process at the moment. Once you have that, log in.

You’ll see the Draft2Digital dash. Obviously yours will look different from mine, as you won’t have any books in your library yet.

Draft2Digital - Dashboard

 

Just familiarize yourself with the dashboard before diving in. You do NOT want to click Add Book first. I made that mistake and ended up hating myself for it (okay, strong words, but you get the picture – huge pain).

1. Click the My Account link at the top of the page.

Draft2Digital - Step 1

 

2. Click Manage Publishers.

Draft2Digital  - Step 2

 

The Default Publisher is you, in your name. You’ll want to add a payment method, of course. If you want to set up a custom publisher, however, I’ll walk you through the entire process.

3. Click Add Publisher.

Draft2Digital  - Step 3

 

4. Click the + button.

Draft2Digital - Step 4

5. Enter your publisher information. Name is the only required field, but you’re probably going to want to add a payment method. I’m not going to walk you through adding the payment method in this tutorial, as there’s just way too much risk in putting that kind of information, even obscured, out there on the net. Sorry.

Draft2Digital - Step 5

When you’re done, your publisher choice should look like this.

Draft2Digital - Step 6

6. Click My Account.

7.  Click Manage Contributors.

Draft2Digital - Step 7

8. You should be set as the default Contributor. Click View Profiles. If you are not, click Add Contributor; the process is fairly self-explanatory. Once you have the Contributor set up, return to this screen and click View Profiles.

Draft2Digital - Step 8

9. Click Add New Profile.

Draft2Digital - Step 9

10. Name this profile in the Label field (this is used as a bio for your books, so I named mine bio), then enter your bio information in the Profile field. You can also add your author picture and website. When you’re done, click Save.

Draft2Digital - Step 10

Now we’re ready for the meat of the publishing process!

11. Click My Books.

Draft2Digital - Step 11

12. Click Add New Book.

Draft2Digital - Step 12

A quick word about the publication process. D2D uses a three-step process, going from Acquisitions to Layout to Publishing.

Draft2Digital - Three-Step Process

The first screen is Acquisitions, and it looks something like this:

Draft2Digital - Acquisitions Screen

13. Fill out the appropriate fields. The ones with a * are required. Don’t forget to upload your book file at the top of the screen!

Draft2Digital - Step 13

14.  Click Save and Continue.

Draft2Digital - Step 14

D2D saves and converts your file. Depending on the size of your document, this could take a little while.

Draft2Digital - Converting

We’re now at the Layout phase. Note that D2D generates a table of contents based on your headers, and this is where you run into one of the problems with this being a beta product, as it seems to only judge headers based on large, bold fonts or items that are set apart rather than actual header settings. This can cause trouble if you have sections with large bold “hand-written” fonts. I’ve had to request help on this issue, but if you’re lucky, things just work out and it looks like this:

Draft2Digital - Layout Screen

15. Upload your cover image and choose the items that you want. I’m not generating a Title Page since this book already has a decent one. First I click Copyright Page, which seems pretty straightforward, but this is why you needed to do all that work with Publisher and Contributors upfront.

Draft2Digital - Step 15

16. Fill in the Dedication option, if applicable. Again, fairly straightforward.

Draft2Digital - Step 16

17.  For this exercise, let’s just say you have other books available in your collection. If you’re new, you won’t, but you may want to come back and add them. Click the Also By option and select where you’d like this in the book itself. I always choose End of the Book so if someone is interested after they finish the story, they can click right through.

Draft2Digital - Step 17

18. The up-front work continues to pay off. Choose to generate an About the Author page and select the profile that you set up.

Draft2Digital - Step 18

19. I usually skip the About the Publisher page, but you can add it here if you want.

20. One of my favorite features is the ability to generate a Teaser Page. When you select this, you can choose to tease one of your other books at the back of this one.

Draft2Digital - Step 19

21. Click Save and Continue.

Draft2Digital - Step 20

D2D finalizes your document.

Draft2Digital  - Finalizing

22. Now we get to where D2D really shines. You’re presented with the choices to preview book layouts for each of the four major services. This was one of my major beefs with the Smashwords publication service – so little control and view into what got sent to places like iBooks. I advise saving out the major ones that you like. There are many ways to get this to your favorite testing applications, but I favor saving the files, then emailing them to myself so I can open them on my iPad (though I also test them in the handy Amazon Kindle Previewer).

Draft2Digital - Step 22

23. Test the documents. Here is what the Kindle version looks like on my iPad. Note the About the Author page and Teaser page – all generated by D2D:

Draft2Digital - Kindle Sample

And the iBooks version (compare these to the original draft that I showed up top):

Draft2Digital - iBooks Sample

And, for funsies, here’s what it looks like in the Kindle Preview app:

Draft2Digital - Kindle Preview Sample

24. Do some tweaking to the information on the previous pages. Trust me. There’s likely something you missed – I’ve done this three times and missed something each time.

25. Once you are satisfied, check the “I have reviewed this manuscript…” box and click Next.

Draft2Digital - Step 23

26. At long last, we have reached the publishing stage. Choose your price and your chosen platforms. I can’t speak to the CreateSpace process, as I handle all of that myself, but apparently they can help you to get that thing in print, too. Once you’ve set your options, affirm that you own the rights to the book and click Publish my Book!

Draft2Digital - Step 24

27. Congrats! You’re all finished. Now to wait for the money to roll right in.

Draft2Digital - Success

One last note: you can always check the status and sales of your book by going to My Books and click on the Book Title. This page offers a lot of handy information and also allows you to download their version of the book.

Draft2Digital  - Status

So give it a shot and let me know what you think! I love it already.

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Moving in Stereo: Stepping outside of the Amazon Ecosystem

Morning all, and a great Friday and (potentially) weekend to you. This has been a long week, and I’m glad to see its ass-end heading out the door. Let’s just hope all of March isn’t so wild and inconsistent because I may just be forced to drastic measures. Evil measures.

Dramatic_Alpaca

Today I want to talk about the Amazon ecosystem and why I’ve recently increased my distance from it. Let me first admit to some trepidation at sounding a little out-of-touch with this post, as I’m quite aware that some people out there have come to the same conclusion. That conclusion being that the Amazon ‘game’ that so many of us play either doesn’t work or keeps us from seeing the bigger picture of book promotion. I have no idea how much of a trend this movement may be, but I still see an awful lot of posts about getting reviews on Amazon/Amazon sales rankings/Amazon removing likes/Amazon killing puppies, and I just wanted to say a few things about it.

ad-amazon-180x60-blue-bub

Getting this out of the way first: I have nothing against Amazon. In fact, I use it pretty much every day for ordering Kindle books or music or vitamin supplements or what-have-you. I run a thriving Amazon Marketplace business (Brown Pig Brown what) and use Fulfillment by Amazon. This is not meant to be an anti-Amazon post in any way. They’re a pretty spiffy business, and I respect them quite a bit, but let’s face it: Amazon is not – and cannot – be the center of the universe. I suspect not even the company truly wants to be at the center of everything, for all its attempts to carry a broad selection.

Yet for many reasons, some of them valid and some not-so-valid, the indie community has hoisted Amazon as the standard bearer for our movement, the place where you have to succeed if you want to be anything at all. Amazon rankings are held up as the gospel truth and people (even myself) hand over exclusive rights to their works in exchange for a small handful of cash each month, if that. Pretty much all of us have done it, and the Amazon ranking system is set up to encourage it, even if it seems that essentially zero readers actually pay attention to that system. Most that I’ve questioned don’t even know it exists, though it would be fascinating to see a study done on the topic.

Nope2

Thinking about this led to something of an epiphany toward the end of last year: a lot of people out there don’t use Amazon, or don’t want to use Amazon. Hell, plenty of people refuse to read eBooks. I know, I know. This should be self-evident, and I knew it on an intellectual level, but the consequences of that state of affairs didn’t truly settle on my bones until just then. Even with that revelation, it took quite a bit more time to understand that my target audience might truly be comprised of a lot of those folks.

With that in mind, I reworked my approach to marketing. I eased off of the online marketing gas and put more into personal appearances and sales to test this theory. I came away with some surprising data from my first appearance in December. Did I sell hundreds of copies? No, but then it was a small local craft show and I only attended for two to three hours. I did, however, totally blow away my online sales for January in the matter of a few hours.

Encouraged, I booked time at a convention, which has also been covered on this blog. The first few days were bleak, no lie about that, but I matched my total from the December show and outpaced online February sales by a decent margin. As surprising as this might have been, it fell right in line with my experiences to date: I’ve always sold more copies in person, face-to-face, than online, and with a much higher profit margin. Unfortunately, those “didn’t count”, as they didn’t show up in the Amazon rankings.

It sounds stupid. Hell, it is stupid. Money is money, and readers are readers. Who cares if a number on Amazon goes up?

Well, I did. I still bought into the Amazon ecosystem myth, right up until a few days ago, when it became crystal clear that my audience might not be on Amazon after all. So many people who buy my books in person seem less tech-savvy and show a much greater appreciation for the works once they’ve finished them. I don’t understand the connection as I guessed that my books appealed to a more tech-savvy populace, but whatever. I’ll go with what works, and I’m especially ready to cast off the chains of what has become a traditional online marketing approach.

Could this real-world success translate to online success? Haven’t a clue, but I’m not going to worry about it. The only real metric to success is finding an audience and then focusing on it, and those folks seem to be sliding into view, one by one. I hope that more authors realize this and get out there to pound the pavement. I know it’s easier to do this stuff from behind the keyboard, but I fear that the personal appearance and real-life book tour may fall by the wayside, replaced by canned guest posts and purchased reviews. That’s a damned shame because it’s a vital part of our cultural heritage as authors, Amazon ranking or not.

This post may not be for every one of you. I know lots of people who are walking the same path that I’m walking, and I raise my glass to you. I just think that it’s time to broaden horizons and maybe incorporate older approaches with the newer approaches. Have you been pursuing this path? I’d love to hear from you and share what works and what’s proven to be a blind alley. Every writer’s path is assuredly different, and it’s always fascinating to see what folks have dug up. Let me know in the comments.

Room 3 Web Tour!

Hello again, readers…still here, still not feeling GREAT, but I’m pushing forward anyway. I have a few theories about what’s going on with me physically, but have to wait for the doctors to figure it out. In the meantime…

It’s time for Room 3’s web tour! And so far the book is getting great reviews. My personal favorite is from Lizzy’s Dark Fiction (and there’s a site I need to follow – so much of what she reviews speaks to me): “When the ending finally came, I was shocked.  Totally did not expect that ending, but looking back it explained everything.  Every doubt I ever had in the sincerity and plausibility of the story explained within a single scene.  You won’t guess the ending, but if you read this book, you’ll be happy you stuck through it the entire way.”

Now THAT is a review! Very pleased. Go on over there and check it out, and in the process, you can sign up for the giveaway. I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and a $10 Amazon gift card – I imagine you could think of a few ways to spend that this time of year.

I have so many things to share with you. It’s really frustrating that I can’t concentrate enough to give it to you guys. Look for a flood of content once I feel better – including the next part of Open Slay.

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Room 3 Launch Winners, Holiday Crush, and Planning a Tour. Whew!

Evening, readers. First of all, congrats to Cinta García de la Rosa for winning the $25 Amazon gift card in the Room 3 launch. If you missed this one, don’t worry – we’ll have a tour in early December for the rest of you folks. I’ll talk about that one shortly.

In the meantime, of course it’s a holiday week, and I’ve decided to take this week off from my day job. We’re heading out of town on Thursday to visit my parents and spend time with friends, so I don’t know how much I’ll be updating the site. Hopefully “enough” will do the trick? I don’t know. I’m focusing especially hard on City of the Dead right now, in hopes that I can get the first draft of that completed before the end of the year. Can it be done? I don’t know. I’m about halfway through, but it’s flowing out in a fairly steady stream, and it seems pretty good so far.

Fans of the series (all five of you) should enjoy it, based on how things stand now, and it’s far from having the early problems that I experienced with Room 3. The new characters are a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying spending some time with them. I’ll talk about them sometime in the future, but for now…a slight teaser: I think that the cover weapon (as it was a pistol for Corridors of the Dead and a sword for The Station) will be a scythe. Consider what that one might mean. Continue reading

The Mad God: Viracocha in Rural America

Good evening, steady readers. Hope everyone’s having a great week; my own has been crammed with updates, marketing, and writing. Writer’s dream, right? It’s actually kind of a relief to think of writing an ordinary update/entry, but here we are. First, just a reminder that my latest book Room 3 is out there, and I mean way out there. Heh. Seriously, if you like sci-fi, paranormal, urban fantasy…anything like that, I do think you’d enjoy it. Basically, I’m saying that I believe in the book and hope that others will eventually come to recognize what’s on the page.

In the meantime, I’m having a giveaway, because it’s what the cool kids are doing. If you want to get to the meat of this post, just scroll down until you see this bad boy: =====. Then you’ll know you’re past the icky promotional nonsense.

I’m offering a special 2-for-1 deal and giveaway. Here’s how it works:

  1. Purchase Room 3 between now and Midnight on November 18th on any qualifying site. Really, I’m happy with anything, even through this site.
  2. Send me an email at crimnos@gmail.com with the receipt and/or screenshot of the receipt.
  3. Indicate your preferred eBook format and preferred eBook (The Corridors of the Dead, The Kayson Cycle, or The Station).
  4. I’ll send you a copy of that eBook for free! I’ll also give you two entries into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, I know – I’m not just using the giveaway as a tool to puff up my sales. Since memory is so important in Room 3, all you need to do to gain one entry is comment on this post and share one of your favorite memories. That’s it! I look forward to seeing what you have to share.

Now, where do you get it? Why, I’m glad you asked…

  • Smashwords is my current favored e-store for purchase, just because you can get it in so many formats with such little fuss. I’m offering a 10% off discount if you purchase it through Smashwords, in fact; use PL77Y as your coupon code at checkout and you can knock a little off of the price.
  • I’m sure many of you are looking for the Kindle version, and you find it at Amazon. Go go go!!
  • Barnes and Noble also offers the print edition and the Nook version, if that’s your cup of tea. I can’t offer you a discount there, but you’re welcome to check it out.
  • You can also purchase signed and unsigned print editions through my site.
  • The print edition is also available on Amazon and Createspace.

======

So anyway, tonight I’m on the cusp of finishing the first draft of a story that I mentioned awhile back called Passage of the Mad God. I originally wrote the story back in 2004 and serialized it on the Something Awful forums (http://forums.somethingawful.com) in an effort to elicit some feedback.

Let’s just say I didn’t like what I got, and I never did it again. Thing is, eight years on, I dusted it off because I thought the premise itself was so appealing and so close to my heart that I just had to take another shot. You know what? Those *assholes* had the temerity to be right all that time ago. Damnedest thing, right? I was not ready. 

Am I today? Well, I like to think so, and I hope that you read the story when it’s finished and out in the wild next year. Today, though, I’d like to talk a little bit about that “mad god” in the title. His name is Viracocha, and he’s based on this guy:

Now, according to the Incas, this dude was the founder of civilization itself. Continue reading

Room 3 Launch – Get the Details Here!

Hi readers! I am proud to announce that Room 3 is now available on all major eBook and print platforms – and coming to many more in the near future (including an audiobook that’s in the works).

I have a fun promotion and giveaway going on this week, but first, let’s look at the current lay of the land with where you can pick up my second full-length novel:

  • Smashwords is my current favored e-store for purchase, just because you can get it in so many formats with such little fuss. I’m offering a 10% off discount if you purchase it through Smashwords, in fact; use PL77Y as your coupon code at checkout and you can knock a little off of the price.
  • I’m sure many of you are looking for the Kindle version, and you find it at Amazon. Go go go!!
  • Barnes and Noble also offers the print edition and the Nook version, if that’s your cup of tea. I can’t offer you a discount there, but you’re welcome to check it out.
  • You can also purchase signed and unsigned print editions through my site.
  • The print edition is also available on Amazon and Createspace.
More editions are coming soon (I’m trying to work something out with Google at the moment); it’s just taking some time to get them into the pipeline, as usual. In the meantime, I’m offering a special 2-for-1 deal and giveaway. Here’s how it works:
  1. Purchase Room 3 between now and Midnight on November 18th on any qualifying site. Really, I’m happy with anything, even through this site.
  2. Send me an email at crimnos@gmail.com with the receipt and/or screenshot of the receipt.
  3. Indicate your preferred eBook format and preferred eBook (The Corridors of the Dead, The Kayson Cycle, or The Station).
  4. I’ll send you a copy of that eBook for free! I’ll also give you two entries into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, I know – I’m not just using the giveaway as a tool to puff up my sales. Since memory is so important in Room 3, all you need to do to gain one entry is comment on this post and share one of your favorite memories. That’s it! I look forward to seeing what you have to share.
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Indie-Pendence Blog Hop Day 5: The Emissaries of Speculative Fiction

Welcome to the final day in Shaggin the Muse’s Indie-pendence Blog Hop Blowout. First things first, to those of you who commented: thank you. I fully intend to join in the conversation once I get a free moment. It’s been quite the week with the holiday and pushing to get both a novel and short story finished on top of five blog posts. Spinning plates, my friends, spinning plates.

Next order of business: be sure to check in tomorrow, when I’ll be announcing the winners of this week’s book bonanza. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, we’re  giving away loads of books for free. Let’s review what you stand to win this week:

-eBooks of the Corridors of the Dead (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Kayson Cycle (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Station (limit 5)
-Advance eBook of Room 3 when it releases (limit 2)
-eBooks of the Newfoundland Vampire (limit 3)
-eBooks of Marie Loughin’s Valknut the Binding (limit 5)

That’s 25 free books ready for folks to win. And all you have to do is comment. Once you’ve commented, you’ll go into the drawing spreadsheet. On Friday, I’ll draw your number from the hat (a random number generator), and notify you of what you’ve won. Your odds are really, really good, and I know the involved authors would love your comments on our posts. I’m hoping this will be fun for everybody and spur some discussion.

Now, then. If you’re a new reader, I’d like to introduce you to our writers group, the Emissaries of Speculative Fiction, also known as TESSpecFic. The concept behind our group is very relevant to the Indie-Pendence Blog Hop, as it was originally created to bring together like-minded indie authors in not just marketing, but also supporting one another, whether it be through beta reading, editing, formatting advice, or just support when things suck. It’s the embodiment of the idea that I’ve pressed a few times here: that we, as indie writers, need to find ways to present quality and add value to works for readers. I had thought of guilds as a solution, and this is similar in nature. Each week, I typically handle a week-in-review retrospective showing what our team has been up to, but I think this week I’d like to take a look at each member. Continue reading

The #TESSpecFic Weekly (With Special Guest): Fire Evacuation Edition

Hey hey, another week up. It’s been a busy one on my end, as I’m shifting into the final phase of editing Room 3 and firing up the bellows on City of the Dead. Oh, there’s also a short story or two digging in there somewhere. Next week should be a lot of fun, too, as Shaggin the Muse will be a stop on the Indie-pendence Blog Hop celebrating and discussing the state of indie publishing. This will mean some interviews, some in-depth posts, and free copies of books that I’ve recently read, including free copies of my own works. Be sure to check back in!

But, of course, we have to talk about this week for the Emissaries of Speculative Fiction. I realize that I haven’t defined the nature of our group yet, and need to clear up some of the confusion. Simply put, we are a small group of like-minded authors who write things such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all blends thereof.

There, simple enough, right? Now let’s talk about this week. I’m spotlighting another deserving blogger this week, Amberr Meadows. She writes in a slightly different vein, but I enjoy her stuff. Without further ado..

Continue reading

Book Tour: An Interview with Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of Moa

Please enjoy this interview with Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of the paranormal YA novel with a literary bent Moa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.

1. The Moa Book series has a metaphysical theme. Do you have any expertise in this area?

I am an energetic intuitive and have a talent for creating powerful healing essential oil blends and gem elixirs. The unearthing of these talents occurred as I embarked on a metaphysical journey, which included studies in mediumship, pagan and Huna rituals as well as an energy healing technique called “Crystalline Consciousness Technique.” I also studied a variety of shamanic clearing methods and healing rituals.

2. You get pretty heavy into the metaphysical. Are you, in fact, a witch?

Like, Hillary, I question who I am on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. For centuries, women have been persecuted and even killed for being labeled a witch. I have studied many forms of healing rituals and magic and discovered that I have talents for using essential oils and crystals for the highest good. Others, who have witnessed the results of my practices, have called me many things: healer, shaman, and yes, witch. I choose not to accept any of these names but to embrace all of them as one growing changing name—wishealer or heshitch—to coin a phrase…or maybe not. As I discover more talents, gifts and unique parts to myself, this unusual word is sure to undergo a metamorphosis and may grow to the size of Moa’s real, and quite lengthy, Hawaiian name.

3. What are your favorite books and how have they touched you as a reader?

Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The books/stories that touch me most echo the theme of humanity and self discovery and include a sense of adventure and wonder. Ray Bradbury’s short story, Frost and Fire is a shocking, but tender story about a boy’s journey into a world where people only live eight days. James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man inspired me to unleash my inner censor and allow my truth to shine though my writing. If I could wish anything for those who read my books, it would be the gift of self acceptance and self acknowledgement.

4. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

Good question. I went back into my notes and discovered that it took me exactly three months and ten days to write Moa from beginning to end. That seems to be my average writing speed, three months. My aunt Rebecca Gummere is my editor extraordinaire. We have developed a comfortable and productive working rhythm that balances creativity and structure and brings such joy and enrichment to the work.

5. Who designs the covers for your books?

The brilliant and talented Sydney Shiu took the cover photos when she was six during a trip to Hawaii. Scott Torrance brought his years of experience in photographic art and design to the layouts.

6. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The time between stories is the most challenging for me. When I am inside a story and writing I am filled with peace and joy. When I finish and have to leave that world, I mourn the loss of this comforting place–the same is true when I finish reading a great book. Nevertheless, I believe that this sadness brings with it a great opportunity and depth of creativity and I wouldn’t change a thing about the process.

7. Any take-away message you want readers to grasp?

Each of us has at least one divine gift to remember. The moment we wake up and retrieve the memory of who we are and what we are here to do, that’s when the adventure begins.

8. When did you first consider yourself an author?

I was in middle school and read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist for the first time. About an hour later, I was overcome by an urge to write, an impulse I readily indulged. Time stood still, I still can’t quite remember what happened during that frenzied period of first creation. All I remember is coming to with pages upon pages filled with words in front of me. It felt incredible to express myself so freely. I’ve never looked back.

9. Did you start out writing novels?

No. I started out writing short stories when I was young. Then when I began acting, I wrote one-woman shows and plays, eventually combining my efforts of performance and writing in a piece called Doing Lunch which made it’s way into a short film trilogy directed by Hal Trussel. That film won “Best Dramatic Short” at the Houston Film Festival.

10. What was your main source of inspiration for the Moa book series?

When I was five, I was visited by a vision. I’ll never forget it, I was running down the stairs and the entity, a girl with dark hair, stopped me in my tracks. The spirit said that I would go through a deeply challenging time in my life, but would resurface, later in life, with unimaginable joy and fulfillment. That vision stayed with me. In middle school, I would sit quietly at my desk adding up the years to figure out exactly when my life would turn around.

And then I forgot. I got busy, my work and the stress of family life took over and I was completely overwhelmed and in desperate need of a vacation. My husband, daughter and I decided to go to Hawaii.

When the plane landed in Honolulu, I remember feeling the difference in the atmosphere as I disembarked. The air made me somehow, remember that there was a part of me that knew…something…what was it?

Never mind, I was in Hawaii it was time to see the sights! So, I sped off to see Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and then headed home for an afternoon nap before an evening luau. As I drifted toward sleep, I heard my name being called. In my mind’s eye, I saw a beautiful young woman with dark hair, who said her name was Moaahuulikkiaaakea’o Haanaapeekuluueehuehakipuunahe’e—Moa for short.

And then I remembered.

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About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, “The Statue of Ku” follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

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