A Sincere Thank You

To everyone who has downloaded the free, Kindle-version of Shadows in the Stone since it went permanently free at Amazon, thank you. It has gone up and down in the standings the past week, reaching as high as 23rd in free Kindle Store.

At the moment, it sits at #43 in the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic category in Canada.

If you haven’t picked up your copy yet to read now, later or some distance year in the future, you can download it from Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Every download gives the book more exposure.

Saturday Morning News Briefs

Shadows in the Stone Permanently Free at Amazon

FREE eBook Read Everywhere

Many years ago, before self-publishing really took, the goal for many writers was to get a book permanently free at Amazon. It was relatively easy back then but for the past six years, Amazon has been reluctant to set books at permanently free. I was told the only way to do it was to set it for free at other vendors and hope (or scheme) customers would tell on you and Amazon would price match it. However, I’ve tried this several times over the years without luck. Until now.

I checked my sales record this week and discovered the book was being sold for free starting on May 9th. Yet, the book still showed a price of $0.99. Confused, I let it play out, watching my books be purchased for an invisible free price sticker. Last night, I checked again, and the Amazon sites finally revealed the true price: FREE.

Why do authors want a book permanently free? In my case, it’s because I want the first book in the series free in hopes the second book will be bought. Next spring, I hope to publish book 3 in the series, and with this boost in ‘sales’, it should do well. At least that is the hoped for outcome.

You can download Shadows in the Stone at Amazon Canada and Amazon US.

Who’s Pointing at Your Book at Amazon

Last week I shared David Gaughran’s experience with Also Boughts at Amazon. Since then, he’s written a post to share more information on this subject from a different angle. Gaughran’s experience in analysing data such as this helps explain some of the mysteries behind how Amazon works. Read more about this in David Gaughran’s post Who’s Pointing at You.

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Writing a Book Acknowledgement

Scattered Stones Diane Lynn McGyverThere are many sections to a book. The two important parts that need the most attention are the story and the cover (in that order). For the past several months, I have focussed on these two things; without a doubt, I want them to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

As launch day approaches for Scattered Stones, book 2 in The Castle Keepers series, I need to start playing with the other parts that go into a printed novel, the little details that occupy the spaces between the front cover and the story, and the back cover and the story. Playing is the exact word I want to use.

This time around, I want to be less formal and allow a slither of my silly side to lighten and brighten these little details. I love fun, funny and silly. And I love putting a twist into things that readers don’t expect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I have never written an acknowledgement for any of my books, but I’ve seen many books that include them. In essence, it is a few words to thank the people who provided a helping hand to bring the book to life. This might be direct or indirect help.

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How to write a killer book description to attract readers

Lessons in Self-publishingDuring my Sunday morning reading, I came upon a podcast by Libbie Hawker posted by Johnny Walker at Author Alliance. Hawker spoke about writing book descriptions.

I loved the way Hawker broke down the process into five easy questions. I recall a similar discussion on promoting books last year by someone else. It’s so simple anyone can do it.

At the moment, I’m writing, revising, tweaking, second-guessing and editing the book description for my next novel, Scattered Stones. It’s an epic fantasy story, so I have to have an epic description.

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Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingFor one week, my epic fantasy eBook Shadows in the Stone was reduced from $3.99 to $0.99. To help promote it, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. I didn’t put it on any other site because I wanted to gauge the results of the paid ad.

Readers of this blog will remember I’m working on my marketing skills, running experiments and testing promotional ideas. The two posts I previously wrote about on this subject are:

Marketing Results

Like all marketing campaigns, many things influence results—day of the week, day of the year, number of subscribers to mailing lists, full moons, a horrible book, a terrible blurb, Trump stealing the spotlight, ghastly book covers, vacations, hens laying…you get the picture—so what did or didn’t work one time might be completely opposite the next time.

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Character Sheets

Know your charactersIn a recent blog post, I discussed the importance of Style Sheets. Another form sheet equally important is the character sheet. Even if a story has only a handful of characters, a detailed list will help keep them in line and their hair colour from changing from chapter to chapter.

A character sheet is a life saver if a novel contains many characters or is one in a series. During the first edit of Shadows in the Stone, I created one to save my sanity. The story contains 74 named characters. Some of these individuals were mentioned only two or three times, but it was important to keep their individual stories straight, along with their age and the weapons of their choice.

What to put on a character sheet is up to the writer. Personally, I use the following headings.

Name

The full name of the character is written in the first column along with nicknames, ranks, titles and keys to pronunciation (if it is an unusual name). With regard to nicknames, I add a note about who uses them.

For example, we may know a character as Chris, but his mother might still call him Christopher while his best friend calls him Shortie.

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My Library of Books for Writing Fantasy

5x5 fantasy bookA short time ago, Ernesto San Giacomo posted his 2015 Reading List. In the list was Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall.

I commented, saying I had several books about magic, herbs and stones to help me with writing my fantasy stories, but I hadn’t read that one. A list was requested, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until tonight.

Some of these books are one-time reads, but others I keep on the shelf as references. I can’t remember all the properties of stones and herbs, and I can’t recall all the spells (though I make up a lot myself), so these are keepers for me.

Natural Magic – Spells, Enchantments & Self-development by Pamela J. Ball: This book provides insight to magic and how a sorceress might work her spells. Not every magic-user is the same, so you can take a little of this and a little of that to create a character. This book was okay, worth buying, but not my favourite.

The back cover states: Before there was formal religion there was magic, and to this day there are people who purport to perform ‘miracles’ with the aid of magical powers derived from nature or the spirit realm. These powers are still out there to be tapped into by us. All you need is the knowledge and know-how contained in Natural Magic.

This book reveals: How to become a natural magician, using knowledge gathered over thousands of years by magician and mystic alike. Techniques employing plants, trees, crystals and incense along with meditation, ritual, chanting and dreams. The tools to give expression to your creativity and beliefs. A wide range of methods to bring about positive changes in your life.

The Druid Magic Handbook – Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer: This book speaks of Life Force, the alphabet of magic, the elements, enchantment and Ogham writing. It gives a great history on the druids, which I thoroughly enjoyed and ‘connected’ with. I discovered many potential story lines by reading it.

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FILM: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Fantasy Film ReflectionsI feel a great energy growing within. If only I could harness it and inject it when I need it most such in the dark days of despair. ~ Diane Tibert

Is my memory fading or was life too busy a few years ago when I first watched Fellowship of the Ring? I remembered the basic story, but I had forgotten much of the details. A significant amount of it was scattered in the winds of time. Names had escaped me, and certain scenes such as the hobbits meeting up with Aragorn in the Prancing Pony tavern were white-washed from my mind.

I didn’t remember the human fighter’s name, but after reading a little about the character played by Viggo Mortensen, is there any wonder? He was officially known as Aragorn II, son of Arathorn, but he also went by the names Strider (in and surrounding areas of Bree), Dúnadan (Man of the West), Wingfoot, Estel (his name when he was young to hide his true identity), Thorongil and several others.

It was as if Tolkien couldn’t decide on a true name for the character, the descendant of a king.

With so many characters to keep track of (some with more than one name), it’s no wonder I couldn’t remember all the unusual titles that sometimes were spoken sparsely. Bilbo, Sam and Gandalf were the only ones I recalled with certainty. Oh! And Precious, but I had learned that back in my teens and had no idea of its connection with this movie.

Aragorn was the reason I had to change the name of one of my main characters in Shadows in the Stone. Bronwyn, the dwarf fighter, was originally named Argon around 1980. At this time I had not heard of Tolkien or his Lord of the Rings novel(s). I also did not know one of his main characters was Aragorn, very similar to Argon.

I had grown quite attached to Argon for many reasons. He was an honourable dwarf who risked his life for others. Since I had met him with this name, I knew him by no other. In my love of science I knew Argon (Ar) was a chemical element, in the group 18 in the periodic table and the third most common gas in Earth’s atmosphere. In its own right, Argon was a noble gas.

A few months before Shadows in the Stone was published, I discovered Aragorn, which at that time came to me to be Aragon, which turned out to be an autonomous community in Spain where it coextensive with the mediaeval Kingdom of Aragon. My fantasy novel is no Lord of the Rings by any means, still, I tossed and turned this dilemma in my mind for weeks before finally deciding in the public eye, Argon would be…not Argon.

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Nova Scotia – Life Near Water free eBook – Last Chance

Castle clouds cropped02This is the last chance to download Nova Scotia – Life Near Water, my first collection of short stories, for free from Kindle. I’ve decided to not run anymore for this book, and possibly others in 2014. When the Select Kindle period ends this time, I’m removing this anthology from the program and releasing it on other platforms (such as Smashwords, Chapters and Sony).

The promotion for Nova Scotia – Life Near Water will run for two days. It began a few hours ago and will end Friday January 3rd, at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time. The regular price is $2.99. Canadian residents can download it here, and those in the United States will find it here. It’s available in other countries too by visiting the Amazon page for that particular country.

Thank you for your downloads.

The two short stories in the Castle Keepers Tales series–Destiny Governed their Lives and Blade of Truth–are available for free through Smashwords and other outlets, but I had to put a 99 cent sticker price on them at Kindle to get them listed. At Smashwords you can pick up the Kindle-formatted version.

These books will remain free for another year or so. Once all three books in the Castle Keepers series are released, I’ll gather these short stories, add a few others I’ve written and release them all in a collection.

About the Castle Keepers Tales

I began the Castle Keepers Tales to share extra stories about the characters who appear in The Castle Keepers novel series. Each is a stand-alone story, often telling a tragic event that happened in the past, before the first book, Shadows in the Stone. Through these stories, readers can better understand the characters and appreciate a little more of why they act as they do. We are all products of our past and pivotal events shape us into whom we are. These stories are not spoilers for the books, but enhance them. If a story does prove to undermine the enjoyment of a book, I’ll make note that the book should be read first. Otherwise, enjoy these tales without worry.

Enjoy and Happy New Year

NS Life Near Water candle

Free Fantasy Short Story eBook

DLMcGyver-Blade of Truth-CoverMy second short story  in the Castle Keepers Tales Blade of Truth is enrolled in Kindle Select, and from now until Monday October 21st (12pm Pacific Time), it is FREE. The regular price is $0.99. Canadian residents can download it here, and those in the United States will find it here. Thank you for your downloads. Everyone counts.

Blade of Truth shares a pivotal story in Bronwyn Darrow’s early years. Readers of Shadows in the Stone will immediately recognise this man as one of the leading characters.

Summary: Bronwyn Darrow is a young dwarf eager to celebrate the end of his educational years and to embark on his future trade. He would love to ask the girl of his dreams to the celebrations, but he’s too shy. The morning of the big day he’s surprised when she asks him. Is this his dream date or his worst nightmare?

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Honour and ‘your word’

your wordThe Prisoner of War who took ‘keeping a promise’ to the extreme post on Steve Liddell’s Musings on a mad world blog is the first thing I read this morning. It intrigued me not only because of my interest in the Great War and the Second World War but because of its story about honour and holding fast to ‘your word’.

Can you imagine a British soldier receiving leave from a German prison camp to visit his dying mother? And then returning because he promised to do so? Well, it happened. Read Liddell’s blog for the whole story.

One of the themes found in my fantasy novel Shadows in the Stone is honour. The other is ‘your word’. In fact, these two words are found in the opening chapter. Readers don’t learn the power of those words until book two in the series Scattered Stones; they discover more about the price the promiser pays if they don’t keep ‘their word’ in book three Healing Stones.

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My First Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads GiveawayWhen I first learnt about Goodreads Giveaways, I thought it was a great idea, a wonderful way to get your book into the hands of new readers. So far, I still do see it as a wonderful avenue for writers to explore.

If you’ve never participated in this option in Goodreads, let me share my experience (so far) with you.

Only paper copies of books (hard cover, paperbacks) are permitted in giveaways. I didn’t mind this restriction since I had planned to release a paperback version of Shadows in the Stone. Obviously, paperback giveaways cost more to do than eBook giveaways.

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Goodreads Giveaway of Shadows in the Stone ends October 31st

Shadows in the StoneThree signed paperback copies of the first book in the fantasy series The Castle Keepers—Shadows in the Stone—are up for grabs at Goodreads.

The giveaway ends on Wednesday October 31st, midnight. For a chance to Win a Copy of this Book, visit the Giveaway Page.

Good luck.

Snippet from Shadows in the Stone:

Bronwyn caught her studying him as he regained his breath. Besides her frazzled appearance and cut below her right eye, she seemed fine. Her deep breathing caused her bosom to gently rise and fall, drawing his eyes to the soft hollow between her breasts. A button appeared to have broken off in the scuffle, revealing soft curves of delicate skin. His blood warmed and the tiny hairs on his ears pricked. He swallowed hard, realising his gaze had lingered too long. He quickly looked at the stone wall. “Thank you for casting the spell to protect me.” His voice sounded gentler than he expected. He looked back at her. “You risked your life for mine.”

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Making of a Book Trailer

Book Trailer - Shadows in the StoneOver the past few months, I’ve been gathering pictures and ideas to create a book trailer for my fantasy novel, Shadows in the Stone. I’ve watched about two dozen trailers of various degrees of quality to get an idea of what others are doing. Even the poorest was interesting and held my attention, which meant they worked. The high quality trailers were elaborate with a cast, unique music and played like a movie trailer.

My hope is my trailer falls somewhere in the middle; it’s my first, and although I see a few things that need to be changed, I don’t have the experience to fix the problems…yet.

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