Tag Archives: Serang

Assessing my promo

I’ve done an Amazon free day many times over the years. They used to work pretty well, then stopped being productive.

Back in the day, when Panama was a fairly new publication, I managed to hand out over 400 copies. After that, they seemed to taper off. Future attempts even had me paying for a bit of advertising and boosting posts on Facebook to help things along. Those netted me numbers around 40 – not 400.

I gave up on free days because of this. Any I held after that were more in support of something else I had going on. Meaning if I had a Halloween tour happening, I might have a free-day for The Playground, something along those lines.

I’ve been pretty “In your face” about my interview on Blog Talk Radio this week. I decided to set up my free days based upon my historic experience. Something to reward those who tuned in, maybe give away a dozen books. I never did a lick of promo other than a mention on this site.

I was kind of blown away by the result this time. I chose to have free days for Grinders, because I think it’s one of my best and deserved a bit more love. I also went with Serang. It’s a good story, and it’s also a stepping stone into The Lanternfish Trilogy. This idea stemmed from the idea that the final Lanternfish book will come out this year.

Now that it’s all over, I want to share the results with you. Maybe this is an anomaly, and maybe things have changed on the promo front. If you have deeper knowledge of this, I’d like to hear from you. Any readers might be interested in your comments, too.

The promo ran for three days. This was to take advantage of Fresh Ink Group’s advance promotion of the show, and to gather those who might have tuned-in the day after.

I managed to give away 1,646 books. Now that’s two titles combined, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. If I had sold that many it would cover the mortgage and Old What’s Her Face’s car payment this month.

The dream with freebies is that people will read them. I’ve found that comes to about 10% or even less. Even so, 165 readers can do nothing but help me. Of those I might net a dozen reviews. The other dream is that people enjoyed the stories and take a chance on additional titles.

Keep in mind that Amazon has a bestseller list for free titles. It probably doesn’t mean as much as the paid lists, but it always feels good to see your name on there. Serang peaked at #2 on two different lists.

Grinders actually hit number one for a while yesterday. Here’s the proof.

Okay, Urban Fiction is an odd place to put it. It hit #2 in cyberpunk. Still, we authors tend to work alone and haunt these sites looking for good news. Some days, even I get lucky.

You can still read them for free with Amazon Prime.

Rumor is, this kind of thing will spill over into sales. That remains to be seen. The giveaway ended a few hours ago, but I’ve already sold three copies of Grinders. (One of which immediately returned it for a refund.) I have no idea how to take that one.

Still, I’m happy. I failed to do anything productive yesterday and just allowed myself to enjoy it. I’m also motivated to keep going, and maybe one day I’ll see one of my titles take the top slot on the paid lists.

I’m a firm believer that the indie author group should share. I’ve shared results from almost everything I’ve done on the promo front. That includes some less successful pushes. Maybe someone out there can strike while the iron is hot. Maybe one of you holds some great secret you can share in the comments. We’d all like to know, and maybe we can all benefit.

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Serang has arrived

I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to write this weekend, but accomplished something I’ve been working toward for a long time.

This final Lanternfish book is going to require a big denouement. I have a lot of characters to account for, and a lot to do once the war ends. The story stands at 74,000 words right now.

These books have all been over 100K. Since they are epic fantasy, that’s an acceptable amount. In this story, they’ve been on different continents, then different parts of the same continent. James and his group have been split into smaller groups based upon the winds of war.

Today, James and his advisors are with the Prelonian army on the outskirts of Airstony. This is the Prelonian capital, but it’s held by the Hollish. It’s been a brutal road getting here, and he’s lost track of his son along the way. Many of his long term crew are deployed elsewhere.

Serang’s path hasn’t been much easier, but she’s marched from victory to victory. So far they haven’t seen each other since the middle of the last book.

The Prelonians are outmatched by the Hollish in this battle. Their supply lines are precarious overland routes, while the Hollish can be supplied by sea.

I’m going to stop here for the weekend. Serang is here, and she’s bringing the secret to everything with her. I want a few commutes to dwell on my next words. The war is about to wind down, and the reconstruction is about to begin.

My co-main characters will occupy the same pages for the first time this year. I’m kind of excited about it.

Lisa Burton, Serang
Lisa Burton, Serang

Serang has arrived.

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The win column

I called my parents this morning before doing anything else. Mom is headed out to put flowers on graves today.

After that, I decided to get my butt in gear and return to Lanternfish. The story is in a weird place right now, and it’s almost like I have a second middle slog.

I caused this by having the various characters scattered all over the continent. Each group had something to accomplish, and they’ve all done that now.

This poses a problem, because they all need to reconvene. I can’t just pop everyone into the end game. Serang and James both have large groups of people to move around. It’s a world at war, so a clear road just isn’t going to work.

At this time, readers will have seen land and sea battles in abundance. I’ve resorted to watching them from afar, then gathering intelligence to make the next moves.

I’m just about there. Serang is on the final leg of her journey. I added a tiny chapter about Diego Palumbo, but also sped it up somewhat.

James is idle, and still needs to account for the root monsters before he gets moving again. I can probably tackle that in the morning. Root monsters require a different mindset than writing cannonades and cavalry charges.

I need to figure out some kind of fantastical creature to weave into the scenery along the way. This is a somewhat fantasy story, and at this point root monsters are accepted and normal characters. It won’t have to be much, maybe some kind of wildlife.

It came to around 2700 words, so I’m calling it a good day. If I can do that tomorrow, I won’t lament taking yesterday off.

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2100 words

Not my best day ever, but not bad either. Some big things happened without including tons of adventure.

The Palumbos met up with Serang and her army. They delivered what might be the most important piece to the whole war. Things are starting to fall into place.

James is still off somewhere doing his part, so I didn’t get to work on his story today.

Honestly, I think I could have done more, but there was another squirrel festival happening in the back yard. At one point, I let Frankie out, and before I could write a single word, another squirrel showed up. Trust me, she is strong enough to worry about the glass slider, so I let her out again.

My plot struggle now is timing. I have a continental sized war going on, and people can’t just get together without travel on horseback. A few weeks ago, I introduced the Crier’s Guild, and that helps with fleshing some things out. That way, I don’t have to write about every single campsite or battle that happens. I change scenes, and the town crier updates my readers.

I need at least one more battle for Serang, then it might be advantageous to lose track of her for a while. That way, when she shows up it can be a surprise that turns the tide somewhere. Bears some thought, at least.

James has some problems to sort out in the south, and that’s going to involve at least two battles. I have a fun plan for him on the second one.

After that, it should all be pretty easy. The big issue is making it feel real from here to there. I don’t want to write every step, and readers would get bored. I still have to include some changing seasons or something so readers can tell I’ve moved the story along.

This is a good time to stop and put thought into the gap I’m worried about. I’ll take 2100 words any day. Absent squirrels it could have been more.

I have a post written for Story Empire, so I need to check the calendar and schedule it.

It’s also a good time to assess some promo for Lunar Boogie. I have my completed MS back from the formatter, and am only waiting for the last Lisa Burton poster. This weekend, I can start advance hacking on blog tour posts for when I publish. It looks like I’m going to get it out before summer and I’m excited for that.

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Bad day for Fulminites

I’ve been working toward this scene for a long time. I knew the writing would go fast, but that usually means it needs repairs. I’ll do what I can on that front later.

Serang reached the Fulminite temple with her army. This place wasn’t quite the pushover some of her previous battle were. They stacked the deck as best as possible, but those Black Assassins are rough.

Then there was the High Detonator, who Serang faced alone. I like the way this scene played out, because she snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. (Stealing an old World of Sports line)

I also enjoyed the final appearance of the Fu Dogs. I got a bit emotional writing it, but that’s nothing new. (Who knows, I may decide I need them one more time as the rest of this tale unfolds. It really feels like the end for them.)

There is also a bit where Serang has to do a bit of soul searching. (While drunk, as is her way.) I want to go back over that to make it perfect. It involves the realization that she was born of the great temple purge, and she just did the same thing to the Fulminites. The temple purging has driven her entire life, and now she has to face this.

I also actually used onomatopoeia in one place. I’ve added some graphics to The Hat series before, but nothing quite like this. I think it works, but there is plenty of time to think it over.

I’d like to get more words out of this, but action scenes shouldn’t be long drawn out affairs. Yes, it was a city wide battle. I followed Serang, and readers will have to assume other fighting was going on at the same time.

Grand total today was 3500 words. That includes the opening volley, fighting in the streets, the one-on-one battle, plus dealing with Fu Dogs and Serang’s drinking binge. Somehow I thought all this would fill chapters, but it feels right as is.

Next up is Serang getting over herself, then making plans, and delivering a speech to the peasants. I want that to come off like a big deal.

What’s your thought on action scenes? I think they need to be short. I could make this more of a battlefront with several action scenes, punctuated by reflective sections, but I don’t think it needs it. Serang is still a hero, and on her worst day she still kicks ass.

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Flex day productivity

My only goal for today involved Lanternfish. Okay, there were two. I got exposed to someone with Covid, and had to get another test. My results were negative, so that was a goal, too.

I picked up Lanternfish with Mule and Yoshiko trying to retrieve his ghostly knife, also known as the black spot. This turned into a somewhat adventurous romp, and Yoshiko stepped from behind her veil of complaint servitude to show some gumption. I kind of like the way that turned out.

After that, I returned to the Palumbos. Everything is turning to crap for the Hollish invaders now, and while nobody will ever figure it out, they played a role in all that. As the battle lines collapsed, they were tasked with an important role by the Hollish General Staff. No spoilers here, but it put them in an unusual circumstance.

They murdered someone along the way, so there was a smidgen of adventure involved. I have mixed feeling about this, because the dead guy was a huge threat and I could have milked that a bit more. Words were flowing and I didn’t want to stop for deep thought at that point. Sometimes you have to move the story ahead. I might rethink this during my remaining commutes this week.

Note to self: Probably need to come up with the next root monster adventure, too.

These were short chapters, but accomplished quite a bit. I find moving the pieces around this board to be challenging compared to other stories I’ve written. I’ve done the different story lines before ala Tarantino, but this one is more complex than my previous work. Everything has to come together at the right times and places. Characters have to get misplaced along the way. It’s just more complicated.

Having said that, I’m having a good time with it. It think that bodes well for readers of the trilogy.

Next up is Serang and her most important adventure yet. This proved the perfect place to stop for the day. Having the Palumbos fall into another con game, and drive away with the goods allowed me to calm things down from the big Lanternfish battle. It’s about time for some martial arts warfare and I hope I can make it huge and fascinating.

I try to post a few word metrics, but didn’t keep count this time. The draft is at 51,000 words. By going back to my last update and doing a bit of voodoo, it looks like my Sunday and Wednesday combined came to just over 5000 words. Most of that was today, so it was a great day.

Since I’m Covid-free, I’m going back to the office to finish my work week. Might address Serang over the coming weekend.

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Happy with my output

Sundays are usually wasted days for me. As an example, I always call my parents on Sundays. We chat for about an hour, and I won’t sacrifice this time for anything.

Old What’s Her Face is also off today, so that means distractions and noise. She’s had the Harry Potter marathon on since last night and it started again first thing this morning. As much as I love these films, I’ve seen them hundreds of times and wanted something else.

I decided to go into another room and pick at my WIP. I also tried an experiment with dubious results. I’ll experiment a bit more, then it could lead to a post for Story Empire one day. It involves ambient noise while I write.

It started off with me monkeying with Alexa one day. There wasn’t a lot of choice there, but Staci Troilo set me up with an amazing site. I tried it today, but the noise goes off as soon as my phone darkens. This led me to YouTube, and that was more functional. The trick is to pick something and not get caught up surfing for several hours.

I settled upon two different “songs” for lack of a better term. One involved a peaceful meadow, the other was designed for inside a tomb.

The meadow is where I started writing, and I like what I came up with. Serang found the ruined city as planned in my storyboard. She uncovered the secrets I plotted out, but how she went about it was magical.

She’s discovered the lost temple of the Cartomancers. The one that was burned in the history of a previous war. This gives me a great tie back to the original Lanternfish book, and it works because we’re back on the original continent.

It turns out there is still one hidden storeroom that was not destroyed in the first war. Serang uncovered this by playing her flute. She noticed that a semi-circle of standing stones were placed in exactly the same configuration as the holes on her flute.

Musical stones are a real thing, so mine work as a kind of lithophone when someone grinds on them. This lithophone required multiple people, but it opened a hidden door to a small treasure trove of the intellectual variety.

It gives me a great tie back to Mule, his parents, and even the goblins who used to live in these lands. I’ll be circling back to this in the denouement phase of the story.

I also spent extra time to detail this area. This is a special place and so I added some fantasy creatures and details to make that apparent. I created linen birds, a ribbon bird, and even a clown spider. The spider also took Serang back to her youth when orchid mantises were fascinating to young monks. (Orchid mantises are also real.)

It only came to 2500 words, but I really like them. I need to go over it several times, but at least they exist. Wreck of the Lanternfish is about 32,000 words right now. I mention this, because it needs a big denouement. Both James and Serang have a couple of gigantic things to accomplish and I’m getting closer to those. My married cons have one big one to pull off, but it isn’t on par with the others. (Important to the story, though.)

I should probably wrap the war up somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words. That will give me plenty of room to change the world and give everyone’s favorites a conclusion of some kind.

I’m sorely tempted to go back in my cave and write more, but I’m off tomorrow. I’ll start my day by going over what I just produced. There is an opportunity to drag out the discovery and that could be helpful. Best to look with fresh eyes.

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Writing along

I looked up from my desk at the writing cabin and decided to call it a day.

Lisa Burton walked into the office in full pirate regalia. “How did it work out? Did you have a good day?”

“It really was. 2700 words I didn’t have before. Add that to the 2000 from Wednesday and things are cooking along.”

“There’s a little coffee left before you leave. Do you want it?”

“Sure. I got through my con men on Wednesday and closed the loop on three concurrent stories. Everyone is on the page now. Today, James did what he had to as far as completing the repairs on Lanternfish. She’ll be ready to launch soon.”

“Don’t you think I’d look great in period costume breaking a magnum of champagne over her prow?”

“I’m sure you would.”

“Maybe you should write that one down.”

“It’s early in the story. There could be better things coming.”

“Then you don’t have to use it, but if you write it down you won’t forget.”

“You’re a computer. You remember for me.”

“You can bet I will. So, did the queen go along with James’s scheme?”

“Shh, that’s a spoiler. You can check out the draft later.”

“What are you planning tomorrow?”

“Don’t know. Serang still has some war to wage, but she ought to gather some clues along the way. I need her to discover some old secrets, too. I might wing some of that, or take a little time to think it through.”

“You mean you’d just waste a day to think?”

“Sure. This whole country could use more thinking before writing.”

Lisa smirked. “Uh huh?”

“If it doesn’t want to come together, I can always revisit Lizzie and the hat.”

“I kind of hate it when you do this to me. I never know how to dress for the day. Am I wearing cute performance outfits or being a pirate girl?”

“How about badass monster hunter outfits?”

“I know your style. It’s too soon for those, After about ten chapters you’ll get to them. So how should I dress tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I have to go where the Muse leads me.”

“Fine. I’m going to put on some jeans and cowboy boots, add a Smithereens tee-shirt and fashion beret, then pull the Waltus armor on over the top. Maybe I’ll even buckle on a cutlass for good measure.”

“Do it and I’ll post a picture on my blog.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Of course I would.” I pointed to my head. “You don’t understand how this brain works.”

“From what I can tell, your processor runs on coffee, pumpkin beer, cheese, and crackers.”

“Actually, that’s pretty accurate. All I can tell you is that I intend to write tomorrow. If it’s Lanternfish, it’s Serang’s turn again. If not, then I’ll start the next Hat book.”

“Maybe I’ll just wear one of my polka dot dresses and some nice heels. Those make me happy.”

“There you go. I like those, too.”

“Enough to write me into another book?”

“Probably, but I’m not going to. You got a story just last year. I’m going to try revisiting Serang and see how that goes. That’s as much commitment as I can give you.”

“I’ll take it.”

“So, do we have some cheese and crackers?”

Yeah. And some dry salami. I’ll get you set up.”

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Might as well keep it going…

Since Old What’s Her Face is working today, I really didn’t have a good excuse not to write. I already uncorked this genie, so why not?

The final book in the Lanternfish trilogy almost has to be told in three parts that will merge eventually. I’ve written books like this before, so I’m used to the idea.

Yesterday, I started with Captain James and his goings on in trying to make Lanternfish seaworthy once more. It made for a neat start and included a lot of personal stress for him.

Meanwhile, a continent away, Serang and her army are in the war already. It was time to write some of that. I don’t know about you guys, but action scenes always slow me down. It doesn’t seem like that should be the case, but it is for me. They’re also where I usually need the most help from my critique partners. I’ll go over it a dozen times before I let them see it.

Serang managed to get herself blown up. Martial arts and steel are great against some enemies, but not others. It was also a nice way to remind my readers of the exploding monks and Fulminite order.

This led to a recovery scene, and the story needed one after all that. Time for a little recon and planning.

My next section has to be the cons, Camila and Diego Palumbo. I’m a little nervous about their sections. I need to keep them tense and interesting, and trickle out bits of the main story. It’s a bit different than relying on root monsters or martial arts to carry these sections.

I’m committed and maybe I’ll learn some new tricks about holding things back and keeping it interesting all at the same time.

The story has a title and has had for several months. I’m almost loathe to share it before publication, but what the hell. I’m calling it “Wreck of the Lanternfish.” It’s going to be pertinent to the main story, and I can’t imagine calling it anything else. It also might not be quite what you think.

Because today involved an action scene I only hit 2500 words. That’s still a pretty good day in my book. Chapter two isn’t too soon for explosive action, is it?

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Lanternfish and Serang Guest Post

I’m over at Harmony Kent’s place today. The topic is the evolution of Serang as a character. If you read all the books you can track her from childhood, through becoming a young adult, and into an important leadership role. I also dropped a few Lisa Burton posters to demonstrate the various phases of Serang. Stop over and check it out. https://harmonykent.co.uk/character-evolution-and-a-new-book-from-c-s-boyack-virgilante/https://harmonykent.co.uk/character-evolution-and-a-new-book-from-c-s-boyack-virgilante/

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