I’M BAAAAACK to the blog.

I’ve actually been back in the country for a week now, but I had a bunch of stuff to do, jet lag to conquer, a small boy to get off to a visit with his dad, and a lot of laundry to do.

Sidenote: Someone asked me once how you pack for a month away from home. You don’t. You pack for about a week away from home and then you do laundry. Learn to love the clothesline, people.

Aaaaand back. So I had all this stuff to do, and I’m going to be honest, a lot of it was sleeping. Some of which was jet lag and some of it was just me being really, really lazy because I was finally home. (And most Chinese beds are not super comfortable.)

But it was a great trip. A marvelous trip. Truly one of the most diverse places I’ve been in my life. I met amazing people. Saw landscapes I never would have imagined. Walked ancient roads and saw forests of sky scrapers that didn’t exist even ten years ago. I truly do not think there is a more dynamic country on the planet right now. If you’ve ever had the inkling to go to China, do not hesitate. It was an awesome experience. (I’ll post more pictures later. I might do a gallery on a separate page for the blog.)

That said, it’s really good to be home! I’m getting back to work next week on the last half of DESERT BOUND, which I worked on while I was away. I’m also working on a novella for the Elemental World featuring Ben and Tenzin, which is set in China. I just couldn’t resist. A funny idea popped into my head and I had to run with it. So I’ll be working on that maybe a chapter a week or so while I finish the Cambio book. I still haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to publish the novella as a serial like I have in the past or just wait until it’s complete and publish, so if you have an opinion about that, let me know in the comments.

Until next week, I’ll leave you with a little teaser I posted over on the Facebook page yesterday. Enjoy below the break! Continue reading

Off to China and THE SINGER gets 4 stars from RT Magazine!

The_Great_Wall_of_China_at_JinshanlingTomorrow, SmallBoy and I will be heading out the door and off to China for a month of fun and learning. I’m truly excited to be taking this trip, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my readers. Probably the best way to follow along on the adventure is to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I’ll be posting pictures there as I am able. I’m not sure what my internet access will be in some areas, but I’ll do my best!

“So, why are you going to China? You just taking a month long vacation, E?”

Not exactly. One of the perks of doing what I do for a living is that I can work from anywhere. So, I could work from home, and I do, but I can also choose to pack my son up when he’s out of school and work on the road as I take him places far, far away. So I’ll definitely be working. In fact, the laptop and all the notes for Desert Bound: Cambio Springs Book Two are going with me and I plan on getting a good portion of the book written while we’re gone. In fact, if I wear my nine-year-old son out with sightseeing, it’s possible that I’ll get more work done on the book, not less. (Summer break is hard on working moms.)

120229151535937And of course, travel inspires! Much of the series I’m planning for Ben and Tenzin will be taking place in Asia, so I’ll be checking out cool locations, examining setting, learning about history and custom and language and soaking up all sorts of information I’ll be able to use in the future of the Elemental World. (Also, one of my brother’s friends who lives near the area Tenzin is from says she has FOUND Tenzin’s birthplace. She’s positive. So I need to go investigate. I’ll keep you updated.)

Lots of excitement! And packing! But before I go, I wanted to share a piece of very big excitement that I received when I got my July 2014 copy of RT Magazine in the mail! THE SINGER received a 4/5 star review from Jill M. Smith! Which just… awesome.

“Best known for her Elemental Mysteries, exceedingly talented Hunter new delivers the second book in her new series the [E]rin Chronicles. …The Singer boasts a truly excellent blend of action, treachery and romance that ends with a startling plot twist. Hunter is an author to watch!”

july14coverlargeI’m not even going to lie that I was jumping up and down like a little schoolgirl when I read that. I can just quote that forever, right? Even after all my books, this is my very first review in a print publication, and that’s pretty exciting. Thanks to Jill Smith, who took the time to read the book and write such a thoughtful review. Jill’s a wonderful professional who I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person, so I’m grateful she took the time to read THE SINGER and flattered that she enjoyed it.

That’s all for a while, folks! I’ll be in Beijing on Wednesday, and if you’re following me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, I’ll let you know when SmallBoy and I arrive safely. Have a great week!

Thanks for reading, Elizabeth

(Also, a side note to those who were following the whole RT Convention signing drama. I haven’t written anymore about it here, because I kind of felt like it was beat to death and people were piling on RT, which I didn’t like. The convention organizers e-mailed authors and explained their reasoning for the split, along with some of the background to the event and how things when down. While I still feel like communication could have been better, they are obviously listening to authors and readers who were unhappy and trying very hard to make this a well-organized, inclusive event for next year. Like I said in my original post about the signing, RT Magazine has been a pioneer in the book world in accepting and celebrating independent presses and self-published authors, so let’s cut some slack here for the learning curve.)

 

Book Review: West by CS Starr

WestBefore I get into my review of West, the sequel to Campbell, there’s something you should know. Author C.S. Starr and I have been friends for a while. And while we’re not talking about current events and the shameful lack of Mountie romance written (you probably don’t want to know), we get to read each other’s books before they’re published. Which is why I’m woooooefully late on this review. I read West months ago and planned something closer to the actual publication date, then promptly forgot about it. Because I’m a forgetful doofus.

The good news is, I loved West! Even more than I liked Campbell. So it was easy to remember all the stuff I liked about it for this review.

(If you want to read my review of Campbell, go right here. And I would recommend you read the books in order for them to really make sense, because it’s a complicated world with a lot of layered relationships and politics.)

West returns to the post-apocalyptic world of the Campbell Trilogy a few years after the close of the first book. The teenagers who were running the world after everyone over the age of thirteen died off at the beginning of Campbell are now in their 20s. They’ve matured. They’re trading. Traveling. Continuing to maintain civilization for the younger members of society. Some are becoming parents. Society has limped forward and Starr does a great job transitioning the reader into the time change. Continue reading

Dear Mr. Patterson, You’re bumming me out.

Dear Mr. James Patterson,

Maybe I’ve been in Hawaii for too long (okay, no) but your comments linking Amazon to the death of American literature are totally bumming me out, man.

See, here’s the thing. Amazon is one of my publishing partners. Partner, I say, not publisher. It’s in important distinction, Mr. Patterson.

Years ago, Amazon did something amazing with KDP. They opened up the world to authors. Some were horrible. Others were okay. And others were AMAZING. Some of those authors had been rejected by the BUSINESS of traditional publishing. Not because they weren’t great, but because they weren’t  marketable. (That’s business.) Some of those authors had been traditionally published, but sought to make long out-of-print books available again to readers. And some authors chose digital publishing first.

Those authors, like me, saw the birth of digital publishing though partners like KDP, Smashwords, and Nook, as a way to chart our own course in a rapidly changing publishing world. And Amazon did something amazing. It created a level playing field for us to reach readers.

A level playing field against the big guys. I will never, ever forget that.

Authors like me have retained our creative and legal rights. We have full control over our work and have been able to profit from it. Many, many of us have found success. We’ve connected with readers and booksellers around the world. We have written what our hearts told us to, free to our own vision, and hopefully aided by the skill and talent of freelance editors and artists who make our work the best it can be.

How is having that option bad for authors? How is it bad for readers? How is that bad for American literature as a whole?

Amazon, the business that made self-publishing a commercially viable option for so many writers, is one of my MANY publishing partners. Just as it is for you. (I’m assuming, because I haven’t checked to see if your publisher has pulled all of your titles from the site.) Like all of my partners (Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and others), Amazon is a business. Just like your publisher is, Mr. Patterson. It’s a business. Most NY publishers are parts of massive international media conglomerates. Why are we painting them as underdogs? That just doesn’t make sense.

I love bookstores. I love that independent bookstores are finding my work and recommending it to readers. (Like that awesome indie bookstore in Australia that a reader told me about. Thanks, guys!) I love that my readers are going into local bookstores and ordering my books from local sellers. I also love that those who live in places that don’t HAVE a bookstore (which is a lot of the country, Mr. Patterson) have the option of ordering from online retailers like Amazon.

I like my books–any books!–reaching readers. Physical books, e-books, whatever way they find them. Because anything that promotes READING is good for American literature. It’s great, in fact.

I’m a fan of all businesses, online retailers like Amazon AND large publishers, being scrutinized by watchdogs in media. I think it’s great to be informed. I don’t think it’s great to spread misinformation. And I don’t think fear-mongering over what might happen in some unknown future is cool. (I mean, except in dystopian literature, because that’s why we love it.)

Let’s scrutinize Amazon. Let’s scrutinize publishers. Let’s ESPECIALLY scrutinize publishers who are funding and lending legitimacy to rackets that are ripping off new authors. (I’m looking at you, Author Solutions.) Let’s scrutinize everyone.

But let’s not make sweeping pronouncements that dismiss the opportunities that Amazon and other digital publishing platforms have given to writers and readers. Because the world is changing, Mr. Patterson.

The way I read books will not be the way my son and most of his friends read them. They won’t discover them the same way. And the way that technology is changing means that in ten years, if Amazon doesn’t continue to innovate, they could easily be a footnote in the book world. Some start up that is only a slip of an idea right now could sweep in and take over.

Technology has leveled the playing field in a lot of ways. The book world is changing. But that doesn’t mean it’s ending.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Hunter

Sneak Preview of DESERT BOUND: Cambio Springs Book Two

477px-Feathered_DawnGetting back to this thing that I actually do for a living—you know, writing—I have posted the first chapter of DESERT BOUND up here on the blog in the hopes that your massive and overwhelming enthusiasm will kick me in the backside so I get back to work!

I’m about a third of the way done with this book, and I’m having a great time getting back to the California desert setting, the small town mystery, and the shapeshifters of Cambio Springs. Writing time has been scarce, so this is my own attempt to get my butt in gear.

DESERT BOUND: Chapter One

Five Mornings CoverHope you enjoy! And if you want the background to Ted and Alex’s story, just check out Five Mornings, the short story that’s available in e-book. These crazy kids have quite the history.

Have a great week, everyone!

Elizabeth

 

Thoughts on Indie Author Separation at the RT Convention Signing in New Orleans

So, for those of you who have been following the news from New Orleans, I’d like to offer my perspective on what happened during the Giant Book Fair on Saturday when self-published authors were separated from the traditionally published authors and put in a different room, then crammed into tables less than what we’d been told.

Disappointment is the nicest thing I can say. For a conference and an organization that has been vocally supportive of indie authors, I expected better. Indie authors paid the same price for registration as traditionally published authors, but we received less table space and less traffic. We were harder to find because we were in a completely different room. And from what some readers said, if they wanted to buy both traditional books and indie books, they had to stand in completely separate lines. (This is second-hand, as I did not buy any books.) And check-out lines were very, very long.

I was told by someone I trust that the vendor for the event insisted on this. That it wasn’t RT’s choice. That may be, but if that was the case, the convention organizers had a responsibility to let authors know this would be the situation. The only reason I can think that they did NOT was because they knew indie authors would pull out of the signing. I know I would have.

It’s insulting. People publish independently for all sorts of reasons, yet many continue to promote the idea that it’s because we’re forced to. Is that what was meant by one staffer or volunteer referring to us as “aspiring authors” to a convention attendee as they directed them toward the room with the “real” authors? Do they think we’re all just publishing our little books until we get a “real deal” from a publisher? (Note: Please see update below.)

Tell that to the multiple NYT and USA Today bestsellers who were sitting in that room. They were there. Lots of them.

I don’t talk about this much, because it feels like tooting my own horn, but I’ve passed on good traditional oportunities for my work. And I have various reasons for that. Sometimes, the financials weren’t to my benefit. Sometimes, the timing just wasn’t right. I was told by someone knowledgeable that I would be able—if I wanted—to get a publisher for A Hidden Fire before I ever published. I chose not to pursue that for my own reasons.

I’m not opposed to traditional publishers. Far from it. I want a thriving and diverse marketplace because it gives authors many options. And the publishers I’ve worked with on my subsidiary rights have been fantastic. I just haven’t been offered the right print deal for me. Yet. That may happen some day; I’m not ruling anything out.

But the fact is: I’m indie by choice. But for some, they still think I’m waiting around for a NY deal. It’s short-sighted and ignorant.

It’s also bad business. I’ve sold well over 500,000 e-books over the last few years. (There, I tooted my horn a little.) And that doesn’t even touch free e-book downloads or the fiction I’ve given away on my blog.

I sure have a lot of readers for an “aspiring author.” Someone lost out on an opportunity to make money selling my books. Too bad for them.

Please, RT, I know you’re better than this. I’m disappointed that this is the way things happened, but I know you can make this right. I’m not making any grand pronouncements that I’ll never support you again and won’t read your magazine or promote your blog. You guys have a lot of excellent people over there! And up until this, you had one of the most progressive policies in welcoming indie authors.

But unless I have assurance that I’m not going to be treated like a second class citizen again, I will not be signing at another one of your conventions.

UPDATE: Wow! Lots of traffic. So, I want to do TWO quick updates/clarifications.

The RT twitter feed has stated that the “aspiring author” statement was from a volunteer who was quickly corrected, so I wanted to make sure to share that.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 6.04.44 PM

Remember, this was a huge conference and miscommunication happens. I want to be clear that I have no interest in tearing down RT Magazine or the conference. That said, I think they needed to communicate much better with the authors and there were still big issues. As for WHY the separation happened, Courtney Milan has a great post over on her blog about it. She was there, too. So if you’re curious about the details, please check that out.

Also, looking at my original post, I wanted to make sure to say that I had a WONDERFUL time meeting the readers who did find me. Meeting readers is NEVER a disappointment. Part of my frustration at the event was that it was very difficult for readers to find the authors that they wanted with two separate rooms. There was a lot of confusion, and I heard things along the lines of “oh, THERE you are!” over and over. Just wanted to make sure you guys know that, by and large, the convention was really fun. I loved meeting the readers, bloggers, and other writers there.

Official Release Day: THE SINGER, Irin Chronicles Book Two

“Passionate, spellbinding, and heartbreaking — “The Singer” is all this and so much more. Hunter is at the top of her game, drawing you into a story of love, loss, bravery, and redemption. If you loved “The Scribe,” you will absolutely adore this sequel.”
—COLLEEN VANDERLINDEN, author of the Hidden series

NOW AVAILABLE

The second book in the Irin Chronicles

THE SINGER

“Haunting, mysterious and passionate, THE SINGER will seduce you at the first page and knock you breathless by the last one. In THE SINGER, a grief-stricken Ava will discover more about her power and extraordinary heritage, while a man reborn with no memory races to find her before celestial outcasts and angelic assassins do. Fans of THE SCRIBE get ready to lock and load as Elizabeth Hunter takes you on one hell of a ride in THE SINGER.”
—GRACE DRAVEN, author of Master of Crows

 

“Hunter has created a magnificent world of amazing characters, entangled in a web of deceit, danger, loss, power, politics, and love that will have your heart racing time and time again.”

—Sandra Hoover, Cross My Heart Reviews

“THE SINGER is an epic romance that delves deeper into a mystical world filled with magic, traditions, customs, and war. Elizabeth Hunter returns with another heart-stopping, addicting installment in the Irin Chronicles.”

—Kimberly Brower, Book Reader Chronicles

When you’ve lost everything you love, how do you fight the darkness?

Ava left Istanbul with a new identity, new name, and new magic she could barely control. Laid low by Malachi’s sacrifice, she searches for help from the fabled Irina. But will the secretive women of the Irin race welcome or shun her? Ava’s origins are still a mystery, and her powers are darker than any they’ve encountered before.

The Irin world hangs in the balance. And as the children of angels battle their own demons, ancient rivalries among the Fallen threaten to wreak havoc on earth.

Thousand of miles away, a warrior wakes with no memory of his identity or his people. Stumbling through the twisted schemes of fallen angels, ravenous Grigori, and even his own leaders, he must find a way back to the one thing he remembers. A single voice calls him. Malachi has one mission.

“Come back to me.”

BUY NOW AT:

Amazon

Smashwords

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Createspace