Friday, April 26, 2013

Update

Just keeping those of you who follow my blog updated. STERLING is on sale for 99 cents until May 2. Help spread the word  - I have an ad on my Facebook page you can share. Those who share are entered automatically to win bookmarks (a handful will be randomly selected). Readers have been awesome in sharing the news and as a result, Sterling has climbed up the charts as new readers are discovering the series. :)

I'm currently working on my second round of edits from the editor for GRAVITY. Once we complete that, it goes to a proofreader.

The betas will be wrapping up by May 1 for SEVEN YEARS. Still undecided on a release date, but as soon as I have more information, I'll let you know. I'm very excited about this book. :-)

Items on my agenda for May:
  • Target completion for the full book cover of Gravity for paperback so I can have that out fairly soon
  • Begin draft one of Mageri 5
  • Complete draft one of Seven Years sequel
  • Publish Gravity
  • Complete my round of edits for Seven Years before it goes to the editor
  • Look crazy toward the end of the month
  • Have a giveaway

That about sums it up.

I think anyone looking forward to Gravity might consider re-reading IMPULSE, or even the whole series on your downtime. Most of you who have done a second read have noticed a few small things that make sense earlier in the books for things that occur later. I think when the entire series is done, I might sit down and read them myself, but knowing the editor in me, I'm going to want to be revising it, so maybe it's better that I don't.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gravity Cover Reveal

"GRAVITY" is scheduled for a May 22 release date.

Most of you know that I design and create my own covers.

This one felt right.

I was lucky, because unlike the last book which had 65 mock-ups, this one had less than 10. The model and pose grabbed me from the beginning, and I had a few second sets of eyes who concurred. I played with a few background concepts, but this was the image I wanted to create. There are 3-4 blended images in the background, and I love it. (But I'm biased)

While I finished designing the cover early, it took a lot of work for touch-ups as well as layering images, so I hope you like it as much as I do! In the end, it's what's inside that counts the most.

I have not completed writing up the description, but I decided that readers might enjoy reading an excerpt even more.

And oh yeah, I picked one of my faves. ;-) Hope you guys are excited as I am about Gravity!!




Keep reading below for an exclusive excerpt from Gravity!


He twirled a lock of my dark hair between his fingers, bringing the soft tendril to his nose as he drew in a deep breath.
“Do I still smell like lemon cake?” I asked. My fingers wandered along the tight muscles on his arms, sliding underneath the sleeves of his light grey T-shirt.
He suddenly crouched low and ran his nose along the length of my body—close and inviting. God, I loved it when he did that.
Smelled me.
What a strange thing to love about a man. The gesture felt erotic and the tiny hairs on my arms would stand up. With each inhale, his soft purr rumbled and I pulled his face close to mine, planting a soft kiss on his warm cheek. He caged me with arms that had once climbed a thirty-foot tree with blinding speed to rescue me—his agile body leaping from branch to branch as he held me tightly to him.
“Put your mouth on mine, Little Raven. I’m ready for a taste of lemon cake,” he said in a deep and tumbling voice.
“Maybe I’m not so sweet,” I whispered, wetting my lower lip with a sweep of my tongue.
Logan’s eyes followed every movement, and he licked his lips in response. “I want your mouth… on my mouth. Do it, or else I’ll have to find something else to kiss.”




If you have not picked up the Mageri Series, they are available on Kindle, Nook, and Paperback. Please check Amazon & Barnes and Noble and grab your copy today!

STERLING
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy the Paperback

TWIST
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy the Paperback

IMPULSE
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy the Paperback

Thanks to all the bloggers for participating in the cover blitz!

I can't thank you guys enough for supporting the series, writing those reviews, and recommending the books. This is how readers are discovering The Mageri Series.

Note: Excerpt is unedited and subject to slight modifications in the published edition.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seven Series

I think I've nailed down the image I want in the next Mageri series book at the back, and it will be a little different. It feels right, what more can I say?

I've been working on the sequel to Seven Years and never thought my experience playing laser tag would come in handy (haha). But yeah, there it is. Since I've had a bit of a virus the past few days, I've managed to write about 25,000 words of the sequel. I'll be thrilled if I can finish up the first draft before Gravity is released. And it looks pretty damn good.
With SEVEN YEARS, I had a unique opportunity to tap into my love of classic rock by some references embedded within the book. Bands, song titles, etc. (Can't post lyrics, them's copyrighted!) What you may not know about me is when I was a teenager, I was listening to the current stuff on the radio, but I was heart and soul classic 60's/70's rocker. I not only had snagged my parents record albums of Cat Stephens, Rolling Stones, and ELO, but I was into Floyd, Zeppelin, Skynyrd, Bad Company, and the list goes on (and ON).

Since those days, it's more nostalgic to hear that music, but it reminds me too much of that time to really enjoy it as much. The opportunity I had with this series is that when I wrote The Mageri Series, it was a departure of the familiar. I created a new world, new city, and immersed myself into writing the unfamiliar. With The Seven Series, I slipped back into the familiar, and I got to bring it home and write about things that I know about. Not just the music references, but the lifestyle, nostalgia, badass men with muscle cars and bikes (yeah, I knew 'em), and since it takes place in Austin, I'm able to write about the state I live in. I've still managed to incorporate the Breed world into this city, because as explained in The Mageri Series, Breed are everywhere.

It's paranormal, but I don't even want to label this series because it isn't a stereotypical UF/PNR/UFR. I honestly think those who don't enjoy paranormal will really "Get" this book. It takes place in current day, as no surprise (mentioned on my Facebook page) the focus on this series is Shifters. Each book will immerse you a little deeper into their world - a little darker - a little crazier.

But it will all circle back around. I have a plan for how this is all going to pan out. Didn't think I'd ever be committing myself to a new series while I have other books in line waiting to be drafted out and published, but that's where it is.

When? Don't know. Ideally I'd like 2-3 books ready before I begin publishing, but we'll see. I need to think about how to plan this so I'm not stuck trying to play "catch-up" with a series, because I still want to jump over to some other UF stuff and get it out there. I hope each series brings something new, something fresh, and finds its loyal readers.  XOXO

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Binge

So here's where it's at:

After working 14 hours yesterday, I finished up the last edits of Gravity (pre-editor). I'd give myself a high five, but that would just look weird. I'm actually wrapped up EARLY! The book isn't due for the edit until later in the month, but even my editor said she might be able to start this week.

What that means for an early release, I do not know. There are always things to do be done. If there's news on that front, I'll blast it all over the Internet.

So what am I doing now? Editing a project? Writing? Hell no. I go through book binges around the time my books are with the editor or betas. Whenever I can get a week or more to free up, I basically go into binge reading, and knocked out two books last night and I'm working on two today. Strangely, not all authors are avid readers, and might be able to list books they've read on their hands. That's not me.

When I'm writing, I cannot read. I do not want anything to influence my writing, and I also want to have a pure story that gains all of my focus. (If I didn't have that pesky day job, I could schedule out reading days to work around this problem).  Sometimes I'll start a book but not finish, and i HATE THAT!!

Now I'm playing some major catch-up. I'm trying to finish up a series I committed to starting, and a few books here and there. I really want to avoid paranormal for the moment because I've been saturated in it with my own writing, and it's refreshing to walk into a story that doesn't have all of those elements (Like a book vacation).

Sadly, there are some series books I've also committed to ending. I reached a book in the series that was my limit. Some of those books have had recent releases and despite their success, I'm usually pretty firm with that kind of thing. Typically this only happens after 8+ books..lol UF sometimes earlier if I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round and I'm not seeing a destination. PNR I can go higher simply because each book has a different story and it keeps it fresh.

I need to map out a schedule of when I'm going to begin Mageri book 5. Once I do, that'll be it. All projects kicked to the curb and full steam ahead. So I've been cautious about starting too early. I really want to knock out the "Seven Years" sequel.

So far, beta response on "Seven Years" has been one of excitement, and repeated use of the word 'love'. Always a good feeling when writing a fresh new story with a different cast of characters.

I may not know what the cover for "Seven Years" will be like (or it's publication timeframe..snort) but, I know exactly what image I'm putting on the back page. Crazy, huh? Maybe that's my thing, and don't ask me why I started doing it. But I love having that last page image to tie it all up and leave the reader with a visual.

Hope you do too.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Great news!

It looks like Amazon has rolled out with a new feature that is awesome! I strongly encourage readers to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook, but newsletters can end up in SPAM folders and my Facebook posts only reach up to 20% of my followers. Pffft

So, here is an alternative and will come in handy for any of your favorite authors.
NOTE: It's a new feature, so you may not actually see it on all author pages yet. It looks like they're just rolling it out so keep checking my author page on Amazon. I don't see it on the UK or other sister sites, but it may be coming.

Most indies don't have the option to pre-order (some do, but it's usually based on sales). Hopefully someday that will change, or we can at least reserve the page for our books and you can be emailed when that title is available.

Go to my Amazon Author Page here: http://www.amazon.com/Dannika-Dark/e/B005LXWZWM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Click on the link below:


Why am I excited about this? Because it offers readers another alternative to receive notification when a title is released. I'm going to test this out with the release of Gravity, because I'm curious how fast the email will take to deliver.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Indie Covers

Indies got a bad rap for a while for having sub par covers. I have to say after watching some of the covers released by traditional publishers and comparing them to Indies, that we're really knocking it out of the ballpark. Some indies are actually setting the trend, and that's so awesome (thanks to either their mad skills, or that of their cover artist)

I have a group of friends and we love to look at the cover releases. Sometimes I'm disappointed with the low quality of some of the big releases (either choppy editing or some of the images used are stock art). The stock art surprises me, because a publisher should be working with cover artists who get exclusive rights to images or have photo sessions. At least, that's ideal so that your $35 hardcover book doesn't have the same exact model/pose as three dozen other books. Indies don't have many options around that unless they work with a photographer.

But I seriously love not only looking at the cover releases, but just scrolling through the list of bestsellers, and what strikes me is how professional the covers are. Eye-catching and something I would be inclined to buy without even reading the blurb. Sometimes when publishers buy the book rights an Indie sells to them, they revamp the cover, other times they keep it. I love when they keep the original because it's a huge kudos to the cover artist.

Seems like two years ago I'd hear readers touting how they could look at a cover and always spot the self-published books. That may be still true (although i've seen tradpubbed books that I would have never guessed as tradpubbed), but I don't think many can say that now. There are cover artists who are establishing a name for themselves by working with Indie authors. Take a moment to find out who did some of those covers you think rock and show some love their way.




Write what you love

Write what you love... not what you think will sell.

Wha?

Every author is different, but this is just my two cents and how I personally approach my own writing. We all have to bring home the bacon, so sometimes what determines that decision may be how heavily you rely on the writing income and how your sales are. Which for me, sales are pretty much like going on one of those roller coaster rides where you throw up at the end.

I'm writing this because I had another inquiry yesterday on this, so I thought I'd address it. I've had a few people urging me to write a straight romance (one of my good friends has noticed I've grown a little testy about it..lol). Why? The explosion of NA books hitting the bestseller lists. Kudos to the writers who hit the lists (it's tough work!), because for every person who has, there are probably 500 who did not. Unless your speed writing, I don't know how a person can keep up with the trend. Being on the Barnes & Noble top sellers was uber cool, but it's not what drives my writing. Plus, if I did write a straight romance, I wouldn't like be likely to include some of the dark matter that's in these books, because I'm very sensitive to that kind of thing, so I wouldn't really be following the popular trend, now would I? :-)

Someday, near or far, I will write other genres. After all, I started off writing straight fiction. I'm too passionate about the stories I currently have on my plate to go in a different direction, and I have so many projects in the pipeline! I could easily eliminate the paranormal aspect and broaden my audience, but that's what makes it so exciting to me! I love the twist it adds to the story, and I also enjoy writing it in such a way where it doesn't dominate the book, and at the end of the day, it's the characters that are still driving the vehicle.

The coolest thing is when a reader says they've never read paranormal before until this series, or it's unique and not what they had expected. That's the best compliment evah.

Trends are cyclical. Two months from now, thrillers make take off, or dudes in kilts who are bookalicious. (although let's face it, those hot men in kilts always seem to do well..heh) The current romance trend often deals with very heavy topics, and readers will eventually seek out fantasy escapism books because of reality overload.

I think it was about a year or more ago I saw an author (who didn't even write in the romance genre) post they were going into erotica because they read 50 shades. *face palm* Writers should be well read in the genre they're writing to understand it; I don't think reading one or two books qualifies you as an erotica writer, romance, or paranormal. We all need to branch out to a degree (although I don't think I'd want to see Stephen King try his hand at romance simply because it's top on the charts...holy egads, that might be the scariest shit I've ever read! I'm still a little disturbed over Gerald's Game, but I digress..) but how is your book not going to feel like a million others? No one wants to write that book that someone will describe as "Oh, it reminded me of xxxx's book, except instead of a bus they were on a train".

Noooo! Kiss of death.
Unless they sold a million copies. Then maybe it wouldn't sting so much. Although for me, it still kinda would.

When I started writing with the Mageri series (and onward), I actually approached writing in a way I never had before. (Blame this on my early exposure to apocalyptic books). It's a great method!

Readers didn't exist. Reviewers didn't exist. There was a doomsday plague that infected the entire population (and magically incinerated all books) and the only one left on the planet was me. I also put a cap in the ass of that inner voice in my head that's always trying to speak for the invisible reader. You know, the one who's always whispering, "I wouldn't do that if I were you!", or "Seriously? She ends up with him? Readers will not like that." Tell that voice to STFU.

I wrote the books like no one would read them. No one. Evah. I imagined that if an apocalypse came that wiped out all of humanity and every single book on the planet, I would have a very large bookshelf that was empty. I would live out the rest of my days alone, and the only entertainment would be the books I wrote. I needed to fill that shelf with books that I would reread over and over, stories and characters I loved. So I poured everything I had into those books from a perspective I hadn't before, where I eliminated the reader and wrote for myself. Thanks to Rod Serling and Earth Abides, I created a new world using that perspective.

Of course, the characters always take over the story at some point, but that can't be helped. I thought that was a really cool way to look at it, and to not focus on any other outer influence. There are always outer influences at play: The voices in our heads, the current trends, movies, music on the radio, our favorite authors and how they would write the book, what readers want or expect, the genre formula, wind gusts and humidity....
You have to be able to separate inspiration from influence.

"Closer" was a romance with a paranormal kick, and I liked that because it gave the story a unique setting and challenges for the characters. "Seven Years" is paranormal, and I'm really excited about it because I think that there are scenes that work so well because of the paranormal aspect that wouldn't otherwise.

At the end of the day, it's your time and money. Make sure that bookshelf gets stuffed with stories that you love, and your readers will love them too. (Whether it's 2 or 2 million)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Building a character

Seems simple enough. Just make an outline:

Hair: Black, spiked
Nose: Straight
Shoulders: Broad
Eyes: Blue

Usually when I start writing, I have a base model in my head. I think of it like a ball of clay. As I'm writing, my character starts to step forward. I'm reminded of when I talk to someone on the phone I've never met, and formulate an idea in my head of what they look like. Then when I see them, I think, "You're not what I expected."

Give your characters room to grow as you're writing. Sometimes down the line, you start to see them more clearly. A dimple shows up, or a scar over their brow (which can lead to a back story of how they got it), or a smile that's crooked, and maybe their eyes aren't blue after all. Justus did a 180 from his original character in a previous book. He even decided that he shaved his head, because he has a thing about grooming himself. Sometimes how they look is a reflection of their personality. I have a character named Christian with a scruff on his jaw - more of a short beard, but he lets the damn thing grow all over the place like a Chia pet. So instead of neatly trimming, he has whiskers in odd spots, like on his neck. This is a man who just doesn't care about impressions. It might also depict him as a hard worker who doesn't take time out to take care of himself. Or maybe he just wants to hide beneath all those whiskers.

For me, part of the fun in writing a story is letting the characters tell me who they are, and I have to be flexible to that or it never feels right. This doesn't just apply toward the physical appearance, but also personality. Sometimes they develop funny little quirks that are uniquely them. Christian took up a candy eating habit, and he has a thing about littering. I sure didn't write that up in his bio when I created him.

This happened just recently in a book I wrote where one of the characters (in my head) kept staring at me from the sofa with a pissed off look on his face. He wanted me to know that he wasn't clean shaven. I had everything mapped out and he had to go and boycott razors. Then I had another who toward the end, decided that he had a slightly crooked nose. Sometimes allowing those small tidbits not only bring them to life, but they can also flesh out more of a history.

Even Novis has a little habit of his own that I hadn't noticed in earlier books, because I didn't get to know him as well as the other characters. I guess it's like that in real life; the longer you sit down and really talk to someone or get to know them, the more you discover things you never noticed before.

Like my coworker who has been hoarding about 30 shoes underneath her desk for God knows how long, and I hadn't noticed until last week. Even more strange was that there were several I'd never seen her wear before.

So building a character for me is a work in progress that begins with a ball of clay that's kind of shaped like a person. The story molds itself.