Ann Christy

Girard The Guardian – Book and Art

Girard is coming soon!

Girard The Guardian will be released only in the Dominion Rising box set for the foreseeable future. The book is turning out so well that I’ve been seriously inspired in the painting department. No, I’m still not very good yet, but I do keep improving. Here are my paintings of the first three main characters. I’m currently working out my sketches for the next two, Lila and Marcus.

“Girard” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

 

“Young Yadikira” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

 

“Thalia Rising” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

Maybe because I’m improving, it’s also taking me a lot longer to do a painting. The last two took over a month each. I had my one year anniversary for starting drawing and painting a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still enjoying it very much. Yes, it has slowed down my writing some, but only because I don’t only sit attached to a computer for 16 hours a day. And that has improved my writing too. More time to think about it as I paint, I’m guessing. More cogitation makes for more plot and deeper plots.

Right now, the pre-order price for Dominion is just $0.99 for all 23 brand new, full length novels. Sales have been brisk! Grab it because it will be the only way to get these books for a good while (and you can’t beat the price).

Curious? Then slide on over to the sneak peek page and get a three chapter look at Girard The Guardian!

Painting Eyeballs

Again, I post this stuff to Facebook all the time, so I feel like I’ve shared, but rarely do I put it here in the blog, which I should. So, here’s to sharing!

About eight months ago I decided to pick up a paintbrush and see if I could paint. Yes, I know that’s random, but I wanted to try. I’ve never been an artist or anything, so I had no idea if I could do this. This is my first painting. (All images can be clicked to open hugely into a new tab.)

My first attempt at painting in May 2016. Inktense on 140# cold-pressed (CP) watercolor paper. Copyright Ann Christy 2016.

Note the lack of facial features? Yeah, I wasn’t there. But I wanted to be. Here are a few more attempts.

Entitled “Tango.” Copyright Ann Christy 2016. From the story, “The Mergens.” Inktense on 140# CP.

 

Entitled “Our Lady of Fire and Vengeance” Copyright Ann Christy 2016 (From the story, “The Mergens”). Inktense on 140# CP.

 

Entitled “Delta.” Copyright Ann Christy 2016. (From the story, “The Mergens.” Inktense on 140# CP.

Note the primitive and not very realistic eyes? Well, I decided there that the only way to get better was to get better…as in focus on each feature. So, I started by focusing on eyes, which are really important for making a painting connect with a viewer. I mean, you can seriously suck at many other parts of the body, but the eyes will make or break you.

These next pictures are me practicing eyes.

Blue eye practice, October 2016. Copyright Ann Christy 2016. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

Brown eye practice, November 2016. Copyright Ann Christy 2016. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

Self-portrait eye practice, January 2017. Copyright Ann Christy 2017. Watercolor on 140# cold press.

 

Eye practice with Bob’s self-portrait using a phone camera. Many folks very kindly put up images of their eyes on Facebook when I asked for one to paint. I selected Bob’s due to the clarity of the photo and unusual iris patterns. January 2017. Copyright Ann Christy 2017. Watercolor on 140# CP.

 

What really surprised me was how fast a really dedicated person can make progress. I’m not a natural artist by any means. In fact, it’s very alien to me. I’m more of a science person, yet there is something undeniably soothing and satisfying about this art stuff. I’ve still never had an art class, so I don’t even know if I’m using the right brushes or materials…or even if I’m using the brushes correctly. All this is sort of a learn-as-I-go experience.

What does that mean? I think it means that anyone at all can do this. Truly. I think any person can pick up a brush and grab their medium of choice and go to town. Very quickly you’ll discover what you like (oils-no, acrylic-no, watercolor-yes) and narrow in on your particular style.

I’m excited to see what happens next.

Yeah, That’s Tasty…

I’m a total Facebook junkie. Because I post so much there, I often don’t think of making sure I post some of the same stuff to the blog here. I mean, how much do people care (outside of Facebook) what new recipe I’ve tried or what nifty prepper tip I have for the day?

One of my favorite things is eating…but also cooking the food that I eat. I’m an avid subscriber to Blue Apron, but with a twist. I try to figure out how to make the ones I really like using common ingredients or pantry staples. I even try to use prepper friendly ingredients. I mean, after all, putting such in your regular rotation is the best way to keep them fresh and replaced without waste.

Here’s one recent twist:

Blue Apron’s Crispy Catfish with Yellow Curry & Bird’s Eye Chili Sauce

Go on and take a look at it on the link (which is prettier than mine). Yeah, that looks tasty. Here are pantry friendly substitutions and recommendations that store super well for longer term (we’d call that short to medium length for prep specific).

Ingredient Replacements: Use red pepper flakes instead of the chili, any non-instant rice instead of jasmine, flour for rice flour. NOTE: They sent an American farm raised mild catfish that tastes like Basa. Don’t get Vietnamese or Chinese Basa instead, because it’s questionably raised. Any mild, flaky, white fish works. Regular catfish doesn’t work in this.

Pantry (and Prep) Friendly or No-Waste Items:

1) Coconut Milk Powder is incredibly versatile, stores well, and adds a hint of tropical sweetness and depth to dishes. The powder is vastly superior to the canned milk in terms of cost. Coconut Palm Sugar is the same, but it’s pricey compared to regular sugar, so I use it where I get the best impact, like this dish.

2) Buy fresh ginger by the pound, spend an hour mincing it all, then put it in a bag in your freezer. Break off to use as fresh ginger as needed. No more waste! Powdered will work, but fresh is best. The bigger bag linked below is a bargain compared with most spices. I also like Laxmi brand, which is smaller and cheaper, but lasts forever if stored properly.

3) There’s a joke that says, buy a new pack of yellow curry paste every time you buy a new refrigerator to keep it fresh. Yeah, it lasts. The brand I use is linked below and it comes in a plastic bag inside a plastic jar. It’s freaking delicious and adds zip to boring things (like beans and rice in prep stocks). PRO TIP: You can (under uber-clean conditions) open the packet and re-vacuum seal single use amounts for storage. I don’t do that anymore because I use it so frequently.

4) Ponzu sauce is an overlooked, but delicious, thin sauce you can use like soy sauce. It’s got a citrus kick that’s delightful.

5) You can use regular old lime juice if you don’t have a lime, but the zest is really awesome in this one. Try to use fresh if you can. I’m still waiting for someone to pack up freeze-dried lime zest that looks like zest! Dehydrated lime juice is a prepper must-have, the brand I use is below and works fine when you have no limes on hand.

6) You can substitute the kale with fresh spinach, young collards, bok choy, or beet greens. It doesn’t taste good with cabbage. Cool tolerant, fast-growing, and low maintenance leafy greens are a prepper must-have. They fill huge gaps in prep diets and offer the satisfaction that only green things do. Do you have leafy green seeds on hand? Do you?

Overall, this is rated 5 stars from me. It’s easy to source the main ingredients and many of the components are pantry friendly and easily used in a myriad of other meals. It’s quick to make, as in super quick, and well rounded with rib-sticking satisfaction levels. On the economical scale – I rate this one an 8 out of 10, which is awesome. Initial purchases of milk powder and curry paste can be high, but the number of uses each provides knocks that cost waaaaay down. The protein grams per dollar are high too.


Some Of My Books Are Leaving Kindle Unlimited…

After trying (and largely failing) to gain a foothold on venues other than Amazon (VOTA), I went back into KDP Select a few months ago. Immediately, my book income almost doubled and my ranks improved, (which leads to more visibility and borrows/sales). It was a relief, but also sort of disappointing. Why? Because it simply confirmed that going all-in with Amazon was my own viable option and that meant I was going to have to toe their line and put all my eggs in their basket. The upside to that is that people could borrow my books in Kindle Unlimited.

Unfortunately, Amazon has been having some problems lately and there are casualties.

One of those casualties is related to the “exclusivity” clause. Basically, anything that is available in any other book or publication is not exclusive and therefore, cannot be in KU (meaning KDP Select). In my case, that means anything I’ve had published in The Future Chronicles series of anthologies would not be exclusive.

While Robot Evolution has only one story from the Chronicles, it has that one story. None of the other PePr novellas are outside my control, but one is enough. So, Robot Evolution and  possibly Hope/Less will have to come out of Select. This is bad because I get far more “reads” in KU than actual sales. It blows actually.

The other casualties are The Ways We End and And Then Begin Again. While each volume has half new material, the other half started as tales in the Chronicles and Beyond The Stars series. I’ve rewritten them (because hey, no word count limits!), but it’s still no-banana.

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited member and you’ve had those on your list, get them soon. Once their time for this Select period is up, they’ll be available for purchase only. On the upside, they will also be available on all other retailers too!

 

NOTE: Due to some other strangeness going on at Amazon (it’s complicated), I may wind up taking all of my books out of Select and going wide with them again. Yes, this will crash my income and visibility, but the stuff going on right now is super scary and it might be my only alternative if I want to feel safe.

Why That Follow Button Sucks…

I fell into the follow button trap and now I’m doing my best to reverse that. I wasn’t sure I should share, but I read a whole lot more than I write, so I figure other readers like me probably would like to know about this. While I’m not super price sensitive when it comes to books, I read so much that I try to economize where I can. That makes it worth sharing!

The Follow buttons seemed so awesome, so easy…a way to decrease my load of email and give me some of my mental bandwidth back. So, I clicked away and unsubscribed to all those newsletters, thinking I would get all the info without any need to…you know…read. I even shouted out to folks to jump on that follow button bandwagon with me.

Yeah, that totally didn’t work.

What am I going on about? I’m specifically talking about two forms of “Follow” buttons on two sites: Amazon and BookBub. Both of these forms of follow buttons purport to allow you to be updated on new releases by whichever authors you follow, plus sale prices.

Neither of them actually does that. After missing a couple of dozen new releases by must-read authors and even more sale prices by other must-read authors, I’m now trying to undo my hasty following urge and re-join their newsletters. I figured if it took me this long to figure out what I had missed out on, then maybe there are others in the same boat.

Here are the specifics:

Amazon Follow Button:

Of the two follow buttons, this one is the better of the two, but it is still woefully inadequate and unreliable. Supposedly, you’ll be notified of new releases. The problem is that you never know when you’ll be notified. A lot of the author newsletters I subscribed to, I did so because they always had new release pricing for a few days after publishing. I mean, if I know I’m going to read their work more often than not, why not get it for less?

Amazon’s announcements may or may not be sent, and if they are, they can come up to a month after release. More importantly, if other big things are going on at Amazon…they don’t come at all. Like Holiday shopping, or their Black Friday summer, or really anything that they want to focus on.

After getting notifications several weeks after release for several authors I followed, I decided to get back on their newsletters so I can save some money. There’s nothing more irritating than clicking BUY at full price when you know you could have saved 75% if you’d only been notified a day earlier than you were.

TIP: If you put Kindle books on your wishlist, sometimes (I repeat, sometimes), you’ll get a notification if there’s a price drop. It seems to happen more for traditionally published titles or those publishing by Amazon imprints, but once in a while it can happen for an Indie book.

Yes, I still follow all those authors on Amazon because it improves my recommendations, (since Amazon algos seem to consider all the things you like when recommending books). I still recommend using the Amazon follow button because it has some benefit in that regard, but I definitely wouldn’t count on it for getting news in a timely manner.

BookBub Follow Buttons:

Yeah, they announced this with huge flair, urging all us Indies to share this with our readers. Like a bagillion others, I did that, but it turns out that it’s less than worthless. Why? Because it has more exclusions than inclusions!

I followed loads of authors on the Bub, thinking I was going to seriously save on books by getting announcements from the Bub. Then…crickets, except for TradPub authors and a very few Indie mega-sellers. The only notifications I got about interesting indies were when the Bub ran a rare ad for an author’s books (which of course, sends me to their site and gives them affiliate income.)

That in itself might not be so bad, but then I realized why this happens through my own book releases. Here’s a quick example of how this works. It took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, I was a little irritated because of all the books I missed out on.

I released the PePr, Inc. series of novellas as individual titles for a while. Each one of those doesn’t qualify for new book announcements because they are novellas. Okay, fine. That’s cool. I get that they have length limits. So then I collected them together into a big, fat book called Robot Evolution. Guess what? It doesn’t qualify because the individual titles were once published. So basically, all those people I pointed to the Bub as a way to get announcements for my new books if they were averse to newsletters never heard about any of them.

Same thing happened with The Ways We End and And Then Begin Again. Even though most of the material was new and all the stories were reworked that had been in anthologies, it didn’t qualify. Basically, the people who follow me don’t know of a single new release by me since Strikers: Eastlands. Not one.

Why did they do this if they didn’t intend to actually do it? It seems pretty obvious in retrospect. It was a way for them to get us to spread the word and get more people signed up to their newsletter…which they make money from. Duh. And we’re not talking a few either. When you take thousands of authors and tell them this, then ask them to share, that’s millions of eyeballs getting tempted. Talk about free advertising! After all, you can’t follow authors on Bub unless you join Bub. ::facepalm::

At least I could easily see which authors I followed on there and then decide which I needed to re-join the newsletters of in order to stop missing releases. Turns out I missed a total of 33 new releases….33! Now, some of those included box sets, but overall, I missed out on a whole lot of indie authors and their new release pricing, plus a whole lot of sale prices.

I don’t really recommend the Bub Follow button at all anymore as a reader. It’s useless. As an author, there’s the possibility that they use the number of followers an author has when deciding who get’s approved for an ad. Because of that, I still want people to follow me there, but that’s sort of selfish, so I feel bad for feeling that way.

I’ve spent the last two days correcting that mess up on my part and joined those newsletters again. Yes, there are a few that will send me too much mail and I’ll unsub them again, but for the most part, they are worth the email space.

TIP: Remember to add the email address of the author’s newsletter to your contacts. By doing that, you make sure that you’ll actually see it. Yahoo and Gmail have gone draconian and will mark them as spam or promotional, hiding them from view or sticking them in another tab. Finding out about an awesome sale or giveaway after it is long over sort of negates the purpose of getting the newsletter. 🙂 So far, out of my favorite 25 authors I’ve rejoined, 23 of them went to the hidden folder. The two that didn’t were already white-listed because I’ve exchanged emails with them before. So, yeah, white-listing is more important that ever apparently.

 

Read and Loved: Clones Anthology (It’s on Sale, too)

 

Clones: The Anthology

I’m not in this one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read it with enthusiasm! And I wasn’t at all disappointed. Given my own interest and writings in this vein, that’s probably not a surprise.

During my (almost) daily perusal of the science fiction deals on Amazon, I found this on Kindle Countdown for $0.99, so I thought this would be a good time to share! It’s chock full of excellent stories by some of my favorite authors (and friends). Normally, I don’t include anyone I know in the Read and Loved series, just to keep this on the up and up. In this case, it’s an anthology with enough folks that I figure it’s okay.

The mood and atmosphere ranges in this volume, as befitting the subject, and the stories are so varied and wonderful that there’s a new wrinkle just around every corner. This one is highly recommended by me!

The Dark Collections are Live!

wayendbegin

Both books in the Dark Collections series are now live on Amazon! As always, both books have new release pricing at $0.99 for regular readers of my work. It’s for a limited time, so don’t hesitate too long. What’s in these dark goodies?

The Ways We End: Six Tales of Doom is me dipping into that deep, dark well and then plunging down to the bottom to find the monsters that lurk in the bottom. Yeah, it’s titled appropriately. This is a collection about the ways we end…as people, as a species, as a world.

Three of the tales are brand new, including Cottage of Hunger (which my VIP list got to read in first draft format as a sneaky peeky), The Mountains of Five, and The Bridge. Three others were originally published in anthologies, but have been re-imagined without word limits (and sometimes totally changed), including The Mergans, Rock or Shell, and A Mother So Beautiful. 

And Then Begin Again: Six Tales of Hope is me swimming back up to see the light that always shines after the darkest of nights. I’m not saying these are all roses and puppies sliding down rainbows, because they wouldn’t be my writing if they were. But each one of these tales focuses on that coming dawn, no matter how dark the night. There is love, determination, strength. And always…there is hope.

Inside this volume are six tales, including Sedge (a novella of Love, New Worlds, and Freedom), The Mirroring, Life/Time in the New World, Unnatural, Yankari, and Lulu Ad Infinitum. And like the first volume, those tales from the anthologies have been re-imagined without word limits.

***

As always, I appreciate every single review, so if you feel like doing so, I’ll love you from afar! Also, I’ve put the books into Kindle Unlimited so that those using that service can get the books too. Paperbacks are out already and they should link up with the ebooks within a few days, but a search on Amazon should bring up both versions if that’s your preference.

Until next time! Happy Reading!

Are you a Kindle Unlimited reader? If so, here’s a few tips…

Loads and loads of avid readers have joined Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU). It’s been a great deal for many readers, allowing an unlimited reading experience for the price of a single paperback every month. I mean, what’s not to love?

If you’re a reader.

If you’re an author, well, that relationship can be a mixed one. I love it, even with glitches simply because I can reach readers who no longer buy books and read KU books exclusively. I get it. Given how many thousands of pounds of books I’ve donated over the years, I really get it. I’m one of those people that actually filled up a Kindle!

That said, there are some glitches showing up in the KU experience that have impacted payments to the authors. Here are a few tips from a KU author to all the lovely KU readers out there. Most of the tips are based on research (including informal polls and hard data gathering), done by many indie authors. Since we’re not having much luck getting Amazon to address these problems, I’m hoping that sharing with you will help.

Tip #1  –  Please don’t go back to the beginning of the book once you’re done.

This one is pretty simple. Amazon is basically counting your pages from where you ended reading (as far as we can tell no better system is yet in place). So, if you read a book and enjoy it so much that you go back to look at the cover or the list of other works by the author, well….it erases all your pages read, which means that author will not get paid. While Amazon denies this, we have demonstrated proof that such happens.

I, for one, frequently do this. I did the same thing with physical books. I’d sigh, wish the book wasn’t over, and close it to look at that beautiful cover again. It wasn’t any different with a Kindle book and often I’d click the contents to go back to the page where their other works were listed. YIKES! While I’m not reading with KU, if I were, then a whole lot of authors would have been unpaid. And worse, the more I enjoyed their work, the more likely they were to not be paid!

Tip #2  –  Please note that you read the book in KU at the top of your review if you leave one.

Amazon is weighing verified reviews over non-verified reviews, but at the same time, Amazon has NO tag for those who read a book using KU. That’s super silly, since to me, a KU membership means you invested your money in that book and your review should count. By noting that you read it via KU at the top of a review, you let readers who may distrust non-verified reviews know you’re a real reader! (Also, let’s hope they get a KU tag soon!)

Tip # 3  –  Please sync your book before you return it.

Right now, no one is entirely sure how this flaw is happening. Maybe it’s by device or app, or maybe there’s something in the settings. Whatever it is, we do know that syncing a finished book with Amazon improves the likelihood that Amazon will show the pages read and therefore, pay the author.

Tip #4 – If you read in Page Flip, the author will not be paid.

This is a tough one! I love reading in Page Flip mode on my 8.9 Kindle HDX. It’s perfect for that. If I were a KU reader, then every book I read that way would have resulted in ZERO payments to the author. Yep, that’s correct and Amazon has actually confirmed that. Page Flip is intended as a navigation feature, (according to them), so any pages read that way will not count.

If you read in Page Flip, please leave for regular view at least at the end of the book. We’re pretty sure they’re still counting the last page read to calculate payments, but it’s possible Amazon is now counting any flip from the front to the back of the book as a fraudulent read (and withholding payments). Even so, it’s worth a try.

Note: If you’re not sure if you’re reading in Page Flip or not, you can tell because there’s an outline around the page (on most devices and apps) and the progress bar is visible at the bottom of the screen without tapping.

Thank you to all the KU readers out there! I appreciate every single one of you and hope to meet many more of you through that wonderful program. Happy Reading.

It’s Patty’s Promo Time! 3-4 December

promodecember2016home

My favorite (and most frequented) promo each month is Patty’s. There’s no muss, no fuss…just books. Of course, I’ve gotten addicted to so many new reads and authors from it that I’m not being as productive as I like, but hey…books!

This month is free books and there are loads of good ones in there. I have Between Life and Death: The In-Betweener in there too! I nabbed that image to share, so click on it to get to Patty’s page where all the books are listed by retailer.

I’ve already been scoping out my choices for this month. I can already tell it’s going to be a good month for reading.

Between Life and Death World – Freebies and Sale!

blad-freesale

 

Just in case you’ve missed reading this series, I’m putting the first book free for a few days and discounting the second one to $0.99. Yep, doing it. AND, as a huge favor to me, Logan Snyder is putting his wonderful book set in the Between Life and Death World FREE for a few days. How much do I love this book? Yeah, I love it. The free period is now till 6 December and the discount is available for a few days only (then it goes to $1.99, then back to $2.99).

The Deets:

Between Life and Death: The In-Betweener

Get it HERE.

Emily is alone. Two years after the end of the world, she talks to herself and smashes heads with her favorite sledgehammer. This is not the life she imagined for herself as her eighteenth birthday rolls past.

It’s time for her to look beyond her safe, little hiding place to the world beyond. The madness of the apocalypse is ending, the dangerous in-betweeners – those no longer quite human, but not yet dead – are few and far between. The deaders that cover the world are going still, their senses dulled by time and the elements.

The problem is that there are no people…none. Emily has found not a single living human when she’s dared to step outside her safe-zone.

As Emily weighs the heavy cost of surviving alone and begins to accept the inevitable, everything changes once again. One of the deaders at her gate turns out not to be a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any other she has seen before, and he carries a message. If Emily has the courage to step beyond her gate and the skills to survive a perilous trip in a dead world, she might just have a chance at life…a life with humans…after all.

Between Life and Death: Forever Between

Get it HERE.

Will be on Kindle Countdown from 3-6 December. $0.99 for the first couple of days, last day at $1.99.

The last time Veronica checked, the world outside was still dead…and still covered by the sort-of-undead remnants of humanity. That was this morning. Now, she has to run that gauntlet to try and save Emily, just as Emily once saved her.

Four years ago the world was destroyed by medical nanites gone awry, leaving humanity divided into three groups: the living, deaders, and the horrific in-betweeners. Emily’s only hope for a cure lies eighty miles away at a military hospital where nanite treatments were once given, and she’s running out of time. Between Veronica and that hospital is a world of flesh-eating monsters and possibly something even worse…humans. If Veronica fails to get there, Emily will be trapped forever between life and death.

Between Kings and Carnage by Logan Snyder

Get it HERE.

If you loved the Between world, then this book is for you! Logan Snyder (who wrote my favorite SF serial ever, Violet) blew me away when he created a whole new facet of the Between world and populated the Pacific Northwest with amazing characters facing the nanite apocalypse. He has also very graciously put the volume for free for a few days so that Between Readers can get it for nothing. Since this is a stand alone novel and not a series (and it’s a big, lovely book), this is a great thing.

“A dark, awesome, beautiful addition to the BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH series!” — Ann Christy

Squire has ridden with the Thunder Kings since the beginning of the end. Together they’ve survived everything the apocalypse has thrown at them, but after five long years a new threat is rising. This enemy is deadlier and more determined than any they’ve faced before, and only a strange, stuttering girl may hold the answer to their identity. Can the Kings get ahead of the threat facing them, or has their reign finally reached its end? The answer lies within the pages of this thrilling companion novel to Ann Christy’s BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH series.

Work In Progress

Savannah Slays (working title)

5000/ 100000 words. 5% done!

Portals - Portal Invasion #1

78000/ 78000 words. First Draft Done!

Mercy - PePr Inc novella

3000/ 20000 words. 15% done!

The Ways We End

66000/ 66000 words. 100% Done! Publishing Dec 8th! (Dark Collections 2, "And Then Begin Again" goes live on the Dec 8th too!

Strikers: Outlands

40000/ 10000 words. 40% Done!

Good News Gone Bad #1
Series of Shorts

4000 / 20000 words. Back Burner for now.

Lulu 394

60020 / 80000 words. 75% done! Back Burner for now!

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Books by Ann Christy