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Messages - jlstovall4

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1
Yeah, it can be hard to find artists that way. I actually think people might find using facebook a better option. It opens the door up to illustrators from other countries where the cost of living is less and they can charge less. They often have their portfolios on FB and you find most speak english well enough bridge the communication gap.
Cool. I never thought about using Facebook. Thanks

2
Whoa! those are nice covers! but for $800 each, they dang well better be :) you can get illustrated stuff cheaper, but I totally get falling for a particular style.

I spend much less on my covers - much, much less. haha. I am in the process of putting together a new MG series and the cover design for book 1 will be a few hundred dollars, but each subsequent cover will be much, much less.

I'm not sure what he's charging now, but it cost me about $500 per cover. So you'll have to talk to him to find out exactly. I didn't do wrap around covers and I had him to create my logo for the series separately, so I could place that in with the title myself. I wanted a bit more flexibility in case I wanted a few small changes. But each person is different. It's hard to get illustrated covers under $500 though. I spent about 2 months on ArtStation, DeviantArt, and Instagram before I found Alberto hiding on kboards. Some artists don't even check their messages, and many of them are staring to use Patreon as a way to supplement income.

I like what he's done. So I have to give him a thumbs up, but I understand the cost. So maybe he can help somebody.  :D ;D

3
I would like some recommendations for cover artists if folks have any!

I'm currently using Alberto Besi. He's been great for my unpublished series. He's doing all 7 covers for my current series and so far things have worked out great. I find it best to give him (any my other illustrator) a map of what I'm looking for and then have them to do the work. I find for the price, many artists don't have time to do concept art (the process of figuring out what characters and the world look like) so it's best to have as much as you can give them.

Anyhoo here's Albero's work. Tell him that I sent you. :-) http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=250549.0

4
You know I don't have a love-interest in this book... I mean, not with the main POV. There are romances, but it's not that total plot-character driven romance type of thing. The next series I'm making will have a bit more of that, but I personally get a little tired of reading and writing about ALL CONSUMING ROMANCE... I know it's writing to market... but ugh. I hope I can find a group of fellow people burned out with all the shipping of couples left and right as a main plot device.

I think you can find an audience. I did have a few betas that said they would have preferred I left out the romance. I think it's always a tricky thing. Remember no one wanted Harry Potter and now that "franchise" is worth over 8 Billion dollars. All from a book that barely was published. So you never know.

5
I write MG squarely in the MG arena, but my YA edges down towards MG (it's clean, there aren't really any love interests. Everyone's always too busy trying to survive :/ )
At first my YA was exactly like that, edging more toward MG. But the more I talked with my betas the more I recognized that YA is generally romance mixed with something else. Even Hunger Games had a romantic thread. So I make sure there's a "hot guy" and that I write my YA from first person. But my world building and action is almost like in my MG.

Comforting to learn of others with the MG/YA struggles.  :)

6
Writers' Cafe / Re: RIP Laura Kingsley, Editor
« on: July 02, 2018, 11:12:57 AM »
I'll chime in two because she edited two of my books. Dang, I really hate to hear that.

7
Yep, you know I've transitioned it from MG to YA pretty well. I still think a MG reader would like it a lot, but on editing I aged the characters up, added Steampunk as a backbone of the type of magic and mechanics already in place, and tossed in some general magitech seeds for later to grow :) I think it's going to be a lot easier than MG!

I can't say through sales yet, but from my beta readers, I'm more suited for MG over YA. The main reason is that YA readers like a bit more romance and character interactions than MG. So that's a thought as you are transitioning. Because I've done two series in MG and one in YA, my biggest complaint for my YA series is that they'd prefer the romance was a bit hotter and that the detail in the action sequences is a bit much. When I write MG, they seem to love almost everything, but they think the action sequences are a bit on the edge (i.e. concerns on being too violent for kids). My style is almost dead in the middle of MG and YA. So think about that when writing YA. You may want to boost your romantic or character interactions a bit vs MG.

8
Writers' Cafe / Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 02:49:50 PM »
One thing I always wonder about is the line between fantasy and fact. I like to create fantasy cultures and societies, but base them after real people, but then it's difficult knowing when the realism fades and the fantasy sets in. How much am I allowed to borrow? If I use too much is it no longer fantasy? If I use too little am I white-washing?

For me culture/race building is based on the world. So for instance, if you have a world that is filled with water to the point where almost every drop of land is saturated with it. I'd study first what that does to the land and then think about what crops would grow and where materials come from. From there, I build my culture.

Culture in our world IMO is based a lot on where things started and what people had or didn't have. If you go to the Caribbean, of course people will wear light clothes and as little as possible vs living in Alaska. These are things that affect people much more than "our world" type of culture. So for me, I'd start with the world building and go from there. If your water based world had lots of sharks for instance, the people probably would wear shark clothing, they may have a shark god, and may believe that attacking is the best way to win a friendship. So that's what I would do to make more authentic and original cultures.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 01:06:11 PM »
White people don't avoid writing POCs because "I can't relate to them". They avoid writing POC's because they are TOLD by POCs "you can't relate to me." I'm biracial, and as this thread has already proven, I don't even know if I'm qualified to have this type of opinion, so I'll make this short. POC are tired of having their voices taken from them. They tell white people not to write their stories. White authors want to include diversity, and as humans do, sometimes make mistakes. POCs are understandably upset at being further slandered and stereotyped and again, tell white people not to write about them. White authors stop including racial diversity for fear of making further mistakes because it's all too easy to be labeled a racist, and are still called racist for only having white casts.

I'm working on a book about my personal experience within a certain minority group. I already KNOW it's not going to align with how a majority of people within this group feel. Maybe I'll get a pass because I'm also within the group and it's my own experience. But what if someone else wrote the book? Someone who wasn't in the group? Because the experience doesn't align with the majority, they'd likely get ripped to shreads and called awful names and told to "stay in their lane".

Honestly this is why I try to stay away from too many debates. I've seen for myself POC authors do this. I can only make sure that my characters are rounded and true, and just hope others do too. I never beat up a person for having POCs and I always encourage white authors to be inclusive. I just ask that they make the character real and true and rounded. If I run into an Korean person one day (I'm not Korean) and she asks me about some of my characters, I want to be able to tell her that I thought about the character and tried to make them round, believable, and true for what I thought they needed to be in the story. That the character wasn't an afterthought and that it would be difficult for me to tell the story without the Korean character.

10
Writers' Cafe / Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 01:00:37 PM »
I can't get fancy and slice and dice comments like you.
hahaha  ;D

They're both biracial men and while they had issues finding places to sit, they had no shortage of women interested in.... you know.... and wanting to make "pretty babies" with them.

Well I'm not going to get into the colorism / multi-ethnic debate except to say I've heard every single race say both positive and negatives about biracial children. I've heard white people say they thought multi-race babies were more attractive than "pure" white people, and I've heard them also say the reverse. Same for blacks, Indians, Asians, etc. In reality we're all biracial to a degree and in the "old world" people blended slowly from one edge of a continent to another.

So to each their own. The greatest thing about America is that you can choose what you want. If you want a same-culture/race partner you can have one. If you want an interracial/cultural relationship you can have that too. Either way, it's all gravy to the deep melting pot/beef stew of America.  ;D

And thanks Powerpuff Girls (BlossomBubblesButtercup) for starting the thread, and I'll be watching with interest. :-)

11
Writers' Cafe / Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 12:03:39 PM »
This comment stuck with me because it's true and I hear the excuse a lot. I'm not POC, I can't write POC! Well, you're not both/all genders (people write from male POV in romance all the time). ... I don't have those people's experiences either. Nor do I have the experiences of a hispanic person, japanese person, native person.

Agreed. In fact this was in another thread a long time ago. The point of that particular with the thread was that POCs were saying that they want to be seen as something other than the stereotypical ethnic being. So don't say I want to write a story about a guy who plays basketball and then make the character black. If Black Panther (Movie) has shown America anything is that POCs want to be the Harry Potters and Katnis Everdeens and not be there just because they are a POC or to be tokenated where it's the same story but they just happen to be a POC.

I don't go out of my way to "include" biracial people only because, well, a lot of times biracial people are seen as prettier than the two races/ethnicities they came from. It's a problem. So for most of my stories, my people aren't of mixed descent, or if they are, their last name falls under an ethnic last name and I never bring up the mixed descent portion (I'll always know if they are or not, but it may not pop out in the story).

That's understandable. Especially for certain kinds of fiction. I think an authors desire is their own and to some degree shouldn't be questioned. However, I've stood in front of kids from 2nd grade to 8th grade at school functions. I've seen the biracial kids wonder where they fit. It's not their fault that they exist, and from their perspective no one celebrates them or their parents's union. I will not tell someone who they should marry or have kids with, but my concern is the kids.

These days about 10% of the kids I run into are biracial. My books don't lean toward any child as being more attractive than another one, unless those characters are the main characters and there needs to be attraction. My goal is for kids to read my books and say "I see myself. There I am." While POCs have been trying to get this point across for a long time, as we build the next generation, I would like to extend a palm leaf toward the kids who are biracial or multi-ethnic as well because technically they are POCs too.

Most people don't like a preoccupation around race/ethnicity (that's usually how it feels to non-poc people). However, I have a question. You point out everyone's race/ethnicity? So you also are clear in saying when someone's Non-POC? I've noticed in a lot of works, people will be clear about every POC, but when it comes down to the generic White person, the white person isn't as heavily described, more things are assumed. Like, the author will state "This person is Japanese. This other person has blonde hair."-- okay what's the blonde haired person, then? Are they African? Are they Russian?

Generally, I do. Everyone gets a race. LOL
Here's a quote from one of my books:

A figure appeared in his gaze. Red and brown hair swayed from side to side. Two green eyes stared at him. The mouth was pulled taut to the side and both tanned hands were on the figure’s hips.
The figure, that his brain registered as a thirteen-year-old white girl, pulled a short rod from her back.


I'm writing to the future and beyond America. If this book ends up in Africa or Asia or India, generally majority populations assume the characters look like themselves. (In India the majority is Indian, not white) I do my best to make sure that people know who the characters are and what they look like. I do get some flack, but honestly if that small bit of information that spans less than a half a page over the course of a 300 page book is enough to stop you reading, then I'd say go find some other books that cater to your ego. My goal is to have books that are fun and inclusive.

I don't like the description of "fair skinned". And I only use "dark" for hair and eyes generally. Dark eyes is dark eyes (brown/black). Dark hair is dark hair (brown/black). Anything else I use a myriad of descriptions (nonfood related, generally): mahogany, oak, tawny, tan, fawn, ochre, russet, terra-cotta, and so forth. I do use "creamy" but it's more to describe how the person feels or how the viewer thinks they feel.
I use a lot of things to describe skin color from pale as a sheet to mahogany to appears like a cup of steaming hot cocoa. I use what I "think" the character would use. I know some POCs don't like food descriptions, and I've read a few articles from bloggers discussing it. However, I use what I think the character would think about. An eleven year old kid is not going to think oh wow his skin was the perfect color of mahogany. They might think, he looks like a cup of hot chocolate with a piece of peppermint melted inside.

I think one of the issues with threads like these and even with books that have POCs is that many times everyone has a different view of what is "good" and "helpful." Like I said I've been "pinged" for saying the character is this race or that.

It it bothers me to this day the backlash over Rue in the Hunger Games, and I feel almost like it was irresponsible of the author to allow this. If she had simply said Rue was black we wouldn't have had an issue. We live in a racially charged environment where POCs want to be considered from the very beginning. So for me, it's okay that a few people don't like it.

I believe everything has to be done with caution and with lots of sensitivity readers (if possible). But like I said earlier, I think its important to me empathetic to other people's struggles and most importantly be true to the character. I do my best to give every character a background, real emotions, and do my best to break stereotypes--even ones for white people.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 03:23:21 AM »
Does someone really only write inside their life experiences? If they do, then they're going to run out of stories pretty quickly.

I tend to take elements of things from my life (various places I've stayed), but it's pretty impossible to stick to just your life experiences.

As a Sci-Fi/Spec Fiction writer, I write outside my own experiences all the time. I've yet to live in a Dystopian city, or in a post-apocalyptic environment, or on another planet. hahaha So I don't think you need to be of the same exact background to write a certain way--what I think you have to do is learn to be empathetic to other people and how they see the world. So far, I have written as several characters and several different races. To my ease, because I'm writing in a different age/time, I'm not limited to cultural norms. In 3095 who is to say that anyone will act the same or have even the same culture.

One thing I try to do, especially because I write a lot of MG and YA is to include biracial children. I had a lady read one of my MG books and was thrilled that the main character was biracial, because that was rare to find--especially because the main character was a boy and was mixed with Asian & White and not Black and White.

So far in my books I have: Blacks, Whites, Latinx (trying to use the word for the first time) (Puerto Rican, Mexican), Indians, Asians (Korean, Japanese, Chinese), and several versions of Biracial characters. Even my "extras" the characters that will come in and say three lines in the whole book, get an ethnicity. In my books the reader never has to assume the race of the character, because I tell them. I've had a few editors who don't like my explicit saying that this character is this race, etc, but I feel like representation is important. I don't like ambiguity and you can't describe race IMO effectively. "Brown skinned and curly haired" could mean so many things. Also what's "fair" or "dark" to some people is totally different than what "fair" or "dark" means to someone else.

13
The real magic, however, is when my three-books-a-month release schedule combines with this strategy.  If every book launches into KDP select, it means I will build back to 18 books within 12 weeks, and by Fall, I will have the ability to put TWO books free from time to time until I get to a 36 title catalog, at which point I can have two books free every day. 

You are the one who's ambitious! But I have both eyes wide open. One day, I think I may be able to get up to 6 maybe 8 books a year. Right now with my job and the shuffle of ideas, I can barely complete 4 books a year. But I'm believing in you Shane.  :D ;D

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you hear your characters speak?
« on: June 08, 2018, 02:43:01 AM »
The worst is when they cross their arms, scowl, and tell you no, they aren't doing what you want them to do.

This.  :P

It's amazing how much power they have.

15
Funny you should mention that!  I did have some success running ads with our trailer through Google/Adwords and targeting YouTube channels geared to the MG/YA audience.  Having worked on animated television before, I recognized pretty quick the long-successful model of merchandise-driven TV commercials during popular shows.  I think with a big enough financial commitment or a long-enough time commitment, a "TV commercial," for an MG book series, as it were, could be very successful.

Actually I'm preparing the same thing. My background is in film. Like I said on another thread, I have a live action book-trailer for my YA series. I also have a short film for my first MG series, and I want to make a live action trailer for my second MG series (which will actually come out first hahaha).

I'm not sure if it'll work, but I love seeing my stuff in live action.  :P

I write, read and love MG fantasy. I'm currently working on the 7th and final book in my series, plus the first book in a new MG series.
I've been writing this series for almost 4 years. For the past two years, I've contemplated giving up.
The past six months have been the worst in dealing with doubt and thoughts of failure. It's been excruciatingly tough to gain traction.

This is why I say we need to come up with a way to cross-promote if possible. Michael Anderle tries to cross-promote with the people in his class/friends. This way even if someone has a few followers they may be "shared" through the MG community, as long as those MG writers write the same genre or very close genres.

I hope you don't give up, but I fully understand. I'm currency writing 3 series at the same time (although nothing is out, my first book was out but I unpublished it to get a better traction in a reboot of the series)

My first series was MG post-apocalyptic sci-fi. I shopped it with agents and figured out that they weren't interested in the concept (after spending $4000 on conferences). I ran into a lady who was doing well with YA to the tune of $350K a year. She convinced me to go indie, but I didn't trust my MG series so I started writing YA. The problem was the tropes were different. But luckily my beta readers helped me to create a decent set of books. Last year, I ran into a guy doing well in MG with small 25K word books. I took a break from my YA series to write 4 quick books in MG (40K words a piece) only to have my readers tell me that I was too epic of a writer and they wanted more. So now I'm taking those four books and lengthening them to 75K words.

So basically I'm sitting on 10 books over 3 series, but no series has 4 perfect books ready to be published. hahaha I am preparing artwork for my MG series that I started last year, so hopefully before the end of the year I can publish it. I try to stay encouraged by those who did well.

Some of the things that seem to work well based on what I've read/learned is quick smaller books 25 to 40k that are funny and have some life items that can be published quickly via Katrina Kahler.
OR Epic Books/Clone Books following a MG Success Story via Victor Kloss (his books solving that magical school need generated from Harry Potter).

None of my books fit that category besides the fact that they are epic sweeping stories.

Dustin Brady has also done well and has recently been picked up by a publisher. So the book need is there as long as the concept works. With my MG, I try to think of the things that would have excited me as a kid and got me to read. All of my books are fast paced with lots of action scenes and a bit of romance. So far none of my betas have DNF'd. So I'm hoping with that as encouragement and the live-action trailers coming, that I'll do okay.

16
Middle grade fiction is the reason a lot of us became authors.  It's just a matter of making the books visible.

One thing I think we as MG authors need to do, especially those of us who do Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-Fi is stick together and help each other. One of the problems with MG is that it's not a Genre, it's an age demographic - primarily kids aged 8 to 14 (depending on the parents and school system for the child). In that MG age group are multiple genres, from Action to Drama to Romance to Comedy. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson have proven there is a lot of money in the Fantasy/Adventure category while books like Wonder have proven money is also in Drama.

Indie MG authors are all over the place. It seems like its difficult to get three authors who write MG to write in the same genre or with the same intensity. For example, many of my readers compare my MG work with YA, but admit there is nothing in the writing that makes it YA. They just rarely see my action style which is extremely intense for MG. Just like you have a book of "Fighting Team of Girls" my current book series does, too. In my series, a boy stumbles on these warrior girls who are living on a distant planet like the Smurfs or something. When the girls first meet the boy (who is the lead) they throw him into a pit of man-eating plants because they believe he will corrupt their society. After that things just get worse with creatures, robots, and other things that are not easily killed but love to kill.

I'm encouraged by Middle Grade books like Redwall, Ranger's Apprentice, and The False Prince (which killed a kid with a bow and arrow in the first couple of chapters).

I checked out your audio clip and trailer on Youtube. The work sounds good. I'm really eager to read how this all turns out.  ;D Since the relaunch, how have your buys been? Have you found better places to advertise? Honestly, I was thinking about just paying YouTube directly to put any ads before people/kids who I thought may want to read the stuff.

17
I'll be watching this thread with interest. I'm a MG/YA author and love MG more than anything. I've seen several success stories for MG, so I believe its possible. But as I said in another thread, I'm not sure how the authors swam/boated/flew to that magical MG Amazon Island Paradise, but I'm willing to dive into the water soon.

I have to MG Series, one a sci-fi/fantasy mix and the other post-apoc sci-fi. Both series are over 6 books and both will be ready to pub soon. So we'll see. I'm eager to read any advice and to watch a few MG indies succeed.  ;D

18
Thank you, this is great actually as I'm starting to get a visualization which was totally lacking before.

And thank you so much to the people who said I was skilled enough to do it myself - sometimes you really need to hear that. I had absolutely no confidence of being able to write this scene, but now I am going to try...

I watched the Sanderson videos and a couple of others I found on youtube. I also read Jim Butcher's blog posts on it, which are inspiring. I might re-watch The Two Towers tonight and try to 'feel' the battle on this scale.

I shall also go and get all the Knights from my kids castle and those hundreds of little plastic soldiers and spend this morning "playing"  ;D

I think finding another author could be great. I'd love to team up with you, except I try to stay away from things like the "anti-christ". But I'd love to just write action scenes for someone and help with world building for a series. This is a perfect chance to collab with someone (other authors, which can expand your reach.)

If you ever get to just vampires and werewolves or orcs (basic non-spiritual stuff), etc I'd love for you to check out a few of my action scenes (I can email them to you) and we could possibly collab.

Good luck!

19
Yes, I've got one for mine. It's modelled on something my publisher sent me at the time, even though they didn't publish this novel.

http://www.spacejock.com.au/HalJuniorNotes.html

If I looked at it now I'd find a dozen things to fix, I'm sure.

Thanks for sharing this. I may make some notes for my upcoming MG sci-fi book series.

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: Cover illustrator for hire!
« on: March 28, 2018, 02:55:47 AM »
Hi Tangmo. You've got some good work here. I think MG and Childrens authors may like what you have more than YA. YA these days tends to use live models, but this is right up the alley for Middle Grade and Childrens. If I hadn't already commissioned work, I'd probably be giving you a call. You may want to change your title to include YA, MG and Childrens to stick out. There are lots of illustrators who do high fantasy and military sci-fi.

Good luck! I'm bookmarking you.  ;D

21
I have nothing to add. My MG series isn't even out yet, but will be out in about 4 months. I'm studying the greats, and I'd suggest you do to. Victor Kloss, Katrina Kahler, and Marcus Emerson.

One thing that might be needed is cross promo with other authors. MG doesn't get a lot of cross promo or cross-writing. The YA and NA set are using that to promote. So authors co-writing books or promoting other books in their acknowledgements. I'd love to find other authors who write Upper-MG, the stuff like Percy Jackson/Harry Potter and maybe work something with them. I'm far too violent to be with books geared to 7 year olds.  ;D

I think there is a huge market for MG, but those doing well seem to sit out on their little islands. It's difficult to understand how they swam out there. :)

22
Awesome. Thanks for posting. Good info for people like me.  :) ;D

23
I'm glad to see this thread and thanks to everyone who has contributed. I have a MG series coming out in a few months and a second one coming out next year. Based on what I learned from some of the success stories, all my books will be between 70 and 80K words. I'm aiming for kids and adults who want to read clean, fun fiction. I'll be taking notes on those who've responded and if I learn anything in the months ahead I'll be sure to post.

Also right now, I've commissioned 4 Book covers, Title Graphics, and I will be paying for editing. So I have real cost for my first four books, but I'm hoping for the best. I've studied for a while and feel like I missed a great chance last year when Victor Kloss was doing great. So I decided to take the plunge while I finished up my YA series.

I wish everyone the best. Sooner or later we'll discover how to get MG to work.  :D ;D

24
Thanks for requesting these. I'm hoping to relaunch my series in a few months which never really got moving. (Lots of people encouraged me to wait until more books were complete.) So I'd love to check out the facebook groups, although I'll admit I don't know how to use them like a regular message board. I pretty much don't like facebook, but I guess I need to learn it.

25
Writers' Cafe / Re: Switching genre to children/YA need advice
« on: February 28, 2018, 12:06:11 AM »
While I have yet to put out a MG book and only have one YA book, I've read about several MG authors who were very successful. They tended to be upper MG (ages 11 to 12) who wrote more epic tales on par with Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Victor Kloss (Royal Institute of Magic) is a great example of this. The one MG (ages 9 to 12) author I know who has had great sales is Marcus Emerson (Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja).

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