SURPRISE!!! Revised Edition of Stitch Available TODAY!

stitchrevisededitionannouncement

Ok Stitch fans, I have a big announcement that I’m very excited to share… I recently invested a little (a lot of) time in creating a *new and improved* revised edition of Stitch and it’s available… today!!

“Wha-wha-whhaatt…” did you say?  I know, you must have questions, considering I totally snuck this project up on you.  So I went ahead and made a little FAQ that will hopefully clarify everything – read on!

— FAQ’s About Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1) 2016 Revised Edition —

Wait a sec… aren’t you supposed to be writing Stuck??
Why, yes.  Yes I am.  But the thing is, when I release Stuck, I obviously plan to do a huge promotional push to hopefully draw more readers into the series.  And to be frank, the thought of potentially thousands of new readers reading Stitch as it was – and forming their first impressions of me as a writer based on the original version of the book – was making me cringe.  And that icky, knotted-stomach feeling was pervading my enthusiasm for Stuck and for the series as a whole.  So in order to give this trilogy its rightful end, I felt I needed to go back to the beginning and make sure that Book 1 was done to the very best of my ability.

As much affection as I have for the original version of Stitch with all its quirks and flaws, I’ve learned a lot since it was published and have grown a lot as a writer (much of which is thanks to you and all your wonderful – sometimes brutally honest! – feedback, dear readers. I told you I read all the reviews, didn’t I??), and I want the series opener to be the best it can be.  Make sense?

Ok, awesome. So what’s new?
Let’s start with what’s NOT new.  First off, the plot.  Nothing about the storyline, or the characters’ history, or the major plot points have changed.  So if you don’t feel like re-reading it before Stuck releases, that’s no problem at all – you won’t be missing any essential information for the finale and can jump right in when Stuck comes out.

What HAS changed is the storytelling.  It’s faster-paced, more intense, more engaging.  Mostly, there’s less exposition – there’s more showing and less telling, i.e. through flashbacks, conversations between characters, hints in the setting, etc.  So that means… new scenes!  You’ll find LOTS of new interactions between Isaac, Alessa, Janie and the rest of the crew, more of Isaac’s POV, more action, more ROMANCE… and a *bit* less of Alessa blathering on in her head about her feelings or describing inconsequential details of her everyday life (the number one critiques of the original version of the book, which I have to wholeheartedly agree with).

Most of the changes are in the first two thirds of the book, because, well, I pretty much wrote it in the order that it reads – so those early chapters were the first ever chapters of a novel I’d ever written, and I frankly didn’t really know what I was doing.  But as many readers commented, the book really picked up after the twist and I felt I really hit my stride by the climax, so there’s not too much different towards the end.  (And just in case you were wondering, I have NO plans to make any changes to Shudder.)

I want it!! How do I know what version I have?
Check out the copyright page (two pages after the cover). If it says “Copyright © 2012 Samantha Durante” it’s the original.  If it says “Second Edition, Revised 2016. Copyright © 2012, 2016 Samantha Durante” you’ve got the revised version!

Argh, I’ve still got the old one – how do I get my revised edition??
If you bought a Kindle copy: Log in to your account on Amazon.com and go to the Manage Your Content & Devices page – find Stitch and click the “Update Available” button.  (Note that you will lose any existing notes/highlights!!)

If you bought a paperback copy: All paperback copies have been sold through Amazon, and Amazon has a great feature where I can make a discounted Kindle version available to owners of the print version.  So guess what – I made it free!!  Just log in to your account on Amazon.com, go here, and download your free updated Kindle copy.

If you bought an e-book from B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, or elsewhere: Stitch is exclusive to Amazon for the next few months (more on that in an upcoming post), so you won’t be able to get the update until around March-ish (sorry!).  And to be totally honest, I’m not really sure how updates work at these other vendors…  Worst case, if you can’t get the update from wherever you bought it (or just don’t feel like waiting), just email me and I’ll send you a copy!

If you won a free print or e-book copy, or received a free copy for review purposes: Email me and I’ll send you a free updated e-book copy!  (Honor system!!)

Ok, I’m re-reading Stitch… Now what’s up with Stuck???
FINALLY – I’m writing it!  For reals!!  Sneak peek coming soon!  And I’ve even got some super sweet revised cover art…  More on the cover reveal coming as soon as I feel confident enough to announce an official release date, hopefully in the next few months!

As always, thank you again readers for all of your support and enthusiasm, for giving me the confidence to keep writing, the courage to make hard choices, and the chutzpah to admit when I haven’t done my best.  I’m really proud of the new and improved Stitch, and I hope you love it too!

PS – Celebratory GIVEAWAY coming soon with some really awesome prizes!!!  Check back here in the next couple days for details, or sign up on the mailing list here to get a notification (I only send 1-4 emails a year tops, promise).

Available NOW: “What Tomorrow May Bring” Box Set

What Tomorrow May Bring is officially available at Amazon!  For just $2.99, get 10 highly-rated full-length YA dystopian books (including Stitch!) straight to your Kindle.  This box set is only going to be available for a limited time run, so don’t wait or you might miss out on this incredible deal!

More information about the release:

Tomorrow becomes today.
What will it bring?

Our potential for good is matched by that of destruction. At any moment, change can fall on the world, people fight and die, and our comfortable lives can be lost to corrupt leaders. These are circumstances we can’t imagine, but places like this exist in the world today. 

What if tomorrow brings that grave reality to us, and we wake to find our lives in flux, poverty and confusion? Perhaps humanity’s insatiable appetites drive us to the brink of survival where sanity is redefined and life, as we know it, changes forever. 

Tomorrow, our lives could be very dark. 

Dystopian tales take us to these lightless places where suffering is a daily chore. But they also show us that in the deepest part of the night, pitched against a backdrop of despair, a beam of hope will shine brighter than ever before. And in our darkest moments, it can show us the way back.

On May 1

Follow 11 authors into 11 dystopian tomorrows, where the dark portions of our humanity have taken hold of today, where the fabric of society is torn and greed consumes us all. Follow us down a dark path. And find out what tomorrow may bring.  Just $2.99 on Kindle!

What Tomorrow May Bring, featuring:
Open Minds, Susan Kaye Quinn
The Moon Dwellers, David Estes
Prison Nation, Jenni Merritt
Daynight, Megan Thomason
Stitch, Samantha Durante
The Annihilation of Foreverland, Tony Bertauski
The Girls from Alcyone, Cary Caffrey
The Narrowing Path, David J. Normoyle
The Rain, Joseph A. 
Virulent: The Release, Shelbi Wescott
External Forces, Deborah Rix

Get your copy: Just $2.99 on Kindle

Get updates on some incredible
upcoming promotions (lots of giveaways!):

Sign up for the What Tomorrow May Bring newsletter!
and/or
Like the What Tomorrow May Bring Facebook page!

Update: Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3) Release

Dear Readers,

I know you have been patiently waiting for an announcement about the Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3) release date, and I cannot even begin to express how much it means to me that you are so invested in this series.  You guys are truly amazing, and I am incredibly lucky to have so many enthusiastic and dedicated readers.  And so, it is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to postpone the release of the book.

As many of you may have heard, I suffered an incredibly difficult personal trauma in October, the ramifications of which are still shaping every moment of my existence.  When I announced an expected 2014 release date for Stuck last year, I never in my wildest dreams (nightmares) imagined that 2014 would be spent piecing my life back together after burying my only child.  My most fundamental beliefs – about the way the world works, about the nature of God, about what I have been put on this earth to do – have been irrevocably altered. In light of everything I am struggling to comprehend, I simply cannot fathom giving this trilogy the conclusion it deserves at this point in time.

As you know, my books are not a “light” read – they are complex, and they require deep and critical thought to construct.  I just do not have the capacity to handle it right now.  For the past several months, I kept thinking that I would wake up one day soon and that writing this book would feel like a relief, but instead, it continues to feel like an unbearable weight.  The thought of taking on a project of this magnitude at this point just makes me want to dig a hole next to my daughter’s grave, climb in, and pull the dirt back over myself.  If you have never grieved like this (as I hadn’t before now), I know it seems unthinkable, but even almost seven months out and with the best support anyone could ask for, I am still in survival mode; it’s all I can do just to make it through each day. Sure, I look like I’m functioning from the outside – I’m able to feed and dress myself, and to not pass the entire day in tears, so I guess that’s progress from where I was at a few months ago.  But I am not “better.”  I cannot just go on with my life as if nothing has happened.

I was supposed to be writing this book during the happiest time of my life, with my beautiful baby girl on my hip, at the culmination of all my most wonderful dreams.  Instead, I am living a technicolor nightmare, my days full but empty, my home peaceful but barren, my heart filled with love but shattered to pieces.  I know it seems that writing would offer me an “escape,” but the truth of the matter is that there simply is no escaping this sorrow.  Writing has always been a joy for me; right now it feels like a chore, and a betrayal.  And I really don’t want to lose my love of writing to this tragedy, too.

So, I’ve decided to officially postpone the release of the book.  I’m not going to lie – I don’t know when I’m going to finish it.  I’m still hopeful that it will be soon, perhaps next year, maybe the year after. Or who knows, maybe as soon as I hit “publish” on this post the weight of expectations will lift and I’ll feel ready to begin. Either way, I just want to be honest with you, my faithful readers: I just don’t know.  But once I have anything definitive to report, I promise you will be the first to hear.

Thank you again for all of your understanding and support.

Sincerely,
Samantha

PS – In the meantime, check out the What Tomorrow May Bring anthology which includes Stitch as one of 10 highly-rated full-length YA dystopian reads for only $2.99, releasing May 1st on Kindle.

Announcing: The YA Dystopian Box Set “What Tomorrow May Bring”

I’m very excited to announce that Stitch is one of 10 great full-length YA dystopian books (+ one thrilling excerpt!) in the brand new anthology What Tomorrow May Bring, available tomorrow (May 1st) on Kindle for only $2.99.  YES, you heard me – 10 highly-rated dystopian books for $2.99!

Here’s some more info on the release:

Tomorrow becomes today.
What will it bring?

Our potential for good is matched by that of destruction. At any moment, change can fall on the world, people fight and die, and our comfortable lives can be lost to corrupt leaders. These are circumstances we can’t imagine, but places like this exist in the world today. 

What if tomorrow brings that grave reality to us, and we wake to find our lives in flux, poverty and confusion? Perhaps humanity’s insatiable appetites drive us to the brink of survival where sanity is redefined and life, as we know it, changes forever. 

Tomorrow, our lives could be very dark. 

Dystopian tales take us to these lightless places where suffering is a daily chore. But they also show us that in the deepest part of the night, pitched against a backdrop of despair, a beam of hope will shine brighter than ever before. And in our darkest moments, it can show us the way back.

On May 1

Follow 11 authors into 11 dystopian tomorrows, where the dark portions of our humanity have taken hold of today, where the fabric of society is torn and greed consumes us all. Follow us down a dark path.And find out what tomorrow may bring.

What Tomorrow May Bring, featuring:
Open Minds, Susan Kaye Quinn
The Moon Dwellers, David Estes
Prison Nation, Jenni Merritt
Daynight, Megan Thomason
Stitch, Samantha Durante
The Annihilation of Foreverland, Tony Bertauski
The Girls from Alcyone, Cary Caffrey
The Narrowing Path, David J. Normoyle
The Rain, Joseph A. 
Virulent: The Release, Shelbi Wescott
External Forces, Deborah Rix

Get updates on the release and some incredible
upcoming promotions (lots of giveaways!):

Sign up for the What Tomorrow May Bring newsletter!
and/or
Like the What Tomorrow May Bring Facebook page!

I’ll post links tomorrow once it’s available for sale.  :-)  Happy reading!

Guest Post: “Book Pirates: Not the ‘Arrrgh’ Kind” + Alessa/Isaac Interview, Review & Giveaway!

Nomi's Paranormal PalaceSome awesome new content up today on the Shudder Blog Tour, including an interview with Alessa and Isaac over at Nomi’s Paranormal Palace (plus an excellent review) and a guest post titled “Book Pirates: Not the ‘Arrrgh’ Kind” (plus giveaway & excerpt) at Reading Between the Wines!  Here’s a sneak preview:

From the Alessa/Isaac interview:

Naomi: Hi Alessa and Isaac! Welcome to my Paranormal Palace!!
Alessa: We’re very excited to be here!
Isaac: Thanks so much for having us, Naomi!

Naomi: The pleasure is mine, I assure you! Alright, let’s get straight into the nitty gritty. How are you both adjusting to life now that you are out of the spotlight, not that you realised that you were being filmed before…
A: (big sigh) It’s a relief!  It was SO difficult during Stitch once I realized what was going on.  Can you imagine getting dressed or going to the bathroom knowing there are thousands of people watching you??  It was horrifying.
I: Yeah, we were definitely happy to get some alone time in Shudder.  (gives Alessa a wink)
A: (laughs and elbows Isaac) <continue reading>

From the guest post:

I have a confession to make: at one time in my life, I was a pirate.

No, silly, not the swashbuckling “arrrgh” kind – the digital media stealing kind, of course.  Though I’m proud to say I’ve since reformed my unscrupulous ways and now purchase all of my music and streaming TV legally, in my past life as an internet scalawag I probably acquired upwards of 1000 songs and watched at least 10 or so seasons of some of my favorite shows through shady online “sharing” sites.

I still vividly remember the day in high school when one of my friends introduced me to Napster. The first song I ever downloaded was “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger, and the experience changed my life.  I never looked back (well, until I graduated college and had a job and realized that a) I could afford to pay for stuff and b) it actually made me feel better to do so, since I would never under any other circumstances condone stealing and I was tired of being a hypocrite).

So I get it.  Really, I do.  Why pay for something you can get for free? <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Naomi and Crystal for hosting today!!

Thanks to my family/friends for the Surprise Shudder Launch Party!

So, yesterday was a busy day.  I worked from about 6:30 am to 3 pm straight gearing up for the release and getting all the promotional work in place, updating links all over the internet to Shudder’s Amazon pages, sending out review copies to bloggers with upcoming dates, etc.  By the time the afternoon rolled around I was wiped, but my husband (Deep) had suggested earlier in the week that we go out for dinner to celebrate the release and I’d been craving hibachi for a while (pregnancy), so after taking a break outside for an hour to enjoy the sunshine, I sucked it up and showered and we went out for dinner.

Turned out the restaurant could only accommodate us for a 5:30 reservation, which normally I’m down with since I’m pretty much constantly hungry these days, but yesterday it was a problem.  You see, with all the book stuff going on and my work being especially busy, we haven’t had a single moment to go look at any stuff to put on the baby registry.  I’ve done some research online and read lots of product reviews, but there are just so many options and so many things to pick, the whole thing has really just been stressing me out.  So we’d planned to spend an hour before dinner just walking around the nearby Toys R Us so we could see some stuff in person and maybe knock some items off our list.

But we were running late to begin with since I needed a few minutes to decompress before I got ready to leave the house, and then the reservation got changed to 5:30, and then we roll up to the Toys R Us only to discover that it has moved and my stupid GPS won’t connect to the satellite and it then takes us 10 minutes of driving in circles to find the new Toys R Us location.  And then we pull into this massive 8 story parking garage and go to Level 3 where Toys R Us is supposed to be, yet we circle and circle and all it says everywhere is “Entrance to Shop Rite” and meanwhile the clock is ticking down and we now have like 30 minutes until our dinner reservation, and I know that there are going to be like 150 different stroller models to try to look at in that time and that we probably won’t have another chance to do this for weeks and now we can’t even figure out where to park or how to get into the store or how to pay for parking, and I just lost it.

I started bawling hysterically in the car while my husband looked on in horror, and I refused to get out and go into Toys R Us.  I just couldn’t deal with the prospect of cramming what should be at least an hour-long purchase decision into 15 minutes before we needed to walk to the restaurant, I couldn’t deal with the glaring fluorescent lights accenting my red eyes and puffy nose to every other shopper in the store, and I couldn’t deal with figuring out the F-ing parking pay machine and how to navigate our way out of the monstrosity of a parking structure we were trapped in without even a single sign pointing the way to our destination.  I was done.

This was supposed to have been a good day and an evening of celebration, and instead I was exhausted, and stressed, and miserable.  I just wanted to cram my already swollen belly with fried rice and go home.

But Deep, being ever understanding and patient, just gave me a few minutes to cry it out and then encouraged me to please just come walk through the store on our way to the restaurant, and assured me it was okay if we were late to dinner as they’d just have to accommodate us whenever we decided to show up.  So after destroying a few tissues and brushing my hair into my face to hide my red-rimmed eyes as best I could, we went into Toys R Us.

And it actually ended up being a pretty productive 25-minute jaunt, where we settled almost immediately on the only stroller (out of 150) in the store that wasn’t either a ginormous unwieldy tank or a flimsy little collection of sticks on wheels like I used to push my Water Baby doll around in as a kid.  (In case you’re curious, it’s the Baby Jogger City Mini, which is extremely highly reviewed, and for good reason – that thing folds and unfolds like a pro, and it weighs – and costs – half of what all the other fancy strollers do.)  In addition, we significantly narrowed down our car seat selection and I was able to confirm that the crib that I’d originally settled on and then decided against since it wasn’t awesome enough indeed was not awesome enough.  So overall, a worthwhile trip.

And then we had a nice dinner, which we showed up to maybe 5-10 minutes late and it wasn’t a problem.  I ate all of my rice and half of Deep’s, not mention the rest of the shrimp, scallops, vegetables, bean sprouts, soup, salad, and ice cream they put on my plate.  (Did I mention I love hibachi and that I’m pregnant?)  And all together it was a nice dinner, until I stood up to leave and felt nauseous for about 30 seconds, and then when the nausea went away I just felt wiped.

So we’re on our way home, and despite needing to be home by 7 to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, my husband is driving up the highway like an old biddy who can’t see over the steering wheel.  He mentions something about wanting to be home, and I literally reply, “Well, we’d get there sooner if you would drive faster than 50 miles an hour…”  And then we finally get to our exit, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to do all night so I don’t sit here and incessantly refresh my browser on my Amazon page to see how Shudder is doing (since let’s face it, no one’s buying books on a Saturday night – lesson learned for next launch) while he’s dominating the TV with this hockey game for the next three hours.  I’m too tired to even consider picking up another baby book – just the thought of holding 2-lbs of paper on my lap makes me want to cry again – and then I realize I have an episode of Rookie Blue DVR’d, which of course I’d need control of the TV to watch.

So I very gently ask if this is Game 7 or something, to gauge if maybe I can sneak 40 minutes of gripping Canadian TV drama somewhere in between hockey periods so I at least have something to look forward to all night.  And Deep replies that it’s only Game 2, so sure, he can watch the beginning of the game on the computer.  And then I’m wondering why the hell he even wants to watch this game, since he’s not a fan of either of the teams playing and it’s not like Game 2 is an important game or anything… but I just let it go, b/c I’m too tired to care.

And then we pull onto our street (which is only about wide enough for 1.5 cars to fit onto to begin with), and there are a whole ton of cars parked on the side of the road, and for some reason most of them are directly in front of our house.  And at this point you would think I realize something’s up, but instead my thought is (and I blame this on the pregnancy), “Why the hell would our neighbors let their guests park in front of our house when we have the smallest driveway and property on the block??”

And it’s not until we go to pull into the driveway and I see my dad standing there directing my father-in-law into a spot and notice my aunt’s bright blue SUV and then my ENTIRE family and all my close friends come sneaking around the corner of the house that I finally realize that I’ve been duped.  They’d been planning a surprise Shudder Launch Party all along, and I TOTALLY did not see it coming.

I heart ice cream cake!

I heart ice cream cake!

So after a long, stressful, and mildly depressing day, I got to cap off the night surrounded by all my favorite people in the world (except my brother Mikey, who was stuck milking cows at his farm apprenticeship a few hours away, my grandma, who was apparently livid that she was on vacation for this, and my brother-in-law Sujoy who is also away on a grand adventure), eating Shudder ice cream cake (the only kind of cake I like), and wearing a cute little Shudder button.  :-)

It was amazing.  My husband (who planned the whole thing) is amazing.  My family is amazing.  And I am so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive group of people, both in terms of my family and friends, and all of the wonderful readers and fans and fellow authors who’ve helped to make the series a success.  Thank you guys so much for everything.  I love you all.

Buttons from the Shudder Surprise Launch Party

Shudder LAUNCH & Blog Tour Kick-Off, Woo-Hoo!!

Shudder is here!  Get your copy today!BIG day today, ladies and gents!  :-D  First off, I’m SUPER excited to announce that Shudder is FINALLY here!  <Happy Dance!>

Here’s where you can grab your copy:

  • Amazon: Kindle ($2.99) or print ($9.49) formats
  • Smashwords: all other e-book formats ($2.99)
  • Coming soon to B&N Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. in e-book format, expected by early July

(And for anyone you know who hasn’t read Stitch yet, it’s available in all the same places for just $0.99!)

To celebrate Shudder’s arrival, today we’re also kicking off an EPIC 12-week Blog Tour running from now until September 1st with 150+ stops at amazing blogs featuring reviews, author/character interviews, guest posts, excerpts, and lots and lots of giveaways!  Check out the full schedule here.

Shudder Blog Tour - June 15th to Sept 1st

About the Tour

To give you a quick rundown, the first two weeks are being host by my buddy Laurynne over at CBL Tours, and she’s got a blitz of blogs lined up between now and the end of the month.  All of the blogs participating through CBL will be hosting a MASSIVE giveaway for one grand prize winner of the Stitch & Shudder Prize Pack (open to US+Int’l) featuring:

  • Signed Print Copies of Stitch & Shudder
  • Ebook Copies of Stitch & Shudder for 5 of Your Friends (signed via Authorgraph!)
  • $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • Signed Stitch Litograph Poster (includes full text of the book in tiny print!)
  • Signed Shudder & Stitch Bookmarks

There’s tons of ways to enter every day and the giveaway is open through early July, so swing by any of the CBL Tour Host blogs for your chance to win!

After that, we’ll have 8 more weeks of blog tour goodness featuring many of your favorite stops from last year’s Stitch Blog Tour plus a bunch of new blogger friends that I’m excited to introduce to you!  Many of these stops will be featuring smaller giveaways of their own (which means better chances to win!), along with TONS of great extra content from guest posts and character visits to author interviews and excerpts.

And closing out the tour in late August will be a super-fun interactive two-week activity hosted by the amazing Laura of Prism Tours!  More details coming on this later in the tour.

So how do you make sure you don’t miss any of the action?  Follow along all summer long through the following links to my and/or Stitch Trilogy‘s Facebook pages (remember to select “Show in Newsfeed”), my Twitter account, or the blog RSS.  I’ll be posting near-daily to update you on all the latest happenings.  :-)

Today on the Tour

Whew, so now that we’ve got the background out of the way, let’s get this thing rolling!  To start you off today, we’ve got one great stop at Joana In The Sky With Books!  (No CBL bloggers today, so you’ll have to wait until next week to enter that big giveaway, sorry!)

Joana In The Sky With Books is featuring an excellent 4 star review and an awesome author interview!  Here’s a preview:

From the review:

“This one definitely moves at a faster pace than the last one and it’s more action packed as well. … this series is great both for lovers of dystopian fiction and for people who, like me, had never ventured into the genre.  All the other elements from other genres (paranormal, sci-fi, even a little horror) make this book absolutely unique!”

 

From the interview:

Is there any character in the trilogy based on someone you know in person?

Actually, almost EVERY character in the trilogy is based on someone I know, or more likely a combination of people I know.  Alessa is a lot like me, for better or for worse, and Janie is a combo of a bunch of my good friends (Joan’s good sense and keen observation, Vanessa’s bubbliness and charisma, Diane’s courage and undying loyalty, amongst others).  Certain aspects of Isaac were drawn from my husband (his analytical-mindedness and just overwhelming kindness and thoughtfulness), and the Engineers (the bad guys) are based on a variety of people I’ve met and disliked over the years…

Plenty more at Joana In The Sky With Books!  Thanks so much to Joana for kicking off the tour this weekend!  Check back Monday for more great stops and plenty more tour excitement.  :-)

One More Announcement…

Now that Shudder is released and includes a sneak preview chapter from the final book in the series, it looks like the cat’s out of the bag… In case you were curious, the title of the third and final installment in the Stitch Trilogy is Stuck.

But no cover yet!  If you want to check that out, you’ll have to grab a copy of Shudder and see for yourself in the back of the book.  :-)  (But DON’T peek at it until you’ve read through Shudder, otherwise you’ll spoil the ending of Book 2!  You’ve been warned!!  Seriously.  Don’t do it.  Trust me.)  Happy Reading!!!

Pre-Release Jitters – Guest Post @ Reutreads

ReutreadsEver wonder what goes through an author’s mind leading up to the release of his/her book?  Well, it’s not pretty – basic a chaotic jumble of anxiety, stress, self-doubt, and of course the ever-present hopeful glimmer of excitement that drive an author to put him/herself through this process, again and again.

In a new guest post up today at Reutreads, I’m offering a glimpse into the handful of things that are keeping me awake in these nights leading up to Shudder’s release.  Here’s a quick preview:

1. How do I make my book NOT SUCK?

Okay, I’ll be straight with you – I don’t think the current draft of my next book sucks. I actually think it’s pretty good. But I thought that about my last book, too, up until the day I released it, and then almost immediately after I realized that I hated it. And then I loved it again, and then I hated it, and so on and so forth, until one day I finally saw it for what it actually was: a book – and a pretty decent book at that – but one that, like most books, has its flaws.

So what I learned after my experience with Stitch is that it’s really not for many months after the book has been released that I can actually see it clearly. The problem is that in order to make the book the best it can be, I need to know what’s wrong with it before I publish it.

I’m still not quite sure how to accomplish this, but I can promise you one thing – I’m TRYING. Really, really hard. I’m thinking about my book constantly, before I fall asleep at night and first thing when I wake up in the morning, in the shower, while I’m cooking, when I’m supposed to be doing my day job… it’s always on my mind. Where are the problems and how do I fix them?

LOTS more neuroses where that came from!!  Lol.  Check out the rest of the post over at Reutreads today for more.  :-)

Big thanks to Reut for making time in her busy school schedule to host me!

Triaging Book Bugs: What the World of Software Taught Me About Publishing

So, the blog tour planning is going PHENOMENALLY, but there’s one hitch that’s got me a little worried: book bugs.

Okay, I might have just made that term up, but this is what happens when a software engineer transitions into an author!  As some of you may know, before I decided to pursue writing full time, I worked at Microsoft for three years.  More specifically, I was a Program Manager, which basically meant that I did a variety of things including designing and documenting feature behavior, managing the project schedule, occasionally prototyping features, running beta programs and interacting with customers to get their feedback, that sort of thing.

As the release cycle progressed towards “ship it” (the day we launched the product out into the world), one aspect of my job that became more and more important was triage.  “What’s triage?” you may ask.  “Isn’t that what happens in war when the field medical staff need to decide which patients to treat and which to let die?”  Why yes, it is.  And in software, this is the term we use to decide which “bugs” (also known as “defects” or “things in the product not working like they’re supposed to”) we’re going to fix and which we’re not.  The idea is that, like in war, we have limited time and resources to address the “wounds,” if you will, in the product and there’s no way we can ever fix everything, so we need to decide which issues are most important to treat now and which we’re going to have to let go.

(As an aside, for anyone not familiar with the software world, for some reason there’s a lot of borrowing of intense/violent terms.  For example, “scrum” is what we call a daily 15-min team meeting where everyone gives a status report, or “war room” is what the meeting where the triage decisions are made is often called.  I have no idea where this came from, but my best guess is that it’s a guy thing – software is still a male-dominated world, and I guess with all that testosterone floating around everyone feels the need to be macho even though they’re hunched over a computer drinking Mountain Dew all day.  As a former rugby player, I can promise you that an actual scrum is FAR more painful than a 15 min status meeting, mmkay?)

So anyway, back to triage.  In order to triage, you have to prioritize, which is something I’m actually quite good at.  Working with my development and test leads, we would establish a scale to rate bugs from Pri-0 to Pri-3 or -4, where P0 bugs were absolutely MUST FIX (for example, if you click a certain prominent button, the program will crash) and as you went down the scale the bugs became less serious (e.g., a P3 might be something like a misspelled word which most people wouldn’t notice, or a P4 is a nice-to-have like this-button-was-supposed-to-be-a-different-color-and-we-forgot-to-change-it, but it really doesn’t make a difference to the functionality of the product).

The problem with this clever prioritization system was that it meant that sometimes things DIDN’T get fixed, if we were getting close to release and they weren’t important enough.  You see, there is inherent risk anytime you touch the code – no matter how careful you are, you just might slip one key on your keyboard and break the entire thing, or worse, introduce an insidiously hidden new bug without even realizing it.  For that reason, the closer we got to release, the more strict we became with what would constitute a valid reason for changing the code, and a lot of bugs ended up getting punted (i.e., put off until the beginning of next release) as a result.

Being a perfectionist, this drove me nuts.  B/c of course I wanted the damn thing to be perfect before we released it to 70 million people! (Or whatever – Microsoft sells a lot of software, don’t ask me how much.)  But you can’t fix every bug.  You just can’t.  And the thought of shipping a product that I know there are issues in just makes me want to scratch my eyes out.

And so these two parts of myself – the good prioritizer and the vehement perfectionist – were constantly at war inside myself during triage.  Throw in a little willingness to take risks (i.e., in being willing to risk the possibility of a bug in order to fix a known one) – which I also have in abundance – and you can see how this was a relentless internal struggle.

The good thing, though, was that I always had talented dev/test leads and managers around me to temper my perfection-seeking, risk-taking tendencies, and so in the end, prudence always won out.  Actually, as far as I can remember, I don’t think we ever did manage to introduce any major bugs close to release.  I worked with very disciplined, smart people.  Good job guys.

B/c now that I am doing this on my own – with the “bugs” in my book – it’s quite apparent what happens when I am left to my own devices… I break EVERY RULE in the book!  In fact, with Stitch I found myself fixing P4 bugs (like changing a “she had” to a “she’d” even though probably no one else who reads the book would EVER notice that it made the sentence flow better) LITERALLY 2 HOURS BEFORE RELEASE.  This is very bad.  Very, very bad.  BAD SAM!  BAD!

But even though I knew as I was doing it that I shouldn’t, I just couldn’t help myself.  And unfortunately, Gio (my cat) while fantastic at many things – like sleeping and begging for food and generally being adorable and sweet – is terrible at watching what I am doing on my computer and making sure I’m not doing anything stupid, considering that he can’t read all that well (yet!).

So now that the blog tour is all set, and my book has been shipped out to 50+ people who hold in their hands the ability to influence the opinions of potentially THOUSANDS of other people, I’m just praying to God that I didn’t F anything up.  So we’ll see how it goes.

The good news, though, is that since I’m self-published and my book is distributed electronically and as print-on-demand, at least if I DO find anything, I can fix it up real quick and re-publish, and within 48 hours anyone new who gets the book will no longer have that bug.  In fact, I did find one issue in my e-book version about 24 hours after publishing (which I was relieved to find had at least been there since WELL before my undisciplined last-minute editing), so I fixed it up and was able to easily re-publish.   But that still means that there are a handful of people out there with an end-quote missing at the close of their dialog, and that knowledge eats at my soul.

So here’s hoping that I don’t find any more typos or missing words or obscure grammatical errors!  Because you know if I do, I’m going to have a hard time leaving them alone…

Stitch Reaches #68 on Amazon’s 4-for-3 Sci-Fi Books

As of around midnight last night, Stitch has climbed to #68 on Amazon’s Top 100 4-for-3 Science Fiction (General) books and it’s holding steady this morning!

Not sure how long this will last, so I wanted to document it while I could!

Again, huge thanks to everyone who purchased/reviewed the book yesterday – I’m sure that has a LOT to do with these rankings.  I am SO grateful for all of the support!