A Fortune Teller’s Luck now available

The hard copy is now available on createspace here: A Fortune Teller’s Luck for $10.99. It wound up being pricier than I wanted, as most of that is eaten up by printing costs. The e-book will be $4.99.

Here is the preview, where the first chapter is available for download: https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1218176

It’s currently under review on Amazon where the e-book will be $2.99. Once that is up, I will provide a link and also look into paperback versions on there.

Business at Madame Lucy Zharakova’s psychic shop has been struggling all summer, and her love life is non-existent. Despairing and hoping to foresee an end to this streak of bad fortune, she does a Tarot Card reading. She draws the dreaded Tower card, portending disruption and chaos.

Her luck appears to turn around when a distressed, but gorgeous, man arrives in her store. He claims his house is haunted and he desperately needs her help. Though contacting the spirit world can be tricky, it would help cover her mounting bills. She crosses her fingers, hoping this gig will turn into something more.

Unfortunately for her, she’s right …

As co-host to The Debunkers, former magician Thomas Janssen has been sent to expose Lucy’s sleight-of-hand tricks by getting her to conduct a séance in front of hidden cameras. He quickly becomes enchanted with her but cannot risk losing his job. When she learns the truth about him, she inadvertently conjures the very destructive force the Tower Card had warned her about.

Each participant becomes lost in a world where they’re forced to contend with their most deeply-rooted fears. It’s up to Lucy to vanquish it, or face the possibility she is a fraud after all.

Page Count: 246

Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Language: English
Color: Black and White
Related Categories: Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal

Cover for A Fortune Teller’s Luck finally complete

I originally designed a cover that I was never quite satisfied with. While I liked the overall concept, which was based on a flower of life pattern, I was never happy with either the colours or the font. Time for a redesign, I figured, so I re-started from scratch.

I downloaded and modified Tarot card images in the public domain via Wikimedia commons. For the border, I tweaked my own version of one I’d found on Freepik.com.

Since a Tarot card reading was what launched the overall story, I used that as the focal point for the cover. The cards I chose correspond loosely with the progress of the story as well. Originally, I picked the planetary spread more for design purposes than anything else. However as I went through myriad interpretations, the eventual layout fit closely with how the story played out.

Getting the shade of blue I wanted was the biggest challenge, since computer screens rely on RBG for colors and printing of course, is in CYMK. This online conversion tool is handy giving you a preview before wasting paper and ink each time: http://www.rgb2cmyk.org/

I used Gimp, an open source design tool similar to Photoshop. On my YouTube channel, I have saved several instructional videos I found useful.  For vector graphics, I recommend another open source graphics tool called Inkscape. I’m only just learning to use it by fiddling around for now, have had fun making spirograph-type patterns with it.

For various reasons I have chosen to go the self-publishing route for this one. Oddly, according to a post I saw on Twitter, someone was commenting about a ‘mini trend’ in fake psychics, so I shall see if this novel, A Fortune Teller’s Luck, becomes part of it when I send it off into the aether later this week.

front med

Fingers crossed…

My ‘brother’ site

Currently I’m querying this project and while one top agency said it stood out from the rest, I still got the old ‘not right for their list’. The story is the first in a series I’d like to do, though only the first one has been written so far, but I envision as sort of Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones by way of Terry Pratchett. For now the protagonist and his two sidekicks are teenage neophyte wizards at Archon Castle which, as they soon discover, has its share of worldly corruption.

Ivan McRae Writes

A Confession Lost Momentum

Around when I made my last post on here, a call came to my house from some friends of my sister-in-law that she’d been rushed to the hospital. The next day we were consenting to surgery to excise a very large tumor that turned out to be a particularly aggressive form of cancer. That was the first of three things blindsiding my family. I did keep writing, and reading the entire time, but pulled back on the querying or publishing or promotional side for a while. Needed to recharge the batteries, as it were. So I gave myself a year off from that (while finishing projects, mind – always be writing and reading if being a writer is your goal!) and am now looking to self-publish an older project while I query a different one, just to see how it goes.Meanwhile to deal with grief and the loss of the remaining member of his immediate family he got into horse racing and we are now in the midst of purchasing a young gelding, who’s been well-cared for by our trainer. Being out in the country, being around lots of animals, is very good for the soul in a way that it’s easy for an urbanite (mostly urbanite, part of my childhood was rural) like me to forget.

 

Querying update

Needless to say I’m a sloooow queryer. I read about people who put something out there with all guns blazing, pumping out dozens in the space of a week. I’d rather just put out a few at a time and wait for responses to come in before pushing out more. I’ve read of people who send out fifty query letters only to then find that their query letter or opening pages had some flaw that would cause nearly everyone to reject, that possibly could have been fixed a lot earlier.

For now, I’ve had two partials out (so there’s some interest – yay!), have received one form ‘R’ as well, and am waiting to hear back from the rest. The form R I didn’t feel too badly about – while the agent does rep the genre, it seems her tastes are more towards domestic cosies, which isn’t really my style. So it’s just as well. I don’t see landing an agent as taking whoever I can get – I want to work with someone who can sell books, but also likes my stuff.

Of the two partials, one has come back with an ‘r&r’ – revise and resubmit. She didn’t feel it was quite ready, but from all the threads I was lurking on about r&r’s on Absolute Write, it should still be seen as a plus! And something most of the posters had gone through at some point. I do plan to workshop it a little more and am trying out Scribophile. Finding a good critique site can be tricky – some posters go too easy on you, while others are more concerned with their own snark than anything else, or the site itself can be hard to navigate (I have major issues with a lot of sites on one browser, and am not techie enough to fix it).

Doing substantial revisions based on what comes down to one opinion can be risky (especially when the advice is on the vague side and given the subjectivity of writing in general) but I don’t see the harm in giving something one more run-through with readers, etc. if it results in something better.

Querying again

I sent out maybe five query letters last fall for one novel I’ve finished, and heard back from about three. So I’m forcing myself to start following agents on my new twitter account and next will be looking up my password for Agent Query Connect and so on.

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m waiting for – a stock market crash? Mercury to come out of Retrograde? Someone next week on YA Writers in Reddit is going to be critiquing queries, so I’m going to submit it and see what they have to say. I tried #Pitmad on Twitter and got no bites, but each time I clicked ‘refresh’ there where 300-400 new tweets. If I were an agent, I might do a search for something super-specific like “Magic Ponies” or “Werewolf Bartenders” and otherwise …I’d probably only check out whatever my colleagues and friends were favouriting. I can only imagine what their inboxes must look like.

It’s impossible to know what will hook someone even after researching their blog, twitter feed, client list or Goodreads profile, especially when every aspect can’t be included in a 200-word pitch. Especially when you’re one of hundreds. According to some query advice sites, a *really* good query letter should get a 75% request rate, though. While I have no clue whether that’s true or not, some authors do get multiple requests right away, even if no one ends up liking the manuscript. So they’re doing something right that’s eluded me so far. Hopefully I’ll figure it out.

Life as a would-be writer: How to deal with critiques Part Two

One issue that comes up a lot in critique are the various biases and personal tastes or pet peeves people bring to critiquing. It’s hard to help; we all have our ideas about what makes writing good or bad and while some aspects are objective – proper spelling and grammar for example – others vary from person to person.

This is something to pay close attention to for both the person whose work is being critiqued, and the one doing the critiquing.

For those who have gotten some feedback on their work, it helps to familiarise  yourself with the people providing it. Take a look at what other works they’ve commented on. Do they point out the same problems in other people’s works as well? How knowledgeable are they – are they tailoring each comment to the work, or quoting the same line from whatever how to they last read? Do you think their comments on others’ works are valid and insightful or are you secretly hoping the author will ignore everything they say?

If you’re the one providing a critique for someone else, always try to view the work on its own merits and if there’s something you’re not familiar with, leave it for someone else to point out. For example, if you’re unfamiliar with the Fantasy genre and read mostly romance, be wary that there may be tropes or conventions you’re unfamiliar with. Pointing out repetition or confused sentences can still be useful, but posting ‘wtf is a travois?‘ much less so. For those seeking feedback, how familiar that person is with the genre you write in is another thing to consider.

Humour is particularly tricky area. Me, I like sharp wit and satire with the teeth of a shark. Others prefer slapstick or toilet humour. Just because something isn’t to your tastes doesn’t mean no one else will find it funny, or offensive, or just plain dumb. And some people are more tuned in to broader cultural norms than others. Some people get offended by nearly everything, others by nothing, while other people still have a fairly good idea where the boundaries are that most people would consider acceptable within a given context.

Another controversial area is style. So many people love to proffer advice about cutting out ‘useless’ words, especially adverbs and adjectives. However, it’s often those very same ‘useless’ words that wind up making us sound unique. Fiction isn’t essay writing, nor do all writers strive to be Hemingway. While it’s often good to avoid repetition, it can also be a strong literary technique. One Hemingway was fond of using, for that matter. Some people like stripped down to the bone prose, focusing primarily on what happens next, while others like a little purple and don’t mind stopping to admire a sunset even if it involves the dreaded rosy fingers. When someone nitpicks about their use, it is wise to ask yourself if this was an effect you were deliberately trying to achieve, or were you being unintentionally verbose?

If you do find yourself particularly confused about where you are with your writing, you’re best off finding someone who is a skilled writer who ‘gets’ your work. Not everyone will have equally useful or valid advice to offer, but the most helpful are those who know what you’re trying to achieve and can help you get there.