Thursday, September 29, 2011

Interview With Dellani Oakes, Author of Lone Wolf

What is your book about?

Lone Wolf is set in the year 3032 when humans have conquered long range space flight and have settled into many parts of this and other galaxies. Hovering in space far from civilization, members of the Mining Guild, Marc Slatterly & Matilda Dulac, wait for their miners to return from the planet they've been working. Unbeknownst to them, one of their miners has harvested Trimagnite, a toxic and volatile liquid ore. Exposure to Trimagnite causes madness and death. Their ship isn't prepared to handle this load.

Enter Wilhelm VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. He is assigned by the Mining Guild Commandant, John Riley, to pick up the ore and carry it back to the Mining Guild home planet. He and Marc have a history, apparently one ending in violence. Despite this, the two men agree to work together with Matilda in order to track down the villainous Commandant Riley before he can wreak havoc on the galaxy.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The characters were in my mind many years ago. The idea for the three main characters of Marc, Wil and Matilda came from a role playing game my husband and I played. I had originally set out with the idea of recording their adventures in game, but that changed almost immediately. The characters took on a life of their own and insisted on telling a different story. What they came up with is far better than what I had initially had in mind.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

As I mentioned above, the idea came from a "Traveler" game we played back in 1982. However, the characters apparently thought that scenario rather lame and came at me with other ideas. I like theirs better.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Matilda is a lot like me in some respects. Her fierce devotion and the way she takes up for those she loves is totally me. Oddly enough, some of the aspects of Wil's personality come from me as well. Mostly, he and Marc mirror aspects of my husband's personality.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Of the three main characters in "Lone Wolf", I love Wil the most. I'm very fond of Marc and Matilda, but Wil stole my heart the minute he walked through the airlock. He's smart, sexy, handsome, wicked and not scared of anything. He always has a contingency plan and he's easily the most paranoid character I've ever created. His paranoia keeps him alive and one step ahead of his enemies. As long as he's lived, that's quite a feat.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think that Caprilla Mayeese, the enormous Fellician warrior is the most unusual and likeable. Fellicians are giant cat people who speak and walk upright. They are almost all mercenaries and fight like no others in the galaxy. Caprilla is the leader of a small group of mercenaries, all Fellicians. He's about eight feet tall, with sleek black fur and penetrating blue eyes. He's got a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. He's also loyal to the death and will gladly kill anyone who gets in his way or threatens his friends.

How long did it take you to write your book?

"Lone Wolf" took a few months to write, but far longer to edit and perfect. It was one of my earliest novels and it took me awhile to get my style down. I didn't really figure out what I was doing until about the fourth book in the series, so each of them requires a lot of perfecting. Now, I can sit down and write a book that's close to finished with the first draft.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I had quite a lot in mind when I started to write, but the characters took me in a totally different direction. I can honestly say that absolutely nothing in "Lone Wolf" was in my mind except for the three main characters. What's on the page came from Wil, Matilda, Marc and the others telling their story in their own way.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

It's hard to research something set so far in the future. Since I created my own worlds and locations, I didn't have to study maps or anything like that. However, in order to get the Mining Guild and Galactic Marine ranks correct, I had to do some research into military rank. Most of my research is done on-line as it's the most easily available. Thank got for the Internet!

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

The characters delineate themselves. I come up with a body for the slot, give it a name and it develops its own personality and characteristics. Even minor characters speak loudly wanting a name and an occupation. Some of these seemingly unimportant people later become major players in the series. One character in particular that comes to mind is introduced in book two, "Shakazhan". I thought Dr. Stanley Savolopis was unimportant, merely a cog in the corporate wheel. By book three, "The Maker", he's a main mover and shaker.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes very easily for me. The ideas come faster than I can get them down, which is why I have so many unfinished stories. I've learned to work on one until the 'muse' grows silent, and move on. I come back and work on each story a little at a time until it's done.

Other stories come to me all at once and I write until I'm finished. One in particular I think of—I'd finished my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project early and got the idea for an entirely different book. I started it Thanksgiving afternoon and finished four days later.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

I greatly dislike killing a character and avoid it if I can. However, there are times when a character must die to advance the plot. The one who upset me the most was a guy named Murdock Pickford. He's in a prequel to my sci-fi series. Murdock is a nice guy. He's kind, capable, loving and forgiving. He's engaged to a woman who's pregnant with another man's baby & he agrees to raise her as his own. He's thrilled about the baby, excited about getting married—and he has to die, horribly, brutally, for the book to move forward. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when I had to kill him off.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I've got a list in the back of one of my notebooks with story ideas that one day I might get to. Let me finish the 54 novels and short stories I've got pending before I take them on. (Gosh, didn't realize it was so many. Kinda sorry I counted them up.)

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Apparently 54, cause that's how many are unfinished.

Have you written any other books?

I have one other published novel, "Indian Summer", also available from Second Wind. "The Lone Wolf" is the first in my sci-fi series. I've written six books in the series so far & am working on a 7th. Finished books not in the series—27 and probably 20 short stories.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My novels are available through my publisher, Second Wind Publishing at "Indian Summer" and "Lone Wolf" are also available at where it can be purchased in paperback or Kindle format. The books are on Smashwords and a variety of other websites.

To find out more about me and my books...

Check out my blogs:

Or look for me on Facebook:


Click here to read an excerpt from: Lone Wolf

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf

Click here for an interview with: Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon lowers Kindle ereader prices and introduces new Kindle ereaders

Amazon has announced 4 new Kindle products, and you'll be happy to see that part of the "new" is a LOWER price. Finally, we have Kindle ereaders for under $100, just as many (including me) have been predicting. And what perfect timing--just in time for early Christmas shoppers.

First, the all new Kindle with wi-fi. It's lighter, smaller and faster. And the price is only $79 US!

Next up is the Kindle Touch with wi-fi and audio. It has a simple touchscreen and is activated by a tap or swipe. Price: $99 US.

The Kindle Touch also comes with wi-fi AND 3G, which works globally with no annual contracts and plays audio and mp3s. Price: $149.00 US.

And lastly, an all new product, the Kindle Fire, a full color multi-touch, multimedia Kindle that plays movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, apps, games, web browsing and more. Price: only $199 US.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More News on the E-book Revolution

Every few months, I like to report on the latest studies on e-books. While many writers have been publishing e-books for four or five years, the industry is still in its infancy and suffering inevitable growing pains. Having said that, according to a recent Harris poll mentioned in, the number of Americans using e-book readers has almost doubled over the past twelve months, up to 15% from 8% this time last year. Furthermore, one in six Americans intends to buy an e-reader within six months.

As I’ve mentioned from earlier studies, people who read e-books, also read more books than print readers. Not surprisingly, they also buy more books as well. In this study, about 17% of book buyers purchased between 11 and 20 books a year, while another 17% purchased 21 or more books a year.

Genre fiction still sells best: crime and thrillers (47%), science fiction (25%), literature (23%), and romance (23%). In non-fiction, the most popular category is biography at 29%, then history (27%) and religion and spirituality (24%). You can find more info at

The latest issue of BC BookWorld Magazine (Vol. 25, No. 3, Autumn 2011) published an interview with Paul Whitney, who is the former chief librarian for the Burnaby Public Library and the Vancouver Public Library. Whitney was hired by the Public Lending Right Commission to investigate the impact of e-books for PLR’s program. Whitney found that trade print sales were down by 19% in the U.S. and that their decline is increasing; however, this decrease isn’t nearly as dramatic in Canada, right now anyway. Whitney does envision that things will become much tougher for bookstores down the road and he foresees many more store closures.

As far as libraries are concerned, print still rules. Only 2% of books borrowed from libraries are e-books, but again this figure will change. One of the problems libraries face, according to Whitney, is that there are simply too many books in the world, and that the tidal wave of new books every year is overwhelming, so the problem is which e-books to purchase?

Many other points were raised in the article (this is one of several articles about e-books and libraries in the autumn issue), but the bottom line is that writers, publishers, and others involved in the publishing industry are worried about the loss of control in a digital future. It’s interesting because if you read blogs by people like Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, and others, the digital world is all about regaining control. Clearly, it depends on your viewpoint and your strategy. If you read last week’s blog about one writer’s clash between traditional and self-publishing, you’ll see another glaring example of control issues. If you’d like to know more about the interview with Whitney, visit the website at I would encourage any Canadian writer to subscribe to this incredibly informative magazine.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kiana Davenport's publishing battle

A few posts ago, Debra Purdy Kong wrote a great post about the battle between Kiana Davenport and her Big 6 publisher over self-publishing other works.

But what does another publishing company think about this situation?

Check out my post over at the Imajin Books Blog:

Name a character in new novel by Noah Baird! (Contest)

Noah Baird, author of Donations to Clarity, needs the name for a female roller derby player. These girls/women love scary names, so let your imagination fly!

He also needs an original rock band name, circa late ‘80s. He wants something so sleazy, so nasty, you’ll want to bathe in Purell and throw your keyboard away.

If you are the winner of the contest, Noah will use your submission in an upcoming book (Unless he comes up with a better idea later on), and he’ll send you an autographed copy of Donations to Clarity.

To submit your names for consideration or for further information, click here: Don’t Read This Buhlog by Noah Baird.

Using Excerpts For Promo

Your book is out, and you need to promote it. Maybe you want to buy an ad, maybe you want to do a giveaway postcard or bookmark, or maybe you're doing a blog book tour. One way to attract readers is to give them a taste of the book--a "try before you buy". You want to give them an excerpt.

If the book is divided into chapters, you have a natural place to start. I have the first chapters of EEL'S REVERENCE and FORCE OF HABIT posted on my web site.

When I visit someone else's blog and he or she or they want an excerpt, I'm most often asked for something much shorter.

Now, even if your book is NOT divided into chapters, it's divided into scenes, and most chapters are divided into sets of scenes. Your scenes are divided into "beats": pieces of scenes in which points are made, information is gained, character or relationships are revealed or shifted.

How many beats or how long a beat you provide depends on your length requirements. You might just want a one-line quote, or a variation of the quote like this "tagline" for FORCE OF HABIT:

All she wanted was a breath of fresh air. Was that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

You might want a beat out of a scene:

"You are aware of the training vessel we operate in conjunction with the Galactic Union Space Troopers? St. Gregory The Wonderworker?"

"The kids call it 'Uncle Gus.'"

"Call what 'Uncle Gus?'"

"The ship. Galactic. Union. Space Troopers. GUS."

"Ah," Mother Hadrian said, as if the sound might pass for a display of interest. "Well. The students aboard are referred there by their teachers. They're the best of the lot."

Sure, they are. That's why they're out there, and you're down here. 

"You have a challenging and rewarding..." Mother Hadrian referred to Bel's contract... "five years ahead of you." She thrust a hand forward, cocked for a blessing.

Bel intercepted it and gave it a bitter shake.

Slain with the jawbone of an ass.

Although every beat of your book should lead from what comes before to what comes after, be scanning your manuscript for more-or-less self-contained bits that can be lifted out and used to tempt potential readers.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Writer's Clash Between Traditional and Self-Publishing

As I cruise through the newsletters I subscribe to, I’m reading an increasing number of negative stories about traditional publishers’ (it always seems to be the large houses) response to the rapidly growing world of self-published e-books. First, I want to say that, for me, this hasn’t been a problem so far, but could it be in the future? I had to stop and think after reading a fascinating, and somewhat disturbing blog by a writer named Kiana Davenport, who reports of a unsettling experience with her traditional publisher. Here’s what happened.

To earn some much needed income, and while waiting for her Big 6 publisher to publish her novel in August 2012, Davenport self-published two collections of short stories. Many of those stories had already appeared in magazines and have nothing to do with the topic of her upcoming novel. The first collection was published before she signed her contract, and the second was published afterward. When the big-6 publisher learned about the self-published books, well, let’s just say things didn’t go well. One of the publisher’s editors phoned her and apparently began yelling at her for breaching her contract, which she maintains she didn’t. The editor also basically accused her of colluding with the enemy, which is Amazon. The editor then demanded that she withdraw this second collection from ALL platforms and remove any reference to the book. She has 600,000 Google hits! As she says in her blog, how does one even do that? Additionally, she must guarantee that she not self-publish anything until her novel has been released in both hard back and paperback. Needless to say, Ms. Davenport has a lawyer handling the matter.

I don’t know the publisher’s side of the story, but what captures my attention is the growing uneasiness between writers and publishers. Not a lot of Big 6 publishers (and others, I imagine) are fond of Amazon, so if you’re doing business with either party, will you be trapped in the middle down the road? Clearly, it’s more important than ever that you understand exactly what the publisher expects from you regarding any e-book and self-publishing ventures. To read more of Ms. Davenport’s blog, go to

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Word on the Street Coming Soon!

Two weeks from today, (Sept. 25th) the annual Word on the Street National Book and Magazine Festival will be happening in cities across Canada. The website indicates that Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax will be participating for a fun day of workshops, panel discussions, musical entertainment, author readings, to name a few. This free event celebrates literacy and the written word in as many forms as possible. Poets and children’s writers have been well represented in the past, as have non-fiction authors, graphic novelists, and so on. WOTS is a fun, upbeat time with lots of great information about local organizations, publications, and educational opportunities on writing and publishing.

I and my colleagues will be manning the Crime Writers of Canada table in “the Village” located around the perimeter of the main Vancouver Public Library on Georgia Street, from 11 to 5 PM. We’ll be handing out cool bookmarks and letting people now about our organization and BC crime writers, and selling books, of course!

I, Robin Spano, Elizabeth Elwood, and Joan Donaldson-Yarmey will also be participating on a panel called De-Mystifying Mystery Writing in the library’s Peter Kaye room from 12 to 1 PM, so if you’re in the area, please stop by!

If you live near one of the WOTS venues, give this event a try! To learn more go to

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Ongoing Dilemma of Ebook Pricing

First, thanks to everyone for posting your thoughtful comments on last week's topic about spamming. I really appreciate it! Now, onto new issues:

Since my first two mysteries, Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption were published three years ago, I’ve been reading lots of internet discussion and articles about ebook pricing. Since that time, I’ve learned two things: the range in book prices is wider than ever and opinions about how much e-books should cost are stronger than ever. Here’s a sample of what I’ve been hearing:

Self-publishers were saying (generally speaking—there are always exceptions) that an unknown author with a new book should charge .99 cents (and sometimes even free) to entice new readers. Well, that worked well for a while and many of my colleagues were selling quite a few copies per month, but the game has changed, partly because of Amazon. Unfortunately, too many indie authors were using amazon’s forums to promote their books on the wrong threads which offended enough readers to launch complaints. So, amazon tightened the rules significantly about where and how much authors can promote.

The other factor is that the enormous number of .99 books has created what some readers/writers now refer to at the “.99 cent ghetto”. What this means is that a .99 cent book is automatically assumed to be self-published and of poor quality. To combat this growing attitude, some authors are raising their prices to $2.99 or even higher. As I write this, these folks are still generating sales, but the experiments I’m following are fairly new, so we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s the other side of the coin. A lower priced book, indie published or not, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as there are plenty of readers looking for new authors and a bargain. In fact, there are many readers who refuse to pay more than $3.00 no matter whose name is on the cover. You can see where the dilemma rises when trying to find the right price point for your own book.

There are also readers who assume, rightly or wrongly, that a book priced at $6.99 or more is a traditionally published book and therefore less prone to the grammar, spelling, and formatting glitches of self-published books and, believe me, this is a common complaint! It’s true that traditional publishers are pricing their books higher partly because they have overhead: hiring professionals to format in different platforms, as well as experienced book jacket designers, and so on. The other reason is that publishers tend to believe that books have value (again, there are probably exceptions). In other words, why should their products be the same price as a pack of gum? Publishing isn’t just about mass market thrillers, but about art, creativity, and thought-provoking, helpful information, for starters. Let’s think about it: how much do we pay to invest two hours of our time at a movie theatre? My last 3D movie (Harry Potter) was $13.50! The price of popcorn cost more expensive than most ebooks! Needless to say, this is a topic that’s ripe for debate.

And then there’s the backlash syndrome. One famous author who’s received his share of great reviews over the years commented that his ebooks were receiving 1-star ratings as a backlash for the book’s high price, which was $16.99, a price set by his publisher. Book piracy is now flourishing partly because people simply refuse to pay that kind of money for a virtual book. Even readers who don’t want anything to do with the .99 cent ghetto might still refuse to pay more than $10 for an ebook. And so, the dilemma rages on. I’ve love to hear your thoughts on this. How much do you charge for your books? How much are you willing to pay for someone else’s? Have you thought about changing your price, up or down, and if so, why?

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo