Boy, Do I Need Your Help!

Writing books? Easy!

Editing? Sucks, but Easy!

Publishing? Easy!

Getting people to take notice when it’s all been done? HARD!

MHRsmallMy second novel, Many Hidden Rooms, was released last Saturday, and, man oh man, did I tell everyone about it! I posted it on this blog, on my website, on Twitter, on Facebook. I even took the plunge and boosted me FB release post to reach beyond my friends and followers.

But all of those outlets are limited by the number of people who are reached by those posts. I have a lot of friends, but I need to get way beyond just them in order to start really selling books.

And that is where all of you come into play. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, or maybe even if you haven’t, but can relate to the woes of a struggling indie writer, would you consider lending a hand?

All I’m asking is that people share the news about MHR and my other two books, A Dark Clock and Welcome Home with YOUR friends and followers. It can be as easy as reblogging this post or clicking “Share” on a Facebook post. There’s plenty of them on my S.J. Varengo-Author FB page. If you’re not yet following that, take a moment to do so, then start sharing.

 

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Actual image of an Indie Author.

I know not everyone is into high fantasy, and that’s cool. But I know that a lot of people do enjoy this genre, and you might even know some folks who do. (And Welcome Home is actually a collection of short fiction, for those who might still like to check  out my work but get the heeby-jeebies at the thought of reading fantasy – which sadly today most people think of as vampire stories and/or that kid from Hogwarts and won’t even give a second look, thereby missing many well written, engaging books filled with wonderful characters and amazing settings.

 

As a writer, I know the importance of word-of-mouth, and when my author friends publish something new, I always go as far as I can to let more people know about their work. Obviously, the same limitations that hold my progress back mean that I’m not adding thousands of names to their list of readers, but I’m adding some. And that’s all I’m asking of anyone who might read this post.

Believe me, I will appreciate, and reciprocate!

Here are some key links that will help get the news out there. Feel free to copy any and all:

S.J. Varengo – Author (This Blog)

S.J. Varengo – Author (My Website)

S.J. Varengo – Author (Facebook page)

Mailing List Signup Page

Amazon Author’s Page

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Many Hidden Rooms is Released!

 

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Using age progression technology…

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Cristy Varengo, my brother. I chose this day to release the second book in the Cerah of Quadar series to honor him, (he is mentioned first on the dedication page). We lost Cris in 2014, and I have missed him every day since. I just went through all my available photos and realized I do not have a decent one of him, but I did find one that looks a lot like how I assume he’d look today on his birthday. (And if you think this is insensitive, you didn’t know Cris. Believe me, he’s in heaven sitting with Jimi, laughing his butt off right now).

 

 

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Keep your collection current!

But back to our headline topic. Many Hidden Rooms is now available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions. If you read A Dark Clock, book one of the series, then you’re going to want to get your hands on book two as soon as you can, because I left you hanging mercilessly.

 

If you didn’t read A Dark Clock, now would be the perfect time to do so. How else can you face your friends and family? They’re all sitting around the dinner table discussing the book. What are you going to do? Try to fake your way through the conversation. Don’t embarrass yourself!

And of course, the best place to find all of my books is by clicking the “Purchase Books” tab at the top of this page, (or the link right here if you’re having a lazy day and don’t feel like scrolling all the way to the top of the page!

So, to summarize: Happy Birthday, Cris, and Happy Reading, everyone else!

Out Of The Blue

I have indicated in the past that I’m a bit of a “fly by the seat of my britches” kind of writer. I have an idea of where I want to start and a less well-formed idea of where I want to finish, and then I kind of sit back and see what happens along the way.

I know there are authors out there who cringe when they hear that. They have their whole story outlined before the type their first “It was a dark and stormy night.” They know on which page the hero will almost lose his life two hundred pages prior to writing it. And they think guys like me are hacks, amateurs, or at best just plumb crazy.

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From whence many good ideas cometh. [Photo Credit: Out of the Blue Project]

Well, I am all those things, plus a scoundrel, a cad, and on Wednesdays and Fridays, a scallywag. But for my money, and I don’t have any, so this next statement has nothing but my winning smile to back it up, one of the most fun parts of writing a book is seeing where the writing takes you along the way.

 

 

In each of my novels I have, at some point, come to a section that I had imagined would go one way, only to watch it take an unexpected, fascinating turn. In every case (so far) this has proven to be a good thing. It has made the story stronger or made a character easier to love, hate, or understand. It has allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little bit, and simultaneously ride out the unexpected change while molding and conforming the new twist to get me to the place I vaguely wanted to end up. [Ed. note: he already said that. See paragraph #1]

 

 

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Celebrating the Twists and Turns! [Photo Credit: Kerri Richardson]

Many Hidden Rooms has several of these twists and turns within its six hundred thirty pages, some of which I hinted at in A Dark Clock and remembered in time to include, some of which were totally out of the blue, and will send ripples through the future installments. For example, chapter 31 may or may not set the tone for the entire third book in the series. I’m not tellin’.

 

Also coming from parts unknown was the title of the first book. I had written the line of dialog, (spoken by the wizard Kern) in one of the middle drafts, but it wasn’t until I was doing the final rewrite that I heard it in my head, and realized it was, in fact, a perfect title. The actual line, (from page 269) is as follows:

“I think it is right to expect that Cerah will continue to grow in power and wisdom,” said Kern. “But I share her concern. Surok’s goal is obvious: he would rule Quadar. But his plans remain shrouded. We do not know what he is doing, and we do not know his timetable. I hear a dark clock loudly ticking.”

Bam. Title.

For the second book, it was a little different, title-wise. Many Hidden Rooms is, again, a phrase spoken by Kern, although he says it in book one to describe Slurr before Cerah saw who he really was. Again I offer up the passage:

“Slurr is a house with many hidden rooms, young Cerah. You should neither underestimate him or ever fail to give him your eternal gratitude. He had carried you a good distance in his arms before Szalmi and I could overtake him. I watched over you and sent him to gather the Witch’s Spike and blossoms of sour corrinthia that I needed to begin purging the poison from your bloodstream.”

I knew shortly after writing that sentence the first time that it was going to be the title of the second book.

Book three is over half-way finished now, (in first draft format), and until today I had no inkling what I was going to call it. But in the midst of one of those unexpected turns that I spoke of earlier [Ed. note: he really did. See paragraph #’s2-6], it happened again. A character spoke a line, (this time it was Parnasus), and as soon as the words escaped his lips I knew I had my title.

And that title is…

 

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Bogey, wondering and fretting. He did NOT join the mailing list!

Not so fast! I have to announce it to my mailing list subscribers first! They know everything that goes on prior to the general public. But don’t fret. Don’t feel bad. You can join the mailing list by clicking here and filling out the simple, intuitive and rather attractive Mail Chimp form. If you do it quick enough, you can get in before I send the title reveal. Otherwise, it will be days of wondering and fretting on your part. Is that what you want? Days of wondering and fretting?

 

I didn’t think so.

So in summary, hail to the seat of the pants twists and turns, hail to the wizards who keep coming up with titles for me, and hail to you if you join the email list.

And don’t forget, Many Hidden Rooms will be available on Amazon, 24 June 2017. (That’s four days from today, by the way!)

The Library of Freakin’ Congress

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If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere… it’s up to you LOC, LOC! Photo by Mr. Gray

When I was a kid I held the Library of Congress in awe. With over 100 million total items, it’s a book nerd’s dream. And when I opened a book and saw that it had a LOC Control Number, I thought to myself, “Well, this author has made the big time. (S)he is in the Library of Freakin’ Congress.”

So when I started my career as an independent author, self-published and rarin’ to go, I thought it might be neat to find out how to go about obtaining a Library of Congress Control Number for my books.

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My books are not clearly visible from this altitude. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. 

Turns out, it’s not all that crazy difficult. You can do it all online. (Thank you once again, Al Gore, for your miraculous invention: the interweb.)

The first step is to go to the LOC Website dealing with Preassigned Control Numbers. This will give you all the information you need, and allow you to open an account.

Here’s the tricky part. In order to start getting LOC numbers for your books, you need to be a publisher. This threw me a little at the outset, because I publish my books using CreateSpace, which is an awesome service for the indie writer. And so I was thinking, “Well, aren’t they the publisher?”

In a lot of ways you could consider them to in fact be your publisher, but they are really just a service that prints the book for you. You are your publisher. Once I got that figured out, I realized that all I had to do to get my LOC account going was to give my little publishing house a name and and address. Since I already live somewhere, I was able to use my home address, and I struggled for about ten seconds deciding on a name, settling on Littlewing Publishing, Littlewing being both an amazing Jimi Hendrix song, and my wife’s nickname.

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The first few lines of the PCN Application. It’s not bad at all.

Once you complete the form establishing your account, you can then begin applying for your PCN (Preassigned Control Number). This consists of a number of questions about the book. Key in this is already having an ISBN number, which if you go through CreateSpace they will provide for you. There are a number of other methods for obtaining an ISBN, but I’ve always used CreatSpace for mine.

When you’ve completed and submitted your form, the website hedges its bets considerably by telling you that you can normally expect to wait for a week before receiving your PCN, but if they’re experiencing a high volume of requests the turn-around could be longer.

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“Well, I guess THIS guy’s made it…”

I got mine the day after I requested them. I got an email, which, coming so quickly after I’d submitted my request, I naturally assumed meant there was some sort of problem. I opened the message expecting to read, “Dear Mr. So-Called Varengo, if that is your real name. We’ve determined you’re no more a publishing house than we are a front yard lemon aide stand.”

That is not what it said. It said, “Here ya go, bub!” Or words to that effect. It even gave me instructions on how and where to place the number in the book, so that all the world can know it’s registered with them.

So, for the five of you who didn’t already know all of this way before I did, I hope this is of some small help in getting you to the point where someone will someday open your book, look at the copyright page, and say to themselves, “Well, this author has made the big time. (S)he is in the Library of Freakin’ Congress.”