01 October 2017

Those Black Wings -- on sale for 99 cents!

Those Black Wings is getting some good reviews, which I appreciate very much.

"I freaking LOVED this book! I picked it up thinking it would be a good read and I was floored with just how good it was. I loved the portrayal of an unhealthy relationship and all that went with that. The characterization was spot on. I loved Kay, and I loved her story and how she went through everything. I was hooked from the first page, and went head-first into a complete and utter adoration of the words in this story. It's something every teen should read, and a lot of adults too. It was amazing and well told and I just can not say enough good things about this book! I'd give it more than five stars if I could!"

"Really, 4 1/2 stars, rounded up, because it was NOT an easy-to-read story; there were times when I had to take breaks from it because it was quite uncomfortable for me to read; yet the whole time I felt compelled to finish it & knew I would get back to it. Now, I am glad that I did & I totally appreciate the way Ms Cordell concluded the book; I felt that she resolved the issue well - not a fairytale ending, but realistic. And, wow. I think it's really important for stories like this to be told. I particularly liked where Kay opens up about what's happening & when she researches online about the situation - I thought that was really important for her and for us (as readers) to get the message that no one is alone in this. Thank you, Ms Cordell, for an engaging & intense reading experience; I look forward to reading more of your work!"

"There are so many levels of abuse and some that aren't spoken of. In this emotionally hard read, suicide, the threat of it, is used as a form of abuse to keep Katy captive. This isn't something that is spoken of highly but it is so real. This author handles the topic skillfully. The angst and pain and consequences are real and that makes this book a must read."

 Those Black Wings is on sale for 99 cents -- but only for a week. Pounce on it while you can.


21 September 2017

soooooo tired

I've been doing overtime at work, and it's just solid proofreading all day, so I've been mainlining caffeine to stay awake. I'm really zonked this evening but I'm waiting to pick up the kid from marching band, so I thought I'd give the world a holler and let you-all know I'm still alive.

I have a ton of stuff I want to do but haven't been doing much of it. At this time I'm working on a book about Japanese beetles -- #8 in the Easy-Growing Gardening Series -- and I need to do a little work on Wandering Stars, which is book 2 of the White Oak Chronicles, and follows up on Outlander's Scar. Actually, it's in pretty good shape right now, so it doesn't need a whole lot of work.

I'll be taking part in a SCAVENGER HUNT next month, October 3 through 8. So stay tuned for details on that.

How is it that my head is so filled with ideas and plans and things I need to do -- but the second I sit down at a computer to write about them, they immediately vanish??

Time to go pick up the kid. Longer letter later!

04 September 2017

Outlander's Scar is 99 cents for a limited time!


Finally the first raccoon book is out! I shouldn't call it the raccoon book in public, I suppose, but shoot, I've been calling that since forever, and old habits die hard.

Anyway, I just published this one on Saturday, after all these years -- I wrote the first draft on the way to Starksville, Mississippi, on my last day of sixth grade and the beginning of summer vacation. Of course this draft is a lot different than that one.

At any rate, I'm selling this book for 99 cents right now. I'll raise the price up to $3.49 later. Whoa guys, that's a lot of money! Well anyway, grab this puppy. I'll have the next part of the trilogy coming out here in a month or two -- Wandering Stars is pretty much ready to go, though it still has a few issues I need to work on before I'm sending it out live.

Outlander's Scar

Acorn fights like the ancient warriors – as a yearling, he doesn’t have the weight to throw around – and loves the stories of the warriors, the Qelvska, who began the line of chieftains that now rule the raccoon tribes everywhere. Power and strength are Acorn’s goals – but then Catface, the leader of the outlanders, attacks him and gave him the outlander’s bite, the mark given to raccoons cast out of their tribes. Though Acorn did no wrong, his tribe shuns him. When another raccoon steals the chieftainship and exiles Acorn, he lashes back by stealing away the sister of death, which Catface was calling forth. War brews between outlanders and tribal raccoons, and Acorn knows that the only ones that suffer will be the innocents.

03 September 2017

I have an MFAC and have been writing for over 20 years. So why am I self-publishing?

The covers I've made for the raccoon trilogy I'm going to publish. I'm a one-woman show -- writer, editor, proofreader, art director, and marketer. And I'm having a blast doing it all.

So you might be thinking, “Well Melinda, why are you self-publishing after saying, all these years, that you want to be published traditionally?” To answer that, let me show you these pictures. These are screenshots of my “Agents” file in my email account, showing all my queries that I’ve sent to agents over the last few years. (A query is how you sell your book to an agent — generally it’s a cover letter that introduces you and your manuscript, plus a sample chapter of said work.)

If anybody has been wondering why I’ve been blue in the 2014 and 2015, the photographs will give you a little idea. (Actually, I had quite a few pages of these — more than I have shown here.) Every one of these queries ended in a rejection. My list of rejections goes back a lot farther than this. I definitely don’t know the total number of rejections I’ve gotten since I started sending out my stories in 1996. (That was my raccoon story — man, that first one was scathing!) My rejections easily number in the hundreds. I don’t want to know how many hundreds. It is possible that they’ve reached into the low thousands. I sent out a lot of stuff over those 20 years.

14141653_10157342144995048_7676418616790363340_nI tend to have a tough skin about rejection. But you know, even after I FINALLY sold the Civil War book, I thought that agents might show some interest in me — but if anything, they’ve shown less. Who knew! I just stopped writing altogether, and then I was low as could be. I’ve always written. That’s all there was to it. And when all these professionals kept telling me no no no no no no, well, I gave up. I always thought I was a writing hotshot, but I had all these guys are over here telling me I wasn’t. Maybe they were right.

Today is my one-year anniversary in self-publishing. Angel in the Whirlwind, my first self-published book, came out today last year. Today I self-published Outlander’s Scar — my 14th book. Fourteen books in one year! Something I could not have done in traditional publishing.

And I can publish whatever I want. Nobody’s telling me, “There’s no market for raccoon books/short-story collection/books about weird Civil War beards.” It’s just me saying, “Look at these Civil War beards! I’M GOING TO PUBLISH A BOOK ABOUT THEM.” And lo, it is done. I put them out there and I create the markets for them. If they don’t sell, it’s cool, I just publish another book!

What’s even cooler is that I’m not just the author, but I’m the art director and the book designer. I never knew that making covers and formatting pages was so much fun! I’ve learned how to use Canva to make ebook covers. I’m flailing around with Gimp in order to create books with front and back covers. I’m digging into different font choices that are available in MS Word to build gorgeous book interiors. (So far my favorites are Palantino Linotype, Perpetua, and Centaur.) I get all these old-timey illustrations from old gardening catalogs in the public domain on Flickr. The National Archives have digitized all these old illustrations that have been a godsend for my gardening books.

Hey honey, check out my new lawn mower!
It’s a very hands-on process. I’m a little nitpicky about all this but I want the work to be good and look good and be fun to read. Also, I kind of fall into a rabbit hole looking at old pics on Flickr, but dang, when I do some digging, I find the coolest pics.


I love writing again.

Love it.

Looove it!

Now that I’m looking into my second year of self-publishing, I am excited about writing. I’m excited about getting my stories out there. I’m excited about expanding my audience. And I’m looking forward to learning more about marketing myself, about stretching out of my comfort zone. I learn the most when I stretch myself.

I’m having so much fun, and I’m even earning money at this. I sink a little over half of my proceeds back into advertising, but I’m still in the black. And I like that I’m getting these stories out of my computer where they’ve been languishing and out into the world at last. Took me long enough!

Ha ha, this is a long post, but I figured you guys ought to know what’s going on over here. You’ll see more books from me in the next few months, since a lot of my stories have been revised and polished to the moon and back. (Maybe that’s why the agents didn’t want them — who knows?) A lot of folks who are close friends remember my raccoon stories, including the first one, which is now Outlander’s Scar. I’ll be publishing the other two books in the trilogy — but I’ll also publish a very, very early version of Outlander’s Scar that I wrote in 1995-1996. I drew all these little spot illustrations for it when I was working nights (and going to school). It’s a very different book from Outlander — and I am totally going to publish it. Something that I could not have done with traditional publishing!

I’m also going to publish a previous version of Butterfly Chaos, which I worked on with Gary Schmidt at Hamline. I’ll probably set this up as a permafreebie, since it’s in many ways similar to Butterfly, and not as polished. At any rate, you can look forward to that one too. As well as many others!

This will be the cover photograph — that book will be called What You Can’t Take Back. Gary liked the title.
I’m looking forward whatever happens next. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you stick around and join me for the next part of the journey.

18 January 2017

What on earth have I been up to?

To recap: My book, Courageous Women of the Civil War: Soldiers, Spies, Medics, and More came out in August of last year. Shortly after, several things happened. I was at a local author's showcase with my one book on the table, and folks I knew and admired had a whole little stack of books that they'd self-published on the table. "Well, I need to have more than one book on the table to sell!" I thought.

About the same time, one of my writing buds, C. Dennis Moore (shoutout!), showed up and told me about how he'd been self-publishing books and doing pretty well at it. I was sold.

My first book was Angel in the Whirlwind, a collection of ten short stories. Then I came out with Don't Throw in the Trowel! Vegetable Gardening Month by Month, followed by Rose to the Occasion: An Easy-Growing Guide to Rose Gardening. My latest book is Butterfly Chaos, which I wrote as my creative thesis when I was getting my master's for writing for children at Hamline University.

Due to overtime at work, I have to cut back a bit. I also want to start learning more about marketing online -- which includes these newsletters. I do want to publish a Perennials book before spring, though.

So what is Butterfly Chaos about?

Three months after her cousin Toni died, Cassie is still reeling. Toni's best friend now ignores her in the halls. Cassie's cousin is dating the girl who torments her in gym. And Cassie has maybe a teeny-tiny crush on the boy who found Toni in the river.Then Toni's ghost visits Cassie and reveals that in two nights, a powerful EF3 tornado will rip into a dance hall, killing those three kids.Cassie sets out to keep everyone from going to the dance. As she argues and cajoles (and stockpiles minor munitions to clear the building, just in case) she uncovers stories about her friends' connections with Toni - and all the reasons they refuse to skip this awesome dance. Why does everyone have to be so bullheaded! Despite everything Cassie does to change their destiny, they find themselves directly in the killer tornado's path. In those last moments as the tornado bears down on them, Cassie must find a rock to cling to as the whole world is torn to pieces around her.

Thanks for joining me this early in the game. I hope to make it worth your while.