It was 99 cents…again.

Last year, I whined in a blog post about my publisher’s decision to lower the ebook price of At The Walls Of Galbrieth to 99 cents. It was done last year to promote the release of Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3, and will be repeated before the release of Book 4. Next week there will be a cover launch and I am as stoked as ever by the talent of William Kenney, our cover artist (and in awe of his patience with me). Check out his work here. This is a rewrite of the blog post.

Every year before going on our annual vacation, my family sit around the kitchen table for some intense negotiating as we decide which songs from the past year will find their place on the 201x family vacation playlist. The songs with the highest consensus are the first. This year’s number one choice was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s hilarious and anti-consumerism song – Thrift Shop – it was 99 cents! (the version below is the clean one with lyrics – thank you to Jadey Wadey – if you don’t mind the language, the official video is hilarious).

If I’m honest, I’m one of those people who visits the 99 cents store to buy 2-3 items and spends $15. In my humble defense, I rarely make such a trip.

So the concept of 99 cents shouldn’t faze me. But with Sacrificial Flame – Wycaan Master Book 4 due out in the summer, the powers that be have decided to offer the kindle ebook version of At The Walls Of Galbrieth for 99 cents for the next month or so.Ashbar front cover I objected: the book is already only $2.99 – less than a coffee at Starbucks (or most coffee shops). It took me a year to write and rewrite. I invested in a professional editor, cover artist, and many hours of blood, sweat and tears.

I gave birth to it, sat up all night with it when it got a fever, and saw it take its first steps on Amazon.com. At some point, eyes were rolled. They might have been relieved that I was portraying the necessary signals to become famous – I was acting the cultural prima donna. I changed tracks: it is an award-winning novel, I whined. The response was brutal: it’s all about the sales. And I was reminded that writing for my kids in the ancient Northern California Redwoods is one thing, making a living is quite another. Fantasy1

I do have a question: when you see a book for 99 cents – do you have lower expectations about its contents? Please leave your comments  below or on @elfwriter.

And so: for at least the next month, At The Walls Of Galbrieth will be available in Kindle format for 99 cents. Oh well, it worked for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Have a good week, everyone.

Alon

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

100 Days: The Countdown Begins

Wow! What a week. We are about 100 days from the release of Ashbar – Book 3 of The Wycaan Master series. I received the cover from artist (and suspected magician) William Kenney, whose renditions just get better with each book and a copy of the edited manuscript from my editor, Monica Buntin.

Ashbar front cover

With At The Walls Of Galbrieth receiving 1st place at the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards and The First Decree garnering such great feedback, I am so excited at the prospect of unleashing Ashbar, where so much will be resolved.

I have a month to review the suggestions and changes that Monica has proposed and then off to the 60 day turnover and the binding of the pages!

Stoked!

In July, that most ancient family tradition (ancient = four years, but bear with me): tents, campfire, Redwoods, and reading a first draft of Book 4 to my most critical audience…my sons.

If you have read either or both of At The Walls Of Galbrieth and The Frist Decree, please take a few moments over the weekend and post a short review on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. It will be a huge help. If you have already reviewed my books – THANK YOU – maybe review another emerging author when you have a moment.

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Have a great weekend, everyone.

Elfwriter

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.   For more about the author, check out his website.

Thank You for a Great Year

This is my last blog post of the year and I am sitting here feeling full of gratitude and pride. It was a year ago that I sat with my family drinking hot chocolate and mochas in a local coffee shop and we each wrote down our goals for the year. 

During the preceding week I had made the decision to spend two years seriously writing an epic fantasy series and building a platform to promote my work. I had written rough drafts of At The Walls Of Galbrieth and The First Decree, and my boys had an expectation that, as in the preceding two summer vacations, I would have a manuscript to read around the campfire in another six months. Now I was ready, for the first time, to lay out a plan.

Twelve months later and I am amazed how everything steadily came together. I feel a bubble of energy and support steadily moving me forward, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

Wycaan Master 1 Just Front CoverAt The Walls Of Galbrieth was published by Tourmaline Books in November. After a professional edit, beautiful cover and excellent formatting, both my boys and I feel immense pride as we hold the book in our hands.

The First Decree is nearing publication. The finished manuscript and equally impressive cover is in the hands of the formatters and hopefully less than two months from publication.

Elfwriter – my fantasy blog has been around for a year and has attracted a steady group of equally passionate and committed group of epic fantasy connoisseurs. I love your comments and the highest compliment is when you send a blog post on to friends.

Almost 20,000 people are following @elfwriter on twitter and the blog. Many retweet or favor a blog post. People often comment with their own experiences or when a post has touched them. I treasure these moments as we build a community together.

I want to thank the Berkeley Writer’s Group who, while most do not read fantasy, nonetheless offered each week advice and guidance. There is so much that can be said about a group who are simply meeting to support each other. I hope I was able to contribute and help them as I received their support.

The First Decree AxeA large part of my success is due to the support of a team of amazing professionals. Monica Buntin is not just an editor, she is a teacher. She will continue to explain some grammatical point until I get it (and that can require quite a bit of patience!). She has the tact and foresight to see flaws in the story and convey them in a way that will push me to correct and tighten.

William Kenney, an accomplished fantasy author in his own right, has designed two masterful book covers. How he takes the jumble of description that I send him and conveys it into a work of art that far exceeds my vision, is beyond me.

Jeny Reulo and the folks at Fast Fingers will not compromise in their commitment to create the perfectly formatted book, whether in e- or tree book format. It is a pleasure to peruse the interior design of my book.

A full circle – and my deepest thanks is to my family who suffer the author who slips into another world, where the quest to free the races of Odessiya often take precedence over the dirty dishes and the laundry whose destiny to be folded and put into drawers often takes longer than training a Wycaan elf!

Finally thank you to all who read my books and blog posts, who retweet and favor, who comment and point out mistakes, who offer guidance and advice, who are part of an extended family, enjoying the ride together.

Looking back over the past year offers a great degree of pride and satisfaction. But the best part is to turn into the wind and see the year that is before us:

* The First Decree will be released in the first third of 2013.

* Ashbar will hopefully be ready in the fall.

* Elfwriter.com will  pass its 100th blog post.

* @elfwriter will advance with 25,000 follower of epic fantasy.

The First Decree-hi resolution

Life is a journey and while we each walk our own paths, our lives are enriched when our we walk together.

To noble quests, elf bows that never miss their mark, a free Odessiya, Wycaan Masters, and most important, to good friendships around the fire, quaffing ale and smoking pipes of healthy pipe weed and telling wonderful stories.

Wishing you a year of health, happiness and friendship. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Alon Shalev – elfwriter

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Alon Shalev is the author of At The Walls of Galbrieth, Book 1 of The Wyccan Master series, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, released by Tourmaline Books. The First Decree, the sequel is due out in early 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels: Unwanted Heroes, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

At The Walls Of Galbrieth – Launched!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that the imminent release of At The Walls Of Galbrieth was like seeing your child leave home. Well this weekend,  Book 1 of the Wycaan Master series, was busy packing its bags, saying goodbye to its friends, and reminiscing about how its laundry always got done and there was food in the pantry.

Okay, I’m stretching this, but like a parent who constantly peers into their child’s now empty room, I am peeking at Amazon.com, staring in disbelief that my book is finally out there in the big wide world.

But it is there and on Tuesday, the family (the real one) sat around the dinner table and ceremoniously opened the brown cardboard package and held the first paperback copy. My oldest, who deserves a lot of credit for initiating this project, sat and read and reread the dedication to him and scanned the rest of the book. It was rather challenging to get him to relinquish the book so that the rest of us could look.

Just like the child leaving home, it is the end of one stage of life and the beginning of the next. A few days earlier, I received the manuscript for the second book, The First Decree, from my talented editor, Monica Buntin. The next day, I saw the first sketching of that book’s cover by artist, William Kenney. In the past two months, I completed my first serious edit of the third book and I am itching to sink my teeth (or fingers) into writing the fourth. 

This is how it all began – deep in a redwood forest.

I’m glad my wife and I decided on only two children because there are still a lot of books to write and nurture to launch day!

Have a great weekend. If you buy the book, please let me know what you thought. I can’t wait to hear.

Alon Shalev – elfwriter

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Alon Shalev is the author of At The Walls of Galbrieth, Book 1 of The Wyccan Master series, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, released by Tourmaline Books. The First Decree, the sequel is due out in early 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels: Unwanted Heroes, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

 

 

 

Proud To Share The Book Cover – At The Walls Of Galbrieth

We are a few weeks from the book launch, but I am proud to share the book cover for At The Walls Of Galbrieth. The cover artist is Mr. William Kenney – and I am truly in awe of his talent and imagination. How an artist can take the garbled ideas from a man who can’t draw stick figures without giving them unintentional but severe spinal deformities and produce something like this amazes me.

Thank you, William. 

 

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Books. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

Judging A Book By Its Cover

The last few weeks have been spent communicating with a very talented book cover designer, William J. Kenney, who has designed the book cover for At The Walls Of Galbrieth. I am quite amazed how someone who has never met me or understands how my brain works (disclaimer: not that knowing me will guarantee that either), can interpret my jumbled explanations into a cover, far better than anything I could imagine.

I might be bias here, but I think epic fantasy book covers (and also sci-fi) must answer to higher standards. My social justice-themed novel, The Accidental Activist, is based on a photograph that I took in San Francisco’s financial district. The cover artist did an amazing job, but it is still based upon something real.

Claudia McKinney, the artist who designed Amanda Hockings’ book covers, designed the cover to A Gardener’s Tale. The different concept from the first edition is amazing and, I believe, a big help in raising my sales levels. My publisher told her that he wanted to stress the strong Pagan theme and earth spirituality running through, she came up with a number of excellent options.

Designing book covers for a series is an additional challenge and, given that there are three, maybe four books in the Wycaan Master series, I now feel I have clear picture of how I imagine William will develop each cover. What I find interesting is that it doesn’t always have to be intricate. Christopher Paolini’s covers are not detailed, but still instantly recognizable. As each new cover was announced, my sons and I shared a collective gasp of anticipation.

 The question I want to pose here is what constitutes a good epic fantasy cover? There are some covers that I just sit and gaze in wonder, often several times when I pick up the book to commence reading. So, please also share your favorite fantasy book covers. Let’s make a Top Ten: over to you… 

Next week – the official unveiling of the book cover: At The Walls of Galbrieth – Wycaan Master Book 1.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Press. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).