[New Release] Make Art Not War Challenge eBook

Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge Participant Badge

Hello everyone! I am pleased to announce the release of Make Art Not War Challenge: Rules, Essays, and 31 Creative Prompts. This eBook is available in multiple file formats through DriveThruFiction.com in Nook (ePub), Kindle (Mobi), and PDF formats.

Here’s more information about this eBook:

Make Art Not War Challenge eBookWhen times are tough, the feeling that artists are not necessary tends to permeate. Art is viewed as frivolous or a luxury since we don’t produce food, clothing, or housing. The exact opposite is true, however, because in charged political climates artists document and represent our humanity and all our struggles be they violent or peaceful for present day and future generations. Often, propaganda posters, victory songs, and other forms of art are specifically commissioned as well. Art is omnipresent, it is always political, and the choices we make affect our audiences and everyone around us.

For some artists, making art is an act of resistance; for others, making art is a way of life and a career. Even if your goal is to avoid politics altogether, remember that people turn to stories, games, and comics to find hope, to be inspired, to reach inside themselves and discover their own courage. Those emotions, even if they provide a temporary reprieve from whatever they’re facing, are powerful motivators to live and fight another day.

This eBook includes:

* Customizable Make Art Not War Challenge Rules
* Essays to help empower artists and deal with blockages
* 31 Creative Prompts to unlock an artist’s creativity

Remember, one story can change someone’s life. The problem is, we have no idea which story that will be, when it will be told, or in what medium. It’s up to us to find it — by making art! The eBook includes essays and material that debuted on my blog, but it also includes new material, too.

If you’re a fan of Amazon.com, the Make Art Not War Challenge eBook can also be picked up at the Kindle store along with The Cainite Conspiracies, which I edited for the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade Dark Ages, and two collections that include my stories. The first is Endless Ages, and the second is Tales of the Dark Eras.

More stores will be added pending review. I hope you enjoy this eBook and, more importantly, keep making art! Enjoy!

Camp NaNoWriMo Prep and 5 Writing eBook Recs


T-minus two weeks until Camp NaNoWriMo begins! You can find me at camp under the username: mlvalentine if you want to connect individually. I am significantly decreasing connectivity in April, because I’ve got a lot of words to write for both work and camp.

To help you prep, I’ve picked out ten reference ebooks on writing that are available on DriveThruFiction.com. I’ve either read these books or have them sitting on a shelf in my reference library, and I’ve made notes where applicable.

  • Dynamic Characters – Written by Nancy Kress, I really liked this character reference book because it reminded me of being in workshop. Dynamic Characters utilizes a mixture of advice and examples from popular fiction, so you can see the logic in Kress’s advice.
  • A Writer’s Guide to Persistence – Persistence and discipline are two keys to being a writer, and sometimes it’s hard to find the energy or motivation to have both. This book focuses on persistence by offering tips, advice, and journaling exercises to help you push through a hump. I’ve found this book to have long-term value; it’s not unusual to have more than one slow or frustrating period as a writer. Getting back on the proverbial horse is super important, and this book offers a different perspective.
  • 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book – Outlining my original fiction is something that’s been helping me remain focused and get more done. There’s many different methods of outlining (e.g. The Snowflake Method), but I’ve rarely seen a book that combines outline with planning. I haven’t sat down and tried the plan yet; current goal is to start in June and wrap writing into July’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists – Sometimes, writing advice can be challenging to give and receive because what works for one writer may not work for another. Secondarily, the path to success varies so wildly from one writer to another, that sometimes it can be challenging to figure out if you’re on the right track. This collection of habits helps to reinforce what you’re already doing, but also give you ideas on how to model your actions after super successful writers.
  • 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them – On the pragmatic side, this book is filled with big picture lots and has a lot of checklists to ensure you’re on track. I’ve referenced this during outlining and revisions, and found it helps serve as a reminder for the big picture stuff.

If you’re taking my Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge, this does count towards the challenge. You’ll want to plan approximately two hours a day to make your daily word count goal of 1,667, and commit to some brief outline sketches ahead of time. Additionally, if there’s other administrative or Life, The Universe, and EverythingTM tasks you need to do, it’s a smart idea to get that done ahead of time and make room for words. That way, if something throws you off-kilter then you won’t veer as far off track.

Happy prepping!

    Mood: Monday Monday
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: So much espresso!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walking my ass off
    In My Ears: Whiny cats
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission
    Book Last Read: Black Unicorn
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Legend of the Seeker
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!

Happy Holly-Daze! And a Free eBook!

The Grinch Avatar

Scramble, scramble, scramble… Happy Holly-Daze! I hope you’re enjoying whatever flavor of winter feasts and festivities you happen to celebrate. In my house, we have traditions that last pretty much all December and through the New Year. Some of which are related to nom, nom, nom, noms. (I’ll make every attempt to share pictures when I get a chance. Knee-deep in cinnamon and flour and edible flowers and meat purses and bleach and beads and tape and stamps… Yeah, you get the idea.

Anyhoo, while every Who down in Whoville may be enjoying the finer presents of a merry sort… I’ve got a surprise for YOU. Well, it’s a touch on the bloody side, but… Um… You are talking to a writer who’s joyest joy of joys this year was to pick up The Twelve Terrors Of Christmas

Varney the Vampire Remix CoverAnyHOO. Remember that Galleycat contest I told you I won? Guess what? You can find a copy of the re-mix at no charge!

You can now download the entire Varney the Vampire: A Literary Remix eBook FOR FREE from Smashwords.

Yay! Here’s a link to the announcement at GalleyCat. More yay!

Before I go, the amazing, iconic, one-and-only SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE has released Christmas carols heavy metal style! A YouTube! sample for you of the songs available on iTunes below. Enjoy!

Win Free eBooks from FlamesRising.com

Celtic Wheel

A short overly-enthusiastic update today, for I am stuck in the wilds of well, the wilds and there’s really nothing to be done except write my way through it. So here goes:

Interested in free eBooks? (I hope, if you’re reading my website, that you are. . .) If you’re answer is “YES, PLEASE!” then visit this link at FlamesRising.com to add your favorite snippet of writing advice and celebrate NaNoWriMo.

There are already a few contestants who’ve proffered their glorious pieces of encouragement, but there’s still time to enter. . . The contest ends on Midnight CST, November 15th — that’s this Thursday!


(Back to it then.)

    Mood: Yessssssss? May I help you?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Ask me later.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Bendy, twisty-related activities.
    In My Ears: You don’t want to know. Seriously.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: MirrorMask
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Weighing in on E-Books

It’s been really interesting for me to watch the complex discussions about e-books online, because I work for a digital publisher. My company provides digital sheet music files to our customers and there are a lot of similarities between our industry and the publishing industry. However, books have a broader market than sheet music does, in part because more people know how to read text than music.

One of the biggest challenges that I see is two-fold: one, inconsistent pricing models and two, proprietary platforms and formats. E-book pricing is based of a number of different factors that go beyond what a writer, editor and/or publisher earns. First, you have the cost that the e-book retailer charges for every book sold. That charge varies from site to site, but it can comprise as much as forty percent of the book’s value. Second, you have the cost of laying out and creating that digital file in the appropriate formats. Third, you have to pay an artist for cover art and fourth, you have to pay the additional cost of online marketing to get people to buy the book. I believe that publishers have a challenging time coming up with a set price for e-books that people will respond to, because the costs of doing business may be different depending upon the product. Graphics, tables, high page counts and other file format issues can easily tack on more time to the e-book production process.

Unfortunately, these “invisible” costs are not apparent to the reader. Many readers believe that e-books should be less expensive than their paperback or hard cover counterparts, because they assess a different value to the production of a printed book differently than an electronic file. (This is also why I believe piracy is such a huge threat to digital publishers, too.) Part of that assessment is their experience with the internet where information has been “free.”

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I feel that it’s going to be pretty challenging to educate readers on what the production value of an e-book. I don’t feel that being transparent about the cost of doing business for a publisher is the answer, but I also feel that the e-book “evolution” is still in its infancy stages.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that one of the biggest challenges e-book publishers face is proprietary e-readers and formats. Why? Without having a standardized format that all e-book readers can use for the books they want to read, you’re immediately limiting the market to a select few. I’ve heard many comparisons between e-books and the digital music industry, and while there are similarities, they are still very different. Imaging the cost of archiving these e-books at a library, for example. Now, instead of needing physical space, you need electronic space. Instead of a standardized format that works on all e-readers, you need several different types of readers and several different formats (e.g. duplicates) of the same book.

For the reader, you’ve now increased the cost of being able to read their favorite books. The accessibility of where you can buy a proprietary e-reader, the cost of upgrading them and the cost of maintaining them or replacing files adds in a layer of “cost” to the e-books that wasn’t there before. Now, instead of just buying the books like you would in a physical store, you have to buy the platform and then buy the books, which inflates the cost of whatever e-books you buy. This is also why I believe readers expect that e-books should be cheaper. They aren’t looking at where their money goes, they see it as “I spend $350 on an e-reader and now I have to spend $7.99 on a single book. Why are they so expensive?” As a result, reading a book is no longer available to those who can’t afford the platform to read it on.

In my opinion, copyright restrictions and the threat of digital piracy aren’t the only reasons why the music industry has evolved the way that it did. In part, it’s also because of the volume and the demand. For this reasons and many more, I feel that the e-book “evolution” will not happen overnight. This will be a long process that publishers, retailers, readers, libraries, authors and editors will need to go through. My only hope is that there will be more long-term discussions on how to move toward accessibility to more readers and some standardization.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.


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