Jasmine Angell's Blog

Imagination is freedom…on writing, self-publishing and all things fantasy


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Maleficent as inspiration for villain in sequel, Prism

Maleficent movie poster

Maleficent. When I first saw the previews to the new movie starring Angelina Jolie, my first impressions were: Angelina Jolie was made for that role, the special effects looked amazing and I was really sad that I had to wait two months until it was released to see it. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m happy to say it met all of my expectations and then exceeded them, in the most magical ways possible.

 
Like any good story, this one tells of Maleficent, a powerful fairy who is complex, surprising and utterly captivating. This ‘villain’ is a far cry from the one-sided character most of us know from the animated Disney movie Sleeping Beauty (1959). As a mother of two small children, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched the animated Disney movie (and I confess to humming the “Once Upon A Dream” song while I’ve made dinner on several occasions. Hey, it’s a catchy tune!). The Maleficent in the animated movie appears to be a true villain, without room for redemption, no sign of good. As a writer, I know well that there’s always at least two sides to every story and the characters who are cast as the villain or the hero is entirely dependent on whose perspective the story is being told by. To quote a line from that song that likes to get stuck in my head, “…visions are seldom what they seem…”

 
While my sequel, Prism, features the character Adante on the cover, it is her mentor, the Queen of the Venvian, who is the main antagonist at odds with the heroes of the novel. Atargatis is her name and she is powerful, cunning and lethal. When I was first creating her for Book One of the series, Luminous, I tried to imagine strong female villains and Maleficent was at the top of the list. She influenced my Atargatis greatly but to make Atargatis a fully realized character, I had to delve into her beginnings, which all villains have. Somewhere along the line, everyone has to make a choice between going down the path of good or taking the path of evil, and I think that’s part of what makes villains so intriguing – the point when they decided to choose evil. The more complex a villain is, the more believable and engaging they are to readers.  I fleshed out Atargatis’s history and even wrote a short story about the pivotal moment in her life that altered her future forever (I hope to release it on my website before the end of the year).

 
To get back to the movie, Maleficent, I was very pleased to see Maleficent’s character presented in all the complexity, mystery and magic due such an iconic villain. So while I don’t routinely review movies on my blog, the fantasy lover in me thoroughly enjoyed Maleficent and you should definitely run out and see it as well. You’d get there faster if you had a pair of giant black bird wings!


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NaNoWriMo Update!

I’m happy to report that 5 days into National Novel Writing Month, I’m still alive!  Last Friday, November 1st,  I was really hoping to start out with an outline but it just didn’t happen.  I usually don’t have a working outline until I’m a good quarter of the way into a novel so I wasn’t too worried.  To help me stay on track, I wanted to calculate how many words I needed to hit each day in order to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month so I divided 50,000 words by 30 days and got 1666.666666666667.  My first thought was “wow, that’s a whole lot of 6’s!  Is this a sign of some sort?  A bad sign?”  But since I’m not a superstitious person, I shook off my initial alarm.  More importantly, I was a tad relieved because reaching a quota of 1,667 words a day isn’t that much more than the 1,200 words that I would normally hit when knocking a novel out in the past.  My next thought was, “This crazy endeavor might actually be doable!”

I’ve done really well logging in my daily words so far because my novel is practically writing itself at this point.  I chalk it up to having been away from writing for so long and now that the flood gates have been opened, it’s all just rushing out in a torrent that I can barely keep up with.  During the entire process of preparing my novel, Luminous, for publication and then promoting it on the internet, I kept thinking, “I’m so not cut out for this.  All I want to do is get back to writing!”  And now that I am writing again, I feel in my element again, no longer a fish out of water, or rather, a Psyne out of water.

Another reason the story is flowing well is that I’m writing the third book in the Psyne series so I know my characters really well and the plot is very organic, growing out of the cause and effect from Book 2 entitled, Prism.  I commend those NaNoWriMos who are tackling a new novel with entirely new characters in it.  I would be seriously struggling if that was the case because it can be a bit like pulling teeth when getting to know new characters.  In my experience, new characters like to take their sweet time revealing themselves and their motivations.  It can be downright frustrating under certain time constraints.

I’ll be sure to check in weekly to give you an update on how things are going.  To my fellow WriMos, stay true to your own unique writing process and the words will come!  You can do it!

This is my writing log for the first 5 days.  Day #1:  2413, Day #2:  1947, Day #3:  1705, Day #4:  1768, Day #5:  1673


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Lessons in Self-Publishing – The Money Side of Things

This post is dedicated to my experience with the “money side of things” in regards to self-publishing.  I hope to answer any questions you may have about why my paperback Luminous is being sold for different prices depending on which website you buy it from.  I will be the first to admit that accounting and money matters are not my forte and I was a quite a bit shocked when my coordinator at Lulu emailed me the manufacturing cost for producing one of my paperbacks.  Most paperbacks are sold for $8.99 or at the most $14.99 but my manufacturing cost was even higher than that.  The main reason for the high cost is because my paperback is 6” x 9” and 534 pages which is twice as big as the average paperback.  No wonder publishing company editors whittle novels down, it just costs way too much to print large manuscripts!  Another reason for the high cost is that unlike mass market paperbacks that stock the shelves of bookstores across the country, self-published books aren’t mass produced by the thousands and so there is no mass printing discount.

But that’s just the manufacturing cost.   After I learned what it cost to produce the book, I was given the formula used to calculate the actual retail price and I was in for a real heart attack!  Typically, retailers like Amazon and Lulu multiply the manufacturing or wholesale cost of the book by two to cover their overhead costs such as paying their printers and making certain they collect a profit.  Well no one in their right mind was going to buy a paperback that cost more than a hardcover which typically runs between $18.00- $25.00.

It gets even worse.  At this point, I hadn’t even factored in my royalty.  If I wanted to make any sort of profit off the sale of the paperback, I’d have to raise the price even more.  Granted, as a writer, I’m not in this business to make money, that’s not why I’m doing this, there are much easier ways to make money than venture into self-publishing which takes an incredible amount of time and we’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money.”  But I’d invested my own money into getting the paperback ready for publishing and to learn that I was not in a position to make much of a royalty was devastating to say the least.  I decided that above all else, I had to make the paperback as affordable as possible so that I could get it into the hands of readers in order to grow my fan base.  Publishing is nothing without the fans.

With this in mind, I was able to work with my coordinator at Lulu and get the retail price down to $24.36 by waiving my royalty from Amazon all together.  This was the lowest they could possibly go on the retail price and still offer the paperback as a viable product that a retailer like Amazon could sell and still make a profit.  Retailers are in it to make money, bottom line.  Distributors will not sell a product that they can’t make a standard profit off of because they have their own overhead to pay in order to stay in business.  If the book is purchased through Lulu’s website, I will make a small royalty, it’s worked into their equations since I’ve published my book through them but I’m realistic.  I know that only a small percentage of books, if any, will be bought through Lulu.  The majority of buyers will look to Amazon since it’s the most popular online source for books.

In my opinion, the price is still way too high at $24.36 but the only way I could get the price lowered was if I started cutting chapters out of my book and we were way past that point.  I also wasn’t prepared to just walk away from Lulu when I learned how the pricing worked.  I had already spent 12 weeks working with their production departments, sending them cover image files, reading through galley and cover proofs, sending edits, etc.  It wasn’t until I was fully invested, after the process was complete and we were ready to send the book to be officially published that I was informed of the pricing.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with Lulu throughout the entire process and my coordinators kept me informed every step of the way.  It was a great first experience with self-publishing, up until the pricing shock.  But that’s life, you live and you learn.

On my website at http://www.jasmineangell.com, I’m selling the paperback for $15.99 plus shipping.  When I started this self-publishing adventure, I hadn’t planned on selling my books on my website or packaging and shipping them myself but alas, if that’s what it takes to get my book into the hands of readers at a reasonable price, I will gladly do it.  Unlike online distributors such as Amazon and Lulu, I have little overhead and when I buy my paperback in bulk, I get a slight discount which means I’m able to sell it for much, much less than other retailers.  Again, I’m not in this to get rich, far from it.  Every penny I make from any sales goes right back into the Psyne series so that I can get the sequel into paperback format, promote my series, etc.

Lessons learned:  In the future, I strive to publish a paperback that is half the size of Luminous which will cost less to manufacture and consequently, will be more affordable in the competitive marketplace.  There are many self-publishing companies out there with seemingly affordable packages for writers that want the global distribution services to get their books noticed.  Unfortunately, sometimes the author doesn’t see much of any royalty from the sales of their book.  From my research, the self-publishing companies that do support higher royalties for authors offer packages that are just plain too expensive.  So it’s a double-edged sword depending on what services you are looking for.  I realize that all authors self-publishing today have had different experiences, this is mine.  I hope my experience sheds light on this process for writers looking to self-publish for the first time.  No matter what, keep dreaming, keep persevering and above all, keep writing!  Never give up!


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Dreamer

Hi!  I’m Jasmine Angell and I’m a dreamer.  Up until a few weeks ago I was like many of you – an aspiring writer.  All of my life I’ve wanted to be a published author and that goal was realized less than 2 weeks ago.  Goal?  Who am I kidding?  Dream!!  My dream of becoming a published author was finally realized and two weeks later I’m still jumping up and down!  I’d read once that for most people when you publish a book, nothing really changes:  the Earth keeps spinning, you don’t become famous in that instant and fireworks don’t go off every time you’re in public.  All of those things are true for me (I’m especially glad the Earth is still spinning) but in actuality, everything has changed!  I’ve realized a goal I’ve been working tirelessly towards for the past 6 and a half years and now I’m wearing a rather large, rather heavy, and rather gaudy hat called Marketer/Promoter/Publicist.  I don’t want my novel to be like one of those DVDs you rent with some big-name actor/actress in it that is surprisingly good but you didn’t even know was in theaters months prior because there was no marketing campaign behind it.  You know what I’m talking about.   I don’t want my novel to be a best-kept secret.  So this is my blog about my continuing journey as a writer, my new adventures as a published author and all of the things I’m passionate about.  I hope you’ll join this fledgling blogger for future posts.  Long live your dreams!