Category Archives: L.C. Spoering

New Release: After Life Lessons – Book Two

What does it mean to live, to hope, to love in a dying world?

That’s what the characters in our latest release – After Life Lessons: Book Two – are trying to find out once more. After Life Lessons takes you on the road with straggling survivors of a zombie apocalypse, as they try to heal first each other and then what is left of their society.

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The Complete After Life Lessons Collection

 

After Life Lessons is a Survival/Post-Apocalypse series with a Women’s Fiction bent. 

In the wake of a devastating epidemic, Emily finds herself alone, grieving and struggling to survive with her young son, Song. They encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own.
After Life Lessons: Book One follows their journey from mere struggle to survive, into a life they slowly begin to recognize as worth living again. Once settled and fortified, they take to road once more in Book Two in order to find Aaron’s family. Instead they find new enemies and new allies and a dangerous mission for the future of the region.

The Complete After Life Lessons Collection  $5.99

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

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After Life Lessons: Book Two

After Life Lessons: Book Two

Years after the end of the world, the scattered survivors have begun to reconcile with their fate and are starting to build communities from the rubble. Life has been kind to Aaron and Emily, and maybe it is that infusion of hope that leads them on a winter trip to search for Aaron’s family. But the world outside their little haven has grown harsher, the conditions rough and dangerous.

Not everybody they meet on their journey allowed the grim realities to harden their hearts, however. Malachi and Kenzie – a easy-going drifter with a bum leg and amnesia, and a teenage girl who has lost everyone and everything – are on an ill-conceived mission to Mexico, while Iago and his band of nomads work to forge trading connections between the small settlements of the south. All of them will discover new nightmares on the road, far surpassing the threat of the last rotting zombies still roaming the countryside. And now they must come together to fight for peace and justice in the world they trying to rebuild.

 

After Life Lessons: Book Two — $3.99

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | AllRomance

The post New Release: After Life Lessons – Book Two appeared first on Laila Blake.

New Release: After Life Lessons, Book Two

Laila Blake and I are excited to be releasing the second, and last, book in our After Life Lessons collection today! Available now in ereader formats, you can follow Aaron and Emily, as well as new characters, in a brand new journey in the life After the apocalypse.

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Years after the end of the world, the scattered survivors have begun to reconcile with their fate and are starting to build communities from the rubble. Life has been kind to Aaron and Emily, and maybe it is that infusion of hope that leads them on a winter trip to search for Aaron’s family. But the world outside their little haven has grown harsher, the conditions rough and dangerous.

Not everybody they meet on their journey allowed the grim realities to harden their hearts, however. Malachi and Kenzie – an easy-going drifter with a bum leg and amnesia, and a teenage girl who has lost everyone and everything – are on an ill-conceived mission to Mexico, while Iago and his band of nomads work to forge trading connections between the small settlements of the south. All of them will discover new nightmares on the road, far surpassing the threat of the last rotting zombies still roaming the countryside. And now they must come together to fight for peace and justice in the world they trying to rebuild.

This novel contains language some might find offensive, some gore and situations of a sexual nature. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Available at the following online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Ibooks | AllRomance


A year in review

It’s that time of year, where a frantic scramble to get things done is not only predicted, it’s somewhat expected. In my life, we have not only the holidays, but also both of my children’s birthdays flanking Christmas, and my visions of my own personal deadlines so I can look over my year of work and be pleased with myself.

I frequently make myself sick this time of year.

Three days before Christmas, and I still must venture out for a few small presents for dear friends, but this writing business stops for no one.

The year has been a modest one in terms of word count. I started, and then stopped around 50k, a tightly-wound story about a family in the throes of crisis, having written myself into a corner. I hope to go back and figure out how to unravel this, because I think, at the heart of it, the story is a sound one, and interesting. With Laila Blake, I completed a collection of short stories centered around our characters from After Life Lessons (you can find it here), as well as the first draft for the second, and final, book featuring those characters and their post-apocalyptic world. I completed the first in a trilogy about a dystopian world with a mysterious narrator, and rewrote 3/4 of a novel I originally completed last December, giving this year a sort of fun, cyclical sort of ending. Several pieces of erotica were also accepted this year, and a few have come out in print already, with more planned in anthologies next year.

This year, on a lot of fronts, was more dedicated to the publishing side of writing, which is a much newer experience for yours truly. Editing is one of my favorite activities, and one of my greater skills, and I found myself doing a lot more of that this year, with several rewrites and edits on After Life Lessons before it went to print in April, as well as several edits on At the Edge of the World, which came out in August. I also have picked over and helped groom Laila’s first two installments of the Lakeside Series, and the last in her Breaking in Waves trilogy.

From there, I am still a little floundering, still learning to swim, in a way. Lilt Literary is slowly gaining steam, and with it, we are working on aspects of publishing that are mostly new and foreign to us. I used to work in marketing, in advertising, but on the production end: I wrote and composed ads, I did not sell them. I am innately shy, a little terrified of talking to just about anyone– I had a friend once comment that I never looked in anyone’s eyes, something I’d never really noticed, but find myself doing kind of constantly unless I know a person well.

Marketing yourself is hard. It is even harder when you, as a person, don’t do well talking yourself up, not to mention live in a society where women are, for the most part, conditioned to shy away from self-congratulation, from believing they’re worth listening to, or caring about. Selling a book is a little like selling yourself– I’m not one to compare a book to a baby, but, certainly, it represents a large amount of time, and effort, and skills, and, so, it’s a product of you, of your abilities. Telling someone how great it is, and that they should care about it, read it, is like telling them why they should be your friend. It’s uncomfortable at best, horrifying at the worst.

Independant and self-publishing means you’re doing a majority of the work of a book on your own. You write it, you proof it, you edit and re-edit, you design and format and convert files, get it to distributors, advertise. At Lilt Literary, we’re lucky to both be trained as editors, and proof-readers, and pride ourselves on tightly-written and edited work. Laila is a wizard with graphic design, and has produced jaw-dropping covers for all of our books.  We’ve become well-versed with computer formatting for different output (both physical and digital), and in many avenues of distribution.

My confidence wavers at advertising. As a small-time publishing house, we are shut out of many traditional channels: obviously we’re not going to be able to put an ad in a widely-read magazine, or get ourselves on a talk show. Our budget is smaller than a traditional publishing house, and so getting our books on the shelves of local and national bookstores isn’t within our ability at this moment.

There is a stigma attached to independent and self-publishing, too, one that is, and isn’t, accurate. With the ease of Amazon uploading, for instance, a person can take a poorly-written fanfic and have it for sale in 5 minutes flat. What is a beautiful invention– the ability to reach masses with a click of a mouse– can be burdened by lack of quality control. While this is a topic for another time (and I do love talking about it), the point is more: it’s hard to get noticed, harder to get people to read, and believe, in your ability when you are not coming out of a big-name publisher.

It’s definitely been a learning process, but one that is slowly becoming easier, clearer, and showing results. Over the last year alone I, and we, have learned so much about getting our books to readers, and making a successful profit, that I’m actually excited about doing more in the new year, where, even a few months ago, I even loathed writing an email to a potential reviewer.

It turns out writing is an ever-evolving practice. Who knew?

Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays, and bountiful new year.


Virtual Book Tour – The Big Book of Submission

I’m excited to host this stop for this blog tour because I’M IN THIS BOOK. Let’s face it: ultimately I’m all kinds of selfish, and getting to do a blog tour almost for myself? MAGICAL.

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In all seriousness, The Big Book of Submission is a book I would host even if I’d not had the pleasure of being included. Rachel Kramer Bussel is one of those editors with the golden touch: she has an unapproachable ability to select not just great stories, but a variety, too, even within a theme, so that no one leaves the pages unsatisfied. To be a part of that mixture is a little like winning an erotica writer prize: I’M IN A RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL COLLECTION.

My favorite part of the book, though, is how short all the stories are. The love is multi-faceted: I’m an economical writer and, as such, hate word minimums; I love the challenge of shorter stories; and, in this case, you get more bang for your buck.

Writing my story, Brunch, was a challenge because of this. I had to construct a cohesive story, with a beginning, middle and end, in the space of 1100 words – and make it hot as hell. In writing erotica, I’ve found the biggest difficulty to be characterization: I like three dimensional, interesting people, in mainstream and erotic fiction, and I often struggle to balance the smut with that. Give me even less space and the effort doubles – in great fun, though, which may come as a surprise. It’s a bit like, maybe, a mathematician being given an especially difficult equation: half the fun is in the effort, and in the challenge you face.

The Big Book of Submission is chock full of writers who stepped up to the plate and swung a home run (I’m big on metaphors this morning, aren’t I?). Not every story will be your thing, but every one is well-written, sexy, and super fun. 

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Purchase your copy of The Big Book of Submission here!

Want to read more from some of the other featured authors? Follow the rest of the blog tour!


Cover Reveal: At the Edge of the World

It’s the one month countdown to the release of At the Edge of the World. Behold, the beautiful cover designed by the lovely and talented Laila Blake!

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I’m excited to be releasing At the Edge of the World with our micro-publisher, Lilt Literary, August 26th. You can learn more about the book and story in the link, and you can add it to your to-read list at Goodreads!

The ebook will be available through Amazon next month, followed by the print version a month later, and distribution world and net-wide before the holidays, for all those YA lovers on your gift list.

Over the next couple months, I’ll be making stops on some review and YA blogs– I’ll link these stops on my Twitter and Facebook, so be sure to follow me on either (or both!) for updates and information.

Thank you for celebrating this upcoming release with me. I appreciate your support.


Are we still not doing “phrasing”?

Forgive the shameless Archer reference. What I want to talk about is word choice, but it was too good to pass up.

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After she read After Life Lessons, my mother had a few things to say. She had some helpful criticisms, some thoughts, and then: “You know, I don’t like the word cock.”

This was immediately followed by a conversation about how there are no good words for male anatomy, so “cock,” as it stands, was about as good as we could get it. (Phrasing!) We went through several variations over wine, and ended the conversation cracking up over, I believe it was, “throbbing manhood.”

I love my mom.

Word choice is a funny thing. Given how much we all talk (and type, anymore), it’s not something any of us put a lot of thought into in our daily lives. I have a habit of reminding my kids to “find their words” before they speak but, when it comes down to it, few of us spend more than a split second of thought before words come out of our mouths.

It’s the magic of our brains, really, that ability to follow another person’s speech with our own. Imagine how very long conversations would take if we considered every last word to come out of our mouths. Deliberation over certain words aside, can you imagine deciding if you should insert “the” or buy a vowel or something?

In writing, of course, things are a bit different. We read differently than we listen, and where our brain picks up nuances in speech, it can gloss right over some writing while snagging on a misplaced, or poorly chosen, word. The wrong word can yank you right out of a fictional piece: way back, I had some beta readers call me out on a character referring to suburban homes as “McMansions.” It’s something I’ve said multiple times in my life, but, indeed, that specific character would never use such a description. It was removed, and the passage flowed cleaner, more like him, less like me.

When reading, word choice, as much as– or even more, in some cases– character development, setting, plot, even, defines how we feel about the writing itself. If a character moves and thinks and acts a certain way, and then a word the reader doesn’t associate with them– be it too academic, or slang, or simple– there is a disconnect, and the world the writer has created cracks a little bit. It can be difficult to impossible to reenter a world you don’t feel is entirely truthful.

While a single word isn’t likely to doom an entire story, repeated slips can. To use a tired metaphor, it’s like a plate, where one crack spiders into more and the whole thing falls apart. If your pompous doctoral candidate keeps using flat, simple descriptions, lacking in specificity, his intelligence, his entire characterization, can be damaged. He’s no longer impressive: he sounds like a dumbass.

Some words aren’t quite as problematic. Like our use of “cock”. It was the lesser of a whole host of evils, and fit more with the twenty-something character set. Certainly we could have used “penis,” but there is something weirdly jarring about that word when describing an act of sex. The others (including my mother’s snort-laugh suggestion of “throbbing manhood”) just sounded silly. So cock it is.

I really just wanted to end the post like that. But!

After Life Lessons was released on April 8th and we’ve been so humbled by how enthusiastic and positive the majority of the response has been. THANK YOU. We love sharing Emily and Aaron, and their zombie-filled world with everyone.

We just finished the first draft of Interludes, a series of first-person point of view stories from the same characters in the year following the first book. It will be released (for free!) this summer, as we work on the second part of After Life Lessons. We did a broad plotting session for that last night and I’m very excited about it! It will include some new characters and an expanded look at the world several years after the zombie infection wiped out most of humanity.

If you still haven’t gotten a copy of After Life Lessons, it’s available at Amazon (also at UK, Canada, and more), Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo. If you have read it, I’d love to hear your feelings, either in the comments here, or in a review on your preferred site.

Thanks for supporting indie writers!


New Release: After Life Lessons

“Years ago Emily had believed that fear could be overcome by repetition, but now she knew that wasn’t true.” — After Life Lessons

This is not only true for zombies, it’s like that with book releases, too. Excitement, panic, joy. It doesn’t become lesser or easier, which seems like a fair trade.

This one, has a very special place in my heart for a number of reasons: it’s a work of friendship and love and synergy, and the creative process behind it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing I’ve ever done. It’s good not to be alone, to bounce off ideas, to encourage and care together.
ALL400-6001After Life Lessons is also my first self-published venture. It’s a step that scared me a lot less because I had Lorrie there with me, all the way. It meant being able to touch, feel, breathe every step of the process and now I’m tied to every part of this book and nothing has ever felt quite so much my own.

It’s a good feeling. And a nauseating one, because damn, it’s good to have someone to blame, just in case, hehe.

I’m proud of what we did with After Life Lessons, I’m proud of what it is; I’m proud that it’s different and everybody remarks upon that, I’m proud that it’s finally out and of the countless hours of work that went into it.

So after Lorrie blogged about this on the 8th. This is my own little belated Happy Release Day to myself. And I’ll get some cake and take a deep breath and accept that now is the time to let go of an obsession that driven me for months, that now, the book is yours, no longer mine.

If you’re here on my blog, that means something to me. That means this is reaching the right person: Thank you. Thank you for your support and your interest. And thank you for believing in this incredibly exciting time in publishing.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Smashwords

Below, you’ll a video I recorded this morning and you can listen to the first chapter. I was a little bit sick, so excuse the voice, but I didn’t want to put it off any longer. I hope you enjoy. You can also read along to most of it here: Excerpt I

Release Day for After Life Lessons

It’s finally here, everyone! The day of all days, the day that has been over a year in coming, the day that I thought sounded so far away when we set it in January, I was just sure I’d never be able to wait that long.

Today, we release After Life Lessons out into the wild.

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The decision to publish under our micro-imprint was not easily made. We did shop the book, and had some interested agents, but the consensus came to: what’s the market? Given that we’re fickle readers, and this is something we’d like to read (and we had plenty of beta readers who jumped on it like, well, zombies on slow runners), we couldn’t imagine there weren’t other people who thought “hey, I like a little apocalypse, but how about we mostly talk about feelings?”

I may be awful at selling myself.

Today, After Life Lessons, so gloriously described by Laila as “Walking Dead meets Downton Abbey” is for sale. Here’s the backcover blurb to whet your appetite:

Hulking shadows emerge out of the chaotic flurries of the blizzard. Something is dying, and so they come, like vultures.

After months of struggling south to escape the zombie-infested remains of New York, a snowstorm traps 23-year old artist, Emily, and her son in an abandoned gas station. Starving and desperate, they encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own, who offers them a ride to ease the journey.

The road is a long and dangerous place to travel, and every day brings a new threat. But fear and adrenaline also drive the two closer together; they find laughter and a budding attraction that starts to thaw at their numb and deadened feelings. And that’s when the pain really starts to hit, when places long thought lost prickle back to life. Eventually, they will have to fight not just for survival, but for a future together, or their broken world will swallow them whole.

This novel contains language some might find offensive, some gore and situations of a sexual nature. Reader’s discretion is advised.

I’m exhausted, and I’m terrified, and I’m thrilled to be putting After Life Lessons out for the world to read. And read I hope you will! You can add the book to your Goodreads list, or purchase it by clicking on one of the links below.

Thank you so much for your support of indie writers. You all rock.

Add After Life Lessons to your

Goodreads List

Purchase After Life Lessons at

Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble


Episode 22: Fanfiction and Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

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in which Laila and Lorrie discuss the morality of writing fanfiction, the joys of fandom and whether or not publishing stories that originated there is plagiarism.

(If the application doesn’t work for you, please click here for the audio-file!)

What about you?
Have you written fan fiction? Do you think authors have a right to forbid it?
And how do you feel about former fanfiction now sold as original work?
Credits:
Our intro music was taken from the Free Music Archive:
GeeNerve - Pink Fish Signs (Take Two).

Filed under: Episodes

Episode 21: Looking back on a Year of Writing

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in which Laila and Lorrie discuss their year of writing seriously, for publication and more than they could ever have imagined.

(If the application doesn’t work for you, please click here for the audio-file!)

What about you? What have you learned last year?

Credits:
Our intro music was taken from the Free Music Archive:
GeeNerve - Pink Fish Signs (Take Two).

Filed under: Episodes