Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back Up And Running….

The new computer has been assembled and is running. All my needed software is installed, and I’m finally able to get back to work.

Don’t have much time to write a blog post tonight (I’ve got a LOT of catching up to do), but sometime over the next couple weeks I’ll try and put together a post explaining what all has been going on while I was computer-less (and why I got that way, and why it took so long to overcome that issue). I’ll try to catch you all up as soon as I can.

Until then, though, this brief post is all I have time for. I’ve got books to write, edit, build, and publish.

Not dead…

Just as an FYI: This blog is not dead. I am, however, experiencing severe computer problems that make updating it regularly almost impossible.

I was at Ravencon last weekend, and really want to write about some of the things that happened there, but without having a (working) computer, it’s nearly impossible to write about it all. Heck, it’s hard enough getting these two or three paragraphs out, as it is. I have a really hard time typing on touchscreens.

See you when it’s all fixed….

Just to Keep the Blog Active…

As I mentioned several weeks ago, I figured I could post videos I found interesting and similar things to keep this blog active when I didn’t have anything to talk about for the week. I then promptly forgot to do that for the next month or so, but I still think it’s a good idea.

With that in mind, here’s an… interesting video.

Plans for 2019…

Well, my plan to keep this blog going with fun pics and videos didn’t work out, pretty much from the moment after I made said plan. Well, plans don’t always work out.  I had a lot of plans for 2018, accomplished a few of them, but some of them are bridging over into next year.

Keep that in mind as I list the following Plans for Fennec Fox Press in 2019:

1. Early in the year, I expect to publish In Division Imperiled, the third book of my Law of Swords series. Then again, I was expecting to have it done back in August. I’ve only gotten back partial edits, so far, and I’m looking for a new cover artist. It’ll be a project, but I hope — at the very latest — to have it out in time for Ravencon this year.  Hopefully earlier, but that will depend on how the cover search goes.

2. I intend to make use of my local library’s maker-spaces, which include soundproof recording studios I can use for free, to try and record an audiobook of “A Gun for Shalla,” my story in the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology. If this works out, I may try the same thing for some of my other books, but we’ll see.

3. Work on the next Shieldclads book has begun… sort of, though I have yet to start actual writing. Mostly I’m just re-familiarizing myself with the universe, going through 14-year-old notes from when I first started writing The Merrimack Event, and doing some occasional research. I’m too busy with other things involving In Division Imperiled to start actually writing it, right now, but I hope to get started early in the year… maybe even in January.  How long it will take me to actually write it is another question, but with luck I’ll get it out in 2019, too.

4. IF I am fortunate enough to get both In Division Imperiled and the 2nd Shieldclads book out this year, I’m thinking I will try and get something done in one of my non-tentpole series books; in other words, maybe I’ll actually go ahead and do that expansion of “The Rink of War” into a full-length novel, which has a lot of pre-written material from when I was intending for that short to be part of a series of shorts. Or maybe I’ll even finish that untitled short story about the malfunctioning robot chef with a deliberately bad french accent who turns detective (which you can find either in this blog’s archives, or in my collection of unfinished tales, This Book Cannot Make Any Money); I don’t expect that to become anything more than a short, anyway.
I probably will NOT start By Claw and Arrow (planned as the second book in the Inari’s Children series), because that will be a much more involved process. I hate having to set aside what I’ve long viewed as my best book\series for so long, but the sales just haven’t been good enough for me to justify taking the time to write it. As things stand it will have to wait until I’m free of one of my tentpole series (likely the Law of Swords, as that’s planned to be a shorter series and is further along) before I can get to it. Of course, if there was a sudden boost in sales of that book that allowed me to justify it, maybe I’ll be able to bump it ahead in the queue….

Happy New Year, folks! Full of hope that these plans work out… (we’ll see how things go)

Yet Another Status Report

Well, I’ve got nothing big to talk about this week, so it’s time for Yet Another Potpourri of stuff\Status Report! Woo. *yawn* Hoo.

To start with, I finally got my first report from Tantor about The Merrimack Event‘s audiobook this week. I won’t give out the particulars, but I’ve earned out the advance and am into profit, there, and sales are well into the four figures. Now, there, I’ll give a genuine “woohoo!”

I completed the transition, mentioned a few weeks ago, from having my books transferred from the soon-to-be-discontinued Createspace service into its replacement, KDP Print. The transition went smoother than I feared. If anyone even noticed, though, I’ll be surprised.

The third Law of Swords book is ALMOST complete. I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it! (heh; I meant it every time I’ve said it, but I feel a bit more definitive about it). I still need a few solid days of writing, most likely, and those have been hard to come by these past couple of weeks, but I’m REALLY close.

I’m trying to think of ways to make this blog more interesting. A common piece of advice for writers is not to try and market your books to other writers, because writers never have any money; this blog is focused a lot on writing and the business of writing, so… yeah. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.  (Yes, for most of you, this means you’ll have to actually LEAVE A COMMENT in the comment section.  I know it’s hard, but if you want something more out of this blog that’s pretty much the only way you’ll get it.

Link Shares:

Between October 5th and 9th (so, uh, by the time you read this the promotion is half-way done), Cedar Sanderson is giving away her Halloween-themed short story, Sugar Skull.

I’ve mentioned Chris Kennedy and his small press outfit here a few times before.  He’s just released a new anthology in his popular Four Horseman universe, and some of the authors want that link shared as well, so enjoy Tales from the Lyon’s Den.

J.M. Anjewierden (boy, I hope I spelled that right) needs some cash for emergency car repairs, and is hoping to get it by putting all of his books on sale (for a short time only!).  His Science Fiction\Coming of Age story, The Long Black, was highlighted in the link share request.

Cyn Bagley has asked for link shares for three Halloween-themed stories:  Perchance to Dream, Ghostly Glimmers, and Smoke and Mirrors.

And that’s it for this weekend!  Maybe I’ll have something a bit more next week.

Getting Ready for an Event…

Earlier this week, I had a moment of panic when the official webpage for the Eat Local, Read Local library event — an event that I’ve been telling you for months, on this blog, that I would be a part of — went live and, well, my name wasn’t on the list of participants.

An e-mail to the library took care of that quickly enough. There was a miscommunication, but we got it all straightened out, and so yes I’m still going to be there… (and by the time this blog goes out, my name should have been added to the list on that link, as it should have been from the start).  So, if you’re interested, I’ll be selling and signing any of my print-edition books, as well as any swag I have on hand, at the event.  I won’t be alone; there will be many other authors at the event, including (of particular note for fans of the sci-fi\fantasy genre) the bestselling and multiple-award-winning, multi-talented author, teacher, scientist, ballet dancer, and musician Catherine Asaro.

But the issue prompted me to think about everything I’ve gone through so far for what will be my first sales event:

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I took inventory of my books a couple weeks ago. I ordered some copies of the one book that I didn’t have any copies of, but I already had enough of the others to be okay. I also bought a few display stands at the same time — I already had a few for conventions, but I figured I would need more for this event.  They shipped just this morning, but they’re supposed to arrive well before the event.

I also took inventory of my swag. I still have plenty of my keychain-sized stuffed fennec foxes, but not enough of them have the bow ties that include the Fennec Fox Press branding. We have the ribbon on hand, but my mother needs to get her embroidery machine up and running to put the branding on it. I’ll have a few on hand, though, at a minimum, and they’ll be for sale as long as I have a surplus.  I also have some postcards and a few other little things of that nature.

I want to get some additional swag made, though — something cheap enough to give away, but useful enough people won’t toss it in the trash the moment they get home.  Most commonly, when other authors try for this type of swag, it includes things such as pens and refrigerator magnets.  I was hoping the people who did my postcards would be able to make these, but they say that their particular franchise won’t do magnets (though some other franchises in their company will).

There are two alternatives I’ve considered that might be able to do those magnets.  The first, and the more expensive option, is Vistaprint, a business that a number of other authors I know recommend for business cards and the like.  The other is a local option, both on the front-end and in the manufacturing capacities, and it has the advantage of allowing me to REAL PEOPLE about my needs… and it’s cheaper, as well.  I still need to go and talk to the local option before making my decision final; I’ll have to do that soon, though, because there isn’t much time before the event.

There’s also legal stuff. I’ve been running Fennec Fox Press as a sole proprietor with a DBA (Doing Business As, a legal business\fictitious name) from the beginning of my writing career, and will continue to do so (for now, though if I ever bring in other authors for anthologies or the like I’ll be switching to a LLC), but I’ve never needed to bother with the aspects of the business that would put me in a position to have to collect sales tax.  I’ve actively avoided doing certain things because I didn’t want to deal with that, and I didn’t see much short-term return on them.  I’ve been thinking about setting this up for some time, thinking I would maybe try selling some of my books at Marscon or Ravencon earlier this year, but things didn’t quite come together in time and so I never bothered.

For an event like this, however, I’ll almost certainly have to collect sales tax. I have yet to complete all of the paperwork, but it’s in process and I SHOULD have it ready in time. (From a legal perspective, according to the research I’ve done on the local regulations, I won’t be getting in any significant trouble if the paperwork is a little late; I just need to make sure I collect the appropriate tax when I do the sales, and file the paperwork as soon as possible)

And this means I’ll need to set things up to take credit card payments.  I’ve set up a Square account, and I’m waiting on a card reader now.  The card reader is very basic (it’s the one that only works with magnetic strips, not chips), but it should see me through this event just fine.  Long term, once I learn my way around this system, I’ll be able to set up a store for directly selling my books from my website, and maybe replace that card reader with a more modern one that’ll also work with chip-based cards and the like.

So… I’m not ready yet.  I’ve got a lot of things in progress, though, so hopefully, by September 29th (the date of the Eat Local, Read Local event), I’ll have everything done.

And if Loudoun County is just slightly outside of your driving range but you still want to go to a book sales event, you’re in luck.  Turns out on the same day, at the same time, in Fredricksburg Virginia, there’s the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, where Martin Wilsey, one of the other authors of the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, will be selling his wares.

Meanwhile, a PARTIAL manuscript for the next Law of Swords book is with the editor.  I had to rip out an entire subplot right before deadline, in order to make things work in the conclusion, and that’s going to involve re-writing two complete chapters and portions of several others.  That has delayed completion a little, but if I can win the race of finishing those rewrites before he reaches the end of the portion of the manuscript I’ve already sent him, I ultimately won’t lose any time.

The book will certainly be out before the end of the year, regardless… (though, sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be out before the Eat Local, Read Local event.  Ah, well).  It may not have the cover that I showed off earlier this year, though — my test-audience doesn’t like that cover for a variety of reasons.

I hired a skilled and experienced artist, and liked the artwork myself, but I did have a few reservations.  I thought the problems I had with all had to do with the change of style — no-one is going to match the style of the original artwork perfectly — but the test audience I’ve shown it to has several objections, some of which I share.  None of them, surprisingly, are about the subject of the cover; mostly it’s about the coloring, the proportional size of the dragon, Euleilla’s hairstyle, and the texture of the stonework on the castle wall), so I may need to replace that artwork.  Which probably will mean a new artist search.  I’ve still got that cover as a fall-back, though.

As far as the next Shieldclads book is concerned (something I know many visitors to my blog are interested in), I’ll be starting that as soon as I’m done with the Law of Swords manuscript and can get the rest of it off to the editor… though, by now, I’ve learned better than to try and predict a completion date.

Link Shares

I don’t think there are any link-shares this week (something may have come in this morning, but I can’t check right now), so instead I’ll use this space to plug the crowdfunding campaign for Starflight 3.  The fondness I have for the original games has me pushing for this to succeed, though the fundraising target they’ve set has me worried for it.  If you’re willing to help me support a sequel to one of the very best PC computer games of the 1980s, please look into it.

Createspace is Going Away…

I started the week not knowing what I would post this week, but figured — with Dragoncon happening, and roughly half of my Facebook friends at Dragoncon — I would have something to talk about by the end of the week.  Turns out I do have something to talk about, but it has nothing to do with Dragoncon after all.

It’s been rumored for months, but the shoe has dropped and its no longer just a rumor. The POD service that does my print editions, Createspace, is being phased into KDP Print.  Now, you could go through that link to read some of the details, but honestly it’s probably more than you want to know.  It won’t be happening right away, though, as apparently they’ve been having issues with the migration and the “tools” needed for authors to make the transition smoother are being restricted to specific authors in batches; I still don’t have the ability to access those tools, and it may be weeks before I get them.  However, by all accounts Createspace will be no more by the end of the year.

So, what does it mean?  Not much to you.  Depending on how smooth the transition goes, there may be zero disruption of sales or it may be my print books will be taken off the market for as much as two-to-three days.  Most likely, it’ll be offline for a few minutes and that’s it.

To me, for now, it means a little administrative work.  Some of my record keeping might need to change.  I don’t think this will have any effect on any of my eBooks, so if you’re like the majority of my customers it won’t matter (the ratio has improved slightly, but I’m still selling something close to a 200-to-1 ratio of ebook to print book).  If you want to buy print copies of my books and you live somewhere OTHER than the United States, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be able to get it (KDP Print and Createspace have had two different “territories” they would distribute books to; those territories are being merged along with the two companies).

This won’t effect me much, but the distribution merger can result in some oddities you might find from other indie authors.  For example, IF I had a Japanese-language translation of my books, you could get it in Japan… but only if the text is written in Romaji (the English-language alphabet and not kana or kanji (the Japanese ‘alphabet,’ or rather syllabary).  Japanese characters and fonts are not supported, even if distribution to Japan is.

That doesn’t mean the only changes you’ll see are a few minutes when my books won’t be on sale and some added distribution.  The other changes may not show up for a while, however; they don’t need to be done right away, and they’ll take some doing, so they can wait until I’ve finished the current projects I’m working on.

From my previous experience with KDP Print, I know that they have slightly different cover design requirements (things like KDP Print is less flexible with where you place the ISBN code).  So, some time in the next few months (probably to coincide with the release of In Division Imperiled, the third book of the Law of Swords series) I’ll be tweaking the cover a bit so that the designs of the new books and the old books will match better.  The old cover art will be used for all of the old books (well, with the possible exception of The Kitsune Stratagem.  I like the current cover art, but based on the criticism I’ve received, I’m coming to the conclusion that one big reason it has been such a slow-seller compared to my other books is the cover art), but there will be slight differences to all of my major print books to conform better to KDP Print design standards.

The interiors should remain the same, though, regardless, so if you already have a copy there won’t be a point in buying another one… though I won’t object if you do.  If you were thinking of buying one, though, and haven’t, (for any of In Treachery Forged, In Forgery Divided, The Kitsune Stratagem, or The Merrimack Event), and you would like the old cover, you probably should buy one now.  (It shouldn’t matter much, but if my books ever become collectables these older covers should be worth more).

Now that they’ve added many of the features I was missing the last time I tried it out, I think KDP Print will work out fine once the transition is complete… but I’ll miss Createspace.

Link Exchange

Just two things again, this week.  And I was worried this link exchange thing was going to bury my blog…

From Cyn Bagley, the third book of her EJ Hunter series (the previous two having been featured in prior blogs), Diamond Butterfly.

From Holly Chism comes a short story collection, Normalcy Bias.

Taking Inventory

While I haven’t heard anything from it since I was told I would be part of the event, I’m still looking ahead to the “Eat Local, Read Local” event, which will be at the Cascades (Loudoun County, Virginia) Library on September 29th. It will be the first sales event I’ve been to as an author (sales events typically involve print books, and while I do have print editions for most of my books they aren’t a big part of my income, so it’s never been a priority), and while I know how these sorts of things work (more or less) there are a few details I don’t know.

For example, I have no idea how much inventory I will need. The advice I’ve read always seems to suggest I refer to “similar events” or “past performance of others at the event” (I’ve never been part of a “similar event” as this, and I have no idea what other people who’ve been part of this event in the past have sold), so it’s pretty much useless.

Maybe, if I could track down some other writers from last year’s version of the event, I could get some sort of idea… but that would take time, and (given Createspace’s infamously slow shipping times) I need to decide, soon, if I need to order more copies of any of my books.

I almost always buy a batch of my own books right after publication, even if I’m not selling then. Having a few copies I can give away to friends and reviewers, or show off in front of a panel at a convention, etc. just makes sense. So I have some in stock… but I’ve not really been keeping track of how many I’ve given away, nor (off the top of my head) do I know how many I’ve ordered. All I been concerned with is “I’ve still got enough.” So, I had to take inventory.

According to that inventory, available for sale at this coming event I have:

In Treachery Forged: 8 Copies
In Forgery Divided: 6 Copies
The Kitsune Stratagem: 7 Copies
The Merrimack Event: 7 Copies
Worlds Enough, Fantastic Defenders: 6 Copies (actually 7, but the seventh isn’t for sale as it’s the only copy I have signed by some of the other authors)
This Book Cannot Make Any Money: 0 (uh… probably should order a supply of those)
Total:  34

(I also have a supply of old proofs and misprints for all of those books, but they aren’t for sale).

With the exception of “This Book Cannot Make Any Money,” I think I’m actually fairly well stocked for now.  I don’t want to lug much more than that around with me, at any rate.  Do any writing veterans reading this think differently?  Should I buy more copies of anything?  Could I leave some at home and lighten the load?

And, for those who AREN’T writing veterans, I’ll let you know how things go. But that won’t be for a month, so keep this post in mind…

LINK SHARING

As last week seemed to work, I’m going with text links only.  The only two new link-share requests, this week, are sequels to earlier link-shares, so I won’t bother breaking them down by genre.

As the sequel to last week’s “The Godshead,” Holly Chism presents “Highway to Tartarus.”

And as the sequel to last week’s “She Called it, Wolf,” Cyn Bagley presents “Dark Moon Rising.”

Enjoy!

 

Library Services

I’ve long tried to write this article before, either on its own or as part of a larger article, but I always seem to get side-tracked and never seem to get my point across.  As related, below, I wound up doing something this week that may finally help me get it out there.  Here’s hoping it works, this time.

Earlier this week, I took my mother to a particular branch of my local public library. As background, my mother is an competitive art quilter (if you’ve been around long enough, you’ll probably have heard me mention that point before) who incorporates some pretty high-tech tools in her quilting. Sewing and embroidery machines with advanced computerization, a long-arm quilting machine, computer-aided design software and hardware (including printers which are designed for printing on fabric, scanners, Wacom pen-tools and tablets, and lots and lots of embroidery and quilting software).

One thing she doesn’t have, however, is a type of cutting tool called a curio or cameo cutter.  But, it turns out, one of the local branches of the public library does

I’d never been to this particular branch, so I went along.  I was surprised to find that the librarian was actually quite skilled with the device (my past experience with public libraries — as opposed to academic libraries — is that often they acquire interesting pieces of technology or software, but the librarians find themselves out of their depths when it comes to using them), and my mother managed to get everything done with it that she needed it for.

But the library has more there than just the cameo cutter.  If you notice on that list of “features” in the library branch, there’s something there called a “sound studio with electronic instruments.”  I went and took a look at it, again just expecting a large room with glass walls (just like most of their “Study Rooms”) with some low-end recording equipment and maybe a couple cheap electronic music instruments in it.

What I found was a room the size of a small closet… but also high-quality sound-dampening insulation on the walls, a special, heavy-duty sound-proof door, and recording gear that was actually professional grade.  I think there was also an electronic piano or something like that in there, but I couldn’t go in and take a look at the time.  Whether there was a piano or not, however, it wouldn’t be acceptable as a recording studio for musical performances — it was far too cramped.

But it would be absolutely perfect for audiobook recording.  And (unlike something I was told when querying about an older recording studio in another branch of this library system, which was much like how I envisioned this studio would be) they have technical expertise, there, to help people get set up.

I am thinking of trying to shop my larger books to Tantor (as audiobooks only; I’m not planning to sell them my other rights), so that they will be produced by the same people who did the successful audiobook version of The Merrimack Event, but I don’t think my shorter fiction will go there.

I still haven’t quite finished book 3 of The Law of Swords, but once that’s done I think I might see if I can’t record myself reading A Gun for Shalla.  And now I know where to record it.

So, if you’re a writer, or some other type of creative, and you’re missing resources for some aspect of your career, you might want to check your local library.  Not every library system is as well equipped as mine, but some are even better… and maybe, even if they aren’t, your librarians may know where to go.


Link-Sharing

Well, after some technical issues from last week’s link-sharing post (it seems ad-blockers were preventing the links from showing up for some people), I’ve decided to change the links from text-and-graphic to just text.  That should also help reduce their footprint, which should make the link-sharing section less likely to take over the whole post.

Science Fiction

By Laura Montgomery comes a pair of what I believe should be classified in the “Sword and Planet” sub-genre of science fiction, though perhaps with harder science than some.  She is looking for a boost among sci-fi readers, especially:

Sleeping Duty
Out of the Dark

Fantasy

By Cyn Bagley, an urban fantasy novel dealing with werewolves.  She says that she’s pushing it as a re-launch, after heavy revisions and updates.

She Called It, Wolf

By Holly Chism, another urban fantasy novel, this time dealing with a forgotten god from the mythological pantheons (or at least the North pantheon, because the summary mentions Loki).

The Godshead

Linksharing

Remember how, last week, I mentioned a Facebook effort for authors to share links to their books? It’s now active.  VERY active (I’m hoping the volume dies down as time goes on; it seems to have, but whether it’s hit manageable levels or not, I’m not sure).  If the volume doesn’t go down, I’ll have to think about how to handle this.  I originally thought this would all be a footnote to this week’s post, but it grew so long that, even restricting it to fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history, it became an entire post itself.  I don’t want this blog to become nothing BUT link-shares, so either the group needs to slow down some or I need to revise how I’d planned to do this.

Keep in mind this is merely link-sharing, not endorsement (got that, Amazon?  It’s JUST link-sharing, not endorsement, not an attempt to “manipulate the sales rankings” (whatever that excuse for de-listing authors was supposed to mean), JUST sharing a bunch of links), so I suggest you use the blurbs and sample chapters to help you make purchasing decisions.  That’s what those features are there for, right?

Fantasy:
Kenton Kilgore describes his debut YA Fantasy novel as “Little House on the Prarie… but with dragons!”

L.A. Gregory presents her debut novel, a YA “Sword and Sorcery” fantasy novel dealing with shapeshifters.

In the subgenre of “YA Medieval Fantasy”, a book by Blake Smith.

In the Sword and Sorcery subgenre, a book by Cyn Bagley.  The first book in this series was well received and sold reasonably well, but its sequel hasn’t caught on, yet:

Science Fiction:
From Cynthia Bagley, the author describes this as a short fiction piece with a comedy component.

From Stephanie Osborne, this (the seventh in the series; the Facebook group also had other books in the set listed, but there is no one link to the series at this time) is described as “Spy SF with a touch of Space Opera.”

This Two-fer is listed as a science fiction on Amazon.  From the description, I’d think it was fantasy, but I’m guessing the author knows the difference….

Described by the author as “part mil-sf, part space opera,” a book by Amanda S. Green (under the not-so-secret psuedonym Sam Schall).

Hey, it’s another Space Opera!  By Pamela Uphoff.

Alternate History:
The author (Ron S. Friedman) lists this as ‘Science Fiction\Alternate History,’ so I’m inlcuding it here.  It sounds like it’s really time travel, though.

Kacey Ezell’s Minds of Men. This is already up for a Dragon Award, but is out-of-genre for her usual audience, and she’s particularly hoping to ‘train’ Amazon’s also-bots to recommend her book to readers of Alternate History instead of just her usual military science-fiction readers.  So, for this next week or so, she mostly wants to push this at people with a history of reading other alternate history novels.  Keep that in mind if you’re checking it out.