Category Archives: Inari’s Children Series

Plans for the Immediate Future…

As I’m getting ready for the Eat Local, Read Local event, I’m also finishing off the third Law of Swords book, In Division Imperiled (as I mentioned in the epilog of my last post). (Oh, and my birthday is this Thursday, but that’s unrelated to this post).  Trying to make everything happen at once hasn’t given me all that much time to think about my business plans beyond those few things, but in search of a topic for this week’s blog I spent some time thinking about it, anyway, and made a few decisions. I know this looks like another of my boring old status reports, but you will probably want to pay attention to this blog — I’ve made some important decisions,

To begin with, recapping what I mentioned last week, I’m going to need to find another cover artist soon as the cover for In Division Imperiled flunked with my test audience. I haven’t sent out any queries to any artists, yet, but I have identified a short list of people from varying levels of professional experience to try. Hopefully at least one of them will respond to my query and be willing to work within my budget (which, uh, I need to decide on, as I’ve already used my book cover budget on the flunked-out cover).  Will this delay In Division Imperiled’s release?  Probably not (though it depends how the cover art search goes).  But it may delay my marketing plan.  And to think — for once, I thought I was getting ahead of things by arranging for the cover art even before the book was over, and would be able to do a lot more pre-release marketing than I have in the past.  It’s a shame, but an unsatisfactory cover is… well, unsatisfactory.

Second, once the Eat Local, Read Local event is taken care of, I intend to see if I can’t get an actual store going on the Fennec Fox Press website to sell signed copies of my print editions. Given past print sales, I’m not expecting to do much business through said store, but since I’ve had the website for a while, I’ve got enough books to justify it, and now I’ve got the Square account to take credit cards, and soon (if I can just get the paperwork completed!) I’ll be able to take sales tax, there’s no reason NOT to open such a store.

I’m not sure whether I’ll have anything to offer other than my few books (and possibly some of the little plushie Fennec Fox keychains I was giving away at Ravencon, but I’m still undecided on that), but I might decide to do things like sell some used books, or help my mother sell some of her quilts (haven’t yet discussed this with her; I know she tries to sell some of her quilts off her own page, and I’m not sure how it would work), or maybe I would look into a deal with some of my author-friends to sell their books through my store (the big problem with trying to sell someone else’s work is the legal liabilities; I’d have to turn my little sole proprietorship into an LLC first, so I probably won’t be doing this to start with).  I’ll still have to work out the technical details, but I’m fairly certain I can manage a small web-based storefront, and at the very least all of my signed books will be made available on it.

Third, once BOTH the Eat Local, Read Local event AND the In Division Imperiled manuscripts are completed, I’ll use the library’s new sound recording studio that I surveyed a few weeks ago to begin turning A Gun For Shalla, my story in the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, into an audiobook with myself as the narrator.  I don’t want this to prevent me from starting work on the next Shieldclads book, however, so I’ll be restricting myself to trying this experimental project just one day a week.

If it works out, then maybe I’ll also try the same thing with The Kitsune Stratagem (the book that I think Tantor, who produced the Merrimack Event audiobook, is the least likely to buy the rights to).  If THAT works out, and I can’t convince Tantor to do the audiobook for the Law of Swords books, maybe I’ll do those, too.  But, at one day a week (at most), that would put those books pretty far in the future, and this post is more for my immediate plans.

Finally… most of the previous things you might have caught in my previous blog posts, but this one I decided just as I was working on this blog:  If you are interesting in buying either of the Law of Swords books in ebook form somewhere OTHER than Amazon (such as through Kobo, Smashwords, or the Nook), you might want to buy them now.  When the rest of In Division Imperiled is off to the editor and I’m ready to start really marketing it, I am going to (experimentally) withdraw my previous books in the series from wide distribution, and see if I can’t put the whole series into the KDP select program for at least one enrollment period (90 days).

I’ve not done this in the past because I’ve found most of the technical issues reported with KDP Select (at least, most of the ones that don’t ultimately turn out to be the result of bad practices on the author’s part, or an author’s advertiser’s part) happen because the author took a book that is already in wide distribution out of wide distribution in order to meet the exclusivity requirement of KDP Select.  I haven’t heard about one of those particular issues in a while, though, so maybe they’ve been fixed?  And, in conjunction with the release of the third book, I think it might make a huge difference sales-wise.

I plan to return to wide distribution before too long, but I thought the same about The Merrimack Event, and the number of page reads I get in a month is STILL too high for me to pull it out of the program and try wider distribution.  Crossing my fingers that nothing goes wrong when I do it, though.

Link Shares!

Well, I’m still going to push for the Starflight 3 crowdfunding campaign.  It’s falling behind the pace it needs to set, but I’m hopeful some investors will come in at the end to save the campaign (which has been hinted, if they can get close), and in the meantime it could use your support.

But I do have actual books, this week.  First there is Billy the Kid, by Link Share regular Cyn Bagley, and is related to some of the EJ Hunter werewolf stories I’ve shared links to in earlier link-share entries.

Second, there is Fire and Forge by Holly Chism, another link-share regular; the third book in her Modern Gods series.

That’s all for now!  I may or may not be taking off next week (depending on how my birthday celebration plays out), but I’ll see you all soon!

Future Plans

I had hoped I would be able to say “the print edition for The Merrimack Event has been released!” by now… but I’m still waiting on a second proof copy (hopefully one without a mangled spine, this time). I do have several milestones to note: I reached over one thousand sales and one MILLION page reads (actually, it’s about one and a quarter million page reads, at last check). In less than a month.

Uh… okay, that was a little unexpected.

So, my original plan, as far as future book releases go, hadn’t factored in The Merrimack Event. As fed up with it as I was by the time it was released, I was convinced it wouldn’t sell, well, anything. I was publishing it to get it out of the way, so I could move on to my other books.  I spent more to get it out the door than my other books, so my expectations could be summed up as “I hope it will break even or something.  And it won’t be holding up my other books, any more!”

Well, it did that… and a lot more.  And now I have to figure out where to slip a (still untitled) sequel into the “to do” list.  I have a plan for a sequel… uh, somewhere (it’s been thirteen years since I last looked at it, but I do remember that I’ve preserved it across several computer moves).  Even if I can’t find that outline, however, I can come up with a new one; I’ve just got to figure out when to get it started.

The original plan was to finish In Division Imperiled (or whatever I call the 3rd book of the Law of Swords series), and then move on to By Claw and Arrow (the sequel to The Kitsune Stratagem.  I need to re-launch this book; it doesn’t seem right that my best-written book (both my opinion and by several objective standards) should also be my worst-selling book.  Getting the sequel out there would be an opportunity to do that).  After that, I was going to polish off To the Rink of War, turn it (and the unpublished serialized short sequels) and re-publish it as a novel.

I also had the idea of putting together a couple shared-world anthologies for a couple of my books, but that would have required some changes to Fennec Fox Press‘s business model (I’d be going from a sole proprietorship to a LLC, I’d have to change my accounting system so I can preserve money to pay other authors, etc.), so they were in a more nebulous “later.”  And, some day in the middle of all that, I was thinking of putting together that “This Book Can’t Make Any Money” blog project as part of a self-publishing tutorial on the side.  There were also a couple supplementary works planned that would slot in as they were ready — for example, the Fennec Fox Press House Style Guide, which is currently (in software parlance) in an Alpha version, but would need to be completed before I could even consider an anthology, and would be nice to complete before I send ANYTHING out for editing, again.

But now… all of that is out the window.  Oh, I’m still doing all of that, but now I need to slot in a sequel for The Merrimack Event.  And if I slot in a sequel for The Merrimack Event, I’ll have enough books in the list to need to account for book four of Law of Swords.  And as urgent as keeping those two series going is, maybe I’ll have to set aside those anthology plans until I’ve cleared up some other parts of my schedule.  And…

Well, anyway, I revamped my “order of production” schedule; see what you think.

  1.  In Division Imperiled (working title):
    The manuscript for this is already half-way done (or, well, I’m somewhere in the middle of it.  It’s gone pretty far off the trail set by the original outline, so I’m not sure exactly where I am in the story).
  2. The Fennec Fox Press House Style Guide
    The editor for In Division Imperiled has become overwhelmed with work, and may not be available for that book, so I might need to find another one.  If so, I’m going to need to have this ready for them.  This is a small thing, and can be worked on concurrently with In Division Imperiled.  It may wind up being completed first.  If released to the public (instead of just sent to the new editor with the manuscript), it would be a free download off the Fennec Fox Press website.
  3. By Claw and Arrow (Inari’s Children, Book 2)
    I still want to re-launch The Kitsune Stratagem, and getting this book out there is a big part of the plan for doing so.  So, while I’m anxious to get The Merrimack Event’s sequel out there, I’m still planning to get this out as quickly as possible, too.  If I start working on this and it gets bogged down, however, I’ll swap this with the next book in the queue.
  4. Shieldclads # 2
    Um, since I don’t even know where I put the outline for this, yet, I haven’t worked out a title for it.  But here is where I hope to slot it in.  Here is also where my original scheduled plan starts to diverge from the new one.
  5. This Book Cannot Make Any Money
    Another side project that can be done alongside other books (since most of the work will actually be done in the time allotted for working on this blog).  This could actually be ready any time before or after this point, but I’m guessing that I’ll have it done by this point.
  6. Law of Swords, Book # 4
    This was GOING to be The Rink of War, the novel-length version of the short story\novelette, To The Rink of War.  Instead, I have to juggle in the sequels to my more popular series, so here’s where Law of Swords 4 goes in.
  7. ONE OF:  Rink of War OR Nine Tales of the Kitsune
    Nine Tales of the Kitsune is the first of my planned Anthology projects.  IF I think I can generate the interest from other authors without too much trouble (one of the things I hope to do at my upcoming convention appearances is network with other writers), I may get this set up for this slot.  Otherwise, Rink of War (mentioned above) will be bumped here.
  8. Shieldclads #3
    Juggling two successful series is going to be difficult, especially with my other projects included.  This project and the next might wind up flipped, depending on how things work out.
  9. Law of Swords, Book # 5
    This should CONCLUDE the Law of Swords series.  I may revisit this world again, but with the series ended the schedule will be freed up for more “new” projects.
  10. Inari’s Children, Book # 3
    Current plans have this as the concluding book, but I’m not happy with the outline for this one.  If the relaunch of The Kitsune Stratagem is successful, I’ll rewrite the outline spreading the story into at least four books; otherwise, I’ll revamp it to conclude the series here.

And that’s all I can queue up at this point.  I still have more books planned outside of what you see here (including more Shieldclads, an anthology and possible sequels to Rink of War, some supplementary material for all of my series, and another sci-fi series dealing with a chubby pilot, his mind-reading girlfriend, and a space racing jalopy), and it’s possible one of those won’t let me go until I slip it in somewhere, but for the moment that’s as far as I have planned.

Edit:  Spammers are really going to town; I already have to shut down the comments on this one.

Ravencon Con-Report

I’m back from Ravencon, rested, and finally ready to type up my experience attending.  A wrap-up of events, if you will.

I will start by listing panels that I wanted to attend, but for one reason or another (usually a conflicting panel, but not always) couldn’t:

  • Genre Blending: The New Weird
  • The Portrayal of Nuclear Power and Engineering in Fiction
  • Urban Fantasy: Using Real-World Settings and People in Your Fiction
  • Critiquing: The Right Way
  • Indie Publishing: Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
  • Just Line the Last Time, Only Different (a panel on sequels)
  • The Science Behind Science Fiction
  • Alien Worlds and Races
  • After the First Draft:  The Next Step for the Aspiring Writer
  • Finding the Right Publisher
  • Elementary, My Dear Watson
  • The How and Why of Short Stories
  • The Art of the Book: The How, When, and Why of Development
  • Collaborative Writing
  • How to (Not) Ruin Your Writing Career
  • Why Editing Matters
  • Allen L. Wold’s Writers’ Workshop
  • Tips for Aspiring Writers
  • You Did (Not) Attend this Panel in an Alternate Universe
  • It’s Only a Flesh Wound!  Realistic Injuries in SF and Fantasy
  • Why Science Fiction Matters
  • The Business End
  • Baen Traveling Road Show
  • Shooting a Movie Short on a Shoestring
  • Authors vs. Artists Pictionary
  • Successful Indie Publishing: Trick and Traps
  • Writing Critical Hits
  • Plotting and Pacing a Short Story
  • Webcomics/Manga: How to Write a Story
  • Ask A Scientist (this one really hurt to miss)
  • The Eye of Argon (this makes the third time I intended to go to this panel and missed it)
  • Laser Tag
  • Indie Publishing: Marketing Your Work
  • No Right Way to Write: Techniques for New Writers
  • Making Magic Work
  • Things Fantasy Writers and Movie Directors Get Wrong About Horses
  • Webcomics/Manga: How to Find an Artist
  • Let’s Build a Space Habitat
  • Pantsing vs. Plotting
  • If Mary Sue if So Awesome, Why Does Everybody Hate Her
  • Stupid Superhero Powers

There were enough programs in on that list to equal the number of panels I normally find interesting at two (and then some) average conventions.  So, Ravencon is pretty densely packed with programming.

Now, about the panels I actually did manage to attend…


I made it to the hotel in time for a belated lunch… which, unfortunately, I couldn’t have in the restaurant itself.  Apparently, the hotel decided that their restaurant should be closed between 1:30pm and 5pm no matter what.  They sent me to a back room (technically a dance club, but there was no dancing at the time) where lunch was slow serviced (they were short-staffed that afternoon, according to the only person working there) but the food was pretty decent.  As was the conversation —  had a chance to chat with a couple other early-arrivers.  I don’t think I ever got their names, and nothing all that memorable was said, but it was nice to start the convention with good company.

After lunch and a quick rest, however, the convention itself began.  The first panel I attended was called “Playing God: Building Your Own World,” with Kate Paulk, Kevin Kelleher, Lawrence Ellsworth, and Mike McPhail.  For a Friday 4pm panel, it was VERY well attended, and quite informative.  I was able to ask a question (which was, effectively, “When mixing together mythologies that each require significant worldbuilding background, how do you put them together without your book becoming bloated?”  The consensus answer was to focus on one mythology per book.  As I was referring primarily to the struggle I had with The Kitsune Stratagem, which features alliances between a family of (Japanese mythology, though I also drew slightly from Korean and Chinese variants) Kitsune and (Shetland Island folktale-based) wulvers, a battle between the aforementioned Kitsune family and (aborigonal Australian folktale-based) Bunyips, and included a quest to find a particular type of (Scandinavian mythology-based) Väki Haltija, I wasn’t able to do that.

Then I went to the Allen Wold Plotting Workshop (distinct from the Writing Workshop, which — as mentioned above — I had to skip).  This is a fun thing to do at most conventions he attends, and I’ve found it is constantly evolving and improving.  At this particular plotting workshop, I came up with the plot for a future book (or maybe just a novella; we’ll see) around the inspiration line of “It all began when he brought a trebuchet to a sword fight.”

Following that was a workshop entitled “Living the Dream: Planning a Sustainable Creative Career,” presented by Rob Balder of Erfworld fame.  Now, when it came to my own career planning, it was largely recap… but he went through how to come up with these plans from different business models.  While my own would be a self-publishing model, he described a so-called “Free Content Model” of artistic-oriented business which brought to mine my mother’s own quilting business.  What notes I took and the worksheets that were handed out I am turning over to her, because I think they could help her with her own business plan.

That turned out to be my last panel of the day (dinner break leading into a longer-than-planned break leading to me just missing the rest of the panels I wanted to go to).  Unfortunately, an “early night” didn’t wind up helping me rest up, as I thought it would — I learned that the hotel’s beds were soft.  Very soft.  Too soft for my comfort; I tossed and turned all night.  Worse, I had set up a morning room-service breakfast so that I would be SURE that I had time for breakfast before the first Saturday panel I wanted to attend at 9am.

That breakfast never showed up.  The hotel staff said I filled out the time on the card wrong (I am suspicious of this, as I was referencing the filled-out card when setting up my wake-up call in the morning, but I won’t argue).  So, on top of almost no sleep, I also had no breakfast.

I rushed into the Science of Cryptozoology panel; given that I write with so many creatures which might be considered cryptids, this panel (presented by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Randy Richards, and Bob Blaskiewicz) should have been very interesting, but I was distracted (I still hadn’t straightened out that issue with room service) and wound up leaving almost twenty minutes early.

Still without breakfast but with things now straightened out, I went to the 10am panel on Writing Dialog.  This was presented by Kate Paulk, Lawrence M. Schoen (accompanied by “Plush Guest of Honor Barry Mantelo“), Lou Antonelli, and Noah McBrayer Jones.  I was most intrigued by the discussion of dialects and how to depict them, and having someone whose background was in acting and screenwriting (Noah McBrayer Jones) in addition to the novelists (two of whom had, or were raised with, very regionally distinctive accents) gave an interesting perspective on the subject.  I have to admit that my attention was wandering at the start of this panel, but by the end I was finally alert enough to follow along, and eventually found myself laughing as the panel became a series of amusing anecdotes on the differences between regional dialects.

I had originally planned for a late lunch, but after missing breakfast I skipped the next hour to attend part of the Tangent Artists room party and nibbled on the snacks they had left out to get me through until then.  There I met someone who I had sat next to during the Hobbit movie trilogy back at the Alamo Drafthouse back in December.  We had an interesting conversation about Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trivia during that marathon (before, during the intermissions, and after), but unfortunately I never got her name.  Despite continued interesting conversation, I STILL never got her name before I had to leave.  Ah, well.

I rushed off (a touch late) to head to a panel entitled “Indie Publishing: The Economics of Self-Publishing.”  It was presented by Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, Robert Sommers, and Stuart Jaffe.  I probably should have stayed at the Tangent Artists party, or have gone to a different panel, or maybe should have just gone to lunch.  This panel had a lot of good information, but unfortunately all of it was too basic for someone at my current level.  I continue to believe there needs to be some sort of panel for self-publishers that are at an intermediate stage of their career — they’ve successfully released a book or three and know the basics of getting good covers and finding an editor, but they don’t yet have enough books to enact the strategies (“make the first book in a series free and it’ll help sales for the entire series”, for example) that veteran self-publishers with dozens of titles to their name use to attain success.

Following this panel, I went to a workshop entitled “Ignite Your Worldbuilding,” presented by J.T. Glover.  While advertised as a workshop on worldbuilding, it felt more like a discussion of research (and the application of research).  They can be related fields, but they aren’t quite the same.  Ah, well — I suppose that’s what I should have expected from a research librarian.  (Note: My late father was also a research and acquisitions librarian for most of his career.  This is not said to disparage research librarians.  That said, much of his advice was stuff I learned at my father’s knee).

After that workshop, I returned to my hotel room.  I intended to have lunch while watching the Washington Capitals’ playoff game (we lost that game, but later won the series).  Instead, I turned on the game and let my lack of sleep from the previous night catch up to me, falling asleep.  I woke up just in time to see us lose.  *sigh*  I also decided it was high time for me to eat something more than the few snacks I grabbed at the Tangent Artists party, and didn’t get back to the convention proper until 8pm.

The next panel I attended was, um, a mistake.  It isn’t that I didn’t like the panel (I actually was quite interested in the subject matter), I just mixed up which room I was going to; instead of the “Writing Critical Hits” panel in Cove, I wound up at the “Star Wars: Not the Tropes You’re Looking For” in York.  This panel was presented by Darin Kennedy, Genesis Moss, and John C. Wright (there was supposed to be a fourth panelist, but IIRC he never showed), and it was quite interesting… but it wasn’t what I wanted to go to.  By the time I figured out I was at the wrong panel, I decided I might as well stay and enjoy it.

I did promptly rush to my next panel when it was over, which was in the same room of the panel I had INTENDED to go to the first time.  This panel, “Schmoozing 101,” was moderated by Kevin Kelleher and included Ian Randal Strock, KT Pinto, and R.S. Belcher.  Here, I learned the importance of getting booze for other writers.  (Okay, okay — there was actually quite a bit mentioned about socializing and interacting with writers and editors at conventions and the like… but the first piece of advice, and once that was repeated at least twice, was “buy them booze.  Writers\Editors\G.R.R. Martin\etc. never turn down a free drink.”)

After the panel on drinking — I mean Schmoozing — I went to one with the intriguing title of “The Villains Journey,” with a panel of D. Alexander Ward, Emily Lavin Leverett, Jean Marie Ward, and Kate Paulk.  I was sort of expecting a discussion of John Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, and comparing and contrasting it with various well-known villains’ portrayals in books and movies, but that wasn’t what I got.  Instead, it was a more general discussion of how much backstory a villain needs to be a really good villain.

That was the end of my Saturday.  I had planned to attend more panels, but despite my nap in the middle of the day I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stay awake through any more.  I returned to my room, and actually managed to get one good night’s sleep despite the overly-soft hotel beds.  (This was the ONLY night I slept well, mind you; I stayed a day later so that I would be well rested for the return trip, but I wound up tossing and turning most of that night as well).

I slept so well Saturday night that I was late for Sunday morning’s panels.  Between that and not wanting to miss breakfast that day (or rather, “brunch.”  The hotel restaurant switches its normal schedule so that it only has a Sunday Brunch buffet, and then it closes; after that, you can only get room service), I didn’t get to the panels until noon, where I attended a panel called “Visibility 101.”  This panel, with D. Alexander Ward, Gail Z. Martin, Meryl Yourish, and Michael A. Ventrella, was on the all-important authors’ skill of marketing (you know it’s important because there were three panels on the exact same subject, just all with different names).   There was a discussion of whether writers should present their political views (I’m in the camp of the possibly apocryphal Michael Jordan quote, “Republicans Buy Shoes Too“, but I do recognize that many authors have built a following through their politics), suggestions for ways to build interest in the author through blogging and facebook (I need to increase my blog output and find ways to cross-promote with other authors), and a little bit about advertising on Facebook (it has mixed success, at best, though one of the panelists was quite enthusiastic about it).

And then my final panel for the convention, “The Best Critique Group for You.”  Everyone on the panel, and a few people in the audience (note: There were five panelists and six attendees.  The panel got increasingly less formal as it went on), were on previous panels I’d attended (Darin Kennedy, J.T. Glover, Lawrence M. Schoen, Meryl Yourish, and Robert Sommers were the presenters; I recognized and briefly talked with Jean Marie Ward in the audience).  This was mostly a bunch of “bad critique group incident” anecdotes, which were quite amusing, and a few suggestions for things to look for to find a good such group.  (I am familiar with two local critique groups\writers circles.  I THINK one of them would be a good one — I know who runs it and he’s a good guy — but it meets at a time I can’t possibly attend.  The other one… well, let’s just say that I could have contributed to the silly critique group anecdotes if I’d been asked)

The convention trickled to a close after that.  I walked through the dealers room looking for last-minute deals (I didn’t buy anything; probably a good thing, as I’d spent far too much on the convention already) and looked through the lounge to see if anyone interesting was lingering behind (sadly, by the time I got around to it the lounge was empty).

Overall, I had a few problems, but it was a great convention.  Next convention for me:  CapitalCon DC.