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….

Researching for a Story I May Never Write…

I like the silly\amusing posts I’ve made over the last few blogs, but I still want to keep up some of my older style posts as well. With that in mind…

I’m currently working on two books (In Division Imperiled, which still needs editing and a cover, and Shieldclads, which is still in the (re-)outlining stage), and when the weather stabilizes enough that driving down to the library is safe (well, the library that has the free-to-use recording studio in it; that library requires driving down a few back roads I don’t trust to be regularly plowed), I intend to try my hand at recording A Gun for Shalla as an author-read audiobook. So, I’ve got plenty of writing projects going on at the moment.

But I have this goal of trying to get yet another short project out this year in addition to all of that. After not releasing a new book last year (well, unless you count This Book Cannot Make Any Money), I need to make up for lost time. But if I want to finish something like that, I need to make sure I have some necessary research lined up, first.

I’m thinking that what I’ll do, if I can find the time, is complete the story I started on this blog for that aforementioned This Book Cannot Make Any Money which featured a malfunctioning, burger-flipping robot named with the deliberately bad French accent named Hummer, who turns detective when someone is murdered in his restaurant.  I like the set-up I’ve already written, and I’d like to explore a conclusion to it.

Now, I may never write this story; it all depends on whether I can find time to squeeze it in.  But if I do write it, there are things I need to know.  I need to figure out what forensics tools would be in Hummer’s tool-kit (I have some ideas for things, but I’d like to ask an actual forensics expert how realistic they are), I need to know EXACTLY how the poison I used in that story works (and if it doesn’t work the way I need it to, I need to find one that does work the way I need it to), and I need to research some of the things I intend to use as clues and evidence for Hummer to find (which will remain unspecified as they could be spoilers).

That would take time (which, with only slight difficulties, I could carve out in my schedule, even if I’m still working on those three other projects), but must be done before I write one more word on that story.  Which means I need to get started on that research before I even know if I will actually write the story.  But I think it needs to be done.

So… I guess I’ve got some work to do.

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)

It’s been a while…

Okay, so I’ve missed a few weeks (and I’ve gotten more comments than normal. Huh. So, to get comments on this blog, it seems I have to disappear without explanation for a while. Hm…). I don’t really have an excuse other than “Oops, I forgot, and I had no idea what to write about anyway.”

I got a bit of news this week, though:  I’ll once again be returning to Ravencon 2019 as a ‘Programming Guest.’  I almost certainly will NOT be at Ravencon in 2020 (with the 2019 guest slot, I’ll have been a guest 3 times in a row.  As I understand how things work at that convention, it wouldn’t matter if I was J.K. Rowling, I wouldn’t get four guest invites in a row), so I’ll have to think of a replacement event to attend that year, but I have plenty of time before then.

Honestly, I still don’t have any idea what to write about in this blog, any more, but as I have a book coming out soon (In Division Imperiled), it’s a bad idea to let it sit idle for too long.

With that in mind, I’m going to try something of an experiment. If I DON’T have anything to write about for the week, I’ll toss up an interesting\funny\etc. video or picture I’ve found somewhere around the web (usually via shamelessly stealing the link from someone on Facebook) for you to enjoy.

I’ll start it off with an old favorite of mine…

 

Link Shares:

It’s been a while, so there are several of them.  Another reason for bringing this blog back even though I don’t have anything to talk about:  The long delay between posts has made some of the reason for these shares irrelevant (for example, several of these were intended for Halloween), but I figured I should go ahead and post them anyway.
Rapunzel by Laura Montgomery (free for a few days)
The Utter Truth by Cyn Bagley (oops, missed a free promotion. Sorry, guys!)
If You Should Choose This Mission by Cyn Bagley (see above)
Luna City Lucky Seven by Celia Hayes and Jeane Hayden (New release!)
Lab Gremlins by Cedar Sanderson (New release! Uh… for Halloween)
Mercenary Calling by Laura Montgomery (missed a free sale)
Death Comes to Merry Gardens by Elizabeth Bruner (Halloween-themed)
Like a Continental Soldier, by Laura Montgomery (Final book of a set that has been pushed here, before).

Word Counts…

I put out a call last week, asking for suggestions on what to do with this blog. I got one reply — in e-mail (WHY DOES NO-ONE EVER USE THE COMMENT FEATURE?!) — that suggested I treat the blog as a diary, and talk about what happens in my life. I pretty much do that, already… it’s just that there isn’t enough new material each week to make up a new blog every week, and I’d really like to TRY and keep this blog a weekly thing. So I’m still taking suggestions, if anyone has any.

It’s a good thing I don’t give people weekly (or worse, daily) word count updates. People would get really confused. For the first few weeks, I’d post about having written roughly 1k-2k words per day, which by the end of the third week would accelerate to 6-8k per day. My record is about 12k words in one day, though that was long before I went pro.

I’d top a hundred thousand words about the end of the sixth week… and still be going, since most of my books run about 150k words. Usually at 100k, I’d start slowing down, sometimes to a few mere hundreds of words per day.

For In Division Imperiled, however, it got even worse than that. I got to about 130k-140k, which I’d estimate is about 90% of the way done, about three months after I started. Which is what I told anyone who asked — the book was “90% done,” so hopefully it would be finished shortly. And I STILL HADN’T SLOWED DOWN. I was thinking I’d finish the book in a personal record time.

And then I started trying to knit all the parts of the story together for the conclusion, resolving all the sub-plots (at least, all of those which weren’t setting up something for the next book) for the end.

The story wasn’t stalled in the least. I seemed to be adding newer, better subplots in as I was deleting others, and I was making great progress on them. I was still going about 3-4k words per day… but I was pulling about 5-6k per day at the same time.

In other words, I was going backwards.

By the end of the sixth month, I was down to 110k words. That was the shortest it was cut to after hitting that 140k word plateau, but it wasn’t the last time it shrank. I was back to 140k a month later (this was back around August or so, when I was hoping to be finished in a week or two) when I finally gave up on one fairly massive sub-plot that was threaded throughout the book. One whole chapter, and several large partials, wound up being gutted from the book. I was back down to 115k words. That’s a fine length, if the story is complete, but the tear-out left a lot of gaping “holes” in the story that needed to be filled back in. My editor was expecting the book the same week I’d ripped out that subplot, and my writing speed had dropped back down to about 1k-2k. I was fortunate he allowed me to send him a partial manuscript he could work on while I finished. I’ve had a few other cuts since then, but nothing so drastic.

Earlier this week, I topped over the 140k plateau for the fourth time with this book… and I don’t think there are any subplots left that are likely to be ripped out, this time. I still figure about 150k will be the ultimate length. If I’m able to keep going at 1k-2k per day, I should FINALLY be done in a week or two… only three months late. *sigh*

LINKSHARES!

This week, we have a Halloween-themed linkshare!  Memories of the Abyss, by Cedar Sanderson, is a mystery thriller of novella length the author says is perfect for the season.

Also this week, Stephanie Osborn has released the eighth book of her space opera series, Division One, with Phantoms.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

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.

Afterthoughts from Eat Local, Read Local

Well, my first dedicated book sale event was yesterday. It left me exhausted (or, well, perhaps a little dehydrated), but it was a good time. Weird internet issues today (wifi’s been spotty, Facebook has been acting up, and when I tried to go to Wikipedia earlier, I was somehow redirected to the Polish version of Wikipedia. I’ve never been to Polish Wikipedia, before, and have no idea how that happened) has made typing an extensive write-up… difficult, but here is a BRIEF summary of my thoughts in the aftermath:

  1.  It was an outdoor event, and advertised as “rain or shine.”  Rain and books don’t mix well, so I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining.  In fact, I dare to say it was the nicest day of the year, so far.
  2. Despite the good weather, the tent I was in had clearly been rained on over the past several days… and it was leaking.  I was a little hesitant about putting my books out for display on a table where dripping water had pooled.  I got the table moved so that it wouldn’t get dripped on as much, and dried it off, but the water was still dripping on my head any time the wind blew.  In order to minimize the risk of getting my books wet, I wasn’t quite able to set up my table the way I wanted.  I’m not sure what could be done to prepare for this sort of thing in future events, but I need to figure out something if I’m ever part of another outdoor book sale.  If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.
  3. I went to this event last year, though as a customer and not as an author.  It was raining off and on that day, and foot traffic was moderate to light (I did not notice any wet author tables last year, but the whole thing was set up differently; tables were arranged differently, it was in a different part of the library grounds (their front parking lot instead of their rear parking lot), it was larger, etc.).  I was hoping that the better weather would result in better attendance, but foot traffic was about what I remember from last year.
  4. The Loudoun County Library’s Eat Local Read Local event took place simultaneously with the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, an almost identical event focused more on indie authors that was taking place about an hour’s drive away from my house (which means it was about an hour and a half’s drive, in the other direction, from the Eat Local Read Local).  I asked an author who was there what foot traffic was like, and was told it was “surprisingly light” there, as well.  At least in terms of total bodies coming to either event, the Eat Local Read Local was about on par.
  5. I did, in fact, sell a few books (not as many as my most optimistic hopes, but not as few as my more pessimistic imaginings), despite the light foot traffic.  I went through a lot of effort to ensure I could take credit cards (using Square), and got stickers and signs broadcasting that fact, but to my surprise everyone paid cash.  I’ll have to remember that if I do it again; I thought I was well prepared, but I almost ran out of spare change.
  6. We (authors) were all assigned to one of three tents, and provided with half of a table each (in other words, we were asked to share a table with someone else).  Our table-partners, with a few exceptions, were assigned alphabetically within each tent.  Just what criteria was used for tent assignment, however, was not clear to me — though I do know we weren’t grouped by alphabet, genre, publishing house, bestselling rank, or in order of when we applied to be part of the event.  Maybe it was random draw out of a hat?
  7. My table partner was an affable character who wrote literary works on school life.  He said he had been to events like this before and had never sold anything at them, but he thought he would give it ‘one more try.’  He then proceeded to spend about five minutes at the table before standing up and wandering off, checking out the other authors’ offerings, then came back for a bit before again wandering off to have a conversation with someone, then came back briefly, fussed with how his books were arranged on the table, and then left for a bit again.  He came back for one last time… to pack everything up and go home with the event half-way over.  I have to wonder if this was typical of his past attempts to sell books at these events, and if that is why he’s never sold anything at them before.
  8. Most authors only brought one or two different titles to sell to readers; I brought multiple copies of all six books that I have in print.  This might have been a mistake, considering I only had half of a table, and my books were a bit crowded together.  Combined with the need to arrange things so that my books were kept dry, I wasn’t able to display them all to their best effect.  My table partner leaving allowed me to spread out a bit, but if I do this event again I’ll have to be a bit more selective in what I bring.
  9. I made arrangements for my sister-in-law to show up half-way through the event (well, actually I’d arranged for my brother to do so, but he accidentally double-booked himself for that day, so she came instead) to take over my table so I would be able to get lunch.  My table-partner had already left by that point, so after buying lunch from one of the food trucks at the event, I took his seat and the two of us worked the table while I ate.  Having someone else there was a great help (though it would have been impossible to have someone with me from the start of the event, as there was normally only room for one person), even if we didn’t have any sales during the brief time she was there.
  10. I got lots of compliments on my book covers.  As an odd phenomenon, I had people taking pictures of my book covers, as well.  I thought maybe they were showrooming, but so far I haven’t seen any sales bumps among the books that were most commonly photographed.  I did see a slight bump in sales of The Merrimack Event in the immediate aftermath of the event, but I don’t remember anyone taking pictures of that book’s cover, so I don’t know if that’s connected at all.
  11. Everyone loved my little Fennec Fox Press stuffed fox-keychains, but no-one wanted to buy one.  I do give some of them away, but I can’t afford to give ALL of them away; I’m only charging the break-even price for them.  Ah, well… I’ve got them for next time, at least.

And… well, that’s all I can think to say at the moment.  No link-shares this week.  So, until next week, that’s it…