Print Is Dead

…at least to me.

I’ve long been saying, since I started reading in ebook format, that I was done with print books.  Ebooks are more convenient, less expensive (or at least they should be – peering at Big Publishers with their stupid Agency pricing), more convenient, and hell just plain lighter.  And, especially since I got my Kindle for Christmas (I had done some ebook reading, quite a bit in fact, on my iPhone or iPad before then), I have not touched a print book at all.

Seriously, I’ve got a number of titles that I was in the middle of, or wanted to start, in print, but they’re just sitting there on the shelf while I zoom through ebook after ebook.

Fast forward to now.

Like I mentioned the other day, I just got eight Writers of the Future anthologies in the mail.  I’m eager to read them.  There’s just one problem: they’re in print.

I’ve tried.  I have.  I sat down with Volume 28, the one that just came out, and started reading it.  And man, I gotta tell you, print books suck.  Or at least, print mass market paperbacks suck.  They’re stiff, turning pages is annoying, the text is small.  Plus it’s hard to read the text near the spine without bending the spine all out of whack (and I don’t want to do that because these books look really nice and I don’t want to ruin them).  And then there’s the smell!  I’ve read all kinds of peudo-intellectual diatribes from people about how they’ll never leave print books, and how ebooks are such a tragedy, because of the look, the feel, and the smell of print books.  The smell, that glorious smell, bring a tingle up these people’s spine.  Or something.

Bollox.

That print smell is just…icky.  And the feel?  The damn thing’s too big in my hands, too stiff to open fully, annoying to turn the pages…

So I’ve come full circle it seems.  I’m beginning to think I may have to buy these WotF anthologies in ebook and just set the print up of the shelves.  They do look nice, for certain.  We’ll see.  I’m going to try again on them, but 8 books times 500-600 pages each is a lot of reading.  Not sure how long I’ll be able to stand it.  😛

I suspect my growing dislike for print will be tempered somewhat in the trade paperback and hard cover formats.  But still, there will be the sheer size and weight issue to cope with.  Overall, ebooks provide such an easier, more naturally flowing (if that makes any sense) experience.  Print just doesn’t compete.

IMHO.

Your mileage may vary.

Still Honorable

I got the email from Writers of the Future today.

The Blob On The Rock, my entry for the 1st Quarter of their 29th issue…won!

Yeah….just kidding.  Actually, it got an Honorable Mention.  That makes two HMs and two flat out rejections for me, so far.

The former coordinating judge, the late K D Wentworth (she passed away last weekend – horrible tragedy.  I never met her, but by all accounts she was an amazing lady, and the SF/F world lost one of its greats), wrote in several different places that Honorable Mentions fall into the top 15% of all WotF entries.  So while an HM is not a win, I feel pretty good about it.

So now The Blob On The Rock is off making the rounds through the various short fiction markets.  First stop: Asimov’s.  If they don’t take it maybe Analog, or Clarkesworld, or one of the others will.  And if that doesn’t work, it’ll go up as a double with Lords of the Remnant.  Either way, it’s all good.  🙂

 

In the meantime, I took advantage of a great offer that WotF had, and bought the last several years of WotF anthologies for pretty cheap.  They arrived today.

So now I have Volumes 22 thru 28, as expected.  And Volume 4, which wasn’t expected.  Maybe it was advertised as being included in the package, but I forgot about it.  Pretty sweet!

Now that’s a lot of reading.  But they say if you want to win the contest, you need to read the stories that have in the past, to get a feel for what they’re looking for.

Of course, this goes against my “ebook only” policy.  Oh well, it’s worth it.  Of course, it was only AFTER I placed the order that I saw they have ebook versions of all of these volumes out there.  Oh well…

 

Right.  Well, back to it.  Have a great day, everyone.

Another One Down

Just felt the need to crow.

I finished another story today: another mystery/crime tale, called Bag Man.  I started it back in March, but only got about 1,000 words down before I left for the Workshop.  I originally called it The Watery Tart, because I started it by playing off of Monty Python And The Holy Grail, with one of the characters complaining, “I can’t believe that watery tart threw a scimitar at me!”  But after that start, what I thought was going to be a farcical fantasy story turned into a gritty modern-day crime story.  So I had to edit the beginning a little bit.  Changed that first dialogue line completely, because I really want to use the watery tart bit in a story that suits it some day.

Bag Man came in at just over 5,600 words.

I was pretty happy to finish another crime/mystery story, because I want to get The Billionaire’s Daughter up for public consumption and I’d rather do it as a $2.99 double than as a $1.99 single.  So Bag Man allows me to do this.

Except…

I think it’s a darn good, and fun, story.  So I decided to try it at Ellery Queen first.  Pushed submit just a few minutes ago.  Which means I have a choice.  Either:

  1. Publish The Billionaire’s Daughter now as a $1.99 single and change it to a double after Ellery Queen’s done with Bag Man (assuming it’s rejected).   -or-
  2. Wait to publish them both once EQ has made their determination.

There’s no real rush, so I’m inclined to go with #2.  Except that I already have a cover concept (a good one too, I think) done for The Billionaire’s Daughter.  And I like the story a lot.  And, well, I’m impatient.

On the flip side, since mystery/crime is a departure from the SF/F Michael Kingswood theme, I’m using a new pen name for these stories: Alex Mariner.  More titles = better for a pen name, so waiting to start him off with two might not be a bad plan.

Ah hell, I dunno.

EQ only took 10 days or so to process The Billionaire’s Daughter, even though they advertise up to three months.  If they can be that quick with Bag Man, it’s a no brainer to wait.  So I guess I’ll wait and see.

UPDATE – I looked at the Dreamstine terms of use again, and putting up that test cover with their watermarked images was a no-no.  So I’ve taken it down.

 

Well that’s about it for now.  Cheers!

A Paperback Jar

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on a Trade Paperback version of my short story collection, A Jar Of Mixed Treats.

I got the initial proof last week, and naturally found a couple typos that I’d missed before.  And, once again, I found I had stretched the back cover text a bit too far, so it slipped over the seam at the binding, which looks a bit ghetto if you ask me.

So I changed it.  Made it better.  Check it out:

     

The only problem, which you may have noticed, is that, though I tried to put some cool text on the spine, it ended up being too thin for Createspace to make it happen.  Their guidelines won’t allow spine text for less than 108 pages, and A Jar Of Mixed Treats comes in at 76.

(sigh)

Oh well.  You can’t have it all.  Where would you put it?

So yeah, it’s now approved and up for sale, for $7.99.  It’s live now on the Createspace e-store.  It’ll populate in Amazon in a few days, and to Barnes and Noble and the rest in a couple weeks.  Pretty sweet.  🙂

Larian 4 – Grandfather’s Locket

Back in March, I decided to write another Larian story.  I’ve had fun with his last three adventures (How NOT To Rescue A Damsel In Distress, Measuring Up, and First Blood), and it seemed time to do another one.  Plus, just two more and I could make a collection of five stories, just about him (insert shameless mercenary grin here).

I initially figured the story would run around 5,000 words, but I didn’t have a target.  I rarely do, unless I have an assignment like during Dean’s Workshop.  When it came time to leave for the workshop, I was at around 4,000 words though, and I realized 5,000 was not going to happen.  I put the finishing touches on it this morning, removing a few typos and clarifying a thing or two that Ericka pointed out.  Final word count: 8,300.  Just a bit over 5,000.  🙂

So that makes it my fifth novelette, if you count The Champion, which I do.  You know what that means: as soon as I hear back from Writers of the Future about The Champion (which isn’t going to be for a while, not until the end of June probably), The Champion‘s going up.  And so is a collection of those five novelettes, in both ebook and print.  They together come to 58,000 words – long than Glimmer Vale, but just barely.  That will make a respectable little collection, I think.  🙂

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

In Grandfather’s Pendant, Larian’s comrade-in-arms and friend, Jiles (we met him in Measuring Up) received a family heirloom in the mail: a silver pendant carved in the shape of an eagle, with sapphire eyes.  It’s a gift from his grandfather, who recently passed away, and has been in the family for generations.  But when he went out for some Liberty, Jiles lost it somewhere in the town of Mirasol, an hour’s wagon ride from their Company’s camp.  When Larian offers to help recover it, they find themselves drawn into Mirasol’s dark underbelly, and encounter danger they never would have expected from a night out on Liberty.

Grandfather’s Pendant is $2.99.  It’s live now on Smashwords and DriveThruFiction.  It will be live on Amazon and Barnes and Noble within the day, and on the Smashwords distribution channels in a couple weeks.

UPDATE – It’s not live on Amazon as well.

Sex

Title get your attention?  😛

Anyway, the results of the ultrasound are in.  The verdict: boy!  So that means our brood will be one girl (the oldest) and three boys.  So much for the better half’s plane to even out the numbers.  Oh well…

 

No, before you say it, there WILL NOT be a fifth.

 

So what does that mean for the little contest?  Interestingly enough, almost everyone guessed girl.  I think there were two, maybe three people who guessed boy.  Total.  So that makes it easy.  So I’ll figure out who’s getting the free copies this afternoon and let everyone know either tonight or tomorrow morning.  Fun, fun.

Boy or Girl?

Tomorrow my wife is going to a 3D ultrasound to check out our new baby (yes, for those who are doing the math in their heads, this would be child number four.  And yes, our oldest right now is 4 years old.  So yes, we are officially insane.  Sue us.  😛 ).  We’ll be finding out the sex, naturally.  I think it’s going to be another girl, and I’m batting 3 for 3 so far on baby predictions, so I’m confident the results tomorrow will be favorable.  🙂

Ericka decided it would be fun to make a little contest out of it, though.  So here’s how it works:

  1. Go to my Facebook Page
  2. Go to either the post referring to this blog entry or to Ericka Pawlowski’s shared post on my page wall.
  3. Leave a comment whether you think it’ll be a boy or a girl.
  4. Those who get it right will be put into a hat, and one lucky winner will get a free print copy of Masters of the Sun, signed, of course, by yours truly.

Sounds great, right?  We’ll pick the winner on Sunday, the 15th of April.  So get your tushies over there and pick a sex.  What have you got to lose?

More POD

One of the cool things that I saw at Dean’s workshop was books, a lot of books, from the other writers in the workshop.  Several people brought their POD paperbacks to show Dean.  Of course, that first night, I smacked myself in the head because I had intended to do the same, but forgot to pack the proof copy of Masters.  Fortunately, my better half is the bomb, and she mailed it to me so I could show off also.  🙂

A couple of those writers had long novelette/short-novella length books in POD.  That made me do a double-take because I had not really thought of putting such a short length book in print.  But turns out, it’s totally doable.  Dean broke out one of his Poker Boy short story collections, priced at $7.99 if I recall correctly, to show us how he did it.  Here was a book with five stories, about 15,000 words plus or minus, in a nice tight print edition.  Add in Mark Fasset with his Zombies Ate My Mom novella in print and I had a revelation.

There is no reason I can’t put out shorter length works in print as well.  And I damn well ought to.

So I decided to get A Jar Of Mixed Treats out there and, once I hear back from Writers of the Future about The Champion, put out my four novelettes as a print and ebook collection.

Today, I worked on A Jar Of Mixed Treats.  After going through the learning curve with Masters of the Sun, it only took me an hour or two this afternoon, in between kid interruptions, to get the interior layout and cover created.  Here’s the cover.  It’s simple, but then it doesn’t need to be fancy.  And I like simple.

It’s thin, just 80 pages in 5in x 8in format.  But it’ll work.  And that’s one more thing in print, which is a good thing.

I expect to have the files approved in the next day or so, and get the proof around the end of the week or early next week.  Pretty cool.  🙂

What’s cooler is that as soon as I finish Grandfather’s Pendant and hear back from Writers of the Future about The Blob On the Rock (Assuming I don’t win the contest.  Hey, stranger things have happened, right?) I’ll have another five stories that I can put into a collection.  And I’ll be able to make a collection of ten as well.

There are a few other stories lurking around that I’m working on too: the cop story I started a while back and The Wattery Tart, to name two.  And the longer heist story that I began and then sidelined last summer.  I should probably get back to them, now that I think about it.  But they’re mysteries, not SF or Fantasy, so they’ll go under a different pen name, Alex Mariner, which is the name I’m using for The Billionaire’s Daughter, which I finished during the workshop.  So before long I’ll have a collection ready to go under a different name in a different genre, too.

I tell you, the possibilities are limitless.  🙂

Right.  Back to writing.  Or something.

Assessment – 1st Quarter 2012

The first quarter of the year came to a close a week ago.  That means I’ve got some assessing to do.  So let’s have at it!

First, a sales update, just because:

Sales dropped quite a bit from Jan-Feb, but climbed a little into March. Even though KDP-S left me with a "meh" feeling, I can't deny it brought some sales along with it.

I didn't earn enough to get a paycheck for February, but March made up for it. You'll note the big royalty amount off a single sale of Masters of the Sun - that was a Createspace POD sale. Royalties straight from Createspace are nice. 🙂

Now, bear in mind not all sales outlets have reported for March yet.  But I don’t expect much to change.  So things are creeping along, with emphasis on creeping.  But that’s ok.  Marathon, not sprint, remember?

Ok, on to more important matters.  How did I do this quarter toward my goals?

Annual Goals

  1. Karate – while in San Diego, we tracked down a nice looking dojo just a couple blocks away from our house-to-be.  It’s a different style than I’ve trained in before, but that’s ok.  The instructors seem cool and they have programs for us and for the kids, so it looks like that will work out nicely.  We’ll see next month when we get to town and get started, but so far we’re on track.
  2. Slim Down – I was down 3-4 pounds before the trip out west.  I haven’t weighed in since returning yet; Monday is my official weigh-in day anyway.  So we’ll find out tomorrow, but I’m making progress, slowly.  And that’s ok. 🙂
  3. Triathlon – Well I’ve been running a lot.  And biking using my indoor trainer device.  It’s starting to warm up around here, so I’ll switch to the streets this week probably.  And as I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to either run or bike in to work in San Diego.  Mission Bay, which is an area just a couple miles north of our house, has lots of triathlons throughout the year, so I’m on track here, too.

Quarterly Goals

  1. Finish the first installment of The Pericles Conspiracy – Yeah… Well as I mentioned a while back, that goal quickly shifted on me when I got to 50k words and realized I might as well just finish the whole damn book in one shot, since it’s a novel already.  So much for a couple or three novellas.  I only got 22k or so written on this story, though.  More than I initially planned, but not enough to finish.  So we’ll call this one not met/deferred.
  2. Submit to Writers of the Future – done.  I squeaked in right at their word count limit after trimming 1,300 words or so from the story, but still, done.
  3. Begin the Masters of the Sun sequel – not done.  Since Pericles is taking longer than expected, I didn’t even think about getting started here.
  4. Go to DWS’ character voice workshop – done.  And well done.  Awesome in fact.

So it’s a mixed bag on the goals.  Let’s look at word count.  First Quarter Writing:

  1. The Pericles Conspiracy – 20,492 words (in progress)
  2. The Champion – 18,162 words (complete)
  3. Who Ate My Sock – 2,064 words (complete)
  4. Grandfather’s Pendant (Larian #4) – 3,886 words (in progress)
  5. The Wattery Tart – 1,422 words (in progress)
  6. Daddy’s First Date – 3,258 words (complete; horror pen name)
  7. The Billionaire’s Daughter – 5,902 words (complete; mystery pen name)
  8. Character Voice and Setting Workshop Assignments – 12,000 words (complete)

Total for the Quarter – 67,186 words

Avg words/month – 22,395.33 words/month

Avg words/day – 738.31 words/day

So word-wise, it was a pretty good quarter.  Just a hair below the 75,000 I’d need to get to 300k by the end of the year, but more than I thought I would get, considering I expected a move.  Turns out the move isn’t til next month, so a good check of next month will be a wash for writing.  With all that in mind, I need to revisit my plans for the 2nd quarter.

I said I would finish the Masters sequel, the second installment of Pericles, and submit to Writers of the Future.  Well there won’t be a second Pericles installment – just the whole thing.  So here are the new 2nd Quarter Goals:

  1. Finish The Pericles Conspiracy
  2. Publish Glimmer Vale (finally) – it’s just about ready to go
  3. Submit to Writers of the Future
  4. Begin the Masters sequel

Right.  Guess I’ll get to it, then.  Until next time!

 

Catchup

Wow, talk about a crazy couple weeks.  I’ve been jaunting all over the country, writing, searching for housing, listening to feedback, getting a tan…  And I never tan.  You want to talk about instant-lobster, that’s me.  But somehow this week it’s worked out better.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I lost you.  Back to the beginning, shall we?

As I mentioned before, two weeks ago I flew off to Oregon to visit Dean and Kris.  I’d been looking forward to this workshop, Character Voice and Setting, for a while.  It’s not every day one gets to learn from people who have each published over a hundred novels and too many short stories to count.  I was flattered that Dean allowed me to come at all, since he doesn’t let just anyone in, and was determined to make the most of it.

But I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dean warned that it was going to be intense.  Brutal.  So I got to thinking, what does that mean?  I had visions of 5-6k words a day, having to be up all night to git ‘r done, things like that.  The reality was…not quite so brutal as that.

Each day we had reading and writing assignments.  The writing amounted to 2k/day for the first three days and 1.5k/day for the last three.  Plus two 3-6k short stories (mine came in at 3,400 and 5,900 words, respectively).  And I had to redo one of the 1.5k assignments, since I missed the mark pretty badly.  So that comes out to a total of 21,300 words, or thereabout, for the week.  Pretty good numbers, when you think about it.  Just not as extreme and soul-crushing as I had envisioned.  Which is a good thing.  🙂

So was it worth the time and cost to go?  Oh heck yeah.  Like the title of the workshop implies, we focused all on techniques to make characters come alive and make setting immersive.  And boy is there a lot that goes into that; more than I ever thought of before.  Dean advertised we’d have issues with some of it, since he was going to force us into critical voice all week.  And that was true.  What did I have the biggest issues with?  Well…

1) I found I am good at doing a southern accent (big surprise there) and an English.  But NY and Hispanic?  Nope.

2) Setting.  I had always viewed setting as the backdrop upon which characters do things, and little more.  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  Turns out setting is characterization too, because everything in the story comes to the reader through the eyes and ears of the point of view character.  So setting goes to characterization too, since what the character notices or not tells a lot about him.  So that took a bit of a mind shift for me.

I could go on, but I’ve no desire to bore you guys to tears.  🙂

So yeah, it was a great week.  I left feeling pretty good about how much I learned, and about where I stand with my writing for now (though I know I’ve got a long ways to go).  It helped that Dean said he thought I was a really talented guy and that I’m off to a great start.  Nothing like a nice compliment from a world-class professional to make a guy feel good.  🙂

Now for the pictures!

The obligatory group shot. There I am, front row center. Fitting, don't you think?

There's Rebecca Senese with her new friend.

WMG Publishing's offices are awesome

More of the offices.

 

So that was two weeks ago.  This week, I spent in San Diego with my better half.  The Navy is moving us there next month, so we decided to piggy-back a house hunting trip onto the end of my workshop.  It was just as grueling a week as last week, and just as successful.  We now have a lease for a place in San Diego, on Point Loma, about 3.5 miles from where I’ll be working.  Perfect.  At that distance I can either ride my bicycle or run to work every day; no need to buy a second car.  🙂  Just what we wanted.

Right.  With that, we’re all caught up.  I’ll be back shortly with other things to discuss.  I realized it’s been a couple months since I did a sales update.  There’s nothing much to brag about, but as long as I started the trend, I should continue it.  Also I’d some feedback on more cover work.  So that’ll be coming soon.  But for now it’s just about time to board my plane.  Until later, then.  🙂