Beanstalk and Beyond Release Notice

I have just had confirmation from my publisher that my novel  Beanstalk and Beyond will be released on May 1, 2017.

It may or may not be up on Amazon before then. When that happens, I will not be shy about that.

I have been warned that if I want plenty of books on hand, I want to schedule any sort of release party for late May.  I am open to suggestions about this thing. Once I have time/space coordinates, I will not be shy about this either.

On May 1st,  I start a new job as  a field service technician for RC Lurie, which sells architectural lighting systems and related products. My end of it will be making sure they work.

It’s full time. I am not looking for side gigs until I start feeling comfortable with this job.

I will be a new employee for the first time in 15 years (and hopefully the last time as an actual employee). This will be my first job of consequence outside of live entertainment since the 1990’s. It remains to be discovered how much that takes out of me.

So I may not show up at social events I would otherwise attend, and my bliggety blogs may update less frequently for a while (particularly the ones nobody reads). I am confident, however, that I will find my way on top of all of this.

Meanwhile, we’re making Sangria over at Winehobo. 

Also, I’m mowing my own lawn tomorrow. Draw your own conclusions.

Now you know.

Do the work or take your chances

I’m a bit deflated at the moment. A bid I worked pretty hard to research and get right will go largely for naught because some out-of-town outfit has underbid us by half based (presumably) solely on the bid documents, which I know to be incomplete and on occasion contradictory.

This is called “buying a job” and there’s no defense against it unless you are also willing to take a loss on the project.

Here’s my policy: $0 is still better than the -$X you lose bidding a job for less than your cost.

The end client – an arm of the county government – will have no choice but to accept the lowest bid. Good luck with that.

I have added a new post to Writing Made Visible about e-books – a subject of much discussion on this site as well. In particular, let’s go back to Mike Stackpole’s Authors Can Be Stupid series of blogs:

This is from the yesterday’s addition to that series: …A Brief Note on Self-Publishing – which attempts to summarize the previous eight posts:

I do not believe that even digital self-publishing is easy. I believe it is simple, and there is a world of difference between those two things. Establishing your own business is hard work. If you don’t put that work in, you will not reap the benefits of your business, pure and simple.

At this writing, Mike (he’s local – we’ve met) is still going on about this.

Now that we basically know that autism is unrelated to vaccination, a bigger, better study links the condition to older parents. But before you panic – here’s some perspective:

“This study does not say advanced mother or father age causes autism,” [Study co-author Shanie F] Dawson tells WebMD. “This is one risk factor among many factors that contribute. In the majority of cases, we are not going to find that any one factor accounts for any individual child’s autism. Parental age is just one risk factor that is interacting with other genetic and environmental factors that lead to a child developing autism.”

I have my 2010 Writer’s Market! (Happy birthday to me!) Among the discoveries from my initial skimming of the pages: there seem to be moire markets fro graphic novels than middle-grade fantasy novels. Here I sit with a head full of ideas that would work well (or better) in that format, and all I have to show for it are words – dull old-fashioned words.

OK, I’m 95% there in terms of pro-quality copy (don’t judge by this blog – I never do a second draft here). I’m only 65% there in terms of  pro-quality illustration – and I am woefully under-equipped. While I’m sure I have the talent to get to 75%;  I’m not certain I have the talent to get to 90% – which is the threshold to start asking for money.

That leaves me with two choices:

  1. Find reliable collaborator (which is a huge challenge – especially among middle-aged adults with lives and jobs. A Collaboration involves 2-3 times the time commitment vs just banging the thing out by yourself.)
  2. Become a better artist. I’m not certain if my talent ceiuling goes high enough, but I won’t know by guessing. So I’m going to commit to drawing something every day – and re-educating myself in the craft. The we shall see.

Meanwhile, if you are a competent artist withtime on your hands – Boy do I have some ideas for you.

And I’m hanging onto my notes about that job. The whole project is swarming with free-floating chunks of magical thinking and when those pieces collide with reality, doors may open unexpectedly.

Now you know.

The future is still wide open

This is normally the slot where I’d post writer’s meet-up notes, but nothing came out of last night that lent itself to further investigation on-line.

So, we’ll get through a little backlog of writing tidbits. First general writing, then my writing in particular.

Patrick Nelson-Hayden (of whom I’ve written much re Westercon) on the future of e-books and science fiction.

C. Hope Clark’s Funds For Writers site with free newsletters (I subscribe to two) lots of advice and a shining example of how to promote yourself on the web. She also has a blog.

I just finished a little thing for Demand Studios. Took maybe 2 hours to crank out a 200 word article, but that’s because I had to keep tabbing over to the style guide. I get the format down, it would be an hour. Plus research. Plus re-writes. IF it all works out, I get $5 in pay-pal.

I’m not at all convinced I need the work that badly.

But I’ll update as we go.

Speaking of writing that may never make money, Agent #8 requested a synopsis along with a full manuscript.

It took me 4.5 hours to write a 2000 word synopsis.

It took the agent 2.5 days to reply.

“I’m going to pass.  This is much better than what I usually see, but I think it would be hard to sell as a middle grade book–too cynical and dark–and the young narrator makes an adult sale tricky.  It’s also too episodic to have as much suspense as the market likes.”

I could bump Jack up to age 14, and keep most of the plot intact.

But the tone and the episodic nature are deep structural things. I think the tone is a matter of opinion though. Not that its cynical -even though this is the brightest, most positive, least violent fiction I have ever written, the underlying cynicism is undeniable. How much cynicism is palatable to middle-grade readers?

A lot. My son’s bookshelf is full of horrible events and grim battle versus overwhelming darkness and so forth.

Now, how much cynicism will a middle-grade publisher tolerate from a first-time novelist?

Let’s just go ahead and see what agent #9 thinks.

We Shall See.

(Now you know…)

Trust your stuff. Throw Strikes.

So with the Beanstalk project, the agent score is now 1-1. The second agent I queried requested a full manuscript.

There’s still a LOT of steps, some of which are fairly improbable, between this landmark and publication, but it is nice to have real evidence that I can pitch in this league.

The value of Facebook? Two things: I posted 25 photos in about 10 minutes. That would have taken the better part of an hour on WordPress. Also, at least +6 hits to a page every time I announce its been updated on Fb.

For the writers: Jeremiah Tolbert on getting started writing SF.

As far as starting? Open a word processing program and type words together to form sentences, and sentences to form paragraphs.   You will probably be terrible at first.  99% of writers are.  But the truth of it is, you get better through the act of writing.

Can’t wait for my SF game to be finished (because that could be a year out…), check out Orion’s Arm.

Now You Know

Deep Nerd Round-up

The NBA Playoffs have started and … I don’t care. The Eastern Conference playoffs is really the LeBron James exhibition tour, and with San Antonio and Utah hollowed out with injuries, there’s nothing substantive between the Lakers and the Finals. Wake me up when Cavs/Lakers hits Game 4.

Cool archive of modern art: DirJournal

Need a glimmer of hope in these tough economic times? Gun makers – in this case Glock – are dealing with a boom market.

Notice the new page? Beyond the Beanstalk Query count: 0-1

More to come on that page, but not before I finish this page.

Further evidence the – right now – E-publishers are their own worst enemy: Amazon Kindle DRM vs paying customers.

I haven’t sent them money yet, but the demo alone is fun to play with:

Universe Sandbox

Now some game stuff. Non-nerds can just move on if they want…

Power Points, whether using magic or technology, equates to Joules/10. It’s not quite that simple. You still have to account for range and duration separately, but the core of the SFX can be measured in Joules.

I haven’t figured out the ratios yet, but the base development cost behind technology is based upon energy, mass of the fuel required to get that energy, and the cost of that fuel.

Now you know

Bullets, bats and sharks.

My son’s baseball team learned that if you don’t listen to the coach in practice – you get shelled – and I mean shelled – in your first game. Now, the other team had some higher skill levels (where my son’s team is still working on basic base running, they were working on steals), but the athletic talent was about even. The lopsided score was the difference between working on your game and making excuses.

There’s an ammo shortage in the United States. Between wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and – ahem – Mexico, plus the 30-50% increase in sales since O’Bama took office (the gun-lovers are a fearin’ new laws and/or taxes) both gun shops and police departments are struggling to stay fully loaded, as it were.

I sent a version of the query letter for Jack (the title is The Beanstalk and Beyond) to Query Shark. The letter was sufficiently off main sequence that I felt some more objective eyes might be useful. My letter isn’t up at this writing and there is no timetable for it (the agent who writes QS does this in her “spare” time). We’ll see what comes of it.

What’s the value of Facebook? My 20+ hit day (24 March) came after announcing my blog update on FB.

Now you know.

Jack Novel Finished! 12/31/08

For the record: I have just met my self-imposed deadline and completed a pass-around draft of The Prince of Bandits (Volume One of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer).

To meet that deadline, I have blown off several things over the past few days, including this blog. I have a backlog of notes but I’m going to let this announcement stand alone.

The numbers: 25 chapters, 170 pages (single space, 12pt Times Roman via Word) 84,445 words and about six years on and off – though really since fall of 2006 as a serious pursuit.

Having met the first goal – Finish the Damn Book! – I go forth on the second goal – Interest an Agent.

The third goal is getting published. We shall see.

At this point, I’m the only one who’s read the entire thing. If you are interested in reading it for me ( and giving some fedback) post a comment. We’ll find a way to get you a copy.

Now you know.