News From the Con World

This mirrors what a lot of other vendors have said about the 2019 season and concerns about 2020. While I will be potentially doing as many shows, I’m definitely leaning towards new markets with proven performers.

This is also something to consider for the larger author community. One may have to take a deep breath when looking at overall sales numbers and also pay strict attention to marketing. Things may get bumpy for a bit.

WWII Quick References (NOV 2019)

Figured I’d perchance save loyal readers some gumshoe work down the road if they ever want to do a World War II story:

You can find ONI drawings for World War II references (like for your cartographer to draw ship outlines) here.

This is a good time zone converter for those cases when you go from Hawaii to Mombasa  to Ceylon all in one chapter.

Finally, lunar data for those pesky night Mosquito attacks.

Now, back to the Kido Butai vs.  Her Commonwealth Navy’s Far East Fleet.  Later!

Happy Veteran’s Day Potpourri Post

So it’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog.  I figured I’d hit some of the high points of the last couple of weeks:

Attended the Ozark Book Con down in Fayetteville this past weekend as a vendor.  First year event with all that entails, but had good panels and talks with several good authors.  I recommend attending the event for the professional aspects if you’re in the area.  If you’re coming from out of the town, it’s definitely a “Hey rando friend I haven’t talked to in years, mind if I sleep on your couch?” until it grows some.  Which, given the professionalism and drive on display, I think it definitely will.

On the way back, finally got to meet Acts of War‘s editor, Mary, in person.  In addition to being long overdue, the fact it’s been 5+ years since that book went through her able hands made me marvel at what modern technology makes possible.  Although her current work with medical journals precludes her from working on anything else, I’m glad that a mutual acquaintance said “Hey, I know someone who might be able to help you…” many moons ago.

Speaking of the Usurper’s War series, Against the Tide Imperial continues to move along.  Unfortunately, after getting read the riot act by an author mentor, I’ve had to accept that the Phases of Mars anthologies are 100% my “books for the year.”  Combined with the new day job’s obligations (oh, yeah, I got promoted and changed positions), the process of putting out Those In PerilTo Slip the Surly Bonds, and Trouble in the Wind has pretty much sucked up a lot of available time.  So, rather than put out a substandard product or skimp on marketing, Against the Tide Imperial is slipping to the right again.  The manuscript will get done this year (which means preorders will be up), but the actual _book_ is probably going to be out in 1st Quarter 2020.  *angry author noises*

This dovetails to a professional lesson that I am learning again, but in a different dialect:  Projects are rarely as easy as they may initially seem.  At the beginning of the year, with Those In Peril shooting up the charts, “Suuuure, we can do two more of these this year…” seemed like a good plan.  What I now realize is one can do three books in a year, it just means one probably shouldn’t also do cons and other creative projects if there’s also a fourth book one would like done.  So, for 2020, the lesson will be, “No, I think that timeline doesn’t work for me, thank you…” as I get solo projects back in line.  (Feel free to remind me of this in the comments when my hair is on fire again this time next year.)

In addition, having now done editing three times, I cannot emphasize enough that you should always pay your damn editor.   It’s a whole different animal than writing, and I will issue a blanket, heartfelt mea culpa for some of my past sins to my editors.  In addition, as an author, understand that your editor’s job is to polish up your work.  “Polish” implies that you have done a grammatical read through, researched the technical aspects of the work, and are basically giving the editor a complete story that just needs a set of professional eyes to look upon it.  This goes doubly so for an anthology submission.  Indeed, I’m just going to let John G. Hartness take it away…(language alert…NO REALLY!):

Anyway, it’s Nano (and yes, I’m counting these words), and I’m going back to US CVs about to go to guns with an Italian Fleet.  (Yes, that’s a teaser.)

Now It Can Be Told

So for about two months now, I’ve been having to sit on the line up for Trouble In The Wind.  Behold, the magnificence of the headliners…

Trouble Ebook Cover Big Lineup

If someone had told me when this whole indie thing got started, “Hey, you know someday you’re going to be editing an alternate history anthology with S.M. Stirling in it?”, I would have advised them to lay off the peyote.  If they’d then added the rest of the names on that list?  Well, I would have slowly backed away while searching for a weapon to deal with the crazy person.

I’m astounded and stunned to be working with titans.  We won’t even get into Team “And More.”  December 13th is the expected release date, so buckle your chin straps.

 

An Interesting Take on Procrastination

I think procrastination is the bane of most authors.  Having carved out time to write, cleared the calendar, it is all too easy to lose a couple hours on social media or “just one more turn”-ing it through a computer game.

Apparently there’s a study out that shows this may not be “You’re a bad time manager…” but actually “Something is emotionally bothering you.”  I’m certainly willing to entertain the argument–I know that emotional upheaval can be a double-edged sword as far was writing motivation goes.  (“Double edged?”  “Yeah, let’s not talk about the fact the original Will Colfax novel got churned out during one of the most difficult years of my life.”)

So maybe all the advice people give about “clearing your head” before sitting down to write has some merit?  Or perhaps that’s why some people write better inebriated, as they’re too smashed to care about the emotional debris flying around in their head space?  Food for thought…

Covering Alternate History

Where Sarah Hoyt discusses the difficulty of putting a cover on alternate history works.  Go on and take a gander…

Mad Genius Club

This one is difficult, because you have to convey three things: alternate time line, where it deviated from ours, and what in general the reader can expect from the book.  You know: funny, serious or adventure.

The easiest ones are the ones that are sf or Fantasy and obviously so.  For instance, my dragon-shifter-red-baron will eventually when finished and ready to go have a dragon with the paint to match Richthofen’s plane, flying over the trenches. Title and subtitle will help, and I’ll come up with something.

Alternate history that is “just” alternate history is more difficult, and you sometimes have to “represent things that aren’t in the book to represent something that is in the book.”

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Never Do Business With…

There’s an old saying about commercial relationships:  “Never do business with someone you’re not ready to do business to.”  I can’t recall when I first heard it (recent attempts to blame my mother have been vehemently refuted by Mama Shark), but it’s something I’ve remembered.  Especially with regards to doing business with friends and family.

The implied task in that aphorism is A. read the contract (to prep the battlefield), B. always maintain a “war chest” that will at least allow one to consult with a lawyer, and C. when civility fails, be prepared to engage in (legal) barbarism.

I provide that introduction as I relay a blog post from fellow author Alma Boykin.  To be blunt, an author got hosed by his publisher.  As in, “Hey dude, we’re just going to rob you of your royalties because, to be frank, we’re not worried about you doing anything about it.”  Mistakes happen once.  Happenstance may explain a second time.  But when someone forgets to pay you 13 years of royalties, that’s malevolent action.

I would argue my first warning on this is, as always, try to have a lawyer read your contract.  Second, if you’re going to deal with a publisher, get an agent.  (With the corollary of making sure they’re not linked to the publisher you’re signing with.)  Because if there’s one person who is going to raise a fuss over some math that smells like it just came off a tuna boat, it’s the other person who won’t get paid unless you do.  Especially given that person probably has contacts in the publishing world who will be like, “Wow, you’ve gotta be happy with how [insert your title] is doing!”  “Wait a minute…”

If you’ve chosen to ignore 1 and 2, then start figuring out an action plan when things go hokey.  Over at the Passive Voice, the host lists several helpful actions.  He’s an attorney, and these are all very sound.  That being said, I’m afraid at some point a person is beyond worrying about “grease” and well into “seeking pound of flesh.”  Certainly in the case of the author relaying this, I’d be checking with a solicitor / attorney (see “This is why you keep a war chest…”) as to whether that then kicked things into civil court.  Why?  Because that’s where the damages are.  At the point someone’s been sitting on my wages for 13 years and now refuses to go into arbitration, I’m going to gleefully seek an opportunity to start nailing body parts to the bulkhead.  If for no other reason than good companies don’t do this, so as a person I feel one should be willing to make sure they don’t do it to someone else.

Now, understand, being ready to do battle does have its risks.  Short term, this will make it hard to get future contracts.  Your publisher is probably going to smear your good name all over the place.  Which if you get evidence of them doing, save that, as few things are sweeter than people who wronged you having to make public retractions.  (“Tell them your name…” and all that.)

Long term, you might end up with your rights back and little else.  Court costs are expensive as hell, and you may literally spend $10,000 to get $11,000 of royalties.  However, I would submit that if a company is screwing up this bad, they may go under.  What an author doesn’t want to have happen is them go under while still holding your rights to your work.  Especially if the contract is at all squiggly about future, unrelated projects, i.e., “Publisher holds right to first refusal on all other writing projects…” (huge paraphrase there–but see guest blogger Amie Gibbons’ talking about rights here).  Having seen that recently with other companies that have folded, that is a form of writer purgatory (with another link here).  Personally, I’d rather burn the money to be clear of the impending shipwreck–but everyone must do what is in their best interests.