Sunday, December 18, 2011

Liars, All Of Them

If anyone tells you they know what's going on in publishing right now, they're lying. Sure, they might have a business model that profits on last month's publishing trends, but talk to them six months from now at their job at Starbucks.

I'm considering going with an eBook publisher for book 5. There would be upfront fees, and they would take some of my royalties, but some of these companies are really legitimate and somewhat selective about what projects they take on. The main reason is that they would take some of the work out of my hands when it comes to layout, design, and file conversion and distribution, which can be technical and time-consuming, and publicity, which I can't really do myself. How much publicity they would do, how it would benefit me, and whether it would be worth a portion of my profits is the big question nobody can really answer, even publishing professionals like my bosses (who are agents) and my agent. Everyone's got a good guess, but it's really a guess. The publishing conference on eBook publishers that I went to was just ... exhausting. In the end I will still probably go with one if I can, because if I don't like the model or the business model becomes totally outdated in a year, I have books 6-10 to do something else with.

SALE - On book 1 for the Kindle, now $1.99 for the rest of the month.

In other news I'm going to India in March to volunteer for the Tibetan refugee community, and write about it afterward. This is a big deal for me, so please consider donating to my Kickstarter project. There's a fun video where I explain what I want to do and why, plus you get to see my kitchen wall. I don't know if that does anything for you, but I'm throwing that out there. And there's great prizes! Super great prizes, actually, when it comes to Tibetan stuff. Please give it a look-see. And try not to remember that I just used the term "look-see."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Cycle

When it comes to writing I'm like a bear. I eat and eat and eat (this is the writing part) and then I hibernate for a long time. This bad analogy is made worse by the fact that I don't like porridge. But I do have long periods of intense work (it takes me about a month and a half to write a book) followed by intense periods of headaches, being whacked out on my allergy medication, watching a lot of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and generally looking like a lazy bum while everyone around me is working. Right now I'm readying myself for what will hopefully be a new book in January, a YA novel based on Tibetan myth, and also the editing of book 5 before it goes to the copyeditor at the same time because I'm crazy like that.

In March I should be, G-d willing, in India, doing some volunteer work, and I have Kickstarter project about that that I'll be shamelessly publicizing on this blog as soon as I star in a poorly-edited video about it. When I get back in April book 5 will be out of copyediting and by May it should be published, because things like layout and uploading take time if you do it right, and I have every intention of doing it right.

Reader poll: I'm debating between calling book The Knights of Derbyshire, which is teh original title, or Mr. Darcy and the Knights of Derbyshire, which is more in line with the titles of the published books. The second one is a little kitchsy; I don't know what to do about that. I'm not good at titling things. If you have an opinion, let me know. If you have a better idea, and I end up using it, you will get a free hard copy of the book.

Also I have a Twitter Account now because the internet demands it. I don't think I'm any happier about it than you are.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Obligatory Rambling Post

My body and I don't agree on many things. I'm not even on speaking terms with my stomach or my small intestines for reasons I'm not going to go into, but my biggest beef right now seems to be my brain and its desire to nap. Man, does it love to nap. It's probably the SSRI I'm on, but since I don't like crying all the time, I have to stay on the SSRI. Before I was on it, I never napped, but now my body and I have the same discussion every day:

Body: OK, you've been awake for two hours. It's time to nap. For like, 3 hours.
Me: No. I went to bed early last night.
Body: But you didn't fall asleep until 3:30 am.
Me: Which, I would point out, is your fault. I went to bed at midnight and turned out the lights. And whatever, we woke up at 10, I have plenty of sleep.
Body: But you need a nap. Now.
Me: No! I need to work.
Body: Bullshit. You set your own hours and you know it. Now, go nap or I'm gonna make you unable to focus and miserable. You might even fall asleep standing up in an elevator.
Me: Can we put this off until like, 9 pm? And also that was really embarrassing.
Body: NOW.

I've tried everything. Going for walks, using that blue light sun lamp, showering, caffeine, and generally refusing to lay down. Doesn't work. Nor does it make me amazingly productive on either end. I lose a lot of the day. That's OK when I'm between editing/writing jobs, which I am at the moment, but really bad the rest of the time. Also it makes me write long, rambling posts about minor inconveniences in my life.

In other news...
SALE! My first book will be going on sale on Kindle for $1.99 from December 22nd to January 8th as part of a Sourcebooks promotion. Get it here. And by the way, I would never price my eBook at $9.99 and won't be doing that for book 5. That's way too high for the eBook world. It's where publishers would like it to be but not where people buy it.

SALE! As a Sourcebooks author, I get a 70% discount off books ordered on their website until January 1st, so if you want to order any books from Sourcebooks and the Amazon discount isn't deep enough for you, including other people's books, just send me an email and I'll give you the code. Whatever I can do for fans, you know. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Against Returns"

So there's this deadly little phrase in the publishing contract that says the publisher can hold half of the proceeds of a book "against returns" in perpetuity. When you sign the contract, which is standard anyway so there's no negotiation there, you think, "But how many returns will there seriously be anyway?" and that it's not a big deal, but it turns out it's a HUGE deal and it never stops being frustrating. A lot of people have switched to Amazon publishing because Amazon has promised not to do that, and just pays people every 2 months whatever they're owed. On the other hand, Amazon makes most of its money on high-end electronics and doesn't need to hold on to that money for as long as possible, which is why it can sell books at a loss, which it often does.

For example: I got my royalty statement and check from one of my two publishers last week. It listed how many books I'd sold, at what royalty rates, etc etc, because it varies based on whether the book is sold online or not online or overseas or is an e-Edition and makes for complicated reading, but the end the publisher says, "And this is how much money we owe you ... here's half of it. You might need it all now, but here's half."

The principle is actually sound. A bookstore will order a certain number of copies of the book for its stock based on it's guess as to how many it will sell. If the copies don't sell, it will send them back at the publisher's expense (the publisher pays for shipping) because otherwise the bookstore wouldn't be willing to order anything. The books that are returned are usually junked because they have stickers on them or damage to the cover or whatever, so that's a loss. The publisher is allowed to take from the author's earnings a percentage to pay for those returned books. It's a very low price, but it's got to be paid, so money is held back from the author instead of charging the author when this happens (money always flows TO the author).

Reality is different. In fact, these days publishers hold "against returns" money that's owed for eBooks, which are NEVER returned, because there is no physical book to ship back. Even if the author returns the book to the online store or whatever, there is still no book to ship back to the warehouse and no publisher has to shell out money for a returned eBook. This started slipping into contracts about 2 years ago. Agents fought it, and the publishers basically said, "The economy sucks. Do you want us to buy the book or not?" So the agents lost.

Most of the money I made since April (the last time the publisher was obligated to report) was in eBooks, but I only got to see half of that money. I did feel a bit better when I realized how much money I had ACTUALLY generated, and that people were reading my books (book 1 still sells regularly) and even reading them abroad (where my royalty rate drops from 7.5% to 1.85% of cover price), but my bank account is still very sad.

Long story short: If you get money for your Bat Mitzvah, put it in a fund that generates money and hope for the best, because you may decide to become a writer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Origin of Dr. Maddox

My senior year of college, I wrote my first full-length manuscript that wasn't seaQuest fanfic (which I had written at 13). It was called Metropolis and based on a live action roleplaying game I was in of the same name. It was the second manuscript I tried to get published, after the seaQuest one, and it was rejected, even after many, many revisions.

Since I now have an agent, he's kinda obligated to look at my work no matter what it is, and he said he would take a look of I did another revision (I'm easily on my 10th now), because my previous agent (who retired) had looked at it and said there were structural problems that needed revising, and she was probably right. This was all a few days before my trip to Israel, so the first real thing I did after emerging from a jetlagged haze was open the file again and read it with fresh eyes, not having looked at the thing for I'd say 3 years.

It's bad. It's not terrible, but it's not good, or it's not good enough and the amount of work I would have to put in to make it something I would actually want to publish is, uh, really not worth the effort. I would be much more successful at writing something new, I think, it having been over 10 years since I first wrote it and my writing having improved considerably since then. I am bummed about it, because it has potential and a lot of great ideas, but I think it's time to permanently retire Metropolis.

Anyway, there's a character in the book called Dr. Rutherford Tejai, who was played by my friend Jonathan in the game. Jonathan isn't excessively tall as Dr. Maddox is described as being, but he has that black bushy hair, and he did when he played Dr. Rutherford, so that was how I described him in the book, and somehow in my mind when I tried to envision Dr. Maddox six years later, I envisioned Jonathan, without knowing it, as Dr. Rutherford. The characters have nothing to do with one another (Dr. Maddox isn't a clone doc-on-demand and member of the elite Tejai corporation), but they look very similar in my head. The height is the only real difference, and I didn't realize that until today. Man, I even steal from myself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Other Tales: Stories from the Ballad of Gregoire Darcy - The Podcast

Click to listen to dropping Georgian names like I'm poisoned and they're the antidote, and talking way too long about the strange relationship between Mugin and Georgie.

Download the stories first here.

I don't have much else to say now because I am crazy busy with the Jewish holidays, which thank G-d are over next week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book 5 Coming in Spring 2012

Book 5, currently titled "The Knights of Derbyshire," is slated for publication in Spring 2012. I say "slated" because that's about when I can feasibly get it out in both paperback and eBook form as a self-published production, through my company (which actually does exist in NY state) Laughing Man Publications, which is a nice way of saying that CreateSpace will do it.

Ulysses Press contacted me before Rosh Hashanah (I always get big publishing news like a couple hours before a major Jewish holiday; it's sort of a thing) to say that all their Regency romance titles are declining in sales, probably because the market is glutted (that's my own assessment of the obvious) and they're not buying any more titles in that area. I have no reason to believe that this was not a totally honest reason why they didn't pick up book 5, which was sad news but not the end of the world. On the advice of my agent, of all people, (because agents only make money when books sell to real publishers) I'm heading into self-publication. I have some experience with it before with both Pemberley Shades and Other Tales, so the news is both good and bad for me.

The good: I will have total editorial control and price control. The paperback will be whatever price is reasonable because books do cost something to produce, probably in the $15-20 dollar range, hopefully on the low end of that. The eBook will be at least half of that, and I can post it lower and have sales. I also control the cover and publicity content, which has been one of the more frustrating ends of publishing for me. Also, I can get it out much faster than a publishing company.

The bad: I have to put money up to have things done that the publisher would do, like copyediting, layout, and cover design. I know enough about publishing with other books I've put together or things I've seen put together at work to know I'm not a graphic designer or copyeditor and I should pay professionals to do these things and not skimp on it. Also, complete editorial control means that I don't have a professional editor catching mistakes or giving me advice. I do have Brandy, who is practically a publishing professional at this point, but another layer of editorial is missing. And in the end I have no idea if I will even recoup my expenses; I may lose money on the book and much more money in lost work time on other material.

It's a gamble, but it's a gamble worth taking. For you guys, the only change is that it won't be available in stores and they won't be able to order it in; if you want a hard copy you will have to get it from Amazon. I stand by my pledge that if you buy a hard copy and want me to autograph it, you can mail it to me and I will sign it and pay to mail it back to you. And if it's a success, I see no reason why there wouldn't be book six in Fall 2012 and then so on and so on. So no waiting years between books.

I will try to have some contests leading up to the publication day - if you help me title the book, or come up with some art, or just win a drawing, you will get a copy of the book or of previous books in teh series. So you should really follow this blog and/or the Fans of Marsha Altman group of Facebook to check up on that. I am more than happy to give away things to loyal fans.

Wish me luck, guys! I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy: The Podcast

My discussion of book 4, for new and familiar readers alike. Some discussion of book 5, and the experience of switching publishers.

This is my last post before Rosh Hashanah. Updates will be irregular during the Jewish holidays, though obviously if there is actually some real news I will post about it. Happy New Year to those who celebrate!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mr. Darcy's Great Escape: The Podcast

Discussion of book 3. The first 9 minutes are for new readers, more or less. The other 50 minutes are me talking about the various issues within this book. Bonus material: a brief history of the Hasidim and Napoleon, some far-to-personal material about mental illness, and me occasionally sniffling from allergies.

In other news: Austen Authors is having a celebration for our first anniversary as a blog! Go to Austen Authors this week for tons and tons of giveaways - books, gift cards, maybe some other stuff. Seriously, if you're ever going to check out Austen Authors, this is the week to do it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: The Podcast

My third podcast, discussing book 2, both for new readers at the beginning and people who want background information towards the end.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Darcys and the Bingleys: The Podcast

My second podcast, discussing my first book. The first 15 minutes are spoiler-free, and the second fifteen discusses a host of issues about the characters in the book and how they came to be. I also talk a little bit about historical mistakes and the publishing process.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My first podcast

30 minutes. Discussion about podcasting and the publishing process, the publishing industry, and the obligations of authors in a changing market. Bonus material: my mom texting me in the background and me ignoring it.

Jane Austen and Me – Part 2

(this is a continuation of my previous post)

Jane Austen and Me – Part 2

This post is about how Jane Austen and I are different. It was a much easier post to write.

Ways We Are Different:

(1) Tea and scones. I don’t actually know that Jane liked this. I just presume it of all British people. In actuality, the concept of high tea – drinking tea and eating cakes and scones – wasn’t invented until the Victorian Period, well after Austen’s time, when tea was cheaper and the British ere by custom drinking alcohol a lot less and needed something to replace it with. It’s not that I dislike stones, I just prefer other pastries. And as for tea, I don’t like drinking things that might burn me. Seems silly.

(2) Dancing – Jane, despite being rather sickly at times, loved to dance. It was required of people in her social class to not only dance but to learn long, complicated dances that could last up to 15 minutes and were like square dances without the help of a guy in a ten-gallon hat telling you what move was next. Spending hours being tutored on all of these dances was part of Regency life. Meanwhile, not only do women not dance with or in front of men in Orthodox Judaism because it’s too seductive, but when we do dance (at weddings, mostly), it’s a lot of running in circles. There’s a couple variations to the running in circles bit, but only the person who teaches Israeli dance at camp remembers them. Everyone else just runs until we get tired/dizzy.

(3) Writing long letters to relatives detailing every events in our lives. This was a form of entertainment – both writing and reading the letters whiled away the hours, and the upper classes had a lot of hours to while away. Meanwhile, my emails to my mom and are downright mono-symbolic.

(4) Dying at 41. Man, I hope I don’t do this. Jane, I’m not with you on this one.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jane Austen and Me

Since beginning this series, my name was been intertwined with Jane Austen, having written fan fiction about her most famous novel and published it. Many reviewers have commented that I’m “nothing like Jane Austen” (were they expecting that? People always surprise me in this regard) and I’m not. I have my own writing style, I’m not a classic British novelist, and I don’t try to be her in the text and emulate her style. I can’t. I don’t think anyone can; the closer people try to get the more ridiculous they tend to sound. The best authors of fandom out there took what they want from her style and then went their own way, in my opinion, in an interesting fashion. You can’t make your dialogue sound like her dialogue, and things seem to work out better when you don’t, but still manage to capture the characters as they are, so they feel real.

There are some ways in which we are similar:

(1) We both tried/try very hard to sustain ourselves on our writing. Jane made a good amount of money for most of her books, until (amusingly) she self-published one of them when the publishing company didn’t give her a high enough advance, and on that particular one (it wasn’t Emma or Pride and Prejudice) she actually lost money. But by the end of her life she had 600 pounds to leave her sister Cassandra, which was enough for Cassandra, who wasn’t married, to live on. Meanwhile, I won’t state what my numbers are, but I am barely squeaking by on a combination of my writing and my two part-time jobs.

(2) We both never married. Jane probably would have if the right man had come along, because who wouldn’t? But nobody did, or nobody she could marry (we don’t really know what happened between her and Tom LeFroy, but it’s definitely been exaggerated). Or we don’t really know if she had other infatuations, because Cassandra burned the majority of her letters after Jane died. Meanwhile, I’ll marry if the right man comes along, but that has happened yet. And being an Orthodox Jew, my circle of potential mates isn’t much bigger than hers, though I am less likely to die in childbirth.

(3) We both have/had auto-immune disorders. Jane had Addison’s Disease, which today is treated with cortisone shots but in her time was untreatable but not deadly. (She died of something else, we don’t know what) I have Crohn’s Disease, which is also treated with cortisone, but there are now additional treatments like Remicade and surgery. One of my favorite charities to give to, in honor of Jane, is the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, which does general research on a host of diseases and disorders affecting the immune system. I recommend this charity, by the way, not just because it’s a charity, but because immunology is one of the few areas in medicine where we’re constantly making huge strides (as opposed to cancer, where we’ve more or less hit a wall). Today diseases are treated, but in the next generation they will probably be cured. We basically have a cure for Crohn’s now – Remicade – which wasn’t available when I was diagnosed in 1996, it just doesn’t work perfectly on everyone and we don’t know how to use it, but the next generation of biologics of it will knock it out.

Next time, I’ll discuss ways that we are different – Well, not all of them. The internet only has so much space in it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Austen Extravaganza Post

(This post is for Austen Extravagantaza)

I really didn't know what to put here. I asked Meredith, who's hosting this event, and she said, "Anything." I thought about what was currently going on in my head, then decided to hone the topic a little down to "Jane Austen related" because who wants a discussion of various ways to give your wife a divorce in second-century Middle East? Me, that's who, but you are probably more interested in Mr. Darcy (though you can actually write the bill of divorce on a cow's horn and give the wife the cow*). I am a bad Austenite, not constantly filling my head with all things Austen.

By the way, the Rabbis eventually ruled that the cow shouldn't be living. It's not really a "bill" of divorce if it's on a living creature. (What? This Mishnah Gittin is interesting!)

Anyway, I was asked to speak not because I'm good at talking about Jane Austen (clearly not) but because I wrote a bunch of books. Ten of them. Four have been published, plus one free eBook of short stories related to the fourth. There's a lot of awesome books out there, so I thought I should mention some features to help me pick me out of a lineup.

14 Things That Are Distinguishing Features About My Books

(1) Swords, swords, swords.

(2) Swordfights.

(3) The first book is the Kama Sutra one. (No it isn’t. That was a mistake on the publisher’s part to label that book as such. ARGH.)

(4) Samurai. And there’s a ninja in book 8, but you don’t know he’s a ninja until he’s dead, because he’s a good ninja.

(5) Pretty sure nobody else has swung from Darcy’s chandelier in other books. Could be wrong about that.

(6) All Kitty all the time! Psych – I spend like, no time with her. Seriously, I don’t know what to do with her. She’s like the Skim Milk version of Lydia.

(7) Monkey! As in, there is one. And his name is Monkey. It turns out Mr. Bingley is not very creative when it comes to names.

(8) The Alter Rebbe (zt”l) puts in an appearance. Also, contains the phrase “zt”l,” which I had to explain to my publisher was not random words on a keyboard, but the English version of the Hebrew acronym for “May the Memory of the Righteous Be a Blessing.”)

(9) Dialogue in Japanese, French, Spanish, Tibetan, and Romanian. Probably none of it correct. Some of the English isn’t correct, either.

(10) Some vampires show up but it isn’t really a big deal.

(11) Having almost every child’s name start with a G actually just a Regency Period standard, not an expression of my hatred for the reader’s ability to keep track of people.

( (12) Copious references to synagogue members, dermatology patients of my father, and readers who bought my books in the acknowledgments.

(13) Guest appearances by: George III, George IV, Edward IV, Napoleon, Pope Pius IX, 11th Dalai Lama, Shogun Tokugawa Ienari, Emperor NinkĊ of Japan, and Saint Sebaldus of Bavaria.

(14) In the last book, everyone gets eaten by dinosaurs. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

(*) Mishnah Masecta Gittin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Monday, August 1, 2011

Free eBook!

Other Tales: Stories from The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy is now available on various websites for a free download. Check out my post about it here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My first video!

I decided to try a video presentation. Comments are appreciated. Yes, I will try to get a better microphone.

In other news, two new reviews:
The Road to Pemberley is reviewed at Austenprose
The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy is reviewed at The Phantom Photographer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I need a vacation

I am writing this on vacation.

I'm in Florida, actually, to help my grandmother pack up her apartment because she spents most of hurricane season with my parents in the north. But it's kind of a vacation, because I can go to the pool and I'm not in New York and I'm not going to two out of my three jobs. But I don't feel very relaxed because I'm not on vacation, or I don't feel like it.

The Road to Pemberley is supposed to come out this week, but so far it hasn't. The first reviews are coming out, which are always stressful, and I'm trying to get the batch of stories together that I'm going to release as a free eBook to boost the sales of The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy, because the publisher needs more time to look at sales and decide if they want to buy book 4. The requirements of social networking have almost nothing to do with writing at this point, and they are constant. For those of you who say, "Well just unplug your computer," my answer is, "Uh, on book launch week that's very irresponsible. The publisher expects me to do a lot of publicity legwork." I do unplug my computer and turn off my phone for 25 hours every week for Shabbos, which is more disconnected than most non-Amish people get, but being a writer is a constant thing.

Then there's the actual business of writing. You know, novels, not blog posts. Or revising. Or looking for people's opinions to help me revise. Or doing research. Or making sure my initial research was correct. Or looking for research books and pricing them out. Today Grandma and I found a new dollar bookstore (there's a lot of these in Florida, where people die and their kids have to donate the books somewhere as fast as possible - it's also a great place to buy furniture for the same reason). I picked up two books for two different projects which may or may not materialize in the future, but couldn't find anything Austen history-related, just mostly a lot of ancient Roman and Greek stuff, and one book on modern Chinese culture. If I was still doing research for Aristotle Vampire (which was a book that didn't sell to publishers), I would have just bought all the books on ancient Greece, but I wasn't, so I only picked up one.

I think about writing - or what I'm going to write, or what I'm going to think about as a story but not actually write - basically all the time. If my mind is not actively involved in doing something that requires my complete attention, that's what I'm thinking about. It's very hard for me to disconnect and take a mental vacation - I really have to go somewhere that's involving unto itself, like Israel (which I'm probably going to in November) or India or somewhere exotic and engaging. If you give me time alone I will basically just think about writing and increasingly, worry about my career. I like to think that if I got one book deal, a really good deal that used to be standard 10 years ago for published writers ($30K), I would stop worrying about constantly selling books to publishers, but to be honest I probably wouldn't. It's too much of a pattern now.

There's a new website coming, and hopefully my new roommate will be hired to help me with streamlining the publicity stuff so I don't have to spend so much time on keeping it all straight, and I have the eBook. So there's a lot of stuff coming down the line. It's good, but it makes it hard to relax.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Website update

Two pieces of news:

(1) I am working on a new version of the main site which is easier for me to alter as I see fit. It will be in the same location so there'll be no need to update your links.

(2) The Road to Pemberley should be in stores this week. Yay!

We'll see if Google+ makes my social networking life simpler ... or more complicated. That is all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quick updates

I am recovering from a medical emergency and don't have much to say otherwise. Sorry this post is late.

Book Rat's Giveaway - get both The Road to Pemberley and The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy! Contest closes June 30th.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Signal Received?

I don't know who's actually reading this blog, but whatever, it's more for keeping people up to date if they need somewhere to go to do that.

Right now I'm in a holding period (hence Fallout: New Vegas, which I'm still playing but can now successfully stop doing for five minutes) with my writing. Book 5 is at Ulysses Press, and they have another two weeks to decide if they want to buy it, and also if they want to buy the other five books in a bundle, which is always on the table. It's cheaper for them (there's always a risk that the advance money will be higher if you buy book by book) and a load off my mind, but it's also a huge commitment by them as publishers, so we'll see.

I was really OK with the wait for the first two weeks, and now I'm getting closer to going crazy. Normally I am pretty adjusted to waits, because publishing is all about that. Waiting to hear back from agents. Waiting to hear back from publishers. Wanting for the contract. Waiting for the book to come out. Waiting for the royalty statement. Waiting for the check to clear accounting and get to me. But every once in a while, it gets to me.

Publishing is crazy. If I don't sell a book, I only get paid twice a year, when the publisher reports royalties and provides a check if I've earned royalties (which I always do, thanks guys!). If I sell a book, there's an advance check, which is split up sometimes over the signing of contract and the publication, so you get a $1500 check once and then another like 10 months later. Or they split it up three ways: contract signing, delivery of manuscript to the publisher, publication. That hasn't happened to me yet because my advances haven't been big enough for the publishers to use that to hold on to the money for longer; publishers love holding on to money for as long as possible. It's part of their business model. Eventually I will get my money - emphasis on eventually.

I was once at WorldCon, a sci-fi convention with a lot of writers, and someone told me an old adage about writers: "Amateurs talk about craft. Professionals talk about money." Which I've found to be pretty true. I don't have much to say about the craft of writing. I sit down, I write, usually starting around midnight. Either I need to do it because I have a story in me or I don't, and then I go do something else like paint while watching movies until 5 am. I don't think that much about it. It's a physical need, something I have to do because I have a story in my head, or I don't have a story and I don't need to do it. It's like thinking about breathing - people don't think too much about breathing. I don't think too much about writing. This paragraph might seriously be the longest amount of time I've ever spent talking about it on a pure craft level.

Reminder: If you would like a review copy of The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy, email me. The same goes for the upcoming anthology The Road to Pemberley, which I put together with Ulysses, but the book will not be available until the first week of July.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Out of Office

Just a reminder that the sunshine sale on The Plight of the Darcy Brothers (Kindle Edition) ends on the 15th of June, so go pick up your copy today! And I would say other stuff but literally every moment that I am not actively playing Fallout: New Vegas is living agony. So, back to that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Late Post

It's not technically Sunday, but hey, I was writing a story for you guys and was busy.

New this week:

(1) The big news is that The Plight of the Darcy Brothers (Kindle Edition) is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon. Go enjoy this sunshine sale until June 15th! If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a reader to read it on your computer or iPad or print it out.

(2) I started a fan page on Facebook, which does not seem to be as good as my group page or as useful, but nonetheless exists. Nobody knows where things are going to fall out with the whole social networking thing and I want people to be able to find me, so they're both staying up.

(3) My agent Katie submitted Book 5 to Ulysses Press on Monday, and they have a month to respond. So we'll see.

(4) The offer for a review copy of book 4 for United States and Canada readers is still open, as long as you write a review for your website and post it on Amazon as well. This offer is somewhat open to foreign readers - it's definitely open if you'll take a .pdf file. If you're from a foreign country and you've read the previous 3 books and reviewed one or two of them, and you're willing to do the same for the fourth, we can talk. Contact me.

(5) The three very short stories for the collection are finished, and have gone to my editor. When she's finished, they will be posted on my website as a .pdf and on all the available eReaders as free package. It's only about 46 pages long, but it is free material.

(6) Speaking of collections, the fan fiction anthology The Road to Pemberley, which I edited, is coming out July 1st. I wrote the introduction and a very short story in the collection. If you would like a review copy, again, contact me. Offer good in US and Canada, in .pdf format overseas.

(7) This week is Shavuot, the Jewish holiday where we celebrate receiving the Torah. Good Yom Tov!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

VERY Busy Week

...for me, anyway.

Last week I attended the Book Expo of America, which is at the Javitz Center in NYC, and met with my editors at Ulysses Press, who fly in from California for the event. It's the largest, most
important gathering of the publishing industry in the world, though it has some good competition with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair. Anyway, Keith at Ulysses said that sales of book 4 were looking good and I should send in book 5, which I did. Ulysses has right of first refusal, a standard in publishing contracts that means that they have first crack at deciding whether or not to buy the next book I decide to publish. Technically the contract says they only get 30 days to decide, but that's not something we sweat over. So keep buying, guys, and hopefully there'll be a book 5 out next year!

As for the eReader editions, they should be available on all formats. If you find a format it's not available on, email me or leave a comment here and I will contact Keith. I know as of the BEA it wasn't available on Nook, but he said they would get that straightened out as soon as possible.

Otherwise things have actually been going slowly outside of work (at my part-time job and promoting book 4) due to some weird, prolonged sore throat. I have gotten a lot of Lovecraft done, as I'm currently going through his entire collection of writing, because a lot of it is available on audio book and I've been listening to it in bed. If you're going to listen to Lovecraft, do it on audio book. Trust me, it's worth it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Busy week

It's been a busy week, and I'm camping this weekend, so this post was written on Wednesday. Some things may have occurred since then.

Book Launch Post at Austen Authors and Giveaway
The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy is now available on Kindle (and presumably other formats), which is earlier than expected.

I am still finishing this short story that is taking me forever. Up this week: The Book Expo of America, where I will get to chat with my editors at Ulysses Press who are flying in for it. It's at the Javitz Center in NYC, and if you're planning on being there and want to meet up for some reason, let me know.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This post was done under the influence of multiple allergy drugs

There’s a new review up on Amazon and Goodreads. I remember this blogger as someone who didn’t get the first couple books because the publisher didn’t ship to Finland, or something like that, so I’m glad she got the fourth book. The other reviews are presumably coming, but usually review bloggers need a month lead time and I think they only got about a week before publication.

I, meanwhile, am bogged down completely in this short story about Mugin and Georgie that I want to release to coincide with book 4. I remember it being an interesting idea six months ago, when I thought of it, but now I am totally uninspired. The other two stories for the mini-collection are very short, so this one should be at least 20,000 words in my opinion. Writing at full speed, I can write 3000 words a day and have it done in a week, but I’m just not writing at full speed. I spent most of last week in an allergenic haze, either drained by allergies themselves or unable to focus thanks to my Allegra/Veramyst/Actifed/Benadryl combo. I spent most of it playing old Super Nintendo games with an emulator. In good news, I finally beat Super Mario World! This is a huge milestone for me, because I as a kid I had to get a babysitter to beat it so I could see the ending.

Now I’m writing again, but not at the speed of light. I’m camping next weekend, and the following week is the Book Expo of America, where I will be there as a Ulysses/Sourcebooks/Harlequin Teen author (my badge says Ulysses), generally seeing what else is being published, picking up some free books, paying too much for a bottle of water ($3.75! Curse you Javitz Center!), and chatting with my editors. So I have that. Hopefully I will have the short story done by the end of the month, and then Brandy needs some time to edit it, and then I can release it in June to coincide with the release of the Kindle version of book 4.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Busy week

My book came out this week! So it was a bit crazy, though in a very distant manner, as there were no parties or book signings. I didn't even get a copy of the book; I had to buy one at the store because I was getting impatient. Author copies are coming, but probably not for awhile, because sending the author their copies can be understandably low on the list of things for the publisher to do at launch.

This week:

My monthly post at Austen Authors
The first review at Song and Stories
The first author interview and book giveaway at Song and Stories

Up next: Hopefully, more reviews will come in as reviewers receive their copies and read them, and the release of the eBook on various formats later this month/early June.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Slog

I don't know why I named this post the slog. Don't put me in the corner about late things done with a headache.

The book publication date is today! Amazon is being really inconsistent about whether they have the book and are going to ship it (it's probably in the next day or so) and I haven't looked in any stores yet, so the only people who seem to have it are reviewers. I have no idea when my author copies are coming, as that's generally the last thing the publisher gets around to because it's the least important at launch, so I'll end up buying a bunch or mooching a couple copies off my parents until I get mine. Buying your own book in a store is always a weird experience - you make the cash register guy green with jealousy and no, you do not get a discount (I would rather have the discount).

To prepare for writing this short story I'm going to put up digitally to coincide with the book, I've read a whole bunch of books on London and I'm probably going to read a whole bunch more to continue putting it off even though I either know everything I need to know or I'll be finding it online. I'm currently in the middle of Regency Recollections: Captain Gronow's Guide to Life in London and Paris, which is somewhat scattershot and not terribly interesting, but has good footnotes. And I bought it and I'm halfway through it so I'll probably finish it off; I very rarely put a book down wholesale.

There will be giveaways for The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy on Austen Authors and my Facebook fan page; I will alert you on this page when I do that if you're not connected to me in the other two fashions so you can have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

In other news: My non-fiction proposal for a book of Jewish ethics from the Mishnah for the Chinese-language market went out, so we'll see if a Chinese (probably Taiwanese) publisher bites and gives me money to write it. I'm focusing totally on the short stories for book 4, and after that it's revising Towerland (which is sci-fi) for publication. Or getting totally lost playing Fallout 3 New Vegas. Either one.

Friday, April 29, 2011

....and I broke it.

The page for Book 4 is down down, thanks to my attempting to edit a whole one line of the page. The problem with hiring someone to design your webpage is that if he does too good a job, down the line you'll need him to do every little thing because you can't manipulate the code yourself.

And just in time, when Amazon is reporting that book 4 is available, just that they won't ship it for a bit because they don't actually have the book yet. A bunch of reviewers have received their copies, but I have not. This happens sometimes, when everyone gets the book ahead of me and I end up buying my own book before the author copies arrive.

In awesome news, book 4 for is available!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

While preparing for the last two days of Passover, I was informed it was Easter as well. Happy Easter everyone! Or, everyone who celebrates. People who do not celebrate, feel free to have a good day anyway. If you were holding yourself back before, feel free to go out now.

Good Yom Tov and restful end to Pesach for all those celebrating. I'm going to try to get some reading done in the research area and not get distracted by 1970's sci-fi and Calvin and Hobbes collections, as has been the case pretty much all week. Oh, and some Sherlock Holmes short stories my dad has been bugging me to read.

The "official" publication date listed on Amazon for book 4 is now May 10th instead of May 1st. Sometimes the dates aren't hard dates until the books actually appear in stores or arrive at Amazon headquarters. I don't have any control over it. Adjust your anticipation accordingly.

The countdown has begun....

I seriously wrote this long post, and it got deleted. Obviously with being stressed out by Passover I'm thrilled with the idea of writing out another post. Well, my book is coming out in 7 days and I should say something, shouldn't I?

Uh... check out my posts at Austen Authors about Passover and look there for giveaways of book 4 on May 3rd. Oh, and I just found out the Kindle version will not be available for another month, and no, I have no control over that.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pre-Passover Post

So the main thing about this post is that it's scheduled; I'm actually writing it now and it's Thursday and will be posted by blogger on Sunday. I'm away this weekend at a gaming convention, after which I'm going right back to New Jersey to help out with getting ready for Pesach (Passover) which starts on Monday night. We were hoping maybe I would get a review or author copy of book 4 by now so Mom could read it during Pesach, but alas, it is seemingly not to be (though I haven't been in a Barnes and Noble lately and they do put stuff out early).

I also finished a 67,000-word book that I unintentionally wrote. See, I write a lot. Sometimes I sit down and say "I want to write a novel to be published" but most of the time I'm just writing whatever it is that I happen to want to write, which in this case is fanfic for something that is NOT in public domain (unlike Jane Austen) and therefore cannot be published no matter how good/bad it is. But if I want to write something, I just get really frustrated until I write it. I want to say this is the ONLY novel-length Metalocalypse I've written in the past 6 months, but there are kinda four of them. Hopefully this will be the last and my attentions will turn to writing short stories to go with book 4's release, then revising Towerland while working on my non-fiction business guide to the Mishnah.

And when I'm done with all that, I can finally play Fallout 3: New Vegas. I've had it since Brandy gave it to me for Hannukah, but I just know that if I start playing it I will drop off the face of the earth for a solid month and get nothing else done. So on my shelf it sits.

Happy Pesach and Happy Easter. Also, when the hell is Easter?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reading List

Let's see if I can make this weekly update happen, even if it doesn't necessary happen next week, with me away for the weekend and Pesach (Passover) starting on Monday.

So what am I reading? is a question I'm sure you haven't asked yourself, but I'll tell you anyway. For what I've finished lately, you can follow me on Goodreads, as I regularly post to it when I finish things.

My reading list is pretty assorted and heavy on the history or sci-fi, mostly history, and I'm always reading Mishnah. But lately I've been devoting time to reading about Regency London. On my list to read:

The reason is I'm thinking of writing a few short stories that take place during The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy and releasing them as a free e-book on all available formats in May or June. I've actually got more books than this - I just don't have them in front of me right now.

My main book-buying option is the Amazon used market, as I don't mind if a book is used unless it's falling apart, and it's easy to avoid the ones that are falling apart. I also cruise used book stores and discount sections of regular stores, picking up not only things I need but things I think I may need later (I'm usually right) and are cheap now. I was actually pretty shocked the other month when I needed to know about Sumerian mythology for another project and realized I had no books on the topic (my ancient Near Eastern history books were post-Sumerian). Books are also a tax write-off for me as someone who works in publishing, so it's always a business expense.

The problem is storage. I live in an overpriced Manhattan apartment, and if I don't find a new roommate this summer (my current one is moving to Brooklyn after she graduates from grad school) I'll have to move. Last time I moved I had 50-60 boxes of books, and that was two years ago, so by now it's gotta be 70 or 80 boxes worth. My Kindle has helped, but not that much. I do a lot of reading of Shabbos, when I can't use electronics, making my ownership of the Kindle pretty worthless most of the time. History books also aren't usually marked down or available in digital format, especially the old ones, or they're in unreadable PDFs. So, traditional books it is.

Twenty days to book 4's release! Really? It's sneaking up on me now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One Month to Go!

We're a month from the launch of book 4 (The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy), which will be in stores May 1st, and I realize I should update this blog far more often.

What else am I working on? That's a good place to start:

- The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy is done. It's gone to press, which means the final revision went in, was formatted, and was physically sent to printers that are all out in Minnesota or Michigan or somewhere in the Midwest. From there they're shipped to the publisher's warehouse, and from there to stores. I signed off on the final proofs about a month ago, and they take 2-3 months to print and ship, less if the publisher is in a hurry and wants to spend more money. At this point I cannot make any changes to the book in its final form, but I can worry incessantly about changes I should have caught in an earlier revision.

- The Road to Pemberley anthology has gone in for printing galleys, which are very early review copies, and there will probably be a final revision before the galleys are actually printed or between then and the final version. It's not out until July 1st, sot here's some breathing room, and I have not signed off on a final version, though we wouldn't have sent it in for galleys if the book wasn't 99% there. With 12 other authors (there are 13 in the anthology, myself being one of them) it's much harder to coordinate revisions.

- I'm working on a proposal for Talmud for the Chinese Business Man, which would be sold to the Chinese-language business market. They would do the translation (I don't speak Chinese), but I know enough about business ethics in the Talmud to write a book. A non-fiction proposal is a really big deal, since you're asking for money up front, as opposed to when the manuscript is finished like you do in fiction. Currently we're (my agent is involved) struggling with the gut of the proposal, which is the summary of what the book is about. When that's finished, I have to write two to three sample chapters, also a major undertaking.

- For the hell of it, and because I always need to be writing something (seriously ... I do), I'm writing my fifth Metalocalypse fanfic. Hopefully it will be my last as I have other stuff to work on, but I might still have creative energy to burn in this direction when it's done. We'll see.

- I'm thinking of taking a manuscript called Towerland off the shelf and publishing it as an e-book. I was just at an agent conference where it was decided that that was a terrific idea, and my agent hasn't been able to sell it to a major house. I would really have to put my back into promotion, so this has to be saved until I'm done with other stuff.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

General News

Book 4, The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy, should be out on May 1st, 2011. The final revision just went in two weeks ago and it came back from layout, meaning it's now going to be printed! Yay! This book will have a bit of a different cover and layout style than the first three books because I'm at a different press, but is about the same length as book 3, maybe a little less. Currently I think it's 417 pages or something like that.

If you reviewed the first three books and would like a review copy of the fourth book, please email me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book 4!

Book 4, The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy, will be out May 1st, 2011!

If anyone has a book review blog, and you would like an ARC copy of Book 4 to review, please email me ASAP and I will try to get you one.