Category Archives: A writer’s world

And now to the next batch of projects

With a few projects fresh off the press I should probably be taking the time off right about now to savor the moment. I’m not. In fact I’m already hard at work in the next batch, and I’m also already  dealing with something of a log jam.

The horror story I mentioned a few days ago (that would be the idea that I said was acting like a mosquito buzzing between my ears some ten days ago) is not much of an issue any more. The rough draft is done and I am already busy beating it into shape. It is relatively short and will probably be released simultaneously in English and Spanish. In other words, that one is coming along nicely, and is past the point of giving me any real trouble.

The short project I began to distract myself between books two and three of Citlalli (the one I had thought would work as a side project while I wrote the first draft of book three) is more of an issue. Back when I started I thought it was going to be something like 40,000 words. If things had gone according to plan everything would be great, and I would currently be happily reviewing it. The problem is that I seemed to have miscalculated things a bit…. okay, so maybe it was more than a bit because the last time I checked the word count for that one stood at almost 75,000 words, and I wasn’t even even half way through (in fact I’m starting to get worried about the page count, price point thing when it comes to that one). Of course, I realize that calling that a ‘problem’ is not entirely fair, as I am I’m having a blast working on that particular project, and that in turn brings me to the real problem: the fact that that one is nowhere near done means that I am falling behind when it comes to book three of Citlalli, and to make matters worse that is one of those things you just can’t rush.

As for that book three of Citlalli. Well, I guess under the circumstances it is coming along as well as could be expected (I’m almost half way through the rough draft), but with two other projects vying for attention, one of them massive, I’m afraid that there may be small delay when it comes to getting that one out.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how things play out, though for the time being I am having to fight the urge to rush things in an attempt to meet a self-imposed deadline!

When the mind gets stubborn

Okay, I seem to have hit something of a brick wall. I am still working on book three of Citlalli, but somehow I have this idea that seems to be like a mosquito between my ears that insists that I should write it first. Seeing how it looks like it’s going to be a short story I decided not to fight it (and I have to admit that now that I’ve decided to just run with it I feel much better).

Well, on the bright side we have that, if I can finish a first draft within a reasonable amount of time, it will probably do nicely as a secondary project. That is something I’ve been struggling for a while, as I like to write one book while I review or translate another, but all of a sudden I had found myself with three projects in the ‘to write’ category, and none in the ‘to review’ one (as for the ‘to translate’ thing, I admit that I find both Soulless and Citlalli a little too daunting).

News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

Well it looks like I am going to wind up with two versions of these two books. It may not be what I intended, but in a really twisted kind of way I think it may end up being for the best.

What happened was that while I was working on the interior layout of Citlalli and the Shards of Light I decided to go for a different font and a bit more space between the lines than the one I had used in book one (in fact I decided to go for what was basically the same layout I had used for Laira). The obsessive in me wasn’t particularly happy at the thought that I was going to wind up with two different layouts in two books that were part of the same series, so I decided to update the layout of the first book while I was at it… and then I was made aware of the  fact that not only was there a fee for updating the files of a book that had been signed up for CreateSpace’s expanded distribution package, but also that if the page count changed by more than 10% I was going to need different new ISBN anyway (and seeing how that page count was going to jump from something like 372 to 436, that was definitely me). That was not a happy thought, and then the situation was compounded by the fact that I was going to have to increase the price of Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind from $17.95 to $19.95 just to keep the title commercially viable using the expanded distribution. Things were not looking good, and I was seriously considering the possibility of scraping the whole thing and just learning to live with those two different layout, but then I decided to turn CreateSpace’s update policy to my (and hopefully your) advantage. Continue reading News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

Dulling the world

Yesterday I came across an article in Yahoo that really bothered me.  It was called ‘Don’t Let Your Kids Study These Majors’, and as you can probably tell it tells parents to despair if their children dare to dream of becoming something as despicable as an architect, an artist, a philosopher, an archaeologist, an anthropologist or a film-maker… scratch that, it tells parents to despair if their children dare to dream, period.

So what wonderful alternative majors does this article have in mind  as  being a far more sensible choice for these misinformed youths who dream of pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge, or who love beauty. Well, there is accounting, elementary  education, finance, business and healthcare administration.

Now, these are all fine majors if you are passionate about those fields, but while it is true that you have to choose a major with an eye on you professional future, there is more to life that dollars and cents, and pushing kids into fields they hate because it is more ‘sensible’ seems like a terrible idea to me.

Let’s face it, a budding philosopher who despises math would probably make a terrible accountant anyway. Continue reading Dulling the world

Pointless point sizes

This is a post that is meant mostly for authors looking to self-publish their first book using a DIY service such as Create Space, and it has to do with that pointless bit of insanity that is commonly known to as point sizes.

Let me show you what I mean:

a dozen font samplesNow what do these twelve samples have in common? Continue reading Pointless point sizes

As if I didn’t have enough to do already

ARGH! Okay, so here I am, barely keeping up with my active projects as it is, when my brain has the bright idea of coming up with… another idea. In other words, to the release of four new titles and the two books that were currently being written (plus this blog and maybe a side order of, you know, LIFE) I have now added a novella. I’m not sure when/if it will ever be published, but it was one of those concepts wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down, and the truth is that I am having a lot of fun with it, so I’m not really complaining about that. It’s not that I don’t love what I’m doing, it’s just that there’s a fixed number of hours per day, and there’s a limit as to how far I can cut back in such trifles as sleep.

The books are coming!

They are almost here! I know I’ve been talking about this since what feels like forever, but if everything goes according to plan Citlalli and the Shards of Light, Scales at a Glance, and the Spanish language versions of both Scales at a Glance and Laira will be released on May 23.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m already hard at work in two or three projects that will hopefully be released next year? (and here I had thought that once this batch was done I’d be able to sleep for a month!)

CreateSpace, an update

Almost a year ago, as I was getting ready to release Soulless, Laira, and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, I wrote a post in which I tried to explain my decision to switch from Vitrual Bookworm to CreateSpace.  I admit that at the time I was somewhat worried about how that one was going to turn out. Now, as I prepare to release the next batch of titles, I am happy to say that for the most part my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one.

Yes, I still feel that if you don’t know what you are getting into, have never had anything to do with the publishing business before, and you want to have the comfort of knowing that there is someone in charge you can talk to, who will listen to your concerns, know your name, take care of the details, and who will actually be in a position to help you out if you run into trouble,  you may well be better off with a well-established, small to mid sized publisher that charges a reasonable fee, even if the they can’t match what CreateSpace  has to offer in terms of royalties. Of course, the key words in that statement are ‘well-established’ and ‘reasonable fee’ because this is one field in which there are way too many scam artists. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is one instance in which the belief that ‘you get what you pay for’ will probably come back to bite you. Remember that if your setup fee is more than five hundred times your royalties per copy sold via external channels chances are seriously against you ever breaking even.

Anyway, and getting back to the subject of CreateSpace,  I have to say that, in addition to the fact that you don’t get as much support as you would with a (good) smaller outfit,  I also remain convinced that the issues with CreateSpace‘s TOS (namely the fact that they reserve the right to make any changes they see fit) are a problem. In spite of that, at least for experienced authors who can supply their own cover and their own interior layout (and who are not above playing a round or two of contractual Russian roulette), they offer what is by far the best deal out there. They provide a very efficient service, and a finished product that has a reasonable quality (thought there may be some minor issues with curling covers under certain condition, and with the printing of interior images).  I can also say that, for the most part, the system works as advertised.

BTW, while I mentioned above that a personalized customer support is one of the big advantages of a more traditional publisher, that doesn’t mean that you have no recourse when dealing with CreateSpace. Their customer support is pretty reliable (for the most part), and they will (usually) do their best to help you if you run into trouble, so you are not entirely on your own. It’s just that you don’t have a specific contact you can address your concerns to, and that precisely because they have a such a large staff, you never know what you are going to get.

And finally, in the comparison I gave CreateSpace three stars out of four, but that was based on how they compared to other the other publishers, and it did include their layout and cover design packages, which may have distorted things a bit. If I were to evaluate CreateSpace based only the company’s own merits, without the design extras, and using a one to five scale, I would probably give it four stars for experienced authors, and three for newbies who are at least somewhat familiar with the basics of the publishing business.

Getting tired of apologizing (a sort of update)

No, this blog isn’t dead, it just looks that way.

The truth is that I am currently busy working behind the scenes (the new books should be available in about a month, though I don’t have a specific date), plus I am also working on an update to the POD comparison, and on a few other things. Seeing how I still haven’t figured out how to fit twenty-eight hours in a twenty-four hour day something had to give, and unfortunately that something turned out to be the regular blog updates, as demonstrated by the fact that it had been two weeks since I had posted anything.

I’m still reading, I’m still dismayed whenever I read the news… and I am also busy writing. Hopefully in June things will finally be back to normal.

The covers are here!

As you can probably tell, I’m finally done with the covers!

Life is slowly going back to normal!

At last, my life seems to be returning to some semblance of normalcy. No, I’m not quite done with all those projects yet, but almost… now I just have to get back in the rhythm of things!

I’ll try to post something about what I’m reading in the next couple of days, but right now I just want to SLEEEEEEPP! (not likely to happen though, not seeing how it’s the middle of the morning and the big lightbulb in the sky doesn’t exactly have an on and off switch).

Thoughts on amazon’s purchase of goodreads

NOOOOO!!! That about sums up my first reaction when I heard that amazon had purchased goodreads… at least as a reader. As a writer, and as an author that is actually published by CreateSpace, I know this may actually turn out to be a good thing, but the truth is that I was there mostly as a reader. In fact goodreads was the only social network I was sort of active in, now I am left to try to figure out what am I going to do about it all because the keyword in that statement is ‘was’.

As far as I am concerned there is a pretty big difference between connecting over books with other readers via a relatively small, independent network, and opening my reading nook to a large corporation. To me that’s a game-changer… and on top of that I have to admit that my experiences dealing with amazon properties have been decidedly mixed. As a customer I admit they are extremely effective, as a writer my experiences with CreateSpace have been great, but when it comes to their AuthorCentral, the property that most resembles goodreads itself, my experience was a total nightmare, so much so that I decided to end my affiliation with that service… only to be told that I was not allowed to do that, that once I had signed up, so I was basically screwed. It is that experience, that inability to terminate my affiliation with their program, that now makes me so wary of continuing my affiliation with goodreads.

So what am I going to do? The truth is that I’m not sure. For now I guess I’m going to be moving mostly to lurker mode, I may also choose to delete some of my personal information, not that that’s going to do me much good at this stage, and I will abandon the reading challenge. Yes, I will go on reading, and I would love to be able to keep sharing my thoughts on what I read, but I would much rather do this without the mighty amazon looking over my shoulder, so any comments I write will be now restricted to my own blog, where I can be certain I will remain in control of my content.

Still, in spite of everything, and of the fact that I am mourning the death of the goodreads I used to love, I consider this a lesson learned: small private networks may seem like a great alternative to behemoths such as facebook, Google and company, but successful, small. independent networks are also attractive targets for takeovers by large, greedy corporations, and that means that choosing to participate in a small network doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself suddenly in the clutches of a large one… whether you want to or not.

Taking things one step at a time

Yesterday I wrote about feeling overwhelmed, today I decided to do something about it: rather than trying to juggle too many projects at once, I’ve decided to tackle them one at a time, and I have also decided that until last year’s projects are safely out of the way, one of my current ones is being moved to the back-burner. Hopefully that will help me keep things at a more manageable level!

Overwhelmed

The past twelve months have been fairly productive ones –in fact they were great in that regard, so I’m most definitely no complaining about that– but today is one of those days in which I feel like I am being pulled in a dozen different directions. Right now I’m trying to put the finishing touches on last year’s projects. There are four of them. There is the sequel to Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, a fully revised version of Scales at a Glance, and two translations (Laira and Scales… are about to be released in Spanish). Anyway, each one of these four books must be proof-read one last time, formatted (and believe me when I say that that is not and easy task when it comes to the two versions of Scales, which feature about a gazillion figures each) and then there is the whole cover design thing. Oh, and if that weren’t enough there is also a blog that has to be updated, not to mention that I’m already working on two new projects and those too demand their share of time (those would be the third part of Citlalli and a sort of history book). I know this is just the final push and that it will be over in a couple of weeks, but I freely admit that at times the balancing act gets to be a little too much for me… I mean, right now I feel like I could really use a twenty-eight hour day! That wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t because today I got so overwhelmed that I would up getting distracted and didn’t even do the things I was supposed to do. That is one of my problems. As soon as I realize that there’s no way I’m going to get everything done I tend to get disorganized.

Well, there are worse things in this world. Here’s hoping that tomorrow things will work out a little better!