Tag Archives: personal

And it looks like we made it

So here it is, the last day of the year. It’s been an interesting one so far, that’s for sure, with ups and downs like every year. So what is my personal balance:

I published three books, made some progress on three more that will hopefully see the light in 2013, studied bits and pieces of a few languages and read over two hundred books (ditching the TV has made a huge difference there). I also began blogging… what I didn’t manage to do was to sell many books or get a lot of people to even realize that this blog is here, but I am having fun and over all I have to say I am happy with how things turned out.

Here’s hoping that 2013 will behave itself!

Plans and the real world

ARGHHH! Okay, now that I got that one off my chest I have to say that I am having some trouble with my writing… no, I’m not stuck, but rather I have a project that seems to have taken a life of its own and now I find myself facing a bit of a dilemma: I began writing that one in what amounted to a hiatus of the second book of Citlalli (I always take a small break before I start revising it to gain a modicum of distance). That hiatus was supposed to last a couple of months, which could be stretched to maybe four.

Well, those four months are almost over and the other book, which I had originally envisioned as having something like 25,000-40,000 words is well past the 60,000 mark and I am only half way through. That means I have to choose between postponing Citlalli to finish at least the first draft of the new one first, or putting this one on hold even though I am only half way through. As you can probably guess neither one of these seems to me like a particularly pleasant choice, but a choice I’ll have to make.

Did I mention I’m not happy about that one?

Reading update

And I am halfway through Snuff, That means that I will be finishing the Discworld series before the year is out. I will follow with the Nomes trilogy and Nation, but in spite of that I have a bit of a problem: what should I read next. Oh, I know there are plenty of books out there, but I usually start the year with some remedial reading that makes sense as a whole (either books I should have read or books I had crossed off my list because some high school teacher figured that s/he might just as well get us to read the thing while we could still be ordered to do it). For the time being I’m inclined to try to sort out a list of 50/100 fantasy or SF titles, but I’m not really sure… of course I could tackle just one book and read an unabridged version of the Mahabharata but I’m not sure I know enough about that particular culture to tackle that one, and I really don’t want to just cross it off my list (of course, I’m not sure I’m ever going to know enough to tackle that one).

Well, I’m sure I’ll come up with something!

Happy ex-anniversary to me

Today is a weird day. For most of my life December 27 has been a day to be remembered and celebrated. No, it is not my birthday, or my anniversary in the traditional sense of the word, but it is a day that marked one of the most important turning points in my life. The thing is that in the past few years my life has changed and what it was supposed to celebrate no longer quite seems to apply, not to mention that there is no one here with me who actually understands what this day actually means to me… and yet as far as I am concerned it is a date that still matters. The thing is that ex-anniversaries are not one of those milestones that are supposed to be celebrated, there are no greeting cards to commemorate them, but they are still there, they are still a part of who we are… and they still matter.

When things don’t turn out as you had hoped they would

Six months after my books went live in amazon I can honestly say that they haven’t sold well. Seeing how I am a writer, not a publicist, this is not entirely unexpected and I had originally thought I would let this particular milestone slip by unnoticed. That would have been the logical thing to do (we tend to celebrate our successes, not our failures), but the thing is that the fact that my books haven’t sold made me think about what this ‘failure’ means and to try to examine it more objectively… and then I decided that that was something that might actually be worth sharing in a world of ever-cheerful, self-promoting, self-published authors.

Continue reading When things don’t turn out as you had hoped they would

Row, row, row your boat (redux)

Remember how some six weeks ago I mentioned that the river had overflowed its banks and I had seen one of my neighbors kayaking home? (if you don’t you can click here) Well, yesterday it overflowed again, and this time I did manage to snap a picture. It’s not too good, but here you have it, proof that sometimes you really can row, row, row your boat gently down the street.

Row, row, row your boat (again)
Row, row, row your boat gently down the street (again)

To be continued…

Okay, this one is about my own books. I know I rarely talk about my own projects here, but today I decided to make an exception. Right now I am working on the second book in the Citlalli universe and as I try to keep things coherent I am developing a far more intimate understanding of the advantages and the challenges posed by working within the context of what is basically a known universe. The biggest advantage is that, with a couple of exceptions, I don’t really have to worry about getting to know the characters anymore. That was one that gave me some trouble in the first one, as it took us a while to get comfortable with each other, but at the same time now I live in constant fear of contradicting myself, or of realizing that something I mentioned in book one has effectively caused me to paint myself into a corner in one of the sequels. I mean, when I write a stand-alone story I can always go back and make whatever changes I deem necessary to make sure that the whole thing works out in the end, but with a series the first book is already out there –firmly set on bytes and paper– and while I think book two is coming along nicely… well, there are still books three and four for me to consider. Continue reading To be continued…

Hammocks in the fall

One of the greatest joys of the summer is being able to curl up in a hammock with a good book. On the other hand, as most of us who enjoy hammocks year round can attest, a hammock in a cold day can get very cold very fast. Now, my hammock is indoors, so extreme weather is not an issue, but still my choices are to crank up the thermostat –something I try to avoid due to the whole carbon footprint thing– or to figure out a way to make my hammock a little more winter-friendly… an important concern, seeing how said hammock also doubles as my bed.

Now, first of all, let’s rule out what doesn’t work: sleeping bags. Yes, at first glance these would seem like the most logical solution and they are wonderful for sleeping on the ground, but they work by trapping a layer of air between your body and the outside world, and then using your own body heat to warm it. If you are on a hammock, however, your own weight is effectively squeezing the air out of the bottom part of that protective cocoon, and your sides and backside become an incredibly effective heat sink… not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination (and keep in mind that while this is particularly true of sleeping bags, it applies to a lesser degree to other kinds of clothing).

Continue reading Hammocks in the fall

You get what you pay for and other canards

Today, for the first time, I deliberately deleted an active publisher from the comparison. Seeing how the company in question is based in the UK, and that the comparison focuses mostly on US based ones, it is one that wouldn’t even have been included if they hadn’t asked to be featured in it in the first place… in fact they asked to be included repeatedly. The problem is that dealing with the man behind this particular outfit turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, as he insisted on trying to dictate what my personal opinion should be… and seeing how this company operated in a completely different market to begin with it, its being there didn’t really make much sense.

Anyway, in case you were wondering, the fact that this company was deleted is the reason why the three trashcans sit neglected on an empty row, looking rather dejected (yes, I realize that reassigning that rating would have been the natural thing to do, but to do it would also have required a fairly substantial update. I will probably fix that in six months or so).

As for the decision to delete this particular company, I have to admit that it I am rather conflicted about that one.

On the one hand I feel that, by deleting that review, I am giving in to a bully and I hate that. On the other I feel that I have better things to do with my life that to try to explain myself to someone who is determined not to listen, and that seeing how I had only included the company in question because this person had asked me to, I felt that keeping it there just to spite him was rather childish (not to mention that I don’t need the aggravation of actually having to deal with this particular character).

In the end I think letting it go was right choice, especially because it was one of those publishers whose fees are so outrageously expensive (north of £3,500.00, to be accurate) that they will only be considered by someone who has already swallowed the whole ‘you get what you pay for’ canard… and those people are unlikely to be swayed by the fact that there are more affordable (as in costing a lot less than 1% of what this guy is charging), and in my opinion far better, options out there. These are people who ‘want the best’ and are convinced that they have to pay through the nose to get it.

Now, I know that may sound a little dismissive, and will even go so far as to admit that there are instances in which the most expensive option is actually the best one,  but what too many people don’t seem to realize is that there is a limit as to how far you can take that attitude when dealing with POD.

Yes, our books are our babies and we want them to be handled carefully –believe me, as a writer I most definitely get that– but the truth is that when your break-even point is above the thousand copies mark you have come to what is likely to be a losing proposition… or at best a less than advantageous one. Simply put, publishing is a business, money matters, and considering the differences in terms of quality and cost per copy, if your break-even point is above one thousand copies you may want to start looking into the possibility of an offset print run instead as the use of POD itself ceases to be cost-effective.

Row, row, row your boat…

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the street…

What do you mean it was supposed to be ‘Gently down the stream’? I stand by what I said, I mean, remember how a week or so ago I mentioned that I was having a bit of trouble due to the fact that I had suddenly found myself living in the river? Well, here you can see what I meant (the river did get quite a bit higher than that, but that happened at night, when I actually got to see one of my neighbors kayaking home, thus proving that you can sometimes row gently down the street).

Row, row, row your boat
Row, row, row your boat…

Anyway, life is back to some semblance of normalcy… though the truth is that around here the above picture qualifies as normal.

Too many nines

And today, on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, I am still missing my cat, who left me nine months ago (and that’s not even counting the whole nine lives thing, which I really, really, really wish he’d had). I guess I should be getting over it, whatever that means, but I still miss him like crazy and today it hit me like a ton of bricks. Still, don’t panic, I promised that I was going to try to keep the pictures of my pets to a minimum, so I’m not going to repost them here. I already uploaded them three months ago so, if you want to meet the little fellow, you can find them here (a fair warning: you’ll probably get a new batch for the first anniversary on December 9, though that should be the extent of it).

Collar of no shame, a how-to

my dog wondering what she did to deserve this.

And here we have another pointless personal post… or maybe this one won’t be quite so pointless.

Yesterday I had to take my dog to the vet. She had an allergic reaction to something and she was scratching so much she was sent home with several drugs and an e-collar (aka a ‘collar of shame’). The thing reminded me of a medieval torture device, my dog was miserable, I was miserable and it took me about twenty minutes to decide that the thing just wasn’t working, so I set out to find an alternative.

I found some very fancy products online, but none of them came across as particularly appealing and they were not available from my local vet. Seeing how I needed them now, not in 48 hours, they were most definitely not an option. That meant I had to come up with an alternative by myself… and I had to use materials that were readily available.

Here you have a picture of what I came up with, and I have to say that she is much happier. She can see where she is going, she can eat and drink, she can rest comfortably and she is not bumping into things or falling down the stairs. Continue reading Collar of no shame, a how-to

Speaking for myself

Hey, I have a voice!

Ever since I first started the comparison of POD publishers I have had no choice but to try to remain impartial… and that meant that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that I could say nothing about, now I can. Oh, I realize that e-mail is supposed to be private, so I’m not going to be quoting from my inbox here, nor am I going to be naming names, but if something annoys me, at least I will be able to get it off my chest.

In fact I had an incident along these lines the other day when one of my ‘favorite’ pushy publishers wrote to me to whine that there was a ‘mistake’ in the comparison. After a back and forth that caused me to waste the better part of an afternoon, said publisher went back to his/her site, made a change to correct the problem s/he had been arguing did not exist, and then continued to insist that it had been my mistake all along. For the sake of accuracy I did modify the comparison to reflect this change, but the truth is that the whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, I realize that publishers have a reputation they are eager to maintain, and in that regard I understand why some of them may not be too happy about how they come across in the comparison, but the bottom line is that when someone goes back to correct a problem they have stubbornly been refusing to acknowledge, and then insist that it was the other’s mistake all along, that does not paint a very pretty picture of their sense of ethics, and that most certainly qualifies as a red flag.