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Steampunk, Alchemy, Airships and…more! March 1, 2020

Posted by bobv451 in alt history, business, charity, e-books, fantasy, Free, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, weird westerns, writing, zeppelin.
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Ebooks can never replace hardcopy print (ie, dead tree) books entirely, but publishing electronically gives rise to all sorts of awesome ways for an author to market those entertaining wares quickly and easily.

The usual markets are there: Amazon; Smashwords; iTunes; online stores. Services like BookBub let authors reach a wider audience, but one sales method in particular intrigues me. The Story Bundle. (Disclaimer. I had a book, THE INFINITY PLAGUE in a story bundle last year and have another, GATEWAY TO RUST AND RUIN in one running right now.)

Just want to sample a few titles? You can do so for free.  A few dollars gets a couple more titles. Take the plunge at $15 (and up, your choice) and receive hours and hours of amazing entertainment. A movie ticket can cost about what 13 novels will run you in a Story Bundle. The nice thing is how you support indie authors directly (that’s kinda, sorta me–I’m a hybrid author but lots of my stuff is indie published). And if you’re feeling beneficent, you can kick in part of that purchase price to a worthy charity. Entertain yourself, help others (both writers and beyond writers into the community). Get immediate gratification with ebooks that you own. What a deal.

The steampunk story bundle runs until March 12th, so you have time to check it out and decide if you want ebooks from Kevin Anderson and Neal Peart, Marie Andreas, Tim Niederitter, Louisa Swann, and others–including me!

And be sure to keep checking later for other story bundles with different themes.

Twinkies Document #1890 December 10, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, charity, e-books, ideas, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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…and what it means to publishing.

Hostess Inc’s bankruptcy sent shock waves through the snack food world. Who would have ever thought Zombieland was going to be a documentary? Parts of the bankruptcy filing, though, point up something that can be of immense value to those of us in VIPub (Vertically Integrated Publishing) and in so many other fields.

Banks have pretty much stopped lending money, even to the most qualified. There are a lot of reasons for this but Dodd-Franks is part of it, requiring banks to have immense reserves against failure. With the Fed only giving, well, zero, interest, banks won’t give much in the way of interest on their deposits. Come the first of the year Tier I reserve requirements change significantly, too. This will soak up even more money that might go for loans. (The banks will buy gold).

But the Hostess bankruptcy brings out a new way of financing. Or not so new, merely gqthering steam. The buzzword for it is “private equity.” This can come from hedge funds or individual investors (think Warren Buffett) but they operate at levels swapping billions of dollars not hundreds or thousands. One of my favorite charities, if you want to call it that (and I don’t, really–I see this as what capitalism is all about) is http://www.kiva.org Muhammed Yunas won a Nobel Prize in 2006 for the idea of micro loans.

We’ve seen crowdsourcing bring in $200meg to save PBR at BuyABeerCompany.com Document #1890 is a proposal to use crowdsourcing to buy Hostess.

If you have a few bucks you can finance a painting or Twinkies or … a novel. Steve Sullivan’s recent kickstarter project financed his Death Tournament project. Matt Forbeck financed his “12 in ’12” project, writing 12 novels in 12 months, one trilogy at a time. With the Big 6, er 5, publishers pulling stunts like backing Author’s House rather than authors, we don’t have to be left out in the cold. Small amounts of money (relative to keeping Twinkies afloat or at least something more than put into time capsules) is within our grasp using the same technique. Find a project. Back it. Or get ambitious and start one of your own.

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You Only Live Twice…Things Done 2x May 24, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, charity, conventions, fantasy, iPad, steampunk, writing.
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Thanks to Mike Stackpole for letting me sit in for him again (even though he was there) at his office hours last night. But the title of this blog is things done twice. I will be reading in Second Life (second time in 2 days) tonight for Relay For Life. Which is the second time I have participated. Come by at 6PM SLT for my reading of a short story, “Memory of Wind.” Maybe even contribute a few pennies for cancer research.

In response to my “Strategy and Tactics” blogpost of a few days ago, I received this from Copyblogger. Sonia Simon has written an article on “the difference between ‘work’ and work that moves you toward your goals.'” Good stuff in the article and in general on Copyblogger.

For some reason the term “sprocket watch” keeps rattling around in my head. Sounds rather steampunkish. Might just be in anticipation of Steve Sullivan posting his entry into Empires of Steam and Rust–this will be passage two.

Also my second gig at Albuquerque Comic Expo is coming up fast. Get your tickets now!

The burdens of work hardly qualifies as 2x since it is pretty much constant. I need to get the story I’ll read tonight all gussied up and into epub format so I can read it off the iPad and not drop pages like I did last time I read. On this note I leave you with a Calvin and Hobbes that seems especially appropriate

Calvin the writer, waiting for his Muse

Reading Writing May 18, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, charity, conventions, fantasy, Free, writing.
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The value of autographings has been a subject of discussion here, with the vague conclusion that it benefits the bookstore more than the writer. And many bookstores look on them as a hassle and not worth the effort (I have 2 autographings next month here in Albuquerque, both as Jackson Lowry–the first at Page One on June 13 and the next at B&N Coronado on June 15.) (And a couple all day signings as yhos at Albuquerque Comic Expo June 8-10) Busy week in June.

But prior to that is a form of autographing that doesn’t require anyone to put out money, though in this case I hope many of you do. I will be reading a first draft of my short story, “Memory of Wind,” in Second Life as part of the Relay For Life, donations to benefit cancer research. I’ll post a location in SL later but the date is 24 May at 6PM SLT.

I am not a fan of readings and don’t think I am all that good doing it, but this is for a worthwhile charity (as opposed to the BLFM fund–that stands for Better Lunches For Me. Send me lots of money so I can eat better! After donating to Relay for Life.) Why do you like to hear an author read? Some authors, notably Harlan, don’t read as much as they perform. One thing this is going to force me to do is keep all those fantasy names pronounceable The worst title I ever came up with was Beasts of the Mist. I cannot say that without lisping.

For those of you who can’t make it to the SL reading, I’ll have a page on my website after Sunday with the text of “Memory of Wind.” That story, btw, is being submitted to an original anthology. Fingers crossed on its reception. I am batting .500 selling here. This could push me to .667 sales or drop me to .333. Either of those is pretty good for the majors, I am told.

This cartoon caught my fancy today. Makes me want to replace my tinfoil hat.

Sparky’s Pink Pig March 1, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in charity, conventions, fantasy, New Mexico, science fiction, Star Trek, writing.
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…and other sights along the road to Phoenix. Yes, the big fight in Hatch, NM isn’t over “red or green” (as in chile). It’s over whacking big plastic animals. This one is at the center of the fight for some reason. I missed two others, one a glowering giant holding a semi in its hands and a plastic hotdog as big as an urban assault vehicle but hiked up 20ft in the air.

Anything to keep the trip to the Arizona Renaissance Faire exciting, since it went through a lot of flat land with “zero visibility during dust storm” signs.

The Ren Faire itself was spent sitting and signing. Not as many books as I might have liked, more than I expected since neither Mike Stackpole nor I were in costume. Mike pointed out we might have attracted more attention since we *weren’t* in costume. Anything to not blend in, right? But next year (March 10–mark it on your calendar now) will be once more in costume.

Big sellers for me this year were God of War and the chapbook with the story “A Time for Steel” set at the Ren Faire. Met lots of enthusiastic people and the weather cooperated wonderfully (especially nice since I had gone the southern route past Sparky’s Pink Pig to avoid snow in Flagstaff).

Lynn Hardy autographed at the next table over. One of her novels was donated to charity (picture of her and her assistant Alicia with, sorry for my poor photography, washed out placard detailing the charity).

After the signing, had “tea” with Don Juan, who was celebrating a birthday, Miguel and a passel of others from the faire. Most delightful was Sarah Mullen Rua, a harpist, with marvelous stories of UC Berkeley as well as sf and comics trivia. Ronn of the Tortuga Twins who is a devoted TOS fan, and his wife is a fan of Erin Gray.

And, much to my surprise, 30 yr old tequila doesn’t taste bad at all (I think most tequila tastes like lighter fluid). Thanks for sharing, Don Juan and Miguel.

More on the trip later. Mike and I spent a great deal of time brainstorming, barnstorming and bs’ing. Some of the chunks blown from that will show up here, I am certain.

There’s An Excuse… August 30, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in charity, contest, conventions, e-books, iPad, sci-fi, science, science fiction, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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…for not posting more. Bubonicon. B’con 42. Yes, we’ve been doing this for 42 years. Amazing. And the theme this year was Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy because the answer is, of course, 42.

JimYoung came in for the con and was delightful to talk with and catch up from a long time back. The meal at El Sabor de Juarez (big crowd: Jim, his friend Trina, Scott Phillips, Craig Butler, Megan Pribyl (who happens to have graduated from Manzano HS, as I did, albeit a lot later) and Gordon Garb and my son) The other super chow-down was at Grandma’s K&I, suggested by Andy Kuhn to Scott. Scott, Rabbit, Gordon, Dan MacCallum and I each had something different and all raved about the quality (and moaned at the humongous proportions–finishing would have resulted in exploded gastric canali). A treasure of culinary delight in a world of Taco Bells.

My panels were all well attended. The Golden Reflections panel had all the local contributors to the anthology on it and holding their own. Katie Michaels-Johnson won a copy (when published in Feb). The Little Green Men panel turned oddly toward the nature of intelligence rather than first contact. Seemed to me all the points had been written about in old SF. No interest in talking about Benford Beacons although that seemed the intended premise. But, as always, the topic ought to be ignored in favor of what the audience wants to hear.

The auction went spectacularly, after what I thought was a slow start. Accretion. The slow drip of water on stone. That was the way it went and I think all had fun (I certainly did, as did Gordon and Dennis Virzi, my stalwart co-auctioneers). We raised over $1000 and the Friday night before brought in $850 for charity. The mass autographing was crowded and I had a chance to show off iPaddy’s capabilities. (Mike, you’re right–the other authors are more excited about it than the fans!)

And the e-publishing seminar with Pari Noskin-Taichert was crammed with an interested audience. I could have talked for a full hr and Pari ought to have. Hers was the more important segment–how do you promote your work? I’ll do a blog or two detailing what she had to say and will pass along details to the Western Fictioneers.

The Saturday night free-for-all was a throwback to the days of hall parties and being able to wander about and find interesting people easily. Serendipitous find of the night was the charming Esther Lombardi, who works at http://www.about.com Check it out. A valuable info resource from experts. David Boop was there with mention of a new anthol to follow up on in a month or 3 and scads of others. The photo session with Gordon talking pictures of Harry Morris was certainly …. weird. Gordon has a knack for squeezing more from an Apple product than was ever intended.

The after-con getogether let me talk, albeit briefly, with Sarah Clemens and Peter David. Both wonderful GoHs.

Now it’s back to work. And Ollie Reed just e-mailed saying he needs my presentation topic title for the 21st Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium today. Deadlines! And I have to really crank to get God of War 2 completed. Type we must!

Pardoning Outlaws July 31, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in charity, gummint, ideas, weird news, westerns, writing.
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The state of New Mexico is headed for a billion dollar deficit, the drug and human slavery gangs are moving in from Mexico, we routinely score only a notch above Mississippi in educational prowess and the big discussion is whether our governor Billy “The Kid” Richardson should pardon Billy the Kid.

There is reason for the guv wanting to grab headlines by pardoning the Kid. Some say it has to do with tourism.

That makes sense but the guv is a lame duck and likely to face all kinds of criminal charges of his own starting with corruption after he’s out of office. So why should he care one whit for a state when he hasn’t up till now? A more logical notion is that he wants to attach his name to an historical figure so there’s some favorable ink about him.

Lew Wallace had offered to pardon Billy (the original) Kid if he’d rat out his cronies. Lew spent most of his time penning Ben Hur and never got around to it, forcing Billy to murder two deputies as he made his escape from the Lincoln County jail. He was locked up for two murders over in Arizona. These four he pretty much definitely did. During the Lincoln County War he probably shot a few more. It’s hard to believe he didn’t, at least.

But why pardon him now? The relatives of Pat Garrett are up in arms (though we are a concealed carry state) that the guv wants to pardon a serial killer like Billy the Kid since this would tarnish the lawman’s reputation.

Lots of myths spinning about. Garrett really didn’t kill Billy but murdered someone else and put him in Billy’s grave so Billy could run away. Yeah, right. Billy went straight. Brushy Bill notwithstanding, that hardly seems plausible. Nor is it plausible that Billy was some kind of Robin Hood defending the poor campesinos. They had their land stolen, sure, but Billy wasn’t out there killing for them. And was he lefthanded? A cross dresser? Did he really kill 21 men?

Maybe inconsequential arguments like this make us forget the real problems facing NM. Could be that’s the actual reason the guv is bring this up again (he tried to get DNA from the body in the grave a couple years ago–clone Billy the Kid? There’s another idea for you.)

Saddle Up, Amigos June 10, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in Chain story, charity, conventions, Second Life, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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I’ve been lax about posting for a couple days but it’s because so much else has been going on behind the scenes, so to speak.

First off, I am delighted at the response on items put up for the American Cancer Society auction (RFL) on Second Life. I’ll be getting in touch with the winners of some of the physical items (God of War and Genetic Menace) as well as mentoring on a story for the Chain Story project. Many thanks to Kat Alderson of Second Life for spearheading this fine event. Close to U$D1000 was raised in this one auction.

Taking care of stuff on the crummy jobs anthology. Still time to drop a title for that. It’s nearing the end of when it’d be possible to change, so…hurry hurry hurry. And the first of four Fantasy Football magazines is ready for the printer. Look for Fantasy Sports ProForecaster in a month or so on you favorite newsstand. Three more to go. Check out http://www.FootballDiehards.com if you’re into such things.

Friends from Phoenix were in town and we took in a favorite restaurant yesterday morning. And tonight Cirque du Soleil will hold a command performance of Alegria for me. Well, ok, not exactly so. I have tickets and will be gawking at the wonder of the show.

And my agent called to let me know the editor wants another western. Great. That was yesterday. Today agent calls and says editor wants another western. Great (and this is a 2nd book, so I have Nov 15 and Jan 15 deadlines on them). I hope I’m not getting boxed in like I did last year with impossible writing schedules around the holidays. It looks as if I may well be.

And then there is work on the Jackson Lowry website. I’m gearing it up and getting things ready. I think rather than the first chapter of Sonora Noose, I might write an original story or two of Marshal Mason Barker’s other adventures. Tales from Old Mesilla is a working title for the entire group of stories.

Island of Stability April 7, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in charity, science, Second Life, sense of wonder.
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Those zany nuclear physicists have gone and done it again.

This one is #117 on the periodic chart. Thanks to Lou for pointing it out since I didn’t see another mention of it until this morning.

Almost a year to produce and detect. Three teams of scientists. Dubna, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore. It gets harder to pump out new elements all the time. But what will they have when they hit that stable element? When they do create it, what does this really mean? If it hasn’t been seen in supernova residue does this mean it doesn’t occur anywhere without human intervention?

Science marches on, tiny steps, but steps nonetheless.

Other tidbits: Tomorrow in Second Life will be the first auction benefiting the Relay for Life. 6pm PDT in Wind River Territory. Signed copies of my books and a one-of-a-kind necklace created by Kat Alderson in memory of my wife Patty. Good cause–fighting cancer. Be there and drop a few lindens into the auction.