I am the Way – A Short Story

As promised, here is a short story from a novel I currently have on the backburner. It is also a fantasy world and here I have begun playing with different systems of magic and new ideas. Hope you enjoy. Note, this piece was updated April 17th with some edits to smooth it out. Thanks to my writer buddies for the additional polish!

 

I am the Way

 

A group of ten second-year students and their two mentors gather in the auditorium, close enough to see clearly and far enough away should something go awry. Demonstration days are always difficult. I’m always afraid I’m going to explode myself and scar some poor apprentices for life. They’re warned that this particular spell is dangerous, but you really cannot understand until you’ve seen a man botch his cast. It looks and smells like the floor of a slaughterhouse at the end of the day. I know the faculty wants to deter apprentices from experimenting with magic above their level, but I think this is too young to be exposed to master-level workings.

I remember those white robes fondly. When I was an apprentice, I thought masters were presented with black robes as a mark of their achievement. Now I know better. it’s because you can’t get the stains out. I bought black ones less than a year after graduation.

I stand with my hands tucked into my sleeves, gazing up at the diffused glow from the skylight while Master Yousef gives a short lecture. The room is completely clear of any furniture, papers, and other items. The echoes of the mentor’s voice bounce crisply off the bare stone. Continue reading “I am the Way – A Short Story”

When Casey Met Staruff – A Short Story

Here it is folks! Sorry for the delay. Many thanks go out to my writer buddies who vetted this for me and got it up to snuff. Hope you enjoy.

When Casey Met Staruff

 

Casey choked mid-snore and coughed out a mouthful of woolly yak hair, realizing he’d fallen asleep on Boob’s back again. The giant sat up in the saddle and rubbed his face, trying to slap some wakefulness back into his brain. The cold wind whipping over the shoulders of Mount Yarrowmane helped with his efforts. The lichen-littered boulder beside him was the same dark basalt as all the others, standing as islands in the long golden grass of the high plain. He wondered if the yak had even moved from this spot.

 

The massive animal under him, named for the big dark spot in the middle of his creamy head, shifted his stance and continued cropping at the long grass. Casey looked up at the sun, veiled by the brooding clouds. How long had it been since he’d dozed off? It was hard to determine how far it had proceeded, especially since he couldn’t remember where it had been when he’d last looked up.

 

It had been long enough for his ass to go numb, at least. He swung his stiff leg over the saddle horn and jumped off to stretch. It was usually useless to keep track of time given that nothing of note would happen until one of his brothers came up to relieve his watch with ale and food. He leaned his forehead against Boob’s shoulder and sighed; another grey day. The wind slid icy fingers up his neck and he pulled up the fox-fur mantle to stave off the chill. Soon it would be winter and the plains would be a misery of cold, driving rain and irritable yaks. The animals ate far too much to keep them in corral for months.

Continue reading “When Casey Met Staruff – A Short Story”

I Must Have This Book

I’ve read the first book of this series, Wild Card and was pleasantly shocked at the impeccable quality of the writing, the witty and engaging characters, the pacing … the only thing I wasn’t pleased with was that it ended on a cliffhanger. I must have more.

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So I’m backing the Kickstarter that will do just that. If you’d like to read the sexy, wisecracking lovechild of Neil Gaiman and Laurell K. Hamilton, I humbly suggest that you lend your support as well.

Short Stories Report

Hi y’all, just a quick post to let you know that the When Casey Met Staruff short story is a little later than I wanted it to be but now that it’s had some feedback from my writer buddies it’s much better than the first draft! I’m excited to bring it to you soon. End of this week is my latest estimate. Also, as an apology for my lateness, I’ll be giving y’all an extra short story that is not set in the Blood of Midnight storyverse. Ooooh something different!

A big thank you goes out to my bros in the Bonavista Writers’ Circle for the editing help and for an awesome meeting this past weekend. You all rock.

The Great eBook Royalty War

The Great eBook Royalty War

This is a fascinating article  a friend of mine linked to me this morning. Too good not to share and it exemplifies the reasons why I chose to self-publish rather than go the way of traditional publishing. The control over my own work and my royalties is worth it.

You can't buy that! The great e-book royalty war

Michael Chabon (Credit: AP/Seth Wenig)

A recent lawsuit brought before the U.S. District Court in New York offers readers a glimpse into a battle raging behind the scenes in traditional publishing. The dispute, between authors and publishers, has been going on for several years and there are times it affects which titles you’re able to get as e-books.

 

Much of the e-book market is for new titles, but by no means all. The first e-books I wanted to load onto my new tablet were classics I hoped to reread but found too bulky to lug around in print form and old favorites I wanted to revisit. When a friend fervently recommends a book published 40 years ago or so, I, like a lot of people, instantly pull out my phone or iPad and see if a digital copy’s available. That way, the next time I’m stuck waiting for a plane or just in the mood to read something that’s not for work, I have a nice little stash at my fingertips, everything from W.G. Sebald’s “The Emigrants” to “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. In the publishing business, books like these are referred to as backlist, and they are the quiet economic fuel that powers the industry.

However, if I wanted to reread the 1973 YA classic “Julie of the Wolves” on my iPad and I was shopping before 2011, I would have been out of luck. The author of that novel (about an Eskimo girl who runs away from home to live with a pack of wolves), Jean Craighead George, could not come to terms with HarperCollins, the longtime publisher of “Julie.” Like most large, traditional publishers, HarperCollins insisted that George accept a 25 percent royalty on digital sales of her book, a cut George considered too small. Instead, George opted for Open Road Integrated Media, a company founded with the express purpose of bringing backlist titles to the e-book marketplace. Open Road offered George a deal in which she received half of the proceeds from the sale of “Julie of the Wolves.”

HarperCollins then sued, claiming it retained the right to publish “Julie” as an e-book, and — because of the wording of George’s 1970s contract — they won. But the results (and the rather complex finer points) of that particular case are less important that the essence of George’s choice: 25 or 50 percent. At one time, several publishers allowed 50 percent royalties on e-book sales, but today, the five biggest book publishers are holding the line at 25 percent.



Authors and their agents are fighting tooth and claw to move back that line. Their argument, as expressed by Susan Golomb, agent for such writers as Jonathan Franzen and William Vollmann, is that, with an e-book, “all the hard costs of publishing have evaporated. No printing, binding, warehousing, shipping. They have no costs.” Many authors are willing to hold out on agreeing to the publication of e-books until publishers’ terms improve.

Publishers counter that, while much of the cost of producing a book is loaded onto the hardcover edition, they do also need sufficient income from e-book sales to pay for the editors, designers, publicists and other marketing staff members (as well as overhead) required to bring a title to market, no matter the format. If the e-book edition subtracts from the potential sales of the new hardcover, then the e-book must help make up the difference.

Even if that’s true, however, it’s unlikely that HarperCollins is still paying off the cost of editing and promoting “Julie of the Wolves,” a title that has sold 4 million copies in print since it was first published 41 years ago. It’s also unlikely that they’d be doing much to promote the e-book if they did publish it, since publishers tend to concentrate those resources on new titles. “Publishing” George’s novel as an e-book would amount to the relatively cheap task of digitizing the text, then distributing it to the handful of major e-book retailers: Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Kobo, etc. A smaller company like Open Road can do that as effectively as a behemoth like HarperCollins. Furthermore, Open Road promises to promote the backlist titles it publishes as e-books.

George is far from the only author to find this arrangement more appealing than the one offered by her print publisher. In 2011, Michael Chabon published e-book editions of his earlier books with Open Road, and the mountaineer Joe Simpson, author of the bestselling survival memoir “Touching the Void,” set up his own e-book publishing company in Britain rather than accept the 25 percent royalty offered by his print publisher, Random House. (He characterized Random House’s negotiating stance as “bullying.”) Perhaps the most bare-knuckled the fight over this issue raged was back in 2010, when superagent Andrew “The Jackal” Wylie preemptively assumed the right to publish e-book editions of such backlist classics as “Lolita,” whereupon Random House refused to do any further business with the Wylie Agency and the Jackal backed down.

While literary agents tend to be vocal on this topic, the publishers I contacted, with the exception of Dennis Loy Johnson, publisher of Melville House Books, were unwilling to speak on the record. As a small press, Melville House pays even smaller e-book royalties than the majors: 20 percent. However, Johnson says that e-books constitute such a tiny part of the company’s sales that this has not been a great bone of contention. “Showrooming is real,” Johnson said, referring to book buyers’ habit of browsing in physical bookstores to find out about interesting new titles, then going online to purchase an e-book at a lower price. “In a way, the print book is an advertisement for the e-book and the e-book royalties subsidize the expense of getting those print books out to the stores where people can discover it.”

“Although I am obviously rooting for publishers during this time of massive industry change due to evolving technology and other influences,” said Mary Evans, Chabon’s literary agent, “to have the author bear such a large part of the financial shift seems ill-conceived … Options such as Open Road which publish their books very thoughtfully and intelligently and pay the 50 percent net which most publishers started with … if that is a legal option it is a win-win situation for any author, certainly including Michael Chabon, who has benefited by having some of his backlist published by Open Road.”

Publishers also argue that the money they make on backlist titles like “Julie of the Wolves” funds the risks they take in publishing new authors. They see it as a model a bit like that of a health insurance company, where the contributions of people who use fewer services even out the costs of the people who use more. Book publishing is a gamble; no one knows beforehand which books will become hits, and most books end up losing money, yet you can’t succeed at all if you aren’t constantly publishing new books. The relatively small percentage of profitable titles make up for the many that never earn back the authors’ advances. You can see why this idea might seem unpalatable to the rare successful author. But who knew that book publishing is the last redoubt of that old Marxist principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?

Further reading

Andrew Albanese for Publishers Weekly on the federal judge’s ruling for HarperCollins’ right to publish Jean Craighead George’s “Julie of the Wolves”

Hillel Italie for the Associated Press on Michael Chabon’s decision to publish backlist titles with Open Road Integrated Media

The Guardian on Joe Simpson’s decision to form a company to publish the e-book editions of his (and other authors’) books

 

Continue reading “The Great eBook Royalty War”

How to Self Publish a Novel in Canada

I was recently asked the process one must go through to self-publish a novel as I did. Okay. Let me see if I can make an explanation as easy as possible. I shall be completely straightforward and honest so brace yourself! It’s better than getting nasty surprises later.

1. Get an ITIN. You’re going to need that in order to claim the Canadian-US tax treaty and stop them from withholding 30% of your profits every time you make a sale across the boarder. Do this FIRST because it takes a full year for it to kick in once it’s processed. Do not baulk at the fee. This is a business. If you invest nothing, you’ll get exactly that in return.
2. Get an ISBN. If you’re selling your book in more than one format, request more than one ISBN. I requested 3 because I’m selling my book as an .epub and .mobi (two different ebook formats, the latter being exclusive to Amazon), and as a paperback.

Continue reading “How to Self Publish a Novel in Canada”