Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Help Me Free Scattered Seasons!

I'm trying a new marketing approach with my Season Avatars series. For a long time, the prequel Seasons' Beginnings has been perma-free, and the rest of the books have been priced at $2.99. I'm going to reduce the price of Scattered Seasons to free, at least temporarily. Since Scattered Seasons is more closely linked to the rest of the books than the prequel, I hope that by getting more people to read it, they'll continue with the rest of the series. While it's a straightforward process to set a book price to free on Draft2Digital, Amazon has yet to price-match. I reported the lower price twice already, but I'd appreciate it if more people could help out. If you haven't reported a lower price to Amazon before, here are the steps:

1. Go to the Scattered Seasons page on Amazon.
2. Scroll down past the Product Details until you see "Would you like to tell us about a lower price?"
3. Click the hyperlink and select "Website."
4. Paste in the address of the Scattered Seasons page on another store. It can be Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple.
5. Enter 0.00 for price and shipping. You don't have to change the date.
6.  Click the "Submit feedback" button and close the pop-up window.

Thanks for your help, and please feel free to download a copy if you don't have it already.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

IWSG: Creative Callings

January's finally over, so that means we're one month closer to spring. I wouldn't mind fast-forwarding to March, but unfortunately that's not possible. At least we have the Insecure Writer's Support Group to keep us going during the rough weather. To learn more about the IWSG, check out their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

This month's co-hosts are Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace. For February, we've been asked the following question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

 If you've been following my blog for a while, you know one of my other creative outlets is crochet. I focus on amigurumi, figures of characters and animals. Most of the amigurumi I make is from other people's patterns of Star Wars characters, but I'm slowly branching out into other geeky characters and working on my own designs. Here are a few photos of my work. The top one mostly features Star Wars characters; the bottom one displays variations on a porg pattern.

Since getting into Star Wars costuming in 2015, I've also learned to sew. I still consider myself a beginner, but I've made Jawa costumes, lanyards, and a skirt (pictured below). Eventually I want to make my own Jedi robes, but I'm not sure if I want to make General Leia's blue dress from the end of The Force Awakens or have someone else make it for me.

I'm not sure if I should count Star Wars costuming separately from sewing. There's more to costuming than sewing; some people do leatherwork, assemble armor, or paint/embroider as well. Trooping (wearing the costume in public at scheduled events) might also be considered a separate creative endeavor, since it's acting. When I wear my Jawa costume, I try to avoid speaking English and use Jawaese words instead. I also goof around much more than I do as myself or as an Imperial Officer. To save space, I'm not going to post any Jawa pictures in this post, but you can find them in the archives.

Finally, cooking and baking are also creative outlets for me. Most of the time, I follow recipes, but I occasionally tweak them to suit my own taste or use ingredients I have on hand.

Juggling all these creative endeavors takes a lot of time, but it's good to be able to switch between them. It's quite fulfilling to sell an amigurumi to someone or wear something I made myself.

Do you have any creative hobbies? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Alex Ulbrich, In Memoriam

My father passed away very early Tuesday morning. He was eighty-two. He's fourth from the left in this picture, which was taken about six years ago.

I will be taking the rest of January off from blogging. Although I was supposed to sell books at the Elgin Literary Festival next week, I cancelled that appearance, since my father's memorial service will be that day.

Take care, and I'll see you in February.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Short Story "Rob's Choice" Now Available!

I may have finished the Season Avatars series, but that doesn't mean I'm done with the characters or Challen. I've long planned to write a spin-off series set a generation after the Season Avatars series, mixing old characters and new, putting my own twist on a Victorian country moving into a modern age. I'm not quite ready to write that series yet--I'm still not sure what the series title should be, for one thing--but I'm starting to explore it with some short stories set in the interim.

"Rob's Choice" is the story of Robert, Jenna's son. I plan for him to be one of the protagonists of the first spinoff book, and this story sets up his situation. Maria Zannini of Book Cover Diva did a great job with the cover. Here's the blurb:

All his life, Rob has wanted to dedicate himself to the God of Summer. But when he tries to do so, he discovers the Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen have different plans for him. How can he serve Them and his own wishes at the same time? And what does his strange vision have to do with the barren country of Selath?

Although this story is meant to be a stand-alone, it does contain some spoilers for Summon the Seasons. Naturally, I recommend reading the other books in the Season Avatars series first. I currently have it listed as book 5.5 (6 on Amazon) in the series.

This short story is available for $0.99 at the major ebook retailers. You can access your favorite store through this universal book link.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

IWSG: Questions and 2018 Reading Summary

Happy 2019! I wish you all the best in the coming year.

We're starting off the new year with The Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about this group on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Our co-hosts this month are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Blue-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue.

Our question this month is about questions: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I don't get a lot of questions about my writing, but I always enjoy it when someone genuinely wants to know what I'm working on and is interested in the plot or character. On the other hand, it's annoying when someone asks me if I'm published in the sense of being traditionally published or having my books on display at Barnes and Noble. It can be complicated to explain why I chose (and continue to choose) to publish my novels myself.

I normally summarize the previous year's reading in my first post of the year. I managed to achieve my goal of 150 books. (Goodreads says I read 151, though I must have missed one in my genre count.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Fantasy: 72
Science Fiction: 21
Other Fiction: 15
Non-Fiction: 42 (includes six books on writing, but doesn't include my Audible lecture series on writing great fiction)

According to Goodreads, I read over 41,000 pages. The shortest work was "The Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway at four pages; the longest was 1,182 pages for The Tale of Genji. (The average length was a more manageable 272 pages.) Some of the books I'd recommend include A Clash of Eagles, Eagle in Exile, and Witchmark.

Have any questions of your own or thoughts on your reading of 2018? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Goals: The Successes

It's hard to believe this is going to be the last post of 2018. At least this is a good time to review the goals I did achieve this year.

Write and submit [short stories] to 3-4 anthologies/magazines--Achieved. I had two short stories published this year, one in an e-zine and one in an anthology. Three of my short stories were rejected. I'll publish two independently and possibly use material from the third in Catalyst in the Crucible. I intend to submit two short stories to anthologies in January; we'll see if any other markets catch my eye the rest of the year.

Prepare and publish 1 or 2 box sets for the Season Avatars series--I did a complete ebook box set of the Season Avatars series early this year.

Participate in local literary festivals when possible--I moderated a panel for the Elgin Literary Festival (ELF) and had a table at my library's Comic Con. I'll be back at ELF to sell books (and raffle off a dinosaur), though I'll have to see if my schedule allow me to participate in any other local writer fests.

Make Santa Jawa costume--I'm now calling it the "Holly Jolly Jawa" since I did it in green instead of red.

Crochet at least ten SW characters--I managed to accomplish this back in January. I made so many I'm considering selling some on Etsy after Star Wars Celebration in April.

Troop 20-25 times--I trooped 21 separate events. At this rate, I should reach my 100th troop before I turn 50 (another of my unofficial goals).

Read 150 books--My Goodreads count is currently 148. Book 149 is nearly done, and since I have a couple more days off this week, I'm quite confident I can finish at least one more book before the end of the year. More details about my reading will be revealed next week.

Although the month isn't quite over, it's still been a long December. Let's hope next year will be better than this one--and that I reach more of my goals!  See you on January 2nd. 

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