Author Archives: keyanbowes

First Day at Wiscon 2018

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Here I am, at Wiscon 42! Yesterday, I met with a friend who’s moved from the Bay Area to Madison, where the lower cost of living allows for a transition from biotech to full-time writing. We had a pleasant dinner and ended up in a smoke shop run by a delightfully nerdy guy who stocked some splendid glass and fabric art. (There were dragons. And a Rick and Morty version of a thangka.)

Today was the Wiscon kick-off with the guest of honor readings at the wonderful bookstore, Room of One’s Own. Unfortunately, Tannarive Due couldn’t be there because between her teaching schedule at UCLA and the flights from the West Coast, she’d need a time-turner. Saladin Ahmed was there, though, and gave a warm and self-deprecating introduction. Then he read a short story that was a comical yet moving play on the Indiana Jones trope.

After the reading and the Q&A, I wandered around the bookstore for a while. It’s the kind of place I’d love to be accidentally locked into for the night – room after room, filled with carefully selected books. As I was leaving, I saw a copy of Rati Mehrotra’s book, Markswoman, in the wild. (I already have a copy, so didn’t buy it. It’s an Asian-flavored fantasy with some marvelous world-building and good characters, and I enjoyed it a lot.)

 

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Power, Beauty, Qing Dynasty at Minneapolis Institute of Art

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A friend recently took me to an amazing exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). It was called Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty, and the concept and design were by Robert Wilson.

What was special was that the display was presented as a series of 10 rooms, each one themed to a particular experience with the wall coverings, especially composed music, and customized lighting. It started in a darkened room painted all black, displaying one perfect – black – vase. It was meant as a space for meditation, and the music was punctuated by what sounded like a falling pencil, but I was later told was Wilson himself dropping a chopstick.

The next room was wallpapered with a customized design of evenly-spaced precious objects such as vases and pins and other beautifully-made luxury products. In a chicken-wire enclosed space, the pictured objects were displayed in the center of the room.  Room 3 was a display of court robes, including the emperor’s own robe. They were exquisitely woven and embroidered. I am into textiles and textile art, so I spent some time just trying to understand the artistry and techniques here.

Room 4, painted a dull blue, had a glass case with a 2000-year-old bronze statue representing the common man. He faced the Emperor’s throne in Room 5, painted red with a dramatic and fearsome dragon. This might have been my favorite room.

The rooms on either side had religious art – Buddhist on one side, with five statues; and Daoist on the other with three hanging scrolls in a darkened room that represented a cave.

Room 8 was a contrast, representing the decorative role of women. In a room lined with silvered mylar, the central display was of more gorgeous robes, head-dresses, and furniture.

It also had a pair of “lotus” shoes that went on a woman’s bound feet. A little child’s coat, delicately embroidered, was a reminder that the children also lived in this environment of beauty and constraint.

 

The next room, Mountains of the Mind, contrasted mountains carved of jade with a custom wallpaper that at first glance looked like the spectacular limestone mountains of Guilin (which I’ve actually seen, many years ago). But on a second look, the mountains are made up of apartment blocks, office towers, and factories, some functional, others dilapidated.

The brochure for the exhibition suggests that mountains represent the divine and spiritual in China, and the idea of retreating to the simplicity of the mountains was a dream of courtiers and Emperors. The wallpaper seemed to contrast that idea with the impacts of economic progress and perhaps the opposing dream of material prosperity.

At the center of the room was a glass case with a simply exquisite very long scroll, apparently woven of silk and enhanced with paint and maybe embroidery. I pored over that for a long time.

The final room I found anti-climactic. Set up in contrast to the darkness of the first room, the idea was “Lightness” and it was painted white with bright even lighting. A single exquisite white jade vase was on “display.” I put display in quotes, because it was behind what seemed to be lightly frosted glass, and was high above my head. I could barely see it; it was like a ghost of a vase. Which was a shame, because by the picture in the brochure, its detailed carving is part of its beauty.

Birds, Fighting

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Recently, I was reminded that birds are descended from dinosaurs. It’s easy to imagine pterosaurs mixing it up after watching birds attacking other birds…

CROW V. GULL

I’ve often watched crows harassing owls and hawks, using their maneuverability to stay out of reach. Usually the larger bird’s trying to get away while the crow chases it.

But the other day, I saw a crow harassing a gull. The gull was about as nimble as the crow, so instead of a pursuit,  it became an aerial dogfight, with the gull after the crow as often as the other way around.

It went on for quite a while before the gull dropped down to a rooftop.

OSPREY V. GREAT BLUE HERON

I was visiting friends in Minneapolis in their lovely lakeside home. We were sitting on the dock at sunset, when we heard series of loud harsh squawks. It was a great blue heron perched in a tree, being attacked by an osprey.

We watched the osprey diving at the heron, the heron trying to spear the osprey (with sound effects). At first we thought the osprey was after a nest, but no, when the squawking heron gave up defending itself and took off across the lake, the fighter plane osprey followed it. They landed in the trees across the lake, and we lost sight of them. (And I didn’t even think to take pictures…)

When I googled it, it turns out the ospreys do attack herons, though I’m not clear if as prey or as rivals.

A Strange Moth in Seattle

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I was hanging out in someone’s backyard on a recent afternoon when I noticed some tiny moths flying around. One settled on a small tree, and I got a photograph.

And because the internet is wonderful, sitting right there I could search for a match on my phone. It’s Oecophora bractella, a European moth that seems to have established a population locally. It was first seen in the US in Seattle in 1998. It lives on decaying wood and fungus. That seems right; a tree was cut down in this yard a few years ago, and the logs are still there, gradually decaying.

Listen to ‘Chicken Monster Motel’ Podcast

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My story, Chicken Monster Motel, was recently published in Third Flatiron’s anthology, Monstrosities. Now they’ve published a podcast, which you can listen to over here:  http://www.thirdflatiron.com/chickenmonstermotel.mp3

There’s also an interview with me: http://www.thirdflatiron.com/liveSite/files/Bowes_interview.html

Thanks, Third Flatiron!

The Mystery Nest Demystified

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The other day, in Seattle, I saw a woven nest hanging in a bare tree. It wasn’t very high off the ground, but probably when the tree was in leaf, the nest would be well hidden.

It was quite large, and I wondered what kind of bird made it. Had it been in India, I’d have suspected some kind of weaver bird. But in Seattle? My usually reliable Google-fu failed me. So I posted the picture on Facebook.

One of my FB friends came back with a prompt reply: Bushtit. (Thanks, Rebecca!)

That’s these cute little birds, about 3.5 inches long.

Bushtit in Glen Canyon, San Francisco. (c) Janet Kessler

Bushtit – Copyright Janet Kessler

(Click on the photo to go to more bushtit photos by urban wildlife photographer Janet Kessler – and the context for this photograph.)

Skagit Valley at Tulip Time

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A few years ago, someone took me to Skagit Valley, Washington State, at tulip time. (It’s usually the whole month of April – though this year they think it will continue into the first week of May, 2018).  Last Saturday, I took someone else to Roozengaarde, one of the two major flower farms in the valley. It was spectacular.

We chose Roozengaarde over Tulip Town (next time!) for two reasons – it’s open later, upto 7 pm compared to 5pm for Tulip Town; and it has a brilliant display garden. They mix different types of tulips in every color.
Tulip bed in Roozengaarde display garden 2018

Then we walked around the fields – each one planted in a different color. That’s where they get the bulbs you can order from their catalog for Fall delivery. They appear in bands of color.

It was overcast, even drizzly on Saturday, which made for dramatic skies.

The paths were *so* muddy, it was one step at a time – especially the paths that were not graveled. They’re like clay slip (emphasis on “slip”).

The kids were having a great time, though. One dad was trying to be careful not to get his toddler’s feet wet. Kid stared thoughtfully at a puddle, and stomped in it. Then she did it again. He scooped her up, but unless he was going to carry her the whole way, that kid had many puddles in her future. Overheard from another little girl: “I’m mudskating!”

There were visitors from all over, especially from Asia. (I guess Europeans can find tulip fields closer home!)

The most unusual flower I saw was a  giant orange variety of tulips.

I didn’t think they were very pretty, but they were certainly dramatic. That boot is in the picture for a size comparison!

Revived my Archived Blog

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Like many other writers, I killed my LiveJournal when it went into Russian hands and had terms and conditions in Russian. Unlike many other writers, I didn’t move my archive to Dreamwidth – and of course regretted it. Today, LiveJournal sent me a message allowing me to revive my acount. So I did, and set up an account on Dreamwidth, and brought my archive over. I had posts starting from 2007, including all my posts about Clarion.

So here’s the link for the Dreamwidth archive. I still need to fix the internal links, many of which link to LiveJournal. But at least all those entries still exist.

Ten Things That Changed in Ten Years – The Speculative Fiction World

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Ten things that I’ve noticed have changed in the last ten years:

1. Nearly every major market now accepts electronic submissions. (The Big Three were paper-only until just a few years ago, prompting this essay by John Scalzi in 2009.)

2. It’s so easy now to write and submit (in a physical sense) that there are thousands of writers out there. For short-story magazines, an acceptance rate of under 1%  is not unusual. (It used to be much higher.) Most magazines now have “reading periods” or “submission windows” during which they accept story submissions, so that they’re not deluged continually and have a chance to clear the backlog.

3. The converse of that is, even if you’re a good writer, rejections are usually a lot more common than acceptances, even with semi-pro magazines. (The Science Fiction Writers of America uses 6 cents/ word as a cut-off for “professional” rates. Below that is “semi-pro”, token payments, or “for the love” meaning no payment at all.

4. With a low cost-barrier to entry for an on-line magazine, there are a lot of small markets. Many of which are single-person efforts. Some of them evaporate quickly, others survive for years and get quite well-known.

5. For novels, Amazon has been a complete game-changer. The stigma against self-publishing has evaporated, with Amazon and e-publishing being a possible route to success. (Self-publishing short story singles except tied into a novel series is mostly pointless.)

6. With the advent of successful e-publishing of novels, the series cycle is much tighter. The conventional wisdom used to be that you should aim for one novel a year in a series, because that’s what publishers want. Now, according to successful self-published novelist Annie Bellet, you ideally want one a month. Or hold off until you have six books ready to go, so you benefit from reader momentum.

7. People are always trying to game sales algorithms, and the owners of those algorithms are always fighting the games. This means the rules continually shift, and non-gamers can get caught in the cross-fire.

8. In traditional publishing, just selling a book doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Publishers are more and more impatient with books that don’t take off. They may cancel a series that’s selling, just not as well as they’d hoped.

9. TV possibilities may exist even for short stories, and definitely exists for novels series.

10. Podcasts are no longer a marginal medium, and are increasingly interesting.

Anyone with further thoughts – your comments?

“Chicken Monster Motel” in Monstrosities Anthology

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My story, Chicken Monster Motel, is being published in the Monstrosities Anthology… and it’s got cover art!

I love the table of contents – those titles! I’m so looking forward to reading the other stories. It’s coming out in March 2018, and you can preorder it on Amazon now if you want. (When I looked, it was priced at about $5 for the e-book.)

 

Contents

Chicken Monster Motel by Keyan Bowes
Five Billion Pounds of Soul by Larry Hodges
Sacrifice Needed, Alcohol Provided by Carl R. Jennings
#Notalltigers by Mark Pantoja
The Doomsday Machine Retires by Ray Daley
Alien TV Shows Are Bad for Your Eyes by Brian Trent
Got Them Wash Day Blues by James Dorr
This Tyrant Crown by Liam Hogan
The Great Mall by Salinda Tyson
Skywalker by Jennifer R. Povey
Eaten by Ville Meriläinen
Into Xibalba by Sita C. Romero
The Emerald Mirage by Martin M. Clark
TidBits by Sharon Diane King
The Catacombs of Constitutional History by Julia August

Grins & Gurgles (Flash Humor)
New Shoes by Robert Bagnall
Kismet by Barry Charman
They Saw Me Coming by Russell Hemmell
Bigger and Better Things by Joseph Sidari

Plus a special reprint by Edward Bryant.

Spotted in the Wild!

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One of the joys of getting involved with the Science Fiction and Fantasy writing community is spotting books and stories by people I know. For instance:

Here’s what I saw at our lovely local bookstore. It’s a new book by Rati Mehrotra, and I’m eager to read it.

And in the same bookstore, there was Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017… and I knew about half the authors.

Including my Clarionmate, Nick Wolven.

 

I am feeling very much in the middle of the writing world, and proud to know all these amazing people!

“Picnic, with Xels” in Third Flatiron Best of 2017

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My story, Picnic, with Xels, has been reprinted in Third Flatiron’s Best of 2017 anthology. It’s currently available only as an ebook, right HERE. (If anyone would like to review the antho for Goodreads or Amazon, now would be an excellent time.)

This story was first published in their Kurt Vonnegut Tribute Anthology, Cat’s Breakfast. Then, out of the blue, they asked if they could reprint it for the year-end anthology. I was, of course, delighted!

The Columbia River Gorge, Serendipity and Fire

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The weekend before the eclipse, August 19th and 20th, we stayed in Portland for a short getaway. We didn’t have any fixed plans, but browsing yielded a big draw: The Multnomah Falls, and the Columbia River Gorge. It’s amazing to me that there are these beautiful places I’m hardly aware of… and this sounded wonderful.

We didn’t know then that it was just in time – that only a few days later, fire would roll over the whole area we visited.

What we were concerned about that day was crowds. Multnomah Falls is notoriously busy, especially on weekends, especially the day before the eclipse when many eclipse-tourists would be in town. Like us. We were right; by the time we got there, the exist to the Falls was blocked because there were too many cars in the parking lot.

BONNEVILLE DAM
Instead, we drove on to the Bonneville Dam. It was very impressive. The gush of white water threw up a mist over the river.

Linking my video from Facebook: Rushing waters at Bonneville Dam

The visitor center had a fish ladder with migrating fish

Also lampreys, which I’d read about frequently but have not seen before. But we missed seeing the ancient sturgeon, Herman. (Fortunately, he’s survived the fire, so I hope to see him another time.)

After Bonneville Dam, we kept going, absorbed in the river vistas on our left and steep tree-clad hills on our right.

MITCHELL POINT

At Mitchell Point, we made a stop to look at the view. The information sign had an interesting, rather poignant story about what used to be there – a beautifully designed tunnel, destroyed when the new highway was built, and a roadhouse that eventually closed down and faded away.

We climbed a trail into green woods, but not too far. We wanted to see more of the river gorge.

THE COLUMBIA GORGE HOTEL

At Hood River, we decided to turn back – and then we came, serendipitously,  upon the absolutely charming Columbia Gorge Hotel and stopped for coffee.

It’s a historic and charming hotel sitting between a brilliant garden and a glorious river.

We sat on the patio for coffee and a snack, enjoying the view and the flowers.

Driving back, we had to decide between crossing to the other side of the river, or retracing our steps.

MULTNOMAH FALLS

We decided not to cross, because I hoped that by the time we got there, the Multnomah Falls would be accessible. And they were! Still quite crowded, but no more than Yosemite in summer, for instance.

 

It was altogether delightful, and we thought we’d come back. It’s easy from Seattle.

 

Only two weeks later, I was horrified to learn of the Eagle Creek fire engulfing the very area we’d visited, roaring through all that beauty and threatening the Multnomah Falls. As I write this, it sounds like it’s been saved. Thank you, firefighters!

 

Solar Eclipse in Oregon

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Like maybe a million (or a few million!) people on August 21, 2017, we made our pilgrimage into the path of the totality.  It was a long road, even though we only came from Seattle. We drove down to Portland, and spent the night there on the previous Saturday and Sunday.

Heeding all the traffic advisories, we started early from Portland on Monday. By 5 a.m. we were checked out and on our way. To our surprise, it was a smooth run aside from a couple of minor bottlenecks,. We even had time for breakfast at a diner that announced it opened at 6 a.m. The place was packed with eclipse watchers, probably headed into Salem.

We, instead, decided to go to the small town of Aumsville. By 7 a.m. we had checked the place out, and settled into a small park with a few other eclipsians. The park was perfect. There were picnic tables, a pretty creek running along the bottom, trees to cast the crescent-shaped shadows, and a clear view of the sun. We’d come armed with cardboard eclipse glasses, as well as binoculars with taped-on filters.

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Enough others had come to make it a fun group event, but not so many that it was overwhelming. People had the cardboard glasses, but also light-boxes like this one to throw an image of the eclipsing sun onto a sheet of paper.

The eclipse started, and I got some pictures.

Trellising my fingers yielded crescent shapes as the spaces acted like a pinhole.

And here’s what the sun looked like:

I’ve seen solar eclipses before – several partial ones, and one very brief totality in India in the 1990s. This was different. It lasted long enough to register what I was seeing with my naked eye. It looked like a black sun, floating in a pinkish corona, just hanging there like a completely alien and awe-inspiring object.

And then, too quickly, the moon moved on and the “diamond ring” appeared. I put my eclipse glasses back on, and watched as the moon slid down across the sun.

After the eclipse, we made our way back to Seattle, stopping along the way and hoping to avoid the traffic. It didn’t matter. All roads were clogged. The traffic advisories didn’t cover the departures, and everyone was leaving in the same 2-3 hours.

We got back to Seattle after 2 a.m.

But what an amazing experience!

Giant House Spiders are Real

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A few days ago, I read about the Giant House Spider on Facebook. It sounded mythical,  like jackalopes and the Pacific Tree Octopus. Because Giant, Spider, and House in conjunction don’t work well for a lot of people.  But when I googled it, I found they actually do exist. (Sorry, arachnophobes: Giant House Spiders weren’t invented by RL Stine.)

Yesterday, I saw something black scuttling across the living room floor. My first thought was, cockroach. Because I’ve seen lots of cockroaches, but only in Asia. Closer inspection revealed a Giant House Spider. I was pleased to recognize it.

So I whipped out my trusty spider catcher – an 8-oz clear plastic cup and a piece of card – stalked the spider, captured it, and returned it to the wild. Here’s the pic. (The spider-catcher is labeled so it can sit on the desk and not get thrown out by mistake.)

“Picnic, with Xels” in Cat’s Breakfast Anthology from Third Flatiron

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A new anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing – it’s called Cat’s Breakfast: Kurt Vonnegut tribute. It’s available on Amazon as an e-book, and a print edition is planned.

It includes my story,  Picnic, with Xels.

 

I’m thrilled to see it published. This is one of my early stories, and a favorite of mine for many reasons both writing-related and personal.

I was just counting up my short stories and poems published. This is the 26th. Thanks, Clarion!

[Edited to Add: They did bring out the print version, and it rocks! Each story has a little graphic accompanying it.]

 

https://www.behance.net/gallery/49532299/Blue-Lion-Big-Blue-Cat-in-Space

 

Criminal Minds – Notes from Orycon 2016

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I found my bunch of Orycon 2016 notes the other day, and  thought some were worth writing up. This panel particularly impressed me, since the panelists (Matt Bellet, Bart Kemper, SD Perry) brought some very interesting experience and insights. Matt has worked in rehabilitating young offenders on parole; Bart Kemper, an officer in the Army Reserves who served in Iraq and Afghanistan (and is also an engineer with current Secret Security clearance with the DoD); and SD Perry, who writes horror and dark fiction and therefore researches this stuff constantly.

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Is there such a thing as a “Criminal Mind”?

  • SD Perry: Yes, there are brain differences. Psychopaths show reduced frontal lobe activity, no emotional reaction to danger words, and increased amygdala activity. However, ordinary people can also be criminals through anger and self-righteousness. There’s sociopathy.
  • Matt: Yes. Some people have brains that work differently. Others are “typical” but do things that are criminal because of their circumstances.
  • Bart: Not all criminals are psychopaths nor are all psychopaths criminal.
  • SD Perry: Yes – some psychopathic traits can help careers. They’re over-represented among surgeons, CEOs, media journalists for example. Our society values people without empathy. They avoid criminal acts through rational decisions.
  • Bart: Killing people is acceptable depending on the circumstances – if the people are on the other side. It’s the difference between being a soldier, who kills people vs a murderer who needlessly kills people. Killing can be justifiable, but other crimes like rape may not be. The death penalty for rape is rational because there’s no justification for rape.
  • Question: What about women killing their abusers?
  • Bart: Most murders are personal.
  • Matt: I told my guys that I will talk about what’s legal and illegal, but not about right and wrong. It’s not my job to look at the ethics of the situation.
  • SD Perry: Psychopaths don’t think of right and wrong. They consider everything only in relation to themselves. Rehab also has to be different. It’s also true with narcissism – everything is about them. Difficult to treat them. There’s the Dark Triad: Psychopathy, Narcissism, Machiavellianism. Together with Sadism. Goes into the “Criminal Personality,” causes Criminal thinking errors.
  • Someone said something about Death Squads and Torture. “You lose part of your soul.”

Question: What about naked craziness? (I think the reference was to people on the street who act really weird and dangerous, but not sure.)

  • Matt: Drug addiction, rule-breaking, mental illness, drawing attention – these account for some of those behaviors.
  • SD: There’s a thin line between sanity and not-sane.
  • Bart: Criminals aren’t stupid. Smart people can deceive themselves.
  • Matt: Criminals are not only the hero of their own story, they’re also the victim.
  • SD: Psychopaths will lie.
  • Matt: They know what you want to hear.

Question: Is the internet causing psychopaths?

Psychopaths are born, not made. But people can relate to them: for instance, John Wick (violent action movie hero) was a sympathetic person.

Question: There was some study in the 1920s which found there was no psychological difference between police and criminals?

Bart: A manipulative personality can be used to manipulate people in good ways. E.g. a coach, or a criminal rehabilitator.

SD: Any job that offers power will draw psychopaths. E.g. Police. Surgeons. CEOs. Don’t have moustache-twirling bad guys as your villains.

Matt cited the Milgram studies. He noted that people who hadn’t completed high school wouldn’t press the button (to apparently torture the “victim” of the experiment). High School is where you learn to obey authority.

Bart: Countering the stupid authority requires ethics training. “Question every order.” Military reward people who revealed the Abu Ghraib incident, and prosecuted the bad guys.

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That’s all I have in my notes. Really liked the session. I think I learned a lot. I was reminded of it recently when I read the Atlantic Monthly article, When Your Child is a Psychopath,   which notes that 80% of psychopaths are not criminal, and also this article: Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath.

 

Old Typewriters and a Ray Bradbury Tribute

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I was at San Francisco Airport yesterday, and came upon this tiny exhibit of old typewriters in Terminal 2. (Of course, I thought of Mary Robinette Kowal, who collects them.)

It was quite charming – a whole range of old typewriters. I’d liked to have spent more time there looking at them all, but with only a few minutes before I had to head for my Gate, I just took a few pictures.

But the most interesting thing to me was the display of typewriters belonging to well-known authors. Orson Wells. Tennessee Williams. Hemingway. [Edited to add: I got an email from Steve Soboroff, who said they came from his famous collection.]

And perhaps the best of all: Ray Bradbury.

Reminded me of the tribute video by Rachel Bloom as well as all the lovely stories of his I’ve read over the years.

 

“Happily Ever After in Twelve Stained Glass Panels” in Expanded Horizons

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My second Rumpelstiltskin story, “Happily Ever After in Twelve Stained Glass Panels” is on line at Expanded Horizons. It was first published in the Mosaics I anthology.

“Usually, the Queen rode alone to her hunting lodge deep in the forest. This afternoon, she’d brought her son King Rushken, recently come of age. Now she had to steel herself, resist the urge to turn back, to postpone.” (Read on)

 

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My Norwescon 2017 Panel Notes: Advanced Self-Publishing

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Advanced Self-Publishing (Tori Centanni (M), Annie Bellet, Mark Teppo, K. M. Alexander, Elliott Kay)

The discussion started with genre silos – writing books that are strictly within a genre, vs cross pollination. Also: If you write in more than one genre, should you consider different pen names?

Annie: It’s important for new writers to stay strictly within a genre, because of the way Amazon algorithms work. The most important element is the Recommendation engine, which will tend to recommend books similar to the ones a reader has already bought. The “also-boughts” are key: If people who bought your book also bought other books within the genre, then the also-boughts will give the correct signal. If you use the same name for two separate genres, you might get some cross-over readership – people who liked your Urban Fantasy may also enjoy your Adventure thriller series. But percentage-wise, most genres are separate readerships, and the result is the also-boughts get confused and give the wrong signals. So if you’re writing in two genres, at least use slightly different pen-names – like adding in an initial – to distinguish them. The Romance readers are more likely to cross into other genres than most other readerships.

Series are good for self-publishers; if readers like one book in the series, they buy all the others. The best thing you can do for your sales is to publish the next book in the series. It gives a boost to all the previous books.

How soon should you publish your next book?

For traditionally published books – about one a year was the conventional wisdom.

For self-published books, the ideal would be every 30 days (!) in the same series. If you can’t do 30, go for 60. If you can’t do 60, go for 90. If you’re a slower writer, then wait until you have at least 3 books in a series ready to go, and then release them once a month. This again comes from an Amazon algorithm. They have a 30-day “Hot New Release” list. If your next book comes out in time to get on the list *again* it will boost your series’ profile. They also have a 60-day list and a 90-day list.

Writing fast is important.  She said that when her pace of writing slowed, her income dropped every month. If you want to write faster, Annie recommends the book: “2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love” by Rachel Aaron.

What’s the difference between paper books and e-books?

For much of the readership – they’re two different things. People who buy paper books don’t always read e-books. But people who read e-books often read paper as well.

For a self-publisher, paper books aren’t worth the trouble. The pricing is hugely different – an e-book can be priced at 99 cents to maybe $7.99, while the paper book will be $15 or more. The margins are tiny. You don’t have the reach to get them into bookstores. That’s where the traditional publishers have a stranglehold on the channels. Annie said she makes more (per book) on a $3.99 e-book than on a $25 hardcover book. On Amazon, at any price above $2.99, you get to keep 60-70%.

Annie sold the paper rights to her “20-sided Sorceress” books to Saga, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. They called her when her series took off on Amazon, and asked if she was interested in a deal. She crunched some numbers, and said it would require an advance of around $2 million. There was complete silence from the other side. Then after a few minutes, they asked about print-only rights.

“That… would be a lot less,” Annie said. So she sold them the print rights (and, she says, immediately turned round and paid it to the Federal Government as tax!), and took down the print version of her books. They were selling only a few copies anyway.

 

 

 

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