General Status Update 4/7/17

I couldn’t think of a particularly specific topic to blog about this week, so this post will just be a general status update: what I’m working on, current goals, future projects, etc.

I’m trying to wrap up the first draft of Serafima’s Stone in the next month or two. I’m very close to finishing the primary story line, and then have to fill in some secondary plot points. I’m moving into a new house at the end of April, so my free time is a bit limited until then. However, I’ll be setting up a designated writing space (as opposed to my current writing space, aka sitting on the couch with the TV oh-so-temptingly sitting on the other side of the room…) in the new house, and am hoping this distraction-free space will help me focus and increase my productivity. The new house will also have a patio space, so maybe once the weather gets nice I’ll write outside.

In addition to working on Serafima’s Stone, several plot bunnies have been jumping around in my brain. While Serafima’s Stone is of course the highest priority, I have spent some time exploring these other plot bunnies. Follow the muse! Writing something is better than writing nothing, right? Even if it’s not what you meant to work on…

Oh, hai!I'z yer personal plot bunneh fur today!.png

Anyway, these other plot bunnies will form the foundation of novels I’ll work on more specifically once the Gaslight Frontier Series is completed. You can look forward to an urban fantasy novel, a post-apocalyptic/humorous novel, and an epic fantasy novel down the line.

Because I’m moving this month, I’m not officially taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. If you are, though, I’d love to hear about your progress (or struggles!) in the comments!

One Year After Publishing Grigory’s Gadget – What I’ve Learned

Sunday, March 12th, marks one year since Grigory’s Gadget was published!

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Since about a year has passed since publication (wow!), I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned in terms of writing, publishing, marketing, and more.

In terms of writing, I’ve discovered that it gets a lot harder after publishing a book! There’s an added pressure that simply doesn’t exist if you’re an unpublished author. Now I need to finish the next book – people are waiting! I can’t just push it aside for months or years, nor can I switch gears to work on a different project. Well, I could, I guess. But my personality won’t allow it!

One thing that surprised me about this process is which distribution channels sold the most books. Most information on the internet would suggest that eBooks are the way to go in this regard. However, as you can see on the chart below, I’ve sold almost a majority of my books through vending events and consignment.

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I have attended 8 vending events since publishing Grigory’s Gadget (and I have two more this month!). These events, combined with selling books by word-of-mouth, have proven to be the best way to get my book out there.

Smashwords was my second-most successful distribution channel, thanks in large part to their sale events they have multiples times per year. Amazon, via Kindle Direct Publishing for eBooks and CreateSpace for paperbacks, was also successful.  Books sold through Indiegogo and Amazon were pre-sale books. IngramSpark by far is the least successful distribution channel. I still suggest that self-publish authors utilize this channel, however, if you have any interest in getting your book into brick-and-mortar stores.

Another factor that contributes to the success, or lack-there-of, of each distribution channel is the fact that I haven’t done much in the way of advertising. I’ve dabbled a bit in Facebook and Amazon ads, but never saw an impressive return on either. I’ve done a couple interviews, and had my book reviewed on a few blogs. I’ve also started to utilize Newsletter Swap, which actually seems to have boosted my sales quite a bit. (By the way, if you haven’t already, you should join my email list!)

For now, I still won’t be putting a lot of money and effort into advertising, since writing is still a (passionate) hobby for me. For the time being, most of my writing-related efforts will be directed toward the actual act of writing. I need to finish the first draft of Serafima’s Stone!

Have you grabbed a copy of Grigory’s Gadget? In celebration of its anniversary, Grigory’s Gadget will be on sale throughout the month of March!

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Find the eBook on Amazon and Smashwords!

Get the discounted paperback through my CreateSpace eStore using the code 8CAZ5J8X!

#SteampunkHands Around the World 2017: Making Life Better -Perspective

*artwork by MrXpk*

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017- Making Life Better is a month long event in February 2017 showing and sharing the great steampunk people, events, and things around the world that other people should know about. Through these means, we come together as a community to forge new connections and friendships, inspire and be inspired by each other, and create realities from the stuff of dreams.

This year, we will share and explore the ways in which steampunk can and has made life better, for ourselves and for others. How does steampunk make life more fun and enjoyable, how does it expand our horizons and help us define who we are, or who we want to be? How does steampunk inform us about ourselves, others, and the world around us? How does it help us find solutions for real life problems, and find ways to make changes for the better?

Airship Ambassador

This week’s discussion will take a look at how steampunk allows us to analyze the past to prepare for the present and future.

Steampunk is sometimes criticized for romanticizing a period of history that was wrought with troubling and problematic issues (colonialism, orientalism, the suppression of minorities and women, rampant disease, etc.). I say this is a fair criticism. I also say it’s a wonderful opportunity that is unique to steampunk.

Steampunk is not the same as historical fiction. Steampunk allows us to change things, fudge facts, rewrite history. We can use this to challenge the past, and the legacy we still feel today. That’s what the “punk” in “steampunk” is all about. Challenge the system. Turn it on its head.

Steampunk can become a excellent tool for social commentary if used correctly. Sure, we can write a pleasant story that simply ignores the problems in Victorian society. There’s nothing wrong with pleasant stories – we all need those from time to time! But steampunk also has the potential to be much deeper, to examine human nature and to face cultural issues we still come across today.

So go forth, my fellow steampunks! Take aim at the establishment and dismantle it in that gentlemanly/lady-like way like only you can! And don’t forget to break for tea and biscuits.

#SteampunkHands Around the World: Making Life Better – Maker Culture

*artwork by MrXpk*

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017- Making Life Better is a month long event in February 2017 showing and sharing the great steampunk people, events, and things around the world that other people should know about. Through these means, we come together as a community to forge new connections and friendships, inspire and be inspired by each other, and create realities from the stuff of dreams.

This year, we will share and explore the ways in which steampunk can and has made life better, for ourselves and for others. How does steampunk make life more fun and enjoyable, how does it expand our horizons and help us define who we are, or who we want to be? How does steampunk inform us about ourselves, others, and the world around us? How does it help us find solutions for real life problems, and find ways to make changes for the better?

Airship Ambassador

Today’s contribution to Steampunk Hands Around the World focuses on the “maker culture” of steampunk. One of the primary draws of steampunk is the tangible nature of anachronistic technologies. You can see how the gears move, how pulling this lever activates motion here or there. It’s so entirely different from modern, “black box” technology.

“Maker culture” calls back to these tangible technologies. Makers create their inventions from scratch, with wood and brass and copper, or by re-purposing existing items. Makers work with their hands, get their hands dirty.

A lot of this is considered a “lost art” these days. Most people don’t build or fix things themselves anymore. You bring your car to the shop, you hire a plumber or an electrician. You bring your broken gizmo or gadget to a store where it’s simply replaced with a shiny new one. Maker culture is fighting this trend.

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Image from The Enchanted City

I attended a steampunk festival in Troy, New York this summer – The Enchanted City III: A Brave New World. This festival included events, such as the Inventor’s Challenge and the Mini Maker Fair, that encouraged participants to don their lab coats and goggles and get to work. The Mini Maker Fair, targeted toward kids, is especially important in my eyes. This is where steampunk goes beyond a whimsical genre of books or movies and becomes a force of real tangible good for young people. It encourages their creativity and challenges their problem solving skills. It builds a familiarity with mechanical and technical objects and ideas that will stay with them for years. Steampunk is helping to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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Image from The Enchanted City

#SteampunkHands Around the World 2017: Making Life Better – Aesthetics

*artwork by MrXpk*

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017- Making Life Better is a month long event in February 2017 showing and sharing the great steampunk people, events, and things around the world that other people should know about. Through these means, we come together as a community to forge new connections and friendships, inspire and be inspired by each other, and create realities from the stuff of dreams.

This year, we will share and explore the ways in which steampunk can and has made life better, for ourselves and for others. How does steampunk make life more fun and enjoyable, how does it expand our horizons and help us define who we are, or who we want to be? How does steampunk inform us about ourselves, others, and the world around us? How does it help us find solutions for real life problems, and find ways to make changes for the better?

Airship Ambassador

To kick off my contribution to Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017, I’ll be discussing the aesthetic of Steampunk. Things like art, fashion, and architecture bring so much joy to people, it seemed like a good place to start!

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art by Vadim Voitekhovitch

Steampunk art and crafts often center around taking mundane, every-day items (a phone, a light switch, a table) and transforming them into steampunk gadgets. There are also brilliant examples of steampunk cityscapes. This often involves elements such as leather, brass, copper, gears, levers, and patina. The craft and maker aspect of steampunk has helped transform it from a genre to a subculture.

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Image from Artfire

Steampunk fashion is easily identifiable, as it combines Victorian fashion with gadgets and the “punk” aesthetic. Common elements of steampunk fashion include corsets, bustles, waistcoats, top hats, spats, goggles, parasols, mechanical limbs, and post-apocalyptic elements.

Steampunk architecture is often Victorian, or 1800s-style architecture from other parts of the world. What makes it steampunk is, like in steampunk art, the addition of elements such as leather, brass, copper, gears, levers, and patina. Take a grand, Victorian mansion and add some grime, some grit, and some whimsy.

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Image from Airship Flamel

(Note: the image above depicts a real Victorian house in Irvington, NY. On the one hand, that means it is not steampunk, but simply Victorian. However, because it is on the more whimsical end of the Victorian architecture spectrum, it is a great example of the type of historical architecture steampunk draws from.)

What’s your favorite part of the steampunk aesthetic?

Year in Review: 2016

The year 2016 has been a roller-coaster-ride of a year. Between wars, crazy politics, and the huge number of celebrity deaths (on that note, I’m not a religious person, but isn’t there something in the bible about good people being sent to heaven right before the apocalypse, leaving only the sinners left on earth to suffer? Anyway…) a lot of us are ready to kiss 2016 goodbye.

But it wasn’t all bad! This year, I’m proud to say I became a published author, one of my life-long dreams. So below is my Year in Review for 2016, highlighting the milestones (some writing-related, some not) that have defined my personal journey this year.

I really encourage you all to sit down and make a similar list. What were the moments in 2016 you were proud of? No matter how big or small, try to remember every moment that made you happy. Did you reconnect with an old friend? Get acknowledged for your hard work? Meet a fitness goal? Find a new favorite movie?

Make the list, and if you still feel rotten about 2016, do what my friends and I are doing on New Year’s Eve: build a bonfire and burn 2016 calendars. I think it will be pretty cathartic.

The Collaborative Writing Challenge

I believe I’ve mentioned off-hand in previous blog posts that I’m participating in the Collaborative Writing Challenge Steampunk Challenge! I’m very excited about this project, which officially kicks off on December 30th.

The Collaborative Writing Challenge is a project where multiple authors (approximately 30!) work on a story together, chapter-by-chapter. All participants were able to submit their ideas for Chapter 1, which were due for this project on December 2nd. From there, the admins of the challenge selected their favorite three chapters. The participants are now voting on which of those chapters will become the official Chapter 1 of our story!

From there, 4-5 authors at a time will write submissions for subsequent chapters, which will then be voted on by all participants. Each chapter writer will receive the full Chapter 1, the full chapter prior to the one they will write, and a synopsis of every chapter in between. The writers will also receive thorough notes containing a list of characters, locations, and highlights. The result will be a 30-chapter novel written by up to 30 different authors!

There’s still time left to join the challenge if you want! Otherwise, stay tuned for news as the project moves forward. The final chapter submissions will be due in August 2017. From there, the novel will be edited and then published!

I also want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, Io Saturnalia, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Newtonmas, and Happy birthday to myself 😉