Wednesday Weekly Roundup


So, no writing this week either, but I managed to finish updating all the Silvery Earth titles, and even enrolled most of them in the site-wide sale with Ghost Bus Riders. Everything over 2.99$ is 50%off for the whole month, so go grab ‘hem eBooks! ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the “new” titles, it’s only reprints, so, Tori, feel free to ignore them. Anyone else who hasn’t read a book of Silvery Earth, it’s all new, so check them out! Brand new covers and blurbs, hope you find something you like, there’s a little bit of everything! ๐Ÿ™‚

I know I promised another title this summer, but I might not publish it for Sci-fi July as I intended originally. You’ve had a glimpse of the cover in the Star Minds Universe rebranding post, but I sent one of those stories to Galaxy’s Edge, back in March, thinking by now I would know if they accepted or not.

Last week I learned that the editor has been ill, and asked for a few more weeks of patience, hence I’m postponing publication of Terrans for this reason. If if she happen to like that story, the title might come out even later, but it will come out, eventually! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I’m finally back to the project I had to set aside for Silvery Earth. I only have a handful of titles left in my rebranding-reblurbing-republishing endeavior and I feel much better, even if my old laptop keeps giving me problems (some old Window update makes Photoshop crash, so I constantly uninstall and reinstall it to make it work, sigh!) – I’m seeing the light at the end of the rebranding tunnel, LOL!

I better go back to writing, now. It’s the only think keeping me sane these days. Imagining to be somewhere else with my characters instead of this crazy planet. Have a great week! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote 14K+ which means I’m past the previous years’ wordcount by now. I might actually make it to 600K this year, LOL! After all, there’s still almost a month, definitely three weeks, if I keep going like this, I might! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will have to wrap FEC 11 tonight so I can print it out tomorrow and have a last pass before sending it out to Mighty Editor.

And the Series Pages on Amazon are now live, albeit only on Amazon.com! Aren’t they neat? You can even purchase the series in bulk (I presume under 40 books, since the option is not there for Silvery Earth). I think it’s a nice accomplishment for my ten years of indie publishing, what say you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

And the last book of this short trilogy about the vampires going into the future is out! Vampire War shows the Future Earth Chronicles from the vampires’ point of view. On the cover, Lihua, the “Chinese Menka” who showed up in Future Earth Chronicles already. Note that she’s not a point of view character, though, since it’s still Rajveer’s story. And Miyako and Claire.

Rajveer has been around the Mediterranean with Kaylyn for four hundred years, trying to find a way inside the Rainbow Town where Kris, Alain, Shashank and Juhi vanished during the invasion of the Romanian horde. Until their maker shows up in Istanbul with Kris and Alain to update them.

Miyako feels the Asian vampires on the move and thinks she owes it to her maker to keep an eye on them. After two covens converge on Beijing, she and Ingolf take it upon themselves to figure out what the Asian vampires are up to.

Claire was safe in Rainbow Town until she found out the truth behind the underground settlements. Her symbiosis would bring a new treaty and an army of robots to confront the united Asian vampires, ready to attempt what the Romanians couldnโ€™t way back when.

I’m also rambling on Joleene’s blog, about this whole trilogy and other stuff… check out my interview, she does ask some very neat questions! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was definitely a release week, because you can now purchase also Blaze Ward Presents Issue #4: Cloak and Dagger!

Cloak And Dagger. These words were the inspiration, the dare I put to the writers out there. Create for me art on that theme. They responded with music, words, and excitement. Science fiction, urban fantasy, or sword and sorcery fantasy. Come explore the many places that twenty-odd visionaries went when they heard those words and enjoy all the bright and dark places you might go. Part of the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series, be sure to get them all wherever you get your books: An Interpretation of Moles, I Like My Science…MAD!, and Nuns With Guns.

My story in this anthology is a short sequel to Joint Operations, my one and only spy story. I didn’t have time to check the other stories yet, but I know many of those writers and they’re all awesome, so go check it out and grab it, in ebook or paperback! ๐Ÿ™‚

And now I’m going to tout a couple of friends’ horns! ๐Ÿ™‚ The book I beta-read and loved is now out! Check out Drinking Heavy Water by Michael W. Lucas, a great sci-fi romp on a weird planet. I wish I was a faster reader to be able to check all the other Montague Portal novels!

And this is from the awesome editor of Halloween Harvest, Mark Leslie Lefebvre:

This is a tough post to share.
It’s about a book that was tough for me to read.
Especially from the privilege of the warmth, comfort, and security of a home…
…where I’m surrounded by books, surrounded by so many of those objects we take comfort in because they can perhaps, allow us to momentarily forget our mortality.
Allow us to forget there’s not that much separating us from our having, and not having. From having warmth, security and comfort, to having nothing but the clothes on our backs.
This was also a tough book for me to publish. But I wanted to do something. I wanted to share the story of my friend Peter.
It’s not easy to read about something like this happening to someone I love.
It’s a story that the charities donโ€™t want you to read.
It’s about a fate that can strike any of us, at any time, that we donโ€™t want to think about.
I met Peter C. Mitchell in the mid 1990s when we were both working as booksellers at the Chapters in Ancaster, Ontario.
He was one of the most well-read, intellectual, and witty book nerds Iโ€™ve ever had the honor of working alongside.
Though he kicked my butt at chess and book trivia board games, I loved hanging out with him, because he challenged me. He made me think. He made me laugh.
We worked together over the years, he was a trusted friend who babysat my only son, he was also a first reader and wonderful editor for plenty of my fiction and non-fiction stories.
It has been several years since Iโ€™ve seen him in person.
He returned to London in 2017 to complete his research on a book entitled โ€œA Knight in the Slumsโ€ a self-confessed vanity project about his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk, and the manโ€™s dedication to bettering the lives of the disabled and the working poor in Victoria-era London.
A perfect storm of calamities ironically left Peter penniless and sleeping rough, falling victim to the very same ailments John Kirk fought.
That nightmare inadvertently gave Peter an inside look at the very systems put in place over a century earlier by his great, great grandfather and those who, like him, were trying to help.
That experience frightened him more than the horrors of homelessness itself.
And that is the story of Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough.
This is a book being published independently by my own Stark Publishing imprint in a stealth manner and on a shoestring budget and is being used to help earn Peter his way out of his situation.
Unlike most traditional publishing deals, the author is earning 80% of the net profits on sales of the book. (It’s typical for a first-time author to earn 8% – and, if they’re well established, as much as 20%)
Because I’m not publishing this book to make money. I’m using it to help drive funds towards a friend who does not want charity. He wants to earn his way out of the hole he is in. And he wants his story to be shared.
Below is a link to the book at the various retailers where it is available.
It can, of course, be special ordered in paperback or hardcover via any local bookshop, as it is distributed via Ingram. (And I encourage folks to consider ordering books via local bookstores whenever and wherever they can. Local businesses serve the local community and culture and allow the revenue to stay local).
If you know someone in the media or a book reviewer who might be interested in a review copy of the book, please have them contact me – mark@markleslie.ca
A new online platform has created a centralized online shopping platform for independent bookstores around the country. And when I clicked on the link, it told me it’s coming to the UK as well, so it’s not just for the US. In case you’re Amazon-averse, you can get your books from an independent bookstore through Bookshop.
Yesterday I sent out the last batch of short stories on submission after receiving the umpteenth rejection. So I sent out 25 stories, sold one that will come out next year, but saw two published that I submitted last year. We’ll see what happens with the last five still out there! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And that’s all for today! Have a great week!

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote 17k and started on FEC11… by this week I’ll probably be over the past years’ wordcount, with still a few weeks to spare. I’ll keep counting next year, that’s the only thing I decided so far, since writing is still fun and the best way to cope with all this. Although I still have no idea of what I’m going to write or publish beyond what I’m currently working on and that will take me to February.

And we now have a Nightly Bites BUNDLE too! Shorter works, including Mortals Apocalypse – a short novel at 34K (or a novella if you go by SFWA standards, I remember when I tried for Tor novellas they wanted between 20K and 40K) – and other awesome books.

“The Night Killers” is actually a full novel to complete this awesome bundle! And it was on my Recommended Reading List last year, so yeah, it’s really worth checking out, LOL! A little more bang for the reader’s buck.

This bundle will have a much shorter run than usual. It used to be six months, more or less, but this will be gone after the holidays, at the start of 2021.

Also, I took out the year from the Silvery Earth Kids calendar on Zazzle, so you can now get the 2021 calendar with Torik and his friends.

Here’s the latest scandal – Audiblegate! If you’re on Audible, they are screwing you. If you’re a writer or a narrator, that is. If you’re a reader, stop returning audiobooks. In the words of my friend A.L. Butcher:

Please DO NOT just return a book you have listened to because you want something different and Audible offers an ‘exchange’ with your credit. The authors and narrators have to pay – we lose royalties – they are either recouped or taken from the next month’s royalty payment. It is NOT Amazon who take the hit on this.
In effect, you get to listen to a free title, and the authors and narrators pay you to do so.

I’m with Findaway Voices, and I got an email to inform me than I can be paid in currency other than US$ if I apply by December or something. Except I think it’s a phishing email, since I received it on my Paypal email, and the communications from them usually go to my author email.

And there’s no trace of such thing on their dashboard or on their blog, where I found out that last June they expanded their Giveaway Codes, so if anyone anywhere wants a code for Otherside, now you can redeem them! ๐Ÿ™‚

Previously, Giveaway Codes only worked in the US, Canada, and Australia. Now, Giveaway Codes can be redeemed by listeners in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

If you’d like one, just drop me a line. Also, since it has become easier to generate them, I might get some also for The Hooded Man and Firebird. If anyone is interested, that is.

Authors Direct is currently only available for users on iOS and Android (non-Kindle) mobile devices.ย  We cannot support direct MP3 download, playback via desktop computers, etc.

Authors Direct Giveaway Codes are only for listening inside of the Authors Direct mobile apps and can only be redeemed at https://authors-direct.com/redeem/

So there, if interested, drop me a line and I’ll send a code. Also, let me know if you’re okay with Otherside or want to try any of the other two. Thanks.

Speaking of submissions to major magazines, this year I sent another story straight to Asimov, yay! I submit to them every 3 years, apparently. But this was unrelated to any series and possibly hard SF, so I decided they’d get the first shot. I’m still waiting for Strange Horizons, to whom I submitted back at the beginning of September, but I know they are backlogged.

And next week I’ll have Submission Day where I’ll send out to the Zombie Need Brains anthologies and another market! Here’s to getting another acceptance letter soon. Meanwhile, check out the Other Publications with my stories in it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Besides Audiblegate, another “scandal” came to the forefront this week. Disney isn’t paying royalties to Alan Dean Foster. I read the novelization and its sequel (the italian versions) of Star Wars back in the early 80s, and I can’t believe what’s happening. Traditional publishers are going down the hill and big companies are screwing writers more than ever!

I’d call for a boycott, but that’s not in my nature. I stopped watching Disney movies a long time ago. I stopped watching Star Wars a long time ago too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, do as you please, but if you’re a writer, stay away from the Mouse with your IPs. And here’s to Disney paying his due to a huge SF author like Alan Dean Foster.

And if you’re even thinking about going with a traditional publisher still (for your novels, not the short stories), please read this post by Kris Rusch. And definitely don’t tell me. I unfriended wannabe writers who boasted of their agents before. So, if you’re one of them wannabes looking for an agent and a traditional publisher, don’t tell me and leave quietly, okay? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have a great week! ๐Ÿ˜€

Wednesdey Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote around 10K before taking my train. This week I’ll be mostly editing, so not much for wordcount, probably, but I knew about it.

A gentle reminder that one giveaway is almost up – and again, I won’t know you downloaded, since Smashwords won’t tell me unless you do. So feel free to grab Star Minds Sire Teens. The code is: TG65B and it expires on: 2020-8-31.

And of course a new Future Earth Chronicles book is out!

Yollanda is startled when her friend Carlos calls out of the blue to reveal the truth behind Rainbow Town. Soon she finds herself helping him and watches, aghast, as her hometown switches down.
Yollanda learns to live under the sun, in the ruins of Great Falls, with Carlos and Lucy, until she’s confident enough to climb ontp a horse-drawn closed wagon to explore more.
And when an airship reaches Roanoke, she jumps at the opportunity to cross the Atlantic, hoping to explore her African roots.
BONUS STORY: “Bran the Raven’s Last Night” โ€“ The Battle of Chittor seen in “Kristine the Youngest” from Bran’s point of view.

So there, go check it out! ๐Ÿ™‚ Next one in a couple of weeks! ๐Ÿ˜€

Now, as soon as I’m done with the prequel, I’m going to write a few shorts to submit to markets in September and October. And no, I’m not keeping track of rejections time, although I do keep and Excel sheet with the submissions. And I like seeing those red marks that say “SOLD” next to some stories! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hopefully the stories I’ll write in September will be stories I can add to my existing series, if not, well… eventually I’ll publish all those random stories in a volume, LOL! I do have quite a few still… The Silvery Earth ones will be out probably at the beginning of next year, and I might write more in the Star Minds Universe even though theoretically I’m done with this section of history and should move on to the next galactic century.

For other publications I might just make up stuff, using their calls as writing prompts. I still haven’t decided what I’m writing after I finish the Future Earth Chronicles, so some unrelated shorts might spark the next series! ๐Ÿ˜‰

A couple of interesting bundles on StoryBundle (so limited time offer, check them today):

The Innovative Worlds Bundle ending really soon that includes Future Visions edited by my friend and fellow author Francesco Verso, and The Exclusive Dark Fantasy and SF Bundleย curated by my friend and fellow author Douglas Smith a remarkable set of eleven titles by bestselling authors and rising stars. As always, at StoryBundle, you name your own priceโ€”whatever you feel the books are worth, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

I ran into this wonderful post on how to buy a book, and who actually profits from it. I also heard of indie authors punished by vicious readers on Amazon (not to mention it’s impossible to be seen without ads on the various markets), so yeah, Amazon is definitely not the best place to sell our books, but it’s one venue (and eventually I’ll be able to sell from my own web page, but we’re not there yet), and as long as you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you should be fine.

In the gap in my publishing that will happen in October (after FEC Book 10) there should be something coming out from another publisher, stay tuned for the official announcement. I got paid for that story, but I don’t see any official release date on the publisher’s page, so I’ll keep mum for a little longer. Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote almost 6K, but again, I was able to write only from Friday afternoon. Now I should be able to be back writing daily, since I finished reading for the workshop, yay! Back to the Star Minds Universe, although I might not wrap everything up before I leave – but you’ll have something coming out in March, don’t worry! ๐Ÿ™‚

Since I’m done reading for the workshop, I started a non-fiction book I bought last summer in Edinburgh. I’ll need it for that story I have post-poned writing and I found out it’s actually perfect for Black History Month! Medieval Africa 1250 – 1800 is currently showing me that black slave trade was actually started by the Arabs long before Europeans managed to colonize Africa.

My wandering Norse vampire will probably go to the Mali Empire and sail with that emperor who vanished with his ships long before Columbus reached the New World. And he will definitely find his way back to this side of the world, since he even survived the apocalypse! ๐Ÿ™‚

And I got another couple of rejections. It’s the third year in a row that I submit to those anthologies, and this time the reply included this note:

While we enjoyed reading the story, we have decided to pass on including it in the anthology where it was submitted.ย  Please keep in mind that we had over 1400 submissions and we accepted 22 stories total, so competition was tough.

Wow. Talk about competition! I guess that market will be tougher to crack from now on! One more waiting for results, as well as the coming up Anthology Workshop, then I better start sending out stuff again! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will try to be optimist and keed trying!

The publisher’s page is now safe! (or at least the home page is, doesn’t seem to work on the other pages) I asked my Awesome Webmaster to add the https to it. Eventually it will have a shop (not this year, not the next, but it’s in the future), so that’s always good. Especially with major retailers and publishers bailing on Amazon, so eventually I’ll do it too.

I should start working on the promised paperbacks, but will probably do when I come back and prepare the publishing schedule for the coming months. Stay tuned for more Lone Wolves and a makeover of the contemporary titles along with a new one. Then I’ll either go back to Silvery Earth or go with the new series. We’ll see.

And I would like to publicly thank Brit Marling for her awesome article about the strong female lead. There was always something that bugged me in the Hero’s Journey, and now I know what or why. That’s also why I don’t really write that kind of story, because I’m not interested in any of it.

So here’s to hope more women write stories for women that don’t have Lara Croft types of heroines! ๐Ÿ™‚ Or, which might be fun, someone actually writes the Lady Hero’s Journey! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last couple of days for the Celebrating Male Lovers bundle… get it now! Leaving you with the usual writerly quote… have a great week!

We make something good, a blintz, a story, by having worked at blintzmaking or storywriting till weโ€™ve learned how to do it.

With a blintz, the process is fairly routine. With stories, the process is never twice the same. Even a story written to the most prescriptive formula, like some westerns or romances, can be made poorly, or made well.

Making anything well involves a commitment to the work. And that requires courage: you have to trust yourself. It helps to remember that the goal is not to write a masterpiece or a best-seller. The goal is to be able to look at your story and say, Yes. Thatโ€™s as good as I can make it.

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


And as I enter my tenth year of publishing, I shall do some kind of recap, right? Besides it’s time for those new year’s resolutions for writers… So: wordcount, submissions, publications in that order.

Last week I wrote the story for the anthology workshop (3100 words) and then I was busy with other tasks. I used the long weekend (Jan.6 is a reinstated National Holiday in Italy) to clean up the 45 Italian titles, giving new covers to some of the contemporary stories and adding titles to KU since it seems to work without advertizing.

These are my numbers since I started counting them in 2015 when I bought a new writing computer and stopped doing the first draft longhand:

2015: 400K

2016: 468K

2017: 350K (meh! 17 is bad luck in Italy… ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

2018: 535K

2019: 533K

I still plan to write another 500K this year, it seems to be sustainable and it would be the third year in a row. Go me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I also hope to write more short stories to submit, which brings us to point #2!

Submissions have increased in spite of a couple of markets folding and one sub ending in the spam folder. Again, here go numbers: 3 in 2013, 6 in 2014, 10 in 2015, 14 in 2016, 15 (+ 6 anthology workshop) in 2017, 19 in 2018 aaaand 29 in 2019!

Two sales in 2019, and 4 submissions are still pending reply (and one was resent in January). And I already submitted 3 stories this year (+ already 6 for the anthology workshop, will probably be 8 in total). So I hope to get to 50 submissions, but it also depends on how much I spend on shorts and how much on longer works! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (and how many shorts turn into longer works! ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I have accumulated 74 rejection emails, some personalized, some general, but well… I’ll celebrate when I get the 100th because it means I keep trying, LOL!

Publishing: I want to redo most contemporary stories covers in view of a new collection coming out later this year, with a novella and a few unsold shorts. I did my end-of-the-year accounting and even though I spent Zero for covers this year (thanks to those Deposit Photo credits that should last for this year as well), having paid for 3 workships (2 offline and 1 online) and 3 audio books, my expenses are still much higher than my earnings. But looking at that ledger, there are more “in” than “out” and my royalties are rising (although I included also the 2 sales that bumped up the earnings).

So, 2020 goals: write another 500K or more. Write more short stories to be submitted to traditional magazines. Continue writing in the current series (Silvery Earth, Star Minds Universe, Future Earth Chronicles and Vampires Through the Centuries) plus a new one growing out of a batch of shorts. Publish at least 12 books from March. Do the paperbacks I haven’t done last year (erm… still have quite a few, though, don’t I?).

above English titles, below Italian titles and other formats

And then in 2021 I can celebrate the book birth day for Books of the Immortals – Air that will turn 10 years old! It’s not my bestseller (that would be Body Switches that continues to sell a few copies per year since 2014), but it’s my first Book Baby, so I shall celebrate it – next year! ๐Ÿ™‚

But the majority of book-babies grow slowly, just like human babies do. Their audience slowly expands, from family and friends and those in the know, to people their parents never met, to people they couldnโ€™t have known as young book-babies, to people theyโ€™ve never met, to people they will never meet, to people who will outlive them.

Kris Rusch

Mine are particularly slow-growing, but I’m sure they’ll come of age. I might do book launches for final books in a single-story arc series (Future Earth Chronicles? The first arc is already concluded, though…) or just let them grow naturally like I’ve done until now. It’s an evolving world, like Kristen Lamb explains so well here

Are you all set with your 2020 goals? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are some tips to be successful… Now hop off to the Infinite Bard for another free story and have a great week! ๐Ÿ˜€

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