Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mostly Away

The packers are coming tomorrow, so for some unspecified while my presence online is going to be kind of spotty-ish. Being me I'll still be around some -- have laptop, will surf -- but I won't be spending all day online the way I usually do.

I have more sorting, stashing and tossing to do; everything has to be ready for strangers to start grabbing and boxing by 8am tomorrow, and I probably won't get much sleep. We're moving into a hotel tomorrow night, and the main computers will be packed up well before then.

I'm just hoping we don't lose too much between here and Seattle. :/

We'll be in a hotel for eight or nine days (during the packing and moving out of our stuff, then supervising a good cleaning [flamethrower, firehose, backhoe] and whatever last-minute repairs need doing), then flying up to Seattle and moving into temporary quarters, still not quite settled where. It all depends on how the deals go -- the guy who wants to buy our condo has been dragging his feet for the last week or more, and we're counting on that for a down payment on the townhouse. If that ends up falling through for some reason, we'll have to scramble for a quick refinance (which was our original plan before this buyer popped out of the woodwork) to get our down payment; it won't be enough for a full twenty percent, which will impact our interest rate and monthly payment, plus the time it takes will cause us to incur a substantial penalty ($85/day) for failing to close on the townhouse by the deadline. I'm really hoping our buyer down here gets his act together RSN. :/

If it all comes together, we could end up staying at a hotel in Seattle for as little as a week or two. If it all goes pear-shaped and we have to go back to house-hunting from scratch, we could end up in an apartment for two months, then moving to a smaller apartment when our per-diem runs out. More likely it'll be somewhere in the middle. Oh, then at the end, moving again to wherever we end up for the next few years, hopefully the townhouse we made an offer on. [crossed fingers] Most of our stuff (everything the packers will be packing tomorrow and Thursday) will be in storage until we're in permanent housing, so we get to live out of suitcases until that happens, joy.

I'm just looking forward to all this being over. You ever wish you could go to sleep and wake up a month or two later...? [wry smile]

Anyway, later all. [wave] Keep the internets warm for me. :)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Spammers -- Stomping Roaches

As Travis mentioned recently, the spammers have gotten more active lately, and some of them are also subtler. At this point, though, I've had it up to here with spam, and my tolerance for anything which seems even vaguely spammish is at an all-time low.

So. What this means is that I'm going to assume that anything which might be spam is actually spam. On the borderline, that means anything in a foreign language I can't read will be deleted. (For a while I copied these and ran them through Babelfish just in case, but I never found any which weren't spam and eventually gave up.) Anything which talks about an unrelated subject ("Hey, interesting discussion here, reminds me of my new plumbing business I'm eager to tell you about...") without any specific commentary on the actual topic of the post will be deleted. Any vague praise which could apply to literally any blog ("I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the hard work you put into your articles and that I've bookmarked your blog and will visit daily!") will be deleted.

If that means I end up deleting a comment by the occasional sincere reader, I'm truly sorry for that. But I'm not willing to leave someone's vague, spammish comment (and their link) up long enough to be spidered if I can help it. All roaches, and anything which has more than four legs and therefore might be a roach, will be stomped immediately, no exceptions.

Note that I don't object to links per se. Someone on my Wordpress blog posted a short comment on my Visiting San Francisco post which actually responded to something I'd said, rather than just making some vaguely general remark. I responded to the comment and left it where it was, despite the very clearly commercial link attached to it. Anyone who actually participates in the conversation is welcome to include a link to their web site. And participation doesn't mean a dissertation-level commentary -- just some proof that the commenter actually read the post and is responding to some specific bit of it is enough.

I don't think that's too much to ask, and anything short of that will be deleted. I really don't want to have to set up captchas on my blogs (or comment moderation on my LJ; I've gotten one or two spam comments on LiveJournal, but for the most part the spammers have so far left it alone [crossed fingers]) because I want it to be as easy and un-annoying as possible for real people to leave comments. That means, though, that I need to be a hard-nose about after-the-fact moderation.

I don't imagine this'll affect any of my regular readers or commenters, and I hope legitimate first-time commenters won't find it impacts them either.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking at Promo

Christina Phillips asked her readers about promo, what we like and dislike, what we do, and what we think works. Since I'm me, my answer got way long, so I'm posting it here instead.

I enjoy some promo activities and dislike others. I generally don't do the ones I dislike. :)

I like blogging, but I post only when I have something to say. I don't appreciate it when other people post lame whatever just to fill a slot on their schedule, and I won't blather about what I had for lunch just to get something up on a Monday. I know people who can come up with interesting, useful posts on a regular schedule -- and envy them bitterly [rueful smile] -- but I'm not one of them and I'm not going to waste readers' time if I have nothing significant to say.

I have a LiveJournal under my pseud because my publisher has an LJ community and encourages us to sign up for days to play host. I'll grab a day when I have something new coming out, but don't try to appear regularly otherwise. I don't have a gift for entertaining a bunch of people online all day long unless I have something specific to talk about and a relevant theme, and if I haven't had anything new out recently, well, that sort of leaves me with tap-dancing and birdcalls, neither of which I'm good at. A lot of the other writers do stunt writing, where they call for prompt words from readers by a certain time, and commit to having one or more ficlets posted using the prompts by the end of the day. I've done that once or twice, but I suck at it and would usually rather do something else. [hides under keyboard]

I like doing raffles, and have found that an effective way of keeping a decent number of people showing up in comments all day is to give a ticket in the hat for each post a reader participates in. So if someone answers three trivia questions, tells me who their favorite historical pirate is, and posts a cookie recipe (or whatever I've asked for that day) they get five tickets in the hat. That draws much more traffic than just saying that each person who participates in some way that day will get a ticket.

And about raffles and other give-aways, if you're giving away a copy of your new book, people who are participating won't buy your book until after the contest is over, because they're hoping to win a free copy. After it's all over, disappointment can nullify the excitement and anticipation built up by your promo activities, and cause them to put the book on their wish list and maybe buy a copy whenever, rather than running right out after the contest is over. Giving away something else encourages people to sign up to win something from your backlist, or a gift certificate, or whatever swag you're offering, and possibly also buy your new book, which you're promoing the heck out of. :)

And giving away a gift certificate, even five dollars' worth will let someone buy several of my stories, so it's a nice prize but not a huge expense to me. And someone who's a dedicated fan and already has my whole backlist can participate and use the gift cert. to buy someone else's stories; I don't mind at all extending the benefits to someone who supports me so much that they already have everything I've published, and if they buy someone else's books with the prize, that just spreads the good fortune around.

I don't do MySpace or FaceBook; I've heard too many bad things about them, and I don't need an iffy timesink.

I don't Twitter -- major timesink.

I have an author's topic over on The Phade, in their Manhole area, which is dedicated to m/m fiction. It's a fun place to hang out, with people who really love the kind of stories I write, but it's not so busy that it's a huge timesink. A number of reviewers hang out there, and I've gotten several reviews from Phade people since I signed up there, which is way cool.

Being a Romancing the Blog columnist drove a surprising amount of traffic to my blog, considering that RTB is mostly het and I'm an m/m writer, but that was a nice gig, even overlooking the fact that I just love being able to blather on about whatever. ;D RTB is on hiatus right now, but I'm hoping the new owners do fire it up again soon, and decide to keep me on. [crossed fingers] Note that I have no idea how much of that traffic actually resulted in sales, but even just blog traffic is nice to see.

I have a set of GLBT Bookshelf pages and I get some blog traffic from that site. There are buy links from my story pages to my publishers' buy pages, but I can't tell how much purchasing traffic originates there. Building my pages also forced me to expand my HTML skills; I got a good book on the subject and did some experimenting to get my pages looking decent, and learned a few things.

I have a web site which I swear I'll do something with some day soon. [hides under keyboard again] Doing the GLBT Bookshelf pages means I'm that much closer to being able to do something with my web site besides having a mirror blog sitting on it, in all my spare time. :P

Part of my problem, though, is that so far I've only published short stories (and one novelette) and I like writing different characters and even genres so I don't have a built-up body of information for any individual set of characters or fictional setting. I don't have any major works which lend themselves to the kind of "bonus material" people like seeing on web sites. I have free sequels available to three of my stories, but they do perfectly well as pages on my WordPress blog. There are some things I want to pull out of the blog pages and put on the web site, like my list of publications, and the freebies, probably add to my bio, that sort of thing, but mostly I want to be able to give people cool bonus material. I have a novel in process with my publisher at the moment, and some more stories in the works set in the same universe; once that's up and running, there's other info I'll be able to give -- character bios, info on how the magic system works, background on the fey and various other beings the boys run into, that sort of thing. At this point, though, I feel like so long as I can manage with just the WordPress and its pages, I should keep it at that level, rather than expanding to a full web site (which would be skimpy anyway) just to have a full web site.

I haven't done any swag because I don't have anything to put on that kind of item. Again, all I have out so far are short pieces, none of which had an individual cover. Cover art is a primary focus of swag items, especially the cheap ones like bookmarks; I'm hoping my novel will have a great cover which will lend itself to that. [crossed fingers]

And recently (just yesterday, in fact) I signed up with Goodreads as an author. Still trying to figure out how that works -- if you're there, come say hi! I'm not sure what the noticeable effect will be (any comments from other writers who actively participate there?) but there are folks on Goodreads who've already put my work up and have done some rating and reviewing and such, so I'll find out whether it helps to have an active presence there, however much time I can give it.

Wow, looking at all this written down, it seems like a lot. [blinkblink] I guess it sort of creeps up on you, a bit at a time. And some things require regular tending -- like being an active presence in the blogosphere -- while others are very intermittent, like my RTB gig, or maintaining my GLBT Bookshelf pages. That's another factor when deciding whether to do a certain type of promo: can you invest the time to set it up and then mostly leave it, with just periodic attention, or is it something you'll have to carve out a regular block of time for?

Honestly, though, I think the best promo when you get down to it is good word-of-mouth, and a lot of it. If you count that in, it seems promo will eventually start feeding itself, as though there's some critical mass of talkative fans which, if you can achieve that level, will ensure that you're going to expand from a decent audience to a really good one. The trick is getting to that critical mass, and making sure that your fans, however many or few there might be at any point, have stuff to talk about. Which comes back to writing great fiction, and ensuring that you have a fairly steady supply of it appearing. Awesome writing is what it's really all about; with it, you'll have other people promoing for you once some target number have tripped over your work, and without it, all the frantic promo a single writer can do won't help.

It's all about how you invest your resources, whether time (to do things yourself) or money (to hire people to do things for you.) I think we can all control money spent, because it's money and there are bills to pay and that number at the bottom of the check book. Time can get away from you, though, if you don't watch it just as carefully. There might be all kinds of promo activities you enjoy, and they all might even be productive, but if you take up all your time doing promo at the expense of your writing time, the wheels are going to grind to a halt eventually. Finding a good balance here is key, and any uncertainty should be awarded to your writing time.

Angie, still trying to find a good balance

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Slogging Through a Great Book

Am I the only one who has trouble getting through some really good books?

I don't mean the kind of "good" book that's a classic, or something the critics have raved about -- the kind of book you feel you should like, even when you don't. I mean the kind of book you're really enjoying, where you like the characters and the plot is interesting and all that, but for some reason it's just really easy to put the book down and wander off to do something else, like, every few pages. :/

I just finished a book like that. It was m/m romance, which is a genre I enjoy. I liked the characters and their relationship arc -- I particularly liked that the writer never took the easy path to shoving them together, but made them legitimately fight for it all the way through, with good reasons on both sides for doing so. The writing itself was clear, with few or no confusing or annoying bits. I finished it pleased and satisfied, and looking forward to getting the next book in the series. Which hopefully won't take me months of on-and-off reading to get through.

About the only legitimate criticism I can think of is that the setting was kind of spotty and confusing. The book was a fantasy, set on an invented world, and the characters travelled through a number of lands, kingdoms, etc. There were different peoples, each with their own culture and language and such. All this would usually be good, but I had a hard time keeping track of who was which and where they were, so a reference to a Blah from Wherever would have me pausing to wrack my brain for a memory of when the Blahs had been mentioned before, and where Wherever was in relation to the lands 80% of the story took place in. I could tell that the writer put a lot of work into her worldbuilding, and did a good job of it; she just had a hard time communicating it to me as the reader in a coherent manner which would let me grasp her world as a whole, and see how all the pieces fit together.

If this had been a hardcopy release from a New York publisher, it probably would've had a map in it, and I would've referred to it fairly often. Having that graphic showing exactly where different places were in relation to one another, which land this town is in and where exactly the river by the protag's village runs, would've helped a lot. I felt like I was expected to know exactly where the protag was going when he travelled north along the winding coast road, but the lands or towns up there had been mentioned some number of pages back, and I didn't remember them; a map would've let me check quickly and easily, and then get right back to the story. I've never seen that kind of map in a fantasy e-book, although they're common in hardcopy books; this is probably something e-pubs should consider.

But most of the time when I wandered away from reading, it wasn't at a point where the writer had tossed out the name of a people or a place I should remember but didn't, so I can't really swear that was the reason I had such a hard time getting through the story.

I don't know. I liked it, and I do want to read more of the series. I just had a hard time sinking into it for any length of time. Does that happen to anyone else? Any ideas why?


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Anthology Markets

I've been getting a lot of hits on these posts, so if you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple antho guildelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.

Note that Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic and Greek Myth/Urban Fantasy have extended their deadlines to 28 February, so if you were thinking of subbing, there's still time.

Note that Panverse Two has been filled; reading for Panverse Three will begin on 1 February, and any manuscripts sent in before that time will be discarded unread.

Non-erotica/romance writers: half the anthos this time are neither erotic nor romantic, so definitely browse.


31 January 2010 -- Queer Light -- Queered Fiction

Angels, fallen angels, nephilim (half human and half angel), and demons; devas of light and darkness. An urban contemporary fantasy anthology featuring queer angels of all shades and hues. Like with Queer Wolf we'll be looking for tales set in an unnamed and location non-specific city, but this time involving queer angels, the good and the bad. (3,000 to 20,000 words)


1 February 2010 -- Red Hot Fairy Tales -- Samhain Press

How did Belle tame the wild Beast? Did the carriage turn into a pumpkin….or did Cinderella? And just what was going on with Snow White and those Dwarves?

I’m very pleased to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be titled Summer 2010 anthology. I’m open to any genre, M/F, M/M, or multiples thereof. I’m looking for your super-hot take on the fairy tales we grew up with and… there must be a Happily Ever After.

The anthology will include novellas from 20,000 to 25,000 words in length and will be released individually as ebooks in August 2010 and in print in Spring 2011.
Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material, previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Please be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 20,000 to 25,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Please include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it’s a special project. We are not accepting multiple submissions for this anthology, so please only send in one manuscript. If you already have a manuscript under consideration with Samhain and would also like to send in a submission to this anthology, please query editor@samhainpublishing.com first. Also, please be aware that, as a primarily romance publisher, we require all stories for this anthology to fit into the romance genre, complete with “happy ever after” or “happy for now” ending.

As well, when you send your manuscript, please be sure to use the naming convention FairyTales_Title_MS or FairyTales_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.


15 February 2010 -- Stand and Salute -- Torquere Press

Military theme.


15 February 2010 -- Latex -- Torquere Press


15 February 2010 -- Steampunk Reloaded: Volume 2 -- ed. Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, Tachyon Publications

The sequel to the World Fantasy Award finalist anthology Steampunk will read submissions between December 15, 2009, and February 15, 2010. Any English-language story previously published in the past decade on a website or print publication is eligible for consideration. Our definition of Steampunk is fairly broad, so if in doubt, send it. Keep in mind that Steampunk has become much more diverse over the past few years, and we are very interested in non-traditional and multi-cultural points of view.

Submissions between 1,500 and 10,000 words should be sent in a Word or RTF document to steampunkII at hotmail.com. We don’t care about margins or format, but please cut-and-paste the first three paragraphs into the body of your email, include prior publication information, but do not include any biographical information about yourself. Alternatively, use snail mail by sending your work to POB 4248, Tallahassee, FL 32315. Snail mail submissions should be marked on the outside of the envelope as for Steampunk Reloaded consideration. No SASE is required if you prefer email response. You can send your email submissions before December 15, but we won’t begin reading them until December 15. All submissions will be responded to no later than February 28; please do not query about a submission prior to that date.

Payment will be on publication, at standard reprint rates of one to two cents per word, against a share of any royalties from the North American or foreign editions, as well as one contributor copy.


28 February 2010 -- Quest for Atlantis -- Pill Hill Press

Email submissions to: atlantis@pillhillpress.com

Please put SUBMISSION, followed by the title of the story, in the subject line of your email. Thanks!

We are looking for a good variety of unique short stories that celebrate the legend of The Lost Continent of Atlantis. Most genres, including, but not limited to, fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, mystery, romance, humor, etc., are welcome as long as they fit the theme of the anthology (Atlantis).

Stories can take place at any time (past, present, future, alternate), and should be written in the third person.

Stories should be approximately 1,000-10,000 words in length.

Payment is 1 cent per word (up to 5,000 words or a $50.00 cap), plus 1 contributor's copy upon publication.


28 February 2010 (Extended Deadline) -- Greek Myth/Urban Fantasy -- Drollerie Press

Drollerie Press is seeking short stories for an anthology retelling Greek myth re-set as urban fantasy. The stories should be between 5 and 20k in length, and should be YA friendly, that is, appropriate to a sophisticated YA reader and to adults as well. The protagonist(s), therefore, should be wrestling with issues of young adulthood, and should be between the ages of 17 and 25. This is a general fantasy anthology, so stories may contain cross-genre elements, such as love, science, or horror, but should not be specifically written to that genre. In particular, however, the stories should be creative and intelligent, and show knowledge of the source material and skill at reweaving it for a new audience. How veiled the original story remains up to the author.

Submissions for this anthology should be uploaded on our submissions page, and should contain “GREEK” in the file name.


28 February 2010 (Extended Deadline) -- Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic -- Drollerie Press

Trafficking in Magic deals with the sale and transport of magical goods and services, including magical beings, artifacts, fortune telling, communing with the dead, and other spells for hire, or the sale of magical energy itself;

Magicking in Traffic deals with magic in the flow of traffic–which could be street traffic, commerce, the flow of energies, or something else entirely–whether to aid, block, or manipulate the flow of traffic, or simply to play in it.

Creative interpretations of the title(s) are also encouraged.

Contributors are encouraged to send 1 short story per anthology or up to 3 poems total. Query first if sending fiction over 12,000 words or poetry over 100 lines. Compensation is an equitable distribution of royalties based on word count. Publication will be in ebook, with trade paperback to follow if warranted by sales.

Send submissions for this anthology only to magic@drolleriepress.com.


15 March 2010 -- Barbed Wire and Bootheels -- Torquere Press

Cowboys, drovers, rodeo riders, ranchhands....


15 March 2010 -- Knives -- Torquere Press


31 March 2010 -- The Way of the Wizard -- Prime Books

(a) The story should be about a wizard, witch, sorcerer, sorceress, of some kind (basically, any sort of user of magic).

(b) The fact that the story has wizards in it should be vital to the story, i.e., magic should be an important factor in the resolution of the plot.

(c) The wizards should be literal, in that they do actual magic, not like a pinball wizard or something like that.

(d) I’m interested in all types of wizard tales, but am especially interested in seeing some stories that explore the idea of wizardry from a non-traditional viewpoint–i.e., something based on the Chilean Kalku or on the supernatural practices of other cultures.

(e) The story may be set in a secondary world, the real world, the present, or in a historical time period…let your imagination run wild.
Genres: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror. Obviously wizard stories tend to be fantasy, but some sort of SFnal take on the theme would be acceptable.

Payment: 5 cents per word ($250 max), plus a pro-rata share of 50% of the anthology’s earnings and 1 contributor copy.

Word limit: 5000 words. (Stories may exceed 5000 words, but $250 is the maximum payment per story, and stories 5000 words or less are strongly preferred.)

Rights: First world English rights, non-exclusive world anthology rights, and non-exclusive audio anthology rights. See my boilerplate author-anthologist contract, which spells out the rights in detail.


31 March 2010 -- Ghost Stories -- Drollerie Press

Who doesn’t love a good ghost? Drollerie Press is seeking short stories and poetry for an anthology of ghost stories. They may be set in any location and at any time. The stories should be between 5 and 20k in length, but longer or shorter may be considered. Poetry should not be longer than three pages, double-spaced.

Your story may contain cross-genre elements, such as romance, or science, but should definitely include strong horror elements. This is an anthology intended for an adult audience, but each work will be chosen based on its own merit and how well it will fit with the rest. In other words, avoid extremely violent and/or erotic or gentle and/or sweetly romantic tales.

Each author may submit up to 3 stories, but only one will be accepted per author. In this anthology, as in all Drollerie Press works, inclusive representation is important to us. Authors may be from, and stories may be set, anywhere in the world. Characters of any race, creed, or sexual orientation are encouraged.

Compensation is an equitable distribution of royalties based on word count. Publication will be in ebook, with trade paperback to follow if warranted by sales.

Submissions for this anthology may be sent by email to submissions @ drolleriepress.com and should contain “GHOST” in the subject line. Review and response will occur after submissions are closed.


31 March 2010 -- Triangulation: End of the Rainbow -- PARSEC Ink

We define "short fiction" as "up to about 5,000 words or so." If you have an awesome story that exceeds 5K then by all means send it; but be warned that we have yet to accept anything for publication much longer than 5000 words.

We dig flash; there is no minimum word count.

We have no interest in getting more specific about the term "speculative fiction." Science fiction, horror, fantasy, magic realism, alternate history, whatever -- if there's a speculative element vital to your story, we'll gladly give it a read.

We love creative interpretations of our theme, "End of the Rainbow". Don't ask us what it means -- tell us what it means with a story that convinces us you're right.

We will run mature content if we like the story. So make sure there's an actual story in that mature content.

We will gladly consider reprints. If the story ran someplace obscure, then it's probably new to our readers; and if it ran someplace high-profile, it's probably really good. Either way, we win!

Compensation: We pay two cents per word (USA funds, rounded to the nearest 100 words, US$10 minimum payment) on publication and one contributor's copy. The anthology will be published in late July of 2010. We purchase North American Serial Rights, and Electronic Rights for the PDF downloadable version; since we're cool with reprints, we really don't care whether we have firsties. All subsidiary rights released upon publication. Contributors will also have the option of purchasing additional copies of the anthology at-cost, exact price TBD.

How To Submit: Electronic submissions make our lives easier. Please send your story to editor@parsecink.org. Please put your subject line in the format of "SUBMISSION: Story Title" so we can tell you apart from the spam.

We'll consider stories ONLY in the following formats:

* .odt (OpenDocument Text -- format used by the OpenOffice.org suite) -- preferred format
* .rtf (Rich Text Format -- generic document format that most word processors can create)
* .doc or .docx (MS Word -- we're not crazy about it, but let's face it, it's the one most people actually use)

[This has been ruthlessly edited for space, but there's a lot more; definitely check their web page for more details.]


UNTIL FILLED -- MM and Menage Steampunk Antho -- Phaze

Call: M/M and Menage Steampunk Anthology, Title TBA
Edited by: Leigh Ellwood
Projected release date: late 2010
Format: eBook (with possible print release)
Publisher: Phaze Books
Payment: $50 for one-time electronic and print rights, plus copies

Hey, all you steampunk enthusiasts, grab your goggles and get to writing! Phaze Books is planning an M/M (and bi-M menage) steampunk collection for eBook publication in 2010. If you have a yen for 19th century history with a touch of good humor and technological innovation (and a whole lot of manlove!), we hope you’ll send us your hottest steampunk erotic romance of 10K - 20K words. If you’re not sure about the genre, check out this Wikipedia entry for steampunk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk) to get an idea of the style of stories we’re looking for. Think H.G. Wells or Wild Wild West, then turn up the steam factor with an incredible M/M or MMF/MMM match-up!

This call is open indefinitely until the spots are filled. Contributors will offer one-time electronic and print rights to their works and receive a one-time payment of $50 and contributors copies (eBook and/or print, if the book goes to print).

To submit to this anthology, please follow the Phaze Books structural guidelines at http://www.phaze.com/submissions.html and attach your RTF submission to Leigh Ellwood, c/o Phaze Books at submissions @ phaze (dot) com. Please use STEAMPUNK ANTHOLOGY is your subject header.


UNTIL FILLED -- Panverse Three -- Ed. Dario Ciriello, Panverse Publishing

We expect to begin reading for Panverse Three on February 1st. Please note this on your calendar and check back with us at that time. Any submissions received before then will be deleted unread.

The anthology will be open to submissions until we have enough good stories.

Looking for pro-level novellas of between 15,000 and 40,000 words. Stories should be Science Fiction (except Military) or Fantasy (except Heroic/High/Superhero/S&S). We'll also look at Magic Realism, Alternate History, and Slipstream (whatever that is). The story should be original and unpublished in any medium (this includes web publication).

Depth of characterization will count for a lot – however clever the idea, if we don't care for the protagonist, we'll bounce it. We like stories that instill wonder. Subject matter is pretty wide open. If we care, can't put the story down, and find no big holes in the plot or worldbuilding, you've got a good shot.

What we don't want:

Military SF, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror, RPG, superhero, or shared-universe stuff, etc. Vampires and Cthulhu-mythos stories are strongly discouraged unless you've done something absolutely original with either theme. No gratuitous or wildly excessive sex or violence: what this means is that sex or violence which serves the plot is okay, within limits; the same goes for language. Think R-rated rather than XXX-rated.

NOTE: there are some unusual bits in their formatting and cover letter requirements. Nothing ridiculous, but definitely click the link and read the full guidelines before submitting.


UNTIL FILLED -- Baconology -- Library of Horror Press

Bacon has long been a staple in our breakfast diet, so it’s time bacon gets its due in literature – with a horror twist! Write a terrifying tale, from 1K-5K words, where bacon is the star of the show! Let’s not just make it fun, but a wee-bit unpredictable (no bacon kills because of the cholesterol – positive portrayals of bacon are encouraged). Remember, as a Library of Horror production there needs to be an element of horror, but good sense of humor and a dose of the surreal are appreciated. Other traditional monsters are allowed as long as bacon is a major component of the story (and yes, let’s make sure they are stories with a beginning, middle, and end).

Send all submissions to baconhorror@gmail.com

[Yes, this one's a bit sparse on details, but I had to include it. :D ]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Pause in the Move

Well, it seems we've been doing it wrong. My husband was given a date to report to his new job in Seattle -- 19 January -- and it seemed the logical process was for us to move up there by that date so he could, you know, go to work without having a thousand-mile commute. We should've known better, though, because that's way too logical for the government.

He got word yesterday that, although the pre-move house-hunting trip was authorized to properly take place before he started his new job [cough] we weren't supposed to actually move until after he'd reported on the 19th and been sworn in. Umm, what?

I had this image for most of yesterday of them flying him up to Seattle so he could raise his right hand and sign a paper, then flying him back so we could get things packed and moved. [headdesk] It turns out things aren't quite that bass-ackwards, although it's close. They just have to find someone at a high enough level in the same chain of command to swear him in down here on the 19th, and then they'll immediately put him on leave so we can officially move on his new agency's nickel. Last I heard (as of last night) they were talking about sending him to San Diego to be sworn in by someone down there, which... wow. They don't have someone in the LA area? Really? My husband doesn't drive, so San Diego means a whole day on the bus there and back for what's probably less than an hour (and quite possibly just a few minutes, I don't know) of repeating-after and paper shuffling. They still have to pay him for the bus fare and travel time, though. Your tax dollars at work. [sigh] (Unless you're not from the US, in which case you can feel free to laugh at how the US government works in these trying economic times.)

We were in the process of getting things sorted and tossed and ready for the packers to show up on Thursday, but that's on hold now. We were using up food without buying any more that'd just have to be tossed at the end of the week, but now we need to do another grocery order. And cetera.

What's really annoying here is that the miscommunication was on the other end, with the people whose job it is to know how this works. None of the people he'd been talking to told him any of this. No one mentioned that he was supposed to report in on the 19th before actually spending money on the move. He'd mentioned his plans to a couple of people and no one said, "Oh, no, that's not how it works." Word finally got to his new boss's boss, who's been moved by the government himself several times and therefore knows the procedures, and said, "Wait, you're what?" which started the conversation. But none of the other people he'd been talking to, including the ones who were working with him on filling out forms and signing vouchers and arranging for realtors and whatever all else, thought to tell him in what order the government wants him to do things.

And what's really really annoying about this is that it's all pointless. The purpose of having him be sworn in at his new agency first is to let the money for the move come out of their pot, rather than having his old agency pay for it. But the bottom line is that it's all the same larger pot -- it's all taxpayer dollars, and it's all being spent by the US government. We're spending extra money (even if it's only the cost of a bus trip to San Diego and a day's wages) to ensure that Agency X is paying instead of Agency Y, when the bottom line is that the taxpayers (us) aren't saving anything. So extra money is being spent for what comes down to accounting. [sigh]

I'm having a hard time imagining why there couldn't be a policy letting whatever agency a transferring employee is with pay for the move. Or just transfer the costs to the agency he's going to, since everyone knows he is going. There you go -- we're saving actual money without spending any, and all it would take is a change to policies and procedures. I guess that makes too much sense.

Angie, whose house is half-overturned and is going to stay that way for an extra two weeks

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Submission

So I was browsing through anthology listings and found one for an SF/fantasy anthology with a music theme called Music for Another World. It looks like it could be an interesting book, and the pay is decent if not spectacular. I happened to have a fantasy story with a music theme on my hard disk, so I thought, "Cool!" and sent it off.

This is the first time I've subbed a story to anyone besides Torquere in quite a while, so we'll see how it goes. If it's accepted, it'll be published under my own name, which I'd always intended to do when I got back to subbing mainstream SF/fantasy. My husband is only a couple of years away from being eligible for full retirement now, and his new job (starting in less than two weeks, ack!) doesn't require a security clearance, so he's not terribly concerned about my being outed anymore, which is cool.

If anyone here has a story which fits the theme, check out the guidelines and give it a shot. It'd be pretty neat to have a bunch of us in an antho together. :)


Friday, January 1, 2010

Intermittent Fasting

Natasha asked about the intermittent fasting I've been doing, and my answer was too long for a comment, so I'm posting it here. She asked whether the fasting got easier as you went along.

Actually, the intermittent fasting is a lot easier than I thought it'd be, and has been from the beginning. It might be different for other people, but for me, just knowing that I'm not eating anything for twenty-four hours makes it much easier to completely ignore the whole concept of food for that period, whereas trying to eat every day but eat less or only eat certain things means I'm focused on food but having to restrain myself while eating, which for me is difficult to impossible.

I've been thinking about it as being like an addiction. Figure, if someone's an alcoholic, and you said to them, "Okay, you have to have one beer in the morning, and one glass of wine at noon, and a shot of vodka in the evening. You can't skip any of them but you can't have any more than that either," wouldn't you expect them to fail? We expect that the only way for an alcoholic to control the addiction is to have no alcohol, period, and that any slip is likely to lead to a binge.

But if someone's addiction is for food, they can't just go cold turkey, or even work up to never eating again. It's exactly like the program above, only with food instead of alcohol, where they have to indulge the addiction just a little bit, but then are expected to back off through sheer will power, multiple times per day. That's not how addictions work, or rather, that's not an addiction control strategy which is at all likely to be successful. It makes a lot of sense to me that it just doesn't work for most people who have this issue. The intermittent fasting lets me go cold turkey a day at a time, every other day. It's not quite the same thing, but it's close, and it works.

I get hunger pangs once or twice on a fast day -- not just the munchies or whatever, but real, hollow-ache-in-the-stomach pangs -- but if I ignore them they go away in five or ten minutes and then I'm fine. And on days when I eat, I just eat normally and don't feel the urge to binge on twice as much food as I'd usually eat, which was something I was sort of expecting when I started. My "normal" is more than most people, but then I'm 5'11" and muscular, aside from all the fat, so trying to cut back to 1000 calories a day wouldn't be healthy for me anyway. My normal amount, cut in half by the every-other-day pattern, seems to work nicely.

And because I always know on a fast day I can have whatever I want tomorrow, I can out-stare whatever goodies we have around the house, because it's not forever; I can have some tomorrow. Or right after midnight, if I'm still awake and still want to. I've only blown it -- planned to fast and should have been able to do so, and then broke down in the middle of the day -- once, when we had leftover bacon in the fridge. :P

When I had that awful gastritis back in March, I tried to go back to fasting after about a week or ten days, and that didn't work, but that was something else. It wasn't a matter of breaking down over some particular item; I got the hunger pangs and several hours later they were still there and had gotten a lot worse. I figured, "Okay, fine, I'm still recovering from being very sick. My body wants food, so I'm going to feed it." I was eating light and bland anyway, because my stomach was still delicate for most of that month, but I waited another couple of weeks before trying the fasting again. I still lost weight that month, with no upward spikes in the middle, so I'm sure I did the right thing.

Another key component of the program (I got all this from Steve Barnes's 101 Program by the way; the diet-and-fitness is only part of it; scroll down a bit to sign up for the 101 for free) is to increase your exercise level while restricting food intake. If you only diet, then your body's metabolism will naturally slow down to accommodate what it registers as a famine condition. If you only exercise but ignore what you're eating, your body will make you hungrier to balance the increased energy expenditure and you'll tend to eat more without realizing it, and level off on your weight. Doing both at once helps keep things balanced to burn fat. I've fallen off on the exercise part and didn't lose anything significant over the last three months or so, so I need to work on getting back to that. Still, I'm pleased with the total result for the last year.


[ETA: Comments closed because of spam.]