Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Used Paperback Prices

As older books get converted to eBooks, I occasionally replace one of my paperbacks with a Kindle version. I have limited shelf space in my office and too many things in my house, so I look at it as decluttering.

Sunday morning, an ad for Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone by Ian McDonald appeared in Bookbub. I clicked on the Amazon link to download a sample. Several formats appeared on the product page, and I was astonished by the price of the paperback (see screen capture from Sunday below):

 Here's the screen capture of the actual listing (notice there's no picture of the book):

 I admit my first thought was to put my own copy up for sale and use the proceeds to fund my publishing/marketing efforts. Here's what my copy (from 1994) looks like:

My name is written on the first page (I used to do that to all my paperbacks), and the book is a bit yellowed, but otherwise I'd say it's in Good condition. The spine is unbent, though you can't see it in this picture.

Before putting my book up for sale, though, I thought I should see what price it commands on other markets, like eBay. Unfortunately, there was a slight price discrepancy, as you can see in the screen capture below:

So if a signed copy is listed at $7, I don't know how the Amazon 3rd party seller came up with a price of $520. I'm tempted to contact the seller and ask, but that might stir up more trouble than I want to get into.

Normally when I want to get rid of old books, I bring them to Half Price Books. I think I used to get a dollar a paperback in the 1990s, but they offer much less now. I'd probably make more money selling them on eBay, though I wouldn't be able to ship them promptly due to other demands on my time.

Do you buy or sell old books? What's the most you've spent for an old book? Is there a certain book you've been unable to find? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Seasons' Beginnings Now Permafree Everywhere!

I think the title pretty much says it all. I had to contact KDP Customer Service to get them to price match Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, but now Seasons' Beginnings is free on Amazon as well. Come read about an artificer whose love for a woman chosen by a Goddess draws him into a war between gods. (And then go check out the next two books in the Season Avatars series: Scattered Seasons and Chaos Season.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chaos Season--Cover Reveal and Preorder

Maria Zannini of The Book Diva just put the finishing touches on the cover of Chaos Season. At last I can reveal it to you:

I particularly like the way the deathbush loops over the spine. Thanks, Maria!

As if the cover reveal isn't exciting enough, Chaos Season is now available on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes for preorder! (Preorder should be available soon for Barnes and Noble.) I originally planned to publish this book on the summer solstice, but since then I decided to make it available a little earlier so readers can post reviews before I post ads for the summer solstice. (If I'm able to get the proof edited quickly enough, I may have paper books available at WisCon. Keep your fingers crossed!) Price is $3.99 for the ebook. Sorry, no introductory price special this time, but there may be some for the first two books in the series.

Come back soon for more book news!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Shakespeare and My Stories

According to Goodreads, this is the start of Shakespeare Week. Goodreads has some activities planned on their site, but they didn't appeal to me. Instead, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about how Shakespeare has influenced my work.

Shakespeare borrowed many of his plots, and in turn many other writers have borrowed his plays and lines. One way to borrow a play is to transfer it to a different setting. Twinned Universes takes Hamlet to a spaceship traveling through a wormhole to a parallel universe. The protagonist, Paul Harrison, is a young actor who dreams of playing Hamlet some day and quotes constantly from Shakespeare. When Paul's mother dies, he's convinced his great-uncle is behind the death, even though his friends and family think him a little mad for doing so. They even want him to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Rose Stern. (Yes, that name is a deliberate reference to Rosenkrnatz and Guildenstern.) How does Paul plan to test his suspicion? Why, by staging a play to catch "the conscience of the king," of course. Does Paul's story end in tragedy like Hamlet's? You'll have to read Twinned Universes to find out.

I'm not sure if Romeo and Juliet is more famous or popular than Hamlet, but it's definitely a very well-known play. In "Letters to Psyche," I explored the history between the two feuding families and brought Cupid and Psyche into the mix. An earlier romance between the Montagues and Capulets goes awry, and Cupid learns much about humans as the curse affects generations of the two families.

Sometimes it's good to get away from tragedy and enjoy a little comedy, as I did with a Beatles fanfic story called (I think) "A Hard Midsummer's Night." The Beatles actually performed a skit from the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream." You can catch it on YouTube:

My story had the Fab Four tangling with the fairies from the play--with some not so fab results. I think this appeared in an issue of Indie Writers Monthly, which no longer seems to be available. Maybe when I revive my mailing list, I can share this story with subscribers as a bonus.

Do you love or loathe Shakespeare? Even if you don't like the original plays, are there pop culture references to Shakespeare that you like? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Indie Author Fringe

Indie Author Fringe, a free online conference for indie writers, is occurring on Friday. This is actually one of three online conferences for indie writers this year; all of them are scheduled to tie in to major book conventions. Speakers include Mark Coker, Joanna Penn, Joel Friedlander, David Gaughran, and many more. (Here's the link to the full schedule, including speakers and times.) Although I'll be working during the conference, the panels will be available online afterward. There's also an Opening Line Competition that you can enter through Saturday, April 16; full details are available here. I don't know yet if the conference sponsors will be giving any prizes away, but after last year's indie conference IngramSpark provided a special code to all registered members. Using this code, I was able to set up my paper books on IngramSpark without paying the normal fee.

Do you think you'll register for the Indie Author Fringe? If so, what panels look most interesting to you? (I'm most interested in cover design, promotion, and e-mail lists). Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

(Not) Dozing with the Dinos

My son, Alex, has always enjoyed museums. The Field Museum is one of his favorites, so we go there every few months (we're members, which helps). The Field Museum has a special kids overnight program called Dozing with the Dinos. When I checked the schedule last July, I noticed they had a Saturday date in April, so I bought tickets right away. After months of waiting, we finally got to attend this event this weekend.

We ate an early dinner and arrived at the Field Museum shortly before six. The majority of attendees were groups such as Boy/Girl Scouts and church groups. After checking in, we staked out a spot in the Hall of Dinosaurs, close to this sauropod bone. We paid extra to sleep in the Evolving Planet exhibit and go on a behind-the-scenes tour.

After orientation, we went on our tour with Dr. Crystal Maier (I hope I remembered the name correctly). She's the curator of the insect collection at the Field Museum and an expert on a small beetle that lives in clear water. She showed us several types of beetles and butterflies, including this case of morpho butterflies below.

 Following the tour, there was some time left to attend a few workshops. Alex got to dissect an owl pellet, see dinosaur bones, and handle some live insects. Then we got a snack, which was big enough to qualify as a bag lunch. The snack included a half sandwich (two types to choose from), an apple, a cookie, and a juice box. After snack, we had time to roam the museum on our own. Alex enjoyed going through the exhibits with a flashlight. We also bought some souvenirs and watched staff prepare a (fake) Egyptian mummy. By that point, it was getting late, so we decided to call it a night.

 We all brought inflatable air mattresses with us, but unfortunately Alex's had a leak. We also discovered that our location was next to a well-light hall. As Eugene put it, we had the brightest nightlight in the museum. I think I managed to get some sleep, but I was out of bed before the official wake-up time. We packed everything up before heading downstairs for breakfast: muffins, bagels, cereal, juice, and milk. Although we were entitled to free admission once the museum officially opened, we had other things to do. So we left and arrived home by 9:30, at which point I promptly went to bed for an hour. Eugene took a nap later as well.

Alex has already asked if we can go again next year, so I'll get tickets as soon as they're available. And next year, we'll all have better air mattresses and pick a quieter, darker location to sleep.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

IWSG--When to Take a Break

It's time again for the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the IWSG on this site, and the co-hosts this month are listed below:

 Megan Morgan
Christopher D. Votey
Viola Fury
Christine Rains
Madeline Mora-Summonte

L.G. Keltner
Patricia Lynne

Rachna Chhabria 

Sometimes there are points in a project where I feel I have to force myself to put words down. Maybe I'm not sure what to write next, or maybe there are issues with the story contributing to writer's block. There's nothing wrong with taking a break to clear your head or even switching to another project for a while. Just make sure the break doesn't go on too long. Still, there have been short stories of mine that took several drafts with long breaks in between before I got them right. In fact, I do have a couple of stories that have been simmering on the back burner. It's hard to find the time to work on them when I have so many other projects that are important too. I hope that when I finish drafting the Season Avatars series, I can finish up some short stories before tackling my next long work.

Do long breaks from your work recharge your batteries or cause you to lose momentum? Feel free to share in the comments.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Chaos Seasons in the Real World

If you were in the Chicago area on Saturday, you probably noticed the drastic weather changes. All day, the weather swung back and forth between sun and snow. At times, the snow came down quite heavily, and there were also a few occasions where it was balled up like hail. On Sunday, however, temperatures climbed into the 70s. The weather reminded me of what I call Chaos Season, a magical weather storm that mixes up the seasons in the world of my Season Avatars series. Chaos Season doesn't only affect the weather, but also plants and animals. Flowers will blossom at the wrong time of the year, and birds will start to migrate. If the Season Avatars weren't able to straighten out the seasons, Challen would soon become an inhospitable place.

As the weather proved this weekend, drastic weather changes happen in the real world too. Here's a link to an article detailing some extreme weather changes. In 1943, a town in South Dakota experienced a nearly 50-degree temperature change in two minutes. In 1972, in Loma, Montana, the temperature rose 103ºF (from -54ºF to 49ºF) in 24 hours. Oklahoma City experienced a record high and record low on the same day in 1911. You can find more weather records on Wikipedia and CNN.

The strange weather on Saturday was good for one thing: it encouraged me to stay home and finish the rough draft of Fifth Season, Book Four in the Season Avatars series. Now it's on to drafting Book Five, Summon the Seasons. I also have to incorporate comments from beta readers and check formatting/layout for Chaos Season.

What's the most extreme weather you've experienced? Feel free to share it in the comments. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Science of the Week: 4/1/16

Best of luck to everyone participating in the A-Z Challenge this year! I'm sitting this year's challenge out. I considered using my Season Avatars series as a theme, but I think it makes sense to wait until more books are out. Hopefully by next April, the series will be finished.

As tempting as it is to make up some science news stories for you this week, the following stories are all real:

An ancient killer: ancestral malaria organisms traced to age of dinosaurs

Biological mechanism passes on long-term epigenetic "memories"

GI tract bacteria help decrease stroke

"Siberian unicorn" went extinct much later than we thought

Saving sunshine for a rainy day

Not all mind wandering is created equal
(proof that not all who wander are lost)

Study explores carb-loading's effect on the heart

one crop breeding cycle from starvation

early-stage embryos with abnormalities may still develop into healthy babies

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