Dispatches From The Future (B-List)

PopSci recently debuted a collection of very short shorts from “Ten of the brightest minds in science fiction.” It’s a very worthy read if you’ve got a couple of minutes to kill. Lots of humor packed into very few words. Plus, I love the idea. In part, because I love short stories. In part, because I love flash fiction. Also, writing something is a whole lot more fun than vacuuming or revisions, and that’s what I’ll be doing otherwise. So I’m turning it into a writing exercise right here on FeetForBrains.


 

Avacado

I was super excited to head home to my gallery apartment today because in this week’s grocery shipment I fully expected to find a lovely box of HAAS avocados waiting for me along side all the usual. When I was a kid I recall heading off to the super market with my mother and walking away with loads of these little buggers. They were so tasty. She’d cut them in half, pull out the pit, and hand me a spoon. But it’s been an age since there was such a thing as markets, and avocados have become about as rare as ice in the arctic.

Unfortunately, I let my anticipation of this delectable treat and the nostalgia for old-timey unprocessed food stuffs come before any sort of reasonable, contemporary assessment of the status quo. This despite the fact that I’m constantly surrounded by swarms of pilotless delivery drones. They dodge through crowds of people at the train station. They zip past my head when I take the skywalk from one end of the arcology to the other. They’re every where and always moving at a tremendous speed, performing amazing aerobatic feats that would turn a mere mortal into jello.

So it should have been no great surprise that the box I received on the door mat before my apartment was little more than the final resting place for the once delicate fruits of one Persea americana tree. The cardboard coffin contained only a greenish-brown slush resembling guacamole that had gone off. It’s truly amazing what 10 gravity turns will do an avocado.

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I Give You ON THE LEFT FOOT

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ON THE LEFT FOOT. A short story as wild and wonderful and full of weeds as I could manage in about 7,000 words. Write what you know? Write what you don’t know? Well I did both. Take a look. Enjoy. It’s cheep.  It’s Saturday. You’ll likely want more. I’m writing.

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Backcountry ranger Jack Isen has had a bad year. Once school gets out he is anticipating some time alone, working the back country of the Flat Tops Wilderness. Something strange happens and he finds much more isolation than he was planning for.

Good News! From the Indie Side is #2

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Yes, you saw it here first (or not). I was checking rankings on a couple of books and just happened to notice that FROM THE INDIE SIDE is currently ranking second in Science Fiction & Fantasy > Anthologies & Short Stories. That’s great news for a lot of very cool Indie authors out there.

In other news, I’m going to be interviewing as many of the contributors to FROM THE INDIE SIDE as  I can. Michael Bunker is first on deck, expect his answers to appear magically on the Internets this Friday.

Quiet in the Wilderness: Signal Boost THE BIG RED BUCKLE

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Buy The Big Red Buckle

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He aims to win the Grand Martian Traverse, and take home The Big Red Buckle for himself and for native Martians.

The more I read about it the more I understand that an author can expect a slump in sales some time around the middle of January. That is when the Holiday bills start showing up. When people have less money because they have new gym memberships to pay down. The list of reasons why this happens are extensive, but it happens.

But, here we are, just over a month after The Big Red Buckle released the book has flatlined on all the Amazon lists. What is an author to do? You got it, signal boost.

Here are the details

Welcome to my Twitter signal boost. I want you to tweet about The Big Red Buckle.

To be eligible for the contest your tweet must include these two things.

  • the hashtag: #dancingonlift
  • a link to this blog post

Your tweet can contain anything else you would like. Crazy paragliding photos or trail running images are a bonus, so be entertaining. Boost my signal as well as your own.

The contest will run all day long January 31st, 2014 (MST) – that’s midnight to midnight.

February 1st I will pick three random winners (you’ll need to follow me on twitter @feetforbrains, to get your prize).

The first winner will receive a signed, printed version of The Big Red Buckle and Joulupukki as well as two limited edition cards of the cover work.

The remaining two will receive signed copies of the first run of the book.

I’ll pay shipping unless you’re outside the US, in which case, shipping is on you.

You can tweet as many times as you’d like, but only the first one will count.

And that is how it is done. The idea is to get the book in front of new eyeballs, and break the January slump. Marco needs new sponsorship money to afford a fancy new photobioreactor suit. I’d like to see Marco climb back up the “Paid In Kindle Store” and meet a few new readers.

After Action Report: Cover Words & Formatting

I had never previously considered all the extra parts that you must necessarily write, edit, and have at hand when you publish a book. And in hind sight this is something any Indie should be ready to deal with, and have a plan to manage.

Blurbs

These are short, one or two sentence, “reviews” that get appended to the story cover and to book descriptions. At release date you could have powered a zero-point singularity generator with the amount I had. It was not something I was considering, and while I knew they existed, it was in the way a Toyota owner knows that there are American made cars out there.

After ConFusion I am interested in gaining a couple of these. My timeline is open, so there is no rush. The idea is to have them in my pocket and ready to use by the time I’ve got a book or two to package together. Sooner is, of course better, so if you’d like to blurbThe Big Red Buckle” let me know and I’ll get it out on Amazon right away.

Cover Description

This is a short description of the story meant to sell the work. It has to catch the eye while not giving away the story. While at ConFusion I was able to get a little feedback on what appears on the kindle book description and the back cover of the paperback.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the race’s starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He feels a momentary pang of guilt knowing that his wife Emma has carried their family while his focus has been elsewhere. But he also knows that winning the Grand Martian Traverse is a shared decision, not just his goal.

Petrus Mandel is a novice endurance sport athlete hoping to soar alongside Aguilar to greatness. He suspects Aguilar may have a solution to traversing the gaping expanse between the distant shield volcanoes and must face his fears and follow his curiosity.

Together, these two Martian-born endurance athletes run and soar in the solar system’s greatest race.

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

I need to cut this down, it is far too long for its mission and I agree it gives up too much of the story, killing the reader’s anticipation. I’ve reconsidered this bit of sales information and plan on replacing it as soon as my first Amazon Kindle Count Down Deal is completed.

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He aims to win the Grand Martian Traverse, and take home The Big Red Buckle for himself and for native Martians.

Notice that it is essentially the same thing, only less of the same. There is a little bit of setting given, important to the story, and the focus is on the main protagonist, Marco Aguilar.

Paperback Formatting

I have come to realize that I probably need some help with this. For the most part I was able to take care of most of the formatting issues before CreateSpace got the manuscript, but I also know I missed a couple of things (or maybe they were introduced when I uploaded).

I will reiterate my feature plea to 180g. I would pay extra if they would integrate with CreateSpace and convert manuscripts to print format in selected trim size. And I suspect there would be a lot of other Indies that would do the same if we had a one-stop option for conversion. Want a selling point that no one has yet immitated? There you go. If I worked there and noticed this kind of request it would be a top priority for next release. Got that? Top priority!

Conclusion

So, I suspect that these all fall into the “unforeseen nuisance” category, but they are all also important polish that should be there. I know that now, and I’ll move to correct them as soon as possible. There are a number of people I should thank for helping me sort these things out, but in particular J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker deserves special mention.

Kindle Count Down Deal

For a limited time only $0.99

For a limited time only $0.99

That’s right, for a limited time, “The Big Red Buckle” will be available via Amazon for the low, low price of  only $0.99. Now is your time to own the first in the series. Top quality cover work by Jeffrey Witty. Excellent words arranged artfully in interesting patterns by Matthew Thyer. You too can be part of the phenomenon. Hang out with the cool kids. Buy “The Big Red Buckle“.

Writer’s Tool Box: OMG Vellum

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Have you been wrestling with formatting crap in your ebook publication tonight? Guess what, in about 30 minutes I turned my manuscript from a struggle to a dream. Previously, the table of contents was not working. KDP split several front papers including the copyright page and the single line dedication. Word for Mac would not embed fonts so any time there was a font size change the whole thing went wonky. And adding an “About the Author” page was ridiculous.

I can’t recall where I heard about this Mac resident application by 180g, but it had been something I’ve been wanting to try for a little while now. Holy cow! I am so glad that I did.

Feature request guys, integration with CreateSpace please! Yeah, I imagine that this might lead to a few additional hoops to jump through, but oh how I crave that ease for the print version of anything else I write. Seriously, this is well worth the money.

If you’ve already bought the ebook on Amazon wait about 12 hours and the new and improved version should download to your favorite reading device. If not, go take a look at the preview tomorrow morning. What a difference, and so easy. This application is being added to the regular workflow for any publication in the future.