The original release date for ‘Wonder Guy’ was to be January 2013, but my original editor fell behind on the production schedule and when she left, I had to start over with a new editor and the release date was pushed back to August of 2013.
Now, after pushing hard through five *more* rounds of editing, and the galley proofs, we’ve gotten ahead of that schedule and I’m happy to announce that the new release date has been moved up to June!
Close enough, without being too close to the April release date for ‘Spirited!’
Having participated in Midwest Fiction Writers since 2006, I’ve had a chance to get to know many of our members, at least casually. I’ve learned that our writers are not only an incredibly talented group, but are also, individually, each a warm and caring human being. We are all concerned with telling stories that help deepen our understanding of the human heart.
I don’t recall who first proposed the idea of an anthology at one of our monthly meetings; it came up more than once and it always seemed to me like a great way to support not only our organization, but to raise the profiles of the participating writers as well.
When the proposal came up most recently, I was one of the first people to step up and volunteer to make it happen; I knew I could at least handle the production side of book cover-design and formatting. Fortunately, Laura Breck, who had more project management experience, stepped up too and I was happy to bow to her expertise, but I would have stuck with the project even if she hadn’t offered her help, because I’m a great believer in the value of working together to support great causes like this.
My story, ‘The Wind from the Lake’ is a quiet little story in which worlds of differing beliefs collide. It may seem like a contemporary romance, but it includes just a hint of magic. It may only be the magic that arises between people who care about each other, but it might also, possibly be more. Most of my stories contain at least a hint of magic of the sort we can believe might really be out there.
I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy (along with historicals, mysteries and whatever took my fancy). I finally became interested in romances later in life. When I heard about certain Harlequin guidelines requiring a hero to be at least a millionaire, it was only natural for me to wonder, ‘what’s better than a millionaire?’ and think: a vastly powerful genie who can grant one’s every wish!
My background of fantasy reading included such classics as the Burton translation of ‘The Thousand Nights and a Night’ – sometimes known as ‘The Thousand and One Arabian Nights.’ It’s interesting to see in these stories that the limitation to three and only three wishes is not a necessary requirement of the genie mythos. Genies have vast powers by their very nature and as often as not define their own boundaries in their dealings with humanity.
So, the hero of my forthcoming light urban fantasy romance, ‘Spirited!’ is just such a genie. He is one of the Marid, the most powerful and god-fearing of the djinn. His part of the story concerns a quest for freedom, even as he helps his heroine save her friends from the threat of a succubus demon she has unwittingly released into the world.
Circling back to the anthology… once upon a time, when I was in high school and college, I studied the ancient language of Latin. That was long, long ago, and much of it has faded from my memory, but I did study the language for seven years, and one of the bits I retained is how the plural form of a noun ending in -us, is -ii. Some people today use that declension on cactus and octopus and pronounce the results as cact-eye or octo-pie – but my Latin teachers were classicists and taught me to pronounce it ee, as in tea. Following this rule, I realized that the plural of genius is genii, or genie.
The magic of it becomes apparent when we find a group of seventeen authors, each contributing the product of her individual genius, to combine into the Genie of Group Creation that produced a book now available in multiple formats: ‘Love in the Land of Lakes.’
At my critique partners’ meeting today we were looking at calendars, discussing potential times for a writers’ retreat next spring. I pointed out the last weekend in June as a potentially bad time for me because of the 4th Street Fantasy convention (only to realize later that I had the date wrong for that).
Okay; but then I said, “but I probably won’t be able to afford to go anyhow.”
One of my CPs said something about my optimism, and it struck me like a whomp upside my head.
Okay; logically, things have been financially strained for me lately (to put it mildly) and it’s true that I missed 4th Street for the past two years for lack of funds, and my lack of job-hunting success over the past five years has left me feeling dreadfully discouraged, and the past can be an indicator for the future.
But it’s also true that June is months away and there is no reason to just assume that things can’t and won’t improve for me in that time. When I stopped to think about it, I was even able to come up with some reason to think things might improve. At the time, I just told my CPs that yes; I needed to work on my attitude.
When I got home I curled up in a little ball in my bed, snuggled with my cat, and worked on my attitude.* I could say that, as human beings go, I curled up in a not-so-small ball, but as one person in the face of the whole wide world, I felt like quite a tiny little ball of a very discouraged, very frightened, very vulnerable person. It was a revelation to me to admit just how discouraged, frightened and vulnerable I felt.
I don’t like to admit that at all, not to myself, not to anyone. I’m an adult. I have education, skills, ambition, a work ethic and some reason to think I have something worthwhile to contribute to the world.
Looking at it from one perspective, the past decade or so seems like a steady downhill decline of my material standing and independence in the world. I went from owning a three-bedroom house to renting a two-bedroom duplex apartment to renting one room in somebody else’s house. I’ve had to pare down my possessions with every move and sell off items I’d like to have kept. I depend on someone else’s good will for the roof over my head and being able to care for my cat. I feel, if not totally helpless, much more helpless than I like.
If I had a choice, I’d choose owning my own house over renting a duplex. I’d choose renting a duplex over renting a room. I’d choose better than I’ve got – if I had a choice. Right? But the choices are never that simple. If the house came only with a job that was making me crazy? If the duplex could be kept only by walling off my awareness of the dreams that make my life meaningful to me? What would I choose then?
Looking at it from another perspective, the past decade or so seems like a blossoming of a stronger, better version of myself. I’ve gone from working day jobs in very structured, sterile environments, with mostly superficial human contact and connection, to working increasingly at freelance projects with interesting people, some of whom have become friends, and to fulfilling a life long dream by writing and now publishing stories and even full length novels. I’ve improved my performance as a musician, my work as an artist, and my understanding of the feelings and drives that make me human.
Considering both these perspectives is only part of the attitude adjustment. The next part is a little trickier: the part where I find a way to embrace the needs represented by both perspectives and make them work together. For this I call upon the lessons learned in yoga classes I was able to take back when I had a little money. The chiefest lesson being not how to balance on my head, or even on one leg, but how to regard myself with compassion.
Compassion helps me look back upon the tiny curled up ball of frightened, needy human being I feel myself to be and embrace the fear. There’s the fear of ending up homeless on the streets talking wildly to myself because I no longer have a computer and word processing software to help me change the wild thoughts into fanciful stories. There’s the fear of losing the good will of friends by becoming too dependent on their generosity and help. There’s the fear of losing my beloved Tigger should he become ill when I have no funds for the vet. Never mind fears for my own health with no insurance. There’s the fear of hunger and increasing indebtedness. There’s a lot of fear, and it’s so much easier to pretend it’s not there than it is to embrace it and hold it in my arms and offer it what comfort there is in my simple acceptance.
Compassion helps me confront the raging frustration of being unable to provide my own needs, being unable to stand alone and independent and beholden to no one. I want to be able to pay my bills. I want my own home, dammit, with enough room for me and my work; I want my own kitchen and my own rules. I want to be able to support the causes I believe in with more than my vote. I want to do what I set out to do without having to adjust my goals to suit my petty human weaknesses.
I want the power. I’m sick of feeling helpless. It’s almost harder for me to embrace that need for power than to embrace the fear. The fear welcomes comfort. That cry for independence and power wants to stand alone. And I have to admit, that’s not going to happen.
However much I can do on my own, I can never do it all. I can’t supply myself with all the benefits of human civilization without the help of the rest of human civilization. Just not going to happen. But the frustration is something I can address, something for which I can find compassion.
And all of it: the fears, the frustrations, the longing for independence and capability and fulfillment – all of it helps me recognize how much I have in common with everybody else on this planet. It all helps me feel less alone. It all helps me feel that same compassion for all us folk who are trying to do the best we can in the face of the whole wide world.
* Some work looks a lot like napping
Today is one of my favorite holidays. To celebrate, I went to Walgreens and got some Valentine’s chocolates for 50% off! Yay! I may be relying on ramen, rice and beans for my basic nourishment needs, but my sense of taste has needs too. 🙂
Meanwhile, the follow-up to my pre-Valentine’s Day free download event is something I’m happy to report on and may be of interest to others trying the self-publishing experiment.
As you know, Bob, I’ve enrolled my self-pubbed short story collection, ‘Three Wishes’ in the Amazon Kindle Select program. This allows me to offer the book as a free download on occasion. The current edition includes a sneak preview of ‘Sweet Mercy,’ the e-novella recently released by Champagne Books.
Starting out this time, my Amazon author ranking was 329,156 on Feb 8, jumping to 130,844 on Feb 9 – about the time ‘Love in the Land of Lakes’ (an anthology in which I have a story) was released. It was back to 278,013 by February 13, when I ran my free download offer. Over 3,000 people downloaded the book, (incidentally putting the sneak preview into their hands – which counts as great promotion).
In the couple days since the promotion ended, 16 copies of the collection have sold at the normal price and my Amazon author rank has risen to 20,866. (More than 300,000 places higher than it was in the first week of the month.)
I can’t conclude that only 16 sales accounts for the difference. I don’t have data on sales of the anthology or on ‘Sweet Mercy’ which were published by others, and those sales would be included in my author ranking. This does suggest, though that it doesn’t take very many sales to boost an author’s rankings.
Today I’m being interviewed on the blog of MN writer, Stacy Monson:
Stop by for a bit of idle chat about a writer’s progress.
I’m just getting started with WordPress and figuring out the mechanics of it as I go along. This is it for now. I don’t know how often I’ll post, but I wanted a place to assemble news about books and writing, art and craftwork, and the creative communities with which I’m involved. We’ll see how it goes.
Most recently, I’ve had a short story published in a collection by the Midwest Fiction Writers, called ‘Love in the Land of Lakes.’ Seventeen Minnesota writers have each contributed stories and all the proceeds will go to support the organization. MFW offers programs and resources to help published and aspiring writers in the vicinity of the Twin Cities in MN. The stories are all in, on, or near some Minnesota Lake. The romances range from sweet to spicy, contemporary to historical to paranormal.
Stay tuned to hear more about it. I’ll be sharing links to blogs and interviews by the participating authors.
Today I’m over at Authors to Watch, plugging the MFW Anthology.
Asking, what would you wish for from the combined-geniuses-genie of the many
brilliant and talented people in your community?