My Plans For This Blog In 2017

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It’s official: 2016 is over!

Like many people I know, I’m still coping with 2016 and the events that have happened. We had a difficult summer in Florida this year, and just missed having terrible damage from a hurricane in my area. My dog passed away in October. November, and the eighteen months leading to it, featured the most toxic US presidential election I think we will ever see in our lifetimes. In December, I got very sick (a kidney infection) and though I’m feeling better now, I still have to have some tests done to make sure there were no lasting effects from the infection I had. These experiences made me realize that I had to prioritize my efforts and conserve my energy for the things that matter the most to my writing.

This blog matters to me a great deal. I do not want to give it up. In fact, this blog is one of those things that I want to expand! I want to be sharing my indie publishing experiences with others. It just so happens that I have a website that’s been pretty quiet but just ripe for a blog…

Now, there technically is a blog on the website, but it’s used very sparingly ;). The subject matter on there is pretty much only useful to readers of my books. This blog, Doing the Write Thing, started to take on a purpose after the first year, as more mature blogs tend to do. Doing the Write Thing is much more an author-centric blog than I had originally conceived it to be, and I’ve been chronicling my indie publishing journey here for almost three years.

I have a load of material I’d love to blog about here, but it just seems dumb to blog about it on a WordPress dot com site when I have a perfectly good website to host a blog.

Remember that last year, I had started a third blog, The Author Social Media Deep Dive, and you’ll notice that I migrated those posts to this blog. Even though it’s not formally done as of yet, I basically closed down that blog. I am thinking of doing something similar with Doing the Write Thing, by migrating posts from this blog to the SB James Author and Artist website. From there I can put those posts into their own category, to be accessed by the menu like the Author Social Media Deep Dive is on this blog.

To ease the transition, I will cross-post for a while, so anyone subscribing to this blog won’t have to go to the website to read the posts right away. I have some work I want to do on the site anyway, so this will be an ongoing transition. But I do want to be fully migrated by the summer of 2017. It’s not the highest priority project, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for quite a while and I think I’m at a point where I just need to do the things I feel like I need to do.

There are far more things someone can do on a self-hosted WordPress website that they just can’t do on a blog hosted by WordPress dot com. That being said, I don’t foresee closing this site down in 2017. It may be next year that I formally shut it down, if at all. But I just wanted to let you all know what I’m planning to do, and like I said before, I am hoping that this will ultimately prove to be an enhanced experience for the people who read my blog. I hope you all have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year, and I am very grateful to my readers!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I am grateful for all my readers, followers and fans!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Daily Prompt: Unfinished

via Daily Prompt: Unfinished

Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, the first thing I think of now when I hear the word “Unfinished” is Kill Bill:

But I digress, which is why I have unfinished business…
I’m tinkering with my website AGAIN! That seems to never be finished. With the transition of making my book 1 permafree instead of the prequel novella, I have realized that I’ve neglected a lot of my marketing and now have to step it up dramatically.

Also unfinished (but will be finished in October) is my print book project. The Inventor’s Son and The Scientist’s Son are just about done with the formatting.

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Might this someday be a reality?

I have The Explorer’s Son to finish, creating a template for the book covers, and possibly I might create a print version of The Inventor’s Son: The Beginning if I think there is a possibility someone might want it. Although I’ve seen series where books like ISTB end up as eBook only as well, so we’ll see. I’d love to have them ready for the holidays!

What do you think? Should I do the prequel novella as a print book or not?

Steampunk VS Gaslamp Fantasy

steamvsgas(Also posted on my website http://www.sbjamestheauthor.com)

Recently I had come across the question of what the difference between Steampunk and Gaslamp Fantasy was. It started because I was telling people that I actually had written some Gaslamp Fantasy novels. It turns out that though people are actually familiar with what Gaslamp is, they aren’t aware of the name of the genre. So today, I’m going to outline the differences between Steampunk and Gaslamp.

Before I do that though, let’s talk about the similarity between the two related genres and figure out why they sometimes get confused. Steampunk and Gaslamp often have a similar outward appearance, and if someone looks at a picture of a character in a Gaslamp tale, they would immediately think of Steampunk. The top hats, the goggles, the corsets, the Neo-Victorian or Neo-Edwardian settings, and of course the gadgets and tinkerings and dirigibles… These all remind people of Steampunk. And Gaslamp Fantasy has all these elements as well.

But where they differ is subtle sometimes. Some people even consider Gaslamp as an offshoot of Steampunk. But it is actually a branch of the Historical Fantasy family. This link to the website Goodreads has a good list of Gaslamp Fantasy books, and this link to Goodreads that shows a list of Steampunk genre books.

Let’s select two books, one from each category, and examine the differences.

aeronauts windlassThe Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher: this book belongs in the Steampunk genre. Why? Look at the plot description:

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator.Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

SoullessSoulless by Gail Carriger: This book, though very well known as Steampunk, is quite frankly a Gaslamp Fantasy book:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Do you see the difference in the focus of the plot, just from the plot descriptions? In the case of Aeronaut’s Windlass, if you didn’t know that it was supposed to be a Steampunk book, you’d probably think the book was a space opera, with the focus being on a ship (dirigible airship in this case) that was damaged in battle (a space opera trope if ever there was one). The focus is on the technology, at least in this first volume of the series. Is there magic involved in this plot? Of course (this is Jim Butcher, after all), but as long as the scales tip in favor, plot-wise, on the technology and the gadgets, then it’s Steampunk.

In the case of Soulless, on the other hand, we see the words vampire, werewolf, supernatural, soul… If you removed the name of Queen Victoria, you might think this was urban fantasy! We see nothing about gadgets in the book description (though in the book, the reader is shown various examples of more advanced Neo-Victorian technology). In this book, the focus is on the magic, and therefore this scale is tipped toward Gaslamp Fantasy.

In the case of my own book, The Inventor’s Son, there are gadgets and tinkerings (and in the case of The Explorer’s Son, huge dirigibles). In the plot description, you can see there is some focus on those things:

thenewIScover2015The Inventor’s Son is the story of young Ethan Stanwood, whose father is a brilliant, but reclusive, inventor and scientist. Sickly and isolated, Ethan’s entire world revolves around his father and his work. He believes that this is all life has to offer him, in spite of the latent magical talents he’d inherited from his long-dead mother that are beginning to surface.

When his father flees London one Monday morning, Ethan’s quiet life is swiftly turned into a fight for his survival. His father tasks Ethan with bringing his most important prototype that he was forced to leave behind when he departed. Unfortunately, he has only left the vaguest of clues for Ethan to follow in order to find him. Ethan has to find his father, but he must also face his father’s foes who will stop at nothing to get Ethan and the prototype.

In my series, I have endeavored to make sure there was a fine balance between the focus on tech and the focus on magic, because Ethan is the child of an inventor and a witch. Because the focus seems to be on Marcus Stanwood’s prototype and the struggle to keep it out of enemy hands, you could almost call it Steampunk. But the books actually focus more on Ethan’s journey with the development of his magical abilities, especially in the later books. This is what puts my books in the Gaslamp Fantasy and Historical Fantasy categories more than Steampunk. For the sake of simplicity, readers have shelved my books as Steampunk, and that would not be incorrect, technically, but they do belong in Gaslamp Fantasy as well.

 
click here to find out

Looking Back on 2015

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It all passed in a whirl… image by gummy231 

 

I recall with-ahem-fondness my previous “New Year’s Resolution” type post from January 1, 2015. Of the things I wanted to accomplish, I actually did get some of it done, like the new covers! Some of the other stuff, like the print books, alas, got punted again to 2016. I also wanted to hit Pulp Speed 1, and I’m kind of upset that I don’t appear to have nearly the speed necessary to achieve it.

While separating out blog posts a bit earlier this month (mostly dumping duplicated blog posts on my website), I realized there was a pattern to the ambitions I had, and they all seemed to be centered around events like NaNoWriMo and moving and illnesses… In other words, I keep letting life get in the way. And much of that was due to bad habits I had last year that I have started rectifying already.

One of those bad habits was not setting aside some time when no one else was around in order to write. I have corrected this by waking up earlier in the morning on days I have to go to the day job, and I get a LOT more writing done this way. The trouble was that I didn’t start doing that early enough in 2015 to meet my yearly goal. I was trying to do my writing at night, after exhausting myself at the day job, and I just ended up having to almost entirely rewrite The Explorer’s Son. I absolutely do not want that happening again!

I think the problem made itself much more apparent once I moved out of the old apartment in May (where I’d been living for 8 years before that). There, I had noisy neighbors and basically lived in a sick building. I developed migraines while living there, and I blame the presence of mold for them. Mind you, I still get headaches even in my new place, but they are not nearly as frequent, and my neighbors for the most part are just better people. I think this place is more conducive to a writing career.

Speaking of careers, I did manage to make some strides with my graphic design skills. Last year, I was embedding images from Getty, and this year I’m creating my own, using Canva if I’m trying to get something quick up and using GIMP for a lot of the rest of it. I’ve completely reconstructed my book covers using GIMP, a program called Inkscape, and a program called Blender. They are all free alternatives to the much more expensive Photoshop, Illustrator, and Maya. They are not easy to use, but it is rewarding to finally have enough confidence to make up images of my own for my blogs, website, and social media as well as for my books.

I also developed a workflow for creating really nice looking epub files, at last! Some of you might recall my earlier series of posts about Sigil, and then it might have seemed like I abandoned the program (also free and open source software), but that would not be the case! I’m using Sigil in conjunction with Scrivener and Kindle Previewer and Calibre to help make really lovely eBooks.

I am now working on a workflow for creating print books. Alas, this meant I had to restart my Office 365 membership but I have to say, Word can make up a really great pdf without the blank pages I was getting from directly compiling with Scrivener. And actually, I would probably need to submit a Word document if I was going to have Draft2Digital handle my print books with CreateSpace. All in the coming year!

Another thing in the coming year: my new blog. Yes, you read it here (unless you are on the IndiePubClub forum) first! I have created a new WordPress blog called The Author Social Media Deep Dive. It’s a new blog that will journal my social media building efforts. Some of my platforms are great (like Google+) and some suck (like Facebook) and some are just flat out unnecessary (like Periscope). Why did I start the new blog? Well, I wanted to keep this blog from becoming swamped with too much.

Because, you see, I’m rapidly expanding this blog as well. You must have noticed that I have changed the theme again. I trashed some old posts, and completely refiled the others into categories. I will be adding more categories and blogging about all the aspects of indie publishing and writing here on this blog. I already have an Author’s Corner, Technical Issues of Publishing, and Book News (where I have all my self-promotion stuff). I know that many of the people who subscribe to this blog are fellow authors, and I know which posts have been of the most value and interest to you. So I want to bring more of that to you in 2016. I’ve done a few things right and I want to tell you about what I did. I also did a TON of things wrong and I want to warn you about them as well. I’m failing my way to success!

My website is where the fun, Steampunky stuff is going to go. I will be blogging there FAR less frequently. The site’s most important page is where my books are listed. This blog is already established and I don’t want to lose readers by making everyone go over there unless it becomes absolutely necessary (like if WordPress dot come closes down or something).

What about you? Have you noticed patterns that held you back in 2015? Can you pinpoint ways to work around those patterns so they don’t repeat themselves in 2016?

And a New Year Begins…

2016 is already upon many of us as I write this! It is my sincere hope that we all, bloggers and readers, have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Whether your New Years resolutions are many and varied or your resolution is to not have New Years resolutions, I hope that success follows our efforts this year and into the future!

The Holidays are Here!

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And I will be seeing you on the other side of the week with some new formatting posts!