Shadow of a Change, For the Love of God, and Hunger

I have finally managed the last little bits and pieces of associated formatting & ISBN retrieval and back-cover blurb writing (which I am not terribly good at, sadly), and have finalized three short stories. As decided by general consensus, the shorts are being released in chronological order.

One of the things that really strikes me, rereading them, is how much technology has changed, because two of the three are set in the theoretical now, which would really be the now of the early ‘90s. Honestly, sometimes it is very hard not to revise everything.

Shadow of A Change is the first of the three (or the 9th of the sixty, depending on how we’re counting). It was originally published in Dinosaur Fantastic, edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg, and then reprinted later in Dinosaurs!, a reprint anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

It’s contemporary. (This is me trying not to say very much else about it).

It’s in the queue at Amazon and iBooks, and is now available at Smashwords.

For the Love of God is my first attempt at alternate history. It’s not my last attempt. Originally published in Alternate Warriors, which was edited by Mike Resnick (in the early years, you’ll see his name frequently), it’s the story of Thomas Beket and Henry; in this short, Henry does not have Thomas killed (or, Thomas is not killed by outraged followers of Henry, depending on how you choose to read history).

It’s in the queue at Amazon and the iBookstore, and up at Smashwords, where it is also in the queue for eventual B&N, Kobo, Diesel and Sony stores.

Hunger is the last of the three. It’s told in first person, and was originally published in Christmas Ghosts, edited by — surprise! — Mike Resnick & Marthin H. Greenberg. Not surprisingly, it is about a Christmas Ghost, sort of. I still really like this one.

It’s also in the Amazon and iBookstore queues, up at Smashwords, and from Smashwords, in the queue to reach the other etailers.

Birthnight & Gifted

There are two stories, which are much shorter than the previous six. They were written at about the same time–very early ‘90s, and overlapping by a month.

It’s interesting for me to reread them, because I often don’t reread my short fiction unless I’m looking for specific details in a particular story–for instance, when looking up the Maker’s Guild in Memory of Stone. As I approach the task of proofing them (and describing elements of each story to the graphic designer), I’m struck by the sense of watching myself change as a writer over a decade and a half. These stories were written twenty years ago. All stories come from the sum of our experiences, observations, and interests, but not in completely predictable ways. I do not remember writing these stories, because two decades and small children have changed me.

They’re not the stories I would write now, either. They both have some of the feel of fairy tale in their language and the way event unfolds, and they are both about the end of immortality. I think that’s one of the subjects that’s always spoken to me as a reader – the passing of an age, the loss that it entails.
——

Birthnight is the first, and has the distinction of being the first short story sale I’d made to that point. I’d sold two novels (although they had yet to see publication, since the lead-time was much longer than it is now), written most of a third. My third attempt at a short story became the Books of the Sundered. So this would technically be my fourth attempt at a short story, because novels were my natural writing length.

I think it works better read aloud, which surprised me; when I wrote Birthnight, it had such a strong voice for me and the cadence of the sentences was entirely natural. But it’s possibly because it has some of the feel of a fairy tale of the type I might have listened to as a child, although I wouldn’t have understood the why of the end.

The story is available now at Smashwords, and is in the queue at Amazon.com and iBooks.

——

Gifted is mostly set in a contemporary urban environment, but the tone of the language itself isn’t hugely contemporary, because it’s written from the viewpoint of the last of the Genies, and in this particular small universe, Genies perish when they grant their third and final wish, so the narrative voice is distant because distance is how he’s survived.

The second character, the human, is an old woman who lives alone.

I think it’s a little short at the end; I hadn’t completely learned how to balance tone, voice and, well, length. That struggle, at least, has continued.

The story is also available at Smashwords, and is in the Amazon.com and iBooks queues.

I’ve added links to the author pages on the side-bar in “Other Stuff About me”. I’m in the process of adding links to Amazon.com’s author page(s) as well.

I have another question

I’ve been writing (Peril & War at the moment) and revising (Silence), and in between, when the creative impulse is at its lowest, I’ve been proof-reading and formatting.

All six of the stories related to the West novels are now on-line (six are available in the iBooks store, four at Barnes & Noble, one at Kobo, six at Diesel, one at Sony. I do not know what happened to Echoes at B&N, and I’m trying to have it redistributed, but so far that hasn’t worked). My typesetter is halfway through the book, but has gone to Alaska for two weeks.

ETA: All six of the stories are now available, as of this morning, at B&N. A new page has been added to the sidebar – Short Stories – which has links to all of the etailers that currently have the available ebook.

All of the stories that now remain are stories that stand alone (with the exception of The Augustine Painters and The Colors of Augustine, which are set in the same universe, but are not connected to any of the novels). I intend to continue to post them, and to announce them in much the same way the six Essalieyan shorts have been announced here.

One of the things that makes short stories interesting is the ability to experiment with different moods, tones, tenses; to shift gears and write something that wouldn’t necessarily sustain a novel (or at last, not a novel I could finish). What this means, however, is that some of the stories are distinctly different in mood or tone than anything one would find in the novels. Some, however, are not.

Authors are not entirely objective about their own work (yes, this is an understatement). Being the author, I’m not therefore objective about my own work, but when I look at the list of stories, there are some I think would work for my novel readers (the Augustine stories, which apparently also work for people who don’t), and some I’m far less certain about.

In my long and winding way, I am getting to the question, honest!

Would people appreciate it if I indicated, when posting about the stories here, which ones I feel will work, and which I’m far less certain about? I don’t consider any of the stories bad, but years of working behind a bookstore counter make it second nature to try to recommend books to customers who will like them. (Except my own, because – again – objectivity issues.)

The Memory of Stone

This is the sixth, and final (for now) of the short stories set in the universe of my DAW novels. It, as I mention in the introduction, went a little on the long side, and it’s my personal favourite of the six. It’s also the only one so far that has one of those cover quotes — pulled from the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror’s introduction because it made me happy.

Although this story focuses on two characters that aren’t otherwise extant in either The Sun Sword or The House War, it touches on things that are central to the final conflict. It is now available, as usual, on Smashwords, and will be coming up at Amazon.com within the next twenty-four hours. Smashwords wait times for distribution have gone down, so Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony readers should see it in three weeks; Diesel readers, within the week.

I’ve learned a few things in reprinting these stories. No matter how many eyes proof-read them, and no matter how often, there is always at least one mistake that’s managed to hole up and evade everyone, because I have never gone through a proof pass without finding an error that has been missed on previous iterations. Ever. This is also true of novels, but I think I feel less self-conscious about that in general, possibly because I have more practice. Or possibly because I don’t read those so very slowly, looking only for mistakes.

The mistakes are nerve-wracking; it’s like they’re waiting in ambush around every verbal corner. For the ones I missed entirely, I apologize.

But there is something a little exciting about actually uploading the stories and announcing their presence. They aren’t novels, so their audience is limited. I will continue to bring out the rest of the short stories, but aside from these six, and the two Augustine stories, the short pieces all stand on their own, and I’m not sure how many people are actually interested in unrelated shorts. I will probably wave or point at the ones I am relatively certain will be of interest to my novel readers (when we get there, The Colors of Augustine), so I’ll continue to mention them here.

ETA: the first five stories are now available in the iTunes store. Huntbrother, The Black Ospreys and The Weapon are available on Barnes & Noble, so I’ve queried to see what happened to Echoes which is not there. Only Echoes has made it to the Kobo, and only Huntbrother to the Sony ebookstore. The first four stories are all up at Diesel.

Warlord

Warlord is the earliest of the Essalieyan short stories. Published in 1998, it was written in 1997. It is some (small) part of Avandar’s story, and had the distinction of being the longest short story I’d written to date in 1997. It is not the longest short piece I’ve written since, though. It was written for Larry Segriff of Tekno books, and both he and my editor were very patient with both the length and the timing of its delivery.

As usual, it’s up on Smashwords now, and is in the Amazon.com queue. The last two ebooks took five days to clear the Smashwords’ distribution queue, instead of the fifteen days the first book took, and the books went up slightly earlier than forecast at Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The first three are now available on iTunes, as well; the last two are waiting review.

I am working on proofing the final story, Memory of Stone, now. A word about that: Some of the Kindle versions of The Weapon contained a earlier proof version of Memory of Stone. The current version on Amazon no longer does. As it wasn’t proofed, there are errors; it’s the original manuscript-as-typed-from-book before any of the proofing rounds were done. Since it wasn’t supposed to be appended to The Weapon, those won’t be changed or fixed in The Weapon, but the story, with the various small typos/formatting difficulties, is essentially the same. So people who did pick up the earlier Kindle copies don’t need to pick up the actual version of Memory of Stone when it’s released.

When Memory of Stone is finished, everything will go to the typesetter, and from there, to Lulu, and at that point, all six stories & their introductions will then be available in print form.

 

ETA: mention of Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

The Weapon

This is the fourth of six stories. I felt, after The Black Ospreys, that I had figured things out, and things would go smoothly. Hah. However, I am refining my organization, such as it is, and at least it was a completely new mistake, as opposed to the prior mistakes. I am confident that I am learning how to do this properly.

The Weapon takes place during the period of the Blood Barons, as they were affectionately called. In the Hidden City, and actually in at least one of the Sun Sword novels, mention is made of the first day rites, and of the festival of The Ten. The Weapon is the story behind the first day rites.

Of the six stories that are connected to the Empire of Essalieyan, this is the one I like second best. (My personal favourite is Memory of Stone). It’s possible that it’s because these work well as standalones.

As usual, the story is up at Smashwords now. It will be available at Amazon within twenty-four hours (or possibly less). In two weeks, it should be available in the iBooks store, and at Diesel.

I’ve started to put the word-length in the product description, because it’s something I look for when I’m looking at ebooks.

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys is now in the queue at Amazon (which states a time of 24 – 36 hours before it’s available; Huntbrother was much faster, but Echoes took longer); it is up at Smashwords, and in a month (I’m sorry!), will make its way to B&N, Kobo and Sony. Echoes is up at Diesel, so I think once a title clears the Smashwords distribution queue, it immediately goes up at Diesel. I still have no data on how long something takes to reach the iBook store.

I think you’ll find the introduction to the story amusing. The story itself, as the title suggests, is about the Black Ospreys.

I’m now fifty percent of the way through the six stories. But, the final revision of Skirmish did clear the house, Cast in Peril is going well, as is War. I am hideously behind in reading and in non-short related blogging, and of course, I immediately went to look at Google+ when I noticed an invitation in my mail queue.

I am now going to go back to proofing The Weapon.

Some news

First: I’ve just been informed by my editor that Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence are going to appear as audio books/files at Audible.com in September, which is also when they first appear in mass market editions. But where, you ask, are the first three? We’re working on that now. (When I say we, what I mean is my agent, when I say working, I mean negotiating; I’m reasonably optimistic that the first three will also be produced at around the same time). These will be my very first appearance in audio, so I’m pretty excited about it.

Second: Echoes has finally been approved by Smashwords for is premium catalogue. This means that it will now propagate from the aggregator (which is what services like Smashwords are commonly called) to the other ebook retail sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony. The estimated time from Smashword shipment to consumers is: approximately two weeks.

It’s been two weeks (15 days) since Echoes was uploaded to Smashwords for review to be approved for retail channel distribution.

What this is means is there’s a month-long window from the time I upload a book to Smashwords to the time it appears in any of their retailer venues. The exception to this is Diesel, for which no time-frame is given; this might mean the books go to Diesel and are offered immediately.

I don’t actually know how long it will take for the iBooks version to be available, yet; I’m watching to see when it goes live. The first book, Echoes, was uploaded on the 6th of July; it’s currently the 14th of July, and it is still in the review queue (quality assurance review, not critical review).

Amazon.com is pretty much twenty-four to thirty-six hours (it was less for Huntbrother, longer for Echoes). So Amazon.com has the clear lead-time of availability. (Amazon also has tens of thousands of spam ebooks – books for 0.99 which contain links to web-site garbage, rather than content. Smashwords doesn’t. Smashwords has a review team composed of people; Amazon doesn’t. These are the tradeoffs.)

If you’re comfortable with side-loading, the book is available on Smashwords from the moment I upload it to the Premium Catalogue distribution review queue, in most formats – and it’s the same epub that will, one month later, be available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony, at the same price. I believe the mobi format offered there also works on the Kindle. I believe that Smashwords also allows you to download any of the formats available, if you switch ereaders. Or if, for some reason, you have two.

This does not mean I love the kindle or prefer it to the Kobo, Nook or iPad; I don’t. I have an iPad, after all, which I adore like a crazy person, even if I don’t read very much on it.

Huntbrother

Huntbrother ebook cover

I’ve mentioned that the best thing about this whole process is seeing covers, right? Given today’s trial and error, it’s never been more true (I had some minor version control issues while formatting for Smashwords, and ended up uploading the wrong version the first time. And no, the first story, Echoes, has still not cleared the Premium Catalogue queue, which is called the Barnes & Noble queue in this house).

I was originally going to do all of the several rounds of proofing for all of the stories and upload everything at once (Huntbrother was proofed in printout 3 times, on the iPad twice (epub and Kindle), and in MS Word, because the font there is Times New Roman, a font in which I generally don’t do work). But there has since been a change of plans. Why? Because I actually feel like I’m not spinning in place when I upload something, even if it then goes into long queues. Once it’s in a queue, my part of the work is, in theory, done. It’s kind of like submission. The in theory perfectly proofed and entirely correct short stories are also being collected for the Print collection and the ebook collection, and I’m adding to that file as I finish.

The Weapon and Warlord are out making the print-proofing rounds now, and I’m am at the end stretch of the Skirmish revision, to which I am returning after making so many mistakes in formatting the neighbours could hear me shrieking from the sidewalk spending a calm, productive and entirely reasonable day.

This is a novella that was written because I was asked for a Hunter story. I was happy to write this one because it’s about Cynthia of Maubreche and her son, named Stephen (yes, this could cause confusion down the road, but it was the only name she wanted). It’s therefore set in Breodanir, the land in which the Hunters rule. It’s the fifth longest short story I’ve written, and I will not tell you what length I was actually asked for, because the initial requests usually come in form letters. Well, that and it’s embarrassing.

Huntbrother is available at Smashwords now, in their epub format. It will be available at Amazon.com in between one and two days in their kindle format. It will be at least two weeks until it clears the Smashword’s Premium Catalogue and makes its way to Barnes and Noble, and while it’s in the queue at the iBooks store, the first book has been in the review queue there for five days and hasn’t cleared it yet, either.

A word about pricing:

The stories range across lengths; most are less than 10,000 words; one is over 30,000.

For any story under 7,500 words, the price is 0.99.

For stories over 7,500 but under 17,000, the price is 1.99.

For stories over 17,000 the price is 2.99.

Everything I’m doing now is, of necessity, experimental. I understand print publishing and the demands of physical books and bookstores (writing and working in one for ‘lo these many years), but the ebook market is new to me, and I’m figuring it out as I go along.

The first six stories are set in Essalieyan, and I’ve never written a story set in that world which was under 10,000 words.

But the next ten or so that follow are the early Sagara short stories, and all of those are under 7,500.

Yet another question time

First: Genna asked, in the previous comment’s thread, about Cast in Moonlight. The Harlequin terms for the novellas are exactly the same as the terms for their novels. For most short fiction, the author grants exclusive rights to publish, in the English language, for one year, after which the author is free to do what she wants with the story – sell reprint rights, etc.

In the case of Cast in Moonlight, this doesn’t apply, so while I would love to bring the story out as a standalone, I can’t.

Second: I’ve noticed that people have been buying Echoes from Amazon. Genna (again!) said that on her kindle, the introduction is in a pale grey tone. There is the tiny possibility that I may have done something stupid with the color of the text – by accident – and I’m re-uploading the book to Amazon. While I have always appreciated my publishers, I swear, I have never appreciated them quite as much as I do now.

Third: If there are problems with any of the ebooks, please let me know. In this case – as opposed to any problems there might be with my novels – there’s a reasonable chance I can do something to fix it.

And now, on to the question.

The short story project is an ongoing effort, and because it’s required so much time to climb the learning curve, it’s obviously of interest to me. I’m not as certain it’s of interest to all of my readers, most of whom are probably looking to this site for information about the novels, and many of whom don’t read ebooks.

I’d like to be able to post about the short stories as I release them, but I don’t want to flood anyone’s RSS or mailboxes with information they don’t want. (One of the reasons I want to do this is the covers. There’s something about a cover — possibly the fact that I didn’t have anything to do with its creation, beyond a few flailing words here and there — that makes me happy. If someone was pulling all their hair out and cursing creatively at their computer to create those covers, it wasn’t me.)

I can create another blog for the short story information, if people would prefer that. In order to get the hundred ISBN block, I am a small press of one, so I could create a ‘Rosdan Press’ blog, at which I would post information about the ebook singles.

Would you prefer that?

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