Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A new job description

As of today I am more than an author.

I am a publisher.

Not exactly what I wanted to be.  But then, life is nothing if it is totally predictable.

My debut novel, PULL, a young adult novel geared toward attracting reluctant readers, was published in 2010 by Westside books.  Unfortunatly, Westside ceased publishing new books or reprinting existing books in 2011.  Because my book was not officially out of print, they retained rights. Because there was no promotion, sales plummeted. Even when people tried to order the book they were told none were available. I  know, because two booksellers and a school told me they had been unable to get books, and a second school told me the repeated trials they had to go through before finally getting  a supply for their students. 

Once the last copies were sold, and another school had to go without books, my agent was able to get my rights returned.  Great, I thought. I'll go the Indie route. I joined RWA's Self Publishing Forum so I could learn more about this and decide on my next steps. Only to discover I needed to move faster than I first intended.

Last week I was approached, first by a school, then by a distributor. They wanted to order and Westside sent them to me. I realized I needed to move fast or get replaced by a different selection.  That meant signing forms and making decisions much  more rapidly than normal for me.  And so, All The Colors Of Love was born, my own publishing company.  I looked at Amazon's Creatspace, and decided to use them as my printer/distributor. Even though I knew there would be more hassle involved, I chose to be my own publisher. I have a set of ISBN's and a Bowker account. I learned how to format documents for publication. I've signed legal papers and am in the process of establishing an account with a wholesaler.  I even bought my own copy of my cover-model (this was much more expensive that other stock photo shops, but in the end I paid because I just can't imagine anyone else as David) and learned how to use Photoshop to create a new cover.   I even kept the old motif of the hero being chained in by life, although I nixed the high-tension wires.
The new edition still needs some time to percolate through it's printers, but paperback, Kindle and Smashwords editions will be up shortly. And thoseclassrooms will have their books.

And somehow, I also found time to finish teaching an on-line writing class, get a new job, and keep on writing.  As I told my students in the Man-Talk class, women are excellent multi-taskers.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago School Strike

It's week two of a strike that leaves kids in desperate need of an education without school, parents without care for their kids, and kids forced to walk past picket lines to get to "safe havens." I blogged about this when the strike started at Take a look, comment on your opinion, and then join me in hoping the union vote today sends kids back where they belong, inside classrooms.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Poison TreePoison Tree by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First the cover attracted me. Although this book actually involves four protagonists (Two couples) they cohose to picture the one who is of African-Asian heritage (a tiger shapeshifter) on the cover. That meant I had to read it.

The book did not disappoint. It has one of the few prologues I've read that absolutely works, it sets the tone and background beautifully, as we watch the pureblood Tiger-shifter, Sarik dealing with the torture-muder of her younger younger human sister (and the differences int heir heritage became very important later in the story). She teams up with vampire Jason who was hurt when he refused to join his crew in torturing the girl. Meanwhile two assassins, Alysia and Christian, join forces to fight the rest of the vampire nest while Sarik and Jason escape. The rest of the action takes place six years later.

That's one of the best parts of this story. This is classified as a YA book, although most of the action occurs when the characters are in their early twenties. In essence, this is one of the New Adult books, with characters in college or starting their jobs, even if they work for a paranormal association. It's a different take on a paranormal (Jason goes to bed at midnight, prime time for vampires to be out hunting). Its a world with an international organization SingleEarth dedicated to bringing peace and understanding between humanity and the various shifters, vampires, witches, the three assassins guilds, and etc. (they never define what else might be around). Things get pretty complicated in this story, their are hidden relationships between all four characters, especially Sarik, who is not exactly who she claims to be. No love triangles either, although at times their pasts almost disrupt present lives and loves. The author made one continuity error that left something bugging at my subconscious until I went back ane reread to check that things could not have happened exactly they way the narrative claimed. But it was small, and the showdown between Sarik and her father made up for that little problem.

While this story was complete in itself, there is room for a sequel. I would enjoy reading more about SingleEarth, the problem of witches maybe having too much power in the organization they founded, and the assasins guilds that are finally moving into the 21st century and becoming computerized.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review - Rotters

RottersRotters by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book about grave robbers - who knew?

I actually met Daniel Kraus last year and received an autographed copy of Rotters from him. Then, foolishly, I put the darn thing in my to-be-read pile, the pile that never gets any smaller. The wonder is I finally worked my way to it.

Thank Heavens I did.

First let me say this is horror, this is gore, this is suspense. If you have a weak stomach you might want to skip this book, or at least skip eating. This is a book a bout the dead, not the undead or the risen dead, no flesh-eating zombies or vampires, just Rotters, the graverobbers unflattering name for the living, who think they will lie peacefully and undisturbed in their coffins. (BTW, I'm leaving instructions for a cremation)

Since I met the author in person I know he at least appears normal. He just knows his way around dead people better than anyone outside a certified forensic anthropologist--no, he knows even more. And he shares that knowledge with readers through the eyes, ears nose and every other sense of sixteen-year-old Joey Crouch a straight A student from Chicago sent to live with his unknown father after his mother's death.

He is ignored and abandoned by the man and doesn't realize that's a good thing until he finds his father prying jewelry from a dead woman's hand. Just her hand, the bones came lose from the rest of her skeleton while his father was robbing her grave.

Joey finds his way into the world of graverobbers as an escape from the new school where he is bullied and harassed by students and teachers. His father considers it an honorable profession, even names his shovel, and reluctantly takes Joey on as an apprentice. I learned way more about decomposition and the difference between a corpse and a cadaver than I ever wanted to.

The author knows how to be cruel to his characters. Joey faces the kind of trial that left me wondering what kept him sane. There's no way to tell about them without being a spoiler, but they are dark. Maybe he doesn't stay sane, his revenge against some of his tormenters is psychotic at best. (Again, empty stomachs are recommended)

The story does drag on a little too long, that's why there are only four stars. Things get so complex there has to be a long, involved telling to straighten out some of the lose ends and subplots. But that is balanced by the in-depth characterization of this boy thrust into a new and definitely strange environment where he not only survives, he thrives. There isn't a conventional happy ending, not even an ordinary hopeful ending. That's fitting, because nothing else about the book is conventional or ordinary. But it is an interesting ending, I'm not sure I'll ever forget those final paragraphs. I certainly won't forget Joey.

Did I mention - no grave for me.

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