Monday, September 28, 2009

New and improved

I finally got around to fixing up my website yesterday. It was originally created for me by a fellow student at SUNY Stony Brook, but I'm sure it had become something of an albatross by the time yesterday rolled around. It wasn't well-designed for what I ended up doing, which is write a bunch of truly excellent smaller stories. I had one novel and the site was intended to reflect that, naive rube that I was.

I had not yet caught on to the fact that authors have to be the main force in selling and promoting their own books, so the site wasn't especially active, and to a great extent it still isn't. If I want to add functionality I'd probably have to get a new hosting package and rebuild the whole thing. But I made a number of long-overdue changes, the most important of which is putting my novels, my short stories, and my anthologized stories on their own pages. Right now this is 6 items on three pages, but I have many more shorts coming, and maybe even a third novel. The manuscript for that is done, but I have no idea when it will come out.

I still have more to do, of course. In the near future the place will be changing some more, new pages and so on, plus updated content on the existing ones.

I have a question, though, and I'm hoping those of you in the world who read this will leave a cooment about it. I have changed the name of the site to "Left of Center", because I feel that phrase best describes the way I write. I have on many occasions been asked to write stories with certain guidelines and in every case, the looser the guidelines are, the further left of center my story becomes. As an example, I was asked to write a story about fire, for an anthology, and where almost everyone else created tales of house, building or forest fires and the people who had to deal with them, I created a vampire Christmas carol.

You see what I mean. I hope.

Anyway, I'm not an especially political person, but my wife is, and she felt that a title like Left of Center would be off-putting to those people who might come here expecting it to be a political site somehow. So my question is, how would you take this title? I admit I've already skewed the data by explaining it, but I would nonetheless like some feedback on the issue. I don't harp on the subject, and it only appears in the title bar. If this were a blog I could see it being a problem, but what about this case?

Thanks in advance for any comments you amy leave.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Six men, one room, and a door that goes WHAM! a lot

I was thinking about doing this as a character blog, and let Author Guy run the show, but AG’s a bit strange–

Greetings! I am Author Guy, the primary character in the hilariously funny short story, ‘Chasing His Own Tale’, so primary that I don’t even have my own name. Now that’s primary. Besides, the story is in first person and I know who I am.”

–and I quickly thought better of the idea.

I thought about doing some kind of fake interview setup–

“‘Chasing His Own Tale’ is the story of how I wrote, or tried to write, a funny fantasy story, and is in fact based on my attempts to write a funny fantasy story. Very John Lennon-ish. Remember Nowhere Man? Anybody?”

–but couldn’t think of any questions to ask myself. Besides, it’s been done, and I don’t do things that have been done already. At least I try not to.

I even invented a new character, Blogger Guy, to write this blog for me, but the less said about him the better. So I guess it comes down to me.

***Insert Girding of Loins here.***

When my once-editor, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, asked me to do a short story, and a ‘weird, silly, humorous’ one at that, I panicked. I had only ever written one novel (Unbinding the Stone, get your copy today), and had, I thought, no idea how to write short, or comedy.

Wrong on both counts.

The idea for ‘Chasing His Own Tale’ (which I will call CHOT because the real name is just too-damned-long) ambushed me in a parking lot about a week after I was asked to write it. After about another week of typing away at my computer, giggling madly, it was done. I had a job at the time that actually paid me to drive around thinking about stories all day, and occasionally do other stuff in between, like work. Since it’s a) a comedy, b) short, and b) written by me, it’s filled with classic fantasy tropes turned on their heads, in a ‘Monty Python meets Zero Mostel’ sort of way. It is, in short, a parody, a spoof, a farce, and probably other words from the English theater tradition that I don’t really understand.

Hopefully you’ve all picked up on the not-so-subtle hints that this all took place some time ago. I’ve written a second novel since then (A Warrior Made, get your copy he—okay, okay!), as well as several other short stories. The anthology CHOT was written for , Wyrd Wravings, went toes up years ago (just three copies left, and they’re all mine, ha, ha, ha!) and now my story is prepared for a new chance at fame and glory.

Please help it along by getting your copy here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Murphy's Law

My car has been showing it's Check Engine light for a while now. First I went to the Toyota dealership for an oil change and they said they checked it and I needed a whole new catalytic converter, and those costa lot of money. I was at a family get-together with my brother, and his daughter's boyfriend works in a garage that happens to specialize in exhaust systems. So I took it there and they said it was just a sensor, much less expensive. About a week later I get another light, but this time it goes on and off, like it used to. It's been on for a few days and then I start getting a wierd problem I never had before: it stalls out constantly. Fortunately I'd gone to the place near my house to shop. If I'd gone to the place my wife wanted me to go to, I'd never have gotten home. It wasn't so bad provided there was a constant flow of gas, but the second you hit the brakes it died. The next day I take it to the garage, a different one which was fortunately down a large hill from me, so gravity did most of the work. I get it into the lot and it dies, so I let it coast into a spot...or two...sticking out a little bit. The garage guy gets to it a while later and takes 10 minutes to get it across the street (he said). He gets it up onto his lift and tries to turn it on again so he can do whatever computerized magic those guys do nowadays to check engines.

It starts. It runs. The check engine light is out again.

"Any appliance when demonstrated for the repairman will work perfectly."

Thursday, September 10, 2009


So last night I drove up to Portsmouth, a very nice little town in New Hampshire, where the company I work for, Bottomline Technologies, is located. I came up here to train one of my associates on the really incredibly convoluted processes needed to test and analyze defects (I'm a bug-hunter) for some of our clients. It's a nice trip, about 6 hours from my house on LI. I suppose I could take the ferry or a plane, but really I don't think they would save me any time at all in transit, and I do like the scenery.

I got in last night and I was starving, and the lady at the desk of the hotel suggested a couple of places. I decided to go to the Portland Gas Light Company restaurant. It was a very nice place, multiple restaurants in a single building. Downstairs wa s a brick-oven pizza room, but on LI we have trouble believing that they know how to make pizza anywhere else. Besides, I've had pizza, and I'm more interested in the things that I can't get anywhere on LI, so instead I tried their Shrimp and Mussel stew, although I made the mistake of ordering the chicken fingers as an appetizer. First of all, it was an appetizer for three people at least. Second, the stew was quite a lot of food in its own right and I left there feeling like I was about to explode (in a good way), because it's Shrimp and Mussel stew! You don't just stop when you're full, it's almost a crime not to finish it. The staff was also very attentive, although that may have been because I was the only patron in that section. ;) In all, when I start going back to places I've been before I'll definitely be going back to this place.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Week day-end

Last week was the official opening of my publisher's new line of short stories, called Echelon Press Shorts. They have a whole bunch of us scheduled to blog for the entire month, except apparently on the weekends. (I suppose this is a bad weekend to hope for all that many people to be hanging around their computers waiting to read blogs.) Normally I just write these posts as I go, but for my entry last week I actually wrote a draft and polished the damn thing. It shows, doesn't it?

I was working from home Friday when I suddenly remembered that this was Labor Day weekend, and I thought to myself, "Self--" (I can call it Self on account of we went to school together) "--don't we have a book-selling event on Labor Day weekend?" And I sort of thought I might be right. This is one of the benefits of doing a number of these craft and gift fairs on a regular basis. This venue's been doing events on the Sunday before Labor Day (and Memorial Day) for a while now. So I called and verified and I was there for the event yesterday, selling whatever books people were interested in. It wasn't a great day, but given the economic climate it was pretty good. People have so much more interest in not buying things than they used to, but fortunately books occupy a nice middle ground between the stuff that's not worth the money, and the stuff that costs too much. But it seems like there are fewer events than there used to be.

I may be forced to figure out this whole 'marketing' thing after all. I'll get to it, right after I become an expert query letter writer.

So how was your week?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

So yesterday was a good day for me, in that I was the spotlight author for the day at the Echelon Shorts blog, and it even looks like a few of you actually clicked through to the book page and hopefully ordered it. Yay!

I'm even looking at the stat's today and people are still checking it out. Yay!

I spent most of yesterday sneezing, and today I had to leave work early and come home and sleep since I was utterly exhausted. So thanks to all of you who read my blog and maybe even read my story.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My turn

I have the spotlight today, on the new blog for the Echelon Press Shorts line, at . Kind'a strange how the names match up, there. Looks like a conspiracy to me.

They're even giving away free copies to the first five commenters, how weird is that?

What are you waiting for, this is Echelon, man!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

First official sale!

Today my publisher's new line of short stories debuted, with Regan Black as the featured author for the day.
The first official sale was my own short story, 'Chasing His Own Tale'. So thank you to Someone, for checking out my book. I hope you like it (actually, I know you'll like it, but a touch of modesty seems to be called for in this instance). I will be the featured author tomorrow, so come and join me, and tell people what you thought of my work.