Happy New Year, 2017!

Washington DC Fireworks

Washington DC Fireworks

Out with 2016! And in with 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

And look out, this is the year I start publishing stuff almost every month.

Posted in Management | Tagged | Leave a comment

D-Day for Worlds Enough Anthology

Worlds Enough Anthology Today is Deadline Day, or D-Day, for submissions for the anthology that I’m putting together: “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.” Technically, I guess this makes me an Editor, since I’m one of the editors of the book. And an Anthologist, too, since I’m the one driving the project. Exciting stuff.

It’s an anthology of novelettes/novellas in the range of 10-20K words each, with a total of five slots. As a “mostly” curated anthology, four of the writers were pre-selected, and I have three of their stories in hand. The fourth writer is in the final stages of finishing up his story, which I expect to have in about a week. The stories are:

“The Mists of Lu-Shan” by Donna Royston
“Once Damned” by Martin Wilsey
“The Rooftop Game” by David Keener
“The Iron Garden” by Jeff Patterson

We opened up the fifth slot for competition. I’ve also received three submissions thus far for the last slot. I’ve heard that there may be a few more on the way.

All in all, it’s pretty exciting, though it’s a bit like herding cats. Of course, now the real work starts….

Posted in Projects | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Inspiration: Prague, the Charles Bridge, Fog

Prague, the Charles Bridge in the Fog

This is a real photo of the Charles Bridge in Prague, in the fog. I think it’s a beautiful photo and potentially a great fantasy book cover for someone.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Meetup Removes Critical Feature

Meetup.comI am singularly unimpressed with the announcement today from Meetup that they are removing the File Storage capability from their web site. I belong to two writing groups, both of which are hosted on Meetup. Removing this feature makes the site virtually useless for writing groups.

With both my writing groups, a selected number of people submit documents each week at least three days before the meeting so that they can be critiqued at the meeting. Guess what? No File Storage capability means no documents to be shared. And this isn’t just my writing group…most writing groups work like this.

Oh, yes, of course, we can find someplace else to store our documents for each week’s meeting, like Dropbox or some other service. But then it’s not really INTEGRATED into the group experience, is it?

I mean, each new member will have to learn TWO systems instead of one. And we’ll have to worry separately about giving people access to our file storage solution or not, because it won’t be built into the site anymore. So, everything will be much less convenient…for EVERYBODY in each writing group.

But never fear, anybody that wants to store photos is fine because that’s apparently still cool.

Let’s think about this whole situation a little deeper. The point of Meetup is to arrange meetings. Duh. Thinking beyond writing groups, isn’t it reasonable to make meeting agendas available before a meeting? What about meeting notes after a meeting? What about class materials for people who use Meetup to organize any sort of educational sessions or seminars?

Removing this critical feature is just about the most boneheaded thing I’ve heard of a company doing, at least one that operates in the social media realm. Or, hey, let’s examine this from another perspective. You don’t hear Facebook saying: “Hey, we don’t want you to store your photos, videos or notes on our site anymore.”

Now Meetup might be a relatively small Internet startup. But there’s a LOT of meetings out there, and Meetup is a paid service. If the hosting for files is difficult, then partner with somebody that does it already. If it’s a matter of cost, charge $20 extra each year to have the File Storage capability (it could be Meetup’s second upwell option, after Meetup Pro). Put some kind of reasonable size cap on storage to prevent abuse.

If my writing groups are paying for something that doesn’t meet our needs any longer because Meetup removed a critical feature, then we have to look at alternatives. Heck, Meetup is already forcing us (with absolutely no advance notice) to figure out how we’re going to make files available to members for our next meeting. At the end of the day, here’s what Meetup needs to remember. The competition is only a click away.

Posted in Tools for Writers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: You Are Here

From Mars, You Are Here

If you’ve ever wondered what Earth looks like to someone standing on the surface of Mars, well, now you know. In this NASA-supplied picture from the surface Mars, Earth is visible as just a bright object in the sky. In other words…you are here.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Writing Tips: Your Amazon Author Page

With both the Uncommon Threads and Reliquary anthologies now out and available on Amazon, and “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders” in progress, I recently set up my Author Page on Amazon. It’s really easier, and one of the best things you can do to help promote yourself as a writer.

Go to the following Author Central URL:

     https://authorcentral.amazon.com

You can login using your regular Amazon.com login. The site will allow you to upload an author photo, provide a brief biography and claim any books that you already have published on Amazon. For example, Martin Wilson and I have already both claimed the aforementioned anthologies.

This also means that when your name is listed as an author next to a book image, your name will have a rollover that shows your bio picture and links to your Author Page. Likewise, you’ll be listed as an author, with bio image, further down on Amazon’s product page. Martin, as the first to claim authorship of Reliquary, is currently the only author listed in this area. I’ll be there shortly (I’ve “claimed” the book, but it takes time for Amazon to regenerate the product page with new information).

There are several reasons I think your Author Page is important. First, having an Author Page makes you look more professional. Second, it facilitates some cross-promotion to your other books and stories. Third, Amazon’s “Follow” feature is layered on top of this, which allows people who like your work to “follow” you and receive notifications when you have new stuff coming out.

So, it’s a good thing for general PR, and it’s trivial to set up. Go make it happen.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Film Review: Rogue One, Flawed But Spectacular

Star Wars: Rogue One

I had a chance to see Rogue One with my brother and niece at a matinee today. Overall, it was a great experience. The producers took the movie in a dark direction and, in my opinion, expanded the scope of what was possible for the Star Wars franchise. They also made a bold decision with regard to the ending, something I’ve never seen before in a blockbuster movie with this kind of budget behind it. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.

Now, I can quibble about a bunch of things. The Rogue One team consists of six characters, most of whom could have used more screen time to really allow the audience to identify with them. The plot is a bit “by the numbers,” i.e. – go here to get this, then go there to get that, etc. Despite the flaws, it works reasonably well overall.

And, of course, the special effects are superb, as you’d expect for a Star Wars movie. The movie also benefits well from a second viewing; once you know who you should be watching, you’re free to pick up more nuances the second time around.

One of the best things about the movie is that you don’t have to wait at all for the sequel. It’s already out, and it’s called Stars Wars: A New Hope (now, anyway). All joking aside, the movie slots right into the start of the next movie. Some of my friends are reporting that watching Rogue One and then re-watching Star Wars actually amplifies their enjoyment of the original movie. Somewhat unprecedented, in my opinion.

The bottom line is that the film is well worth seeing. It’s not a perfect film, but its flaws won’t detract from the enjoyment for most people. In many ways, I liked it better than The Force Awakens because the reboot was less original in many ways.

Posted in Film | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Galloping Crocodiles

Galloping Crocodile

Oh, yeah. I gotta use this in a story. Modern crocodiles and alligators are edge feeders. They wait in the water and strike from ambush when prey comes to the water’s edge. They’re dangerous but relatively localized. These crocs, though, they can chase you down.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Tagged | Leave a comment

Writing Tips: The Blog Ratio

As soon as you announce that you’re serious about this “writing thing,” people tell you that you need a blog. As if magically having a blog will bring you a massive influx of readers like rain from the heavens.

The reality is a little different. Your blog is part of your brand. It’s where people go when they’ve heard of you and want to know a little bit more. It’s part of how you engage with your readers, including people who are just thinking about becoming readers of your work.

You want to give the right impression but…what are you supposed to blog about? Should you put up cat pictures?

In her book, The Business of Writing: Practical Insights for Independent, Hybrid and Traditionally Published Authors, Kim Iverson Headlee provided me with what I thought was a pretty reasonable answer.

Her formula for author blogs is:

  • One Third In Support of Others
  • One Third About Your Non-Writing Interests
  • One Third About Your Stories

So, one third in support of others includes book reviews, interviews with other authors, writing tips, convention summaries and other things that help out your audience.

One third about your non-writing interests includes information about your personal life, cat pictures (if that’s your interest), movie reviews, inspirational pictures, etc. Things that you find interesting but which aren’t specifically about your writing.

One third about your stories. This includes books for sale, your upcoming projects, online freebies, offers for your mailing list, etc.

I like this blog ratio because it makes your blog more of a conversation with your readers and not just a strident, always-on sales channel.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rocco Fitch, on Fighting Evil

The Forever HouseRocco Fitch is the hero of my story “Road Trip,” which is being published in an anthology called Reliquary in January 2017. It’s the first novelette in my Roadwerks Limited series. In this story teaser, Rocco is being interviewed in a mysterious tavern outside of time and space known as the…Forever House.


The Svendeep Interviews:
Rocco Fitch, on Fighting Evil

Rocco Fitch stood at a mahogany bar, his right foot resting on a brass foot rail, and listened to the hubbub of numerous conversations behind him. He had not the slightest idea how he’d gotten here.

Gazing around, he took in the rustic atmosphere of the place. A log fire burned merrily in a stone fireplace, casting its flickering light on a dark-skinned balding man sitting in an armchair and flipping through the pages of a book. He was dressed like a Roman soldier. Two baroque, seven-armed chandeliers, complete with flickering candles, provided light for the four long wooden tables in the center of the room, currently occupied by a motley assortment of customers. Bookcases lined the walls, with an occasional gap for sconces that provided illumination for the armchairs scattered around the periphery. Oddly, there were no windows anywhere.

A thin, lanky man in a gray robe came down a stairway, ambled across the room and leaned on the bar next to him. “You’re Rockford Jeremiah Fitch III, aren’t you?” He looked like he was in his late twenties, but Rocco thought his eyes looked older. His hair was pulled back into a queue that emphasized his high cheekbones. He looked like a medieval monk or maybe a philosopher.

“My friends call me Rocco. What is this place, anyway?”

There were huge ceiling beams of some dark wood and the floor was made of three-foot-wide wooden planks. It must be an old building, because he didn’t think it was possible to find beams like that anymore. And the planks didn’t look like something that was going to be on sale at Home Depot either.

“It’s a tavern, Rocco.”

“I can see that, thank you very much.” Rocco fixed his patented military-grade glare on the man. “How’d I get here?”

“I don’t know,” the man said. “People get here all kinds of ways.”

Continue reading »

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
« Older