Monday, August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac

Well, we started classes today, Monday, but now classes are cancelled for the next two days. I wouldn't bet on us being back on Thursday either.  It's because of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is drawing a bead on us in southern Louisiana. I doubt it's gonna be a dangerous storm but Lana and I are going to evacuate because we will probably lose power and I don't want Lana laying around in the heat for a few days while they try to get the AC back on. Although we'll take our laptop with us, who knows when we'll be back online.I'll update when I can. It just never seems there's a chance to focus on one problem at a time. It always has to come in multiples.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to Work

I started back at school on Wednesday. Faculty meetings all day. And then Thursday and Friday we had student registration. Thursday was incredibly busy, Friday a little less so. But I had to get all my syllabi copied and get materials up on the "Blackboard" program for students to access for classes. Twelve hour days by the time I got home, and no time or energy for blogging.

Lana's last radiation treatment was yesterday, and we thought we'd be off this weekend, but they told her that her potassium was very low and so we have to go to the hospital today to get her an infusion to take care of that problem. Otherwise, I'm hoping to get a little rest this weekend before classes start Monday.

I know I haven't visited blogs for several days now, and possibly won't be doing so today. I'm sure everyone got along fine without me.  Once school settles into a routine next week I'll be able to start blogging again.

Hope everyone is well.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Karl Edward Wagner

I don’t know if many of you know who Karl Edward Wagner was. He died in October of 1994. He was an extraordinary writer, and a wonderful editor who helped many a younger writer. He wrote both fantasy and horror, and I enjoyed both, although I will remember him best for his fantasy tales of Kane, swordsman and sorcerer. I happened to be looking through some old stuff today and found a comment about Karl’s death that I’d written to the REHupa group. It’s a dreary day here, and I’m feeling a bit melancholy anyway. It seemed like the right time to share it.

Karl Edward Wagner (Final Note):  Written Tuesday, October 18, 1994, about midnight. 

I got a call earlier this night from Morgan Holmes to let me know that Karl Wagner had died on Saturday past.  I understand that he was in his mid-forties and that's way too young for anyone to go.  But I also understand that he rode hard all the way through and did some things to his body that weren't exactly healthy.  It was his choice.  I believe that.  Despite all my training in the psychologies of environmental and biological determinism, I believe that most adult human beings have the brain power to make choices.  Maybe I just have to believe that. 

I talked to Karl Wagner twice in person, both times at the New Orleans Science Fiction and Fantasy convention.  I wrote him a couple of times and got one longish letter back.  I asked him when he'd be coming out with another Kane collection, which was surely one of the more common questions he got asked.  Now I guess I have my answer.

Kane was a unique character in heroic fantasy.  I thought he was the most original conception in heroic fantasy, ever.  And Karl's prose was the closest that I've seen to Robert E. Howard's in its ability to create feelings of passion and glory, and to give the impression of myth.  I wish Karl had written more, but then I always wish that of any writer I like.  He had his own needs.  And it wasn't my life to live.  Now it isn't his either.  But I won't forget, and I know many others who feel the same way.   Goodbye Karl.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sword and Planet Images

I'm working on a secret Sword and Planet short story project right now, and having fun with it. As I've said  before, to me, Sword and Planet fiction is just about the most fun you can have in writing.  It's sheer adventure. In order to recapture the feel for the genre, I've been rereading sections of my Talera books, and damn if I don't like them pretty well. That led me to create a few images using the back cover blurbs for the three books, something I hope might spark interest in folks to read them. All three are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, of course, as both print versions and ebooks.  Anyway, I'm posting my three images below. What do you think?  Decent advertisements for the books? Or not?  Click on the images to make them bigger!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Editing Louisiana Inklings

I had done four previous publications on Amazon, Killing Trail, Days of Beer, Harvest of War, and Harmland.  Problems had been minimal and I felt up to editing a collection of other folks’ work and publishing it. I figured I knew how to do it this time. Naturally, when one thinks one has a handle on things, that’s when problems crop up. The one that has occurred has me pretty baffled, however.

In order to try and get the poetry to work right, I altered the left margins from the “0” setting on MS Word to a -.5. All other settings were left alone.  I considered this a potential problem so I did 12 test runs before publishing. I checked all runs through on my regular Kindle device, and checked the last few on my Kindle PC app. There were little things here and there that I fixed, but not once was there any problem with the margins, with words being cut off on the sides of the screen. Not once.

I published the book. I checked with a friend of mine who picked it up and everything read perfect. I announced it to the world, or that small part of the world that reads my blog. People bought it.  I was happy.  Two days later the first email came. The letters on the left side of her Kindle PC app were cut off.  I figured it had to be because of the altered margins but hoped it was a single time glitch on her system. I sent her a Kindle file of the anthology to see if that would work, and she said it worked perfectly. My eyebrows went up. The file I sent her was one that read fine on my Kindle and PC app, and was the “exact” one that I uploaded to Kindle for publication.  This led me to believe that it had to be some kind of weird glitch on her system.

Another day passes. Two more people inform me they have margin problems. One, using a Kindle Fire, has letters cut off on the left and right side, the other has a problem only on the left. Realizing that this is no simple glitch, I immediately reformat Louisiana Inklings to take out the -.5 margins and return them to “0.” I do this for both Kindle and Nook, though I have not heard of any problems for the Nook, and republish it.  I send the new Kindle file to the two people who contacted me, but one tells me she’s already fixed the problem. All she did was decrease the “words per line” option and it read fine.

I feel a great sense of relief at that and email a few people that I know who bought the book about the “fix,” if they have any problems.  I also email the first person to contact me about the margin issue and ask her if changing the “words per line” option fixes her problem with the original file. Unfortunately, her answer is, “no.”  Around the same time, another person contacts me about having the margin problem on her Kindle PC app, but only on the left side. The “words per line” solution will not work for her, but the new Kindlized file with the normal margins I send her works just fine. Also around this time, I ask another person who bought the book if they had any margin problems.  They look confused that there might have been a problem and tell me that everything looks great on their Kindle, even though they bought the book before I uploaded the margin corrected file.

Yesterday, I get another email from someone with the margin problem. They bought the book the first day I announced it so I know this was the original file. I send them the corrected file, and they let me know that it reads perfect on their Kindle PC app but still has a ‘slight’ problem with the margin on the left side.

I tell you I’m absolutely baffled. I seem to be able to get everyone a fix for their problem, but I can’t understand why it needs to be a different fix for every person. I can’t understand why the same file can be perfect on some folks’ devices and not work right on others. I did, by the way, for the revised file, use Amazon’s simulator to check it on every single device that run a Kindle app. It looked perfect on every one.

If you bought “Louisiana Inklings” and have had ‘any’ problem, please let me know. I’ll make it right. Email me at kainja at hotmail dot com.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What Do You Think?

Here's a couple of thoughts I'm having that I wonder if I might get feedback on.  First, in regards to Killing Trail, my western collection. Killing Trail was my first effort in self-publishing and I didn't do a clickable table of contents for it. Instead, I indicated the "location" for each individual piece in the TOC. I know how to to do a clickable TOC now so I was wondering whether I should go back and update the file with a better TOC. I'm not changing the stories and I don't want anyone who has already bought the collection to buy it again, but I thought it might be something that would help attract new readers. Sales have gone completely flat for it at this point.

Second, I've accumulated several flash fiction stories that are kind of unclassifiable, which is why they didn't appear in any of my three Borgo/Wildside anthologies. I'm considering self publishing an ebook with these in it. However, I'm not going to publish them, even at 99 cents, unless I can get at least several thousand words worth of material.  And I'd like to have more.  Here's the question. In addition to the unpublished micros that I have, I also have alternate ending versions of some of the previously published ones. I've seen where bands have released alternate versions of songs, so I'm wondering if adding a few alternate ending stories to the collection might sound reasonable, or would this seem like trickery. I almost always include a section about the stories in my anthologies so I would include it here too and indicate the differences between the published versions and alternate versions.

What say you?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Louisiana Inklings

My critique group calls itself the “Inklings,” or, specifically, the “Louisiana Inklings.”  We meet every Thursday at one of the St. Tammany library branches. I’ve been a member for several years and those who have hung with the group during that time have really developed into fine writers. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of diversity in the group.  We have poets, novelists, memoir writers, short story writers, and me, the weird one. (Well, there’s also, Mike, who is somewhat of a weird one too.)

On January 4th of 2012, I pitched an idea to the group. I’d be willing to edit a collection of the writings from members of the group and publish it through Razored Zen Press for the Kindle and Nook.  I suggested calling the resulting anthology, Louisiana Inklings: A Literary Sampler.  All submissions to the anthology were required to have gone through the critique group review at least once, and then would, or could at least, be subjected to further editing from me. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the project and over the next six months or so I collected a number of submissions. These went through varied levels of editing, and everyone was very cooperative, even though in some cases I asked for pretty major changes.

By mid-July I had all the pieces in place and began the final process of turning the thing into an ebook. After a few long days, including two that involved about ten hours each at the keyboard, the work was tested, retested, retested again, and ready for uploading. I started the upload July 29/30, and it went live on the 31st on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Today I’m making the official announcement of it here.  The cover, from a photograph by the incomparable Lana Gramlich, is below. 

I don’t know if I would have even thought of the idea if it weren’t for a fine writer named Del Stone, Jr.  Years ago, I was in an online writing group founded by Del, and he edited a group anthology in which I had a story called “Thief of Eyes.”  That anthology was a horror anthology called The Parasitorium: Terrors Within.  Although the idea to edit my own anthology probably first saw the gleam of life then, Louisiana Inklings is a very, very different kind of collection. It’s a literary/mainstream anthology. There are a couple of stories that might be considered genre fiction, none by me, but most of what we have are poems, memoirs, and stories that examine the real or realistic lives of human beings, in many cases people from southern Louisiana. There’s over 40,000 words of material.

For those of you who have read my stuff, I want to be clear that my pieces in this book are not genre fiction.  No “Finest Cut” or “Harvest of War” here.  In fact, they’re probably not much like anything you might have read from me before. One is a kind of pseudo-memoir, a mental trip back to the home I grew up in. Another is an essay about my son, and a third is a poem about someone who, one day, without any provocation that I could discern, decided to stick a sword in my back.

If you want to get a feel for what the collection is about, you can use the “Look Inside” feature at Amazon, or the “Read Instantly” feature at Barnes and Noble

I do hope you’ll check it out at least, because there are some talented and thoughtful people in this collection. I’m proud of them.

Take care.