Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

I am Invoking Workrave This Weekend - You Should Too

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Between the weather, a bunch of stuff on my plate, and my girlfriend being busy all weekend,  I'm going to be working.  A lot.  Which means I need Workrave.

What's Workrave, you ask?

Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit. Please refer to the feature comparison for a complete list of features, and how the program performs with respect to other programs on the market. The program runs on GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows.
Plus, it's got a cute sheep as its mascot.

 The anti-RSI stuff is great, I suppose.  My current setup (standing desk, ergonomic keyboard and mouse) means my RSI is largely kept in check.  What's needed is taking a break.  And Workrave manages that in spades.

This is the icon I use, by the way.  Because sheep on bikes, man.

Every ten minutes or so, I have to stop for thirty seconds.  About every forty five minutes, I have to stop for ten.

And do anything else.

Which means that I get a break.  I can let my mind rest and my subconscious deal with stuff.  And maybe even run the dishwasher.  And lets me be more productive overall.

So if you hit me up on IM or twitter and I suddenly stop for a few minutes, that's probably why.  It's for my health.  And yours.

Workrave is natively available for *nix and Windows;  it probably builds on OSX (see github), but there's plenty of similar programs for you can find on

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Quantity, quality, and Alliteration Ink's increased publication schedule for 2014

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Authors and readers:  Beware the publisher who boasts about the number of books they put out per month or per year.  I've got to be skeptical of the three-year-old "publisher" that has hundreds of titles in its catalog.

In 2014, Alliteration Ink is suddenly going to be putting out quite a few more books than we have at any time before now.  And it terrifies me.

For example, right now I have these all going on simultaneously:

  • Production for Steampunk World (including getting the backer rewards out as soon as possible)
  • The Kickstarter for Streets of Shadows (which you should go back!)
  • Production for one novel from K.W. Taylor (previously featured in Sidekicks!)
  • Near final plans for continuing a series from a Bram Stoker Award winning author
  • Production and planning to re-release and finish a series from a NYT bestselling author
  • A single author steampunk collection currently in editing
  • Early plans and invitations for an anthology headed by Nayad Monroe (who edited the excellent What Fates Impose)

In addition, there's also pre-planning for a periodical (YES I SAID PERIODICAL) and for a gaming/writing/story hybrid work for late 2014.

Whew.  But doesn't that all sound cool?

No matter how cool it sounds, I have a very real concern about maintaining quality and integrity while trying to do more.  Fast, cheap, or good - pick two.

But there's another saying:  Many hands make light work.  I am deeply grateful for the positive, hard-working, and skilled people that are working alongside me in bringing these books to you over the course of the next year.  Artists, editors, authors, and even fans have all chipped in with time, talent, and support to help bring some excellent books into the world.

So I'm terrified by the amount of work coming up this year.  I'm terrified that I won't be able to keep delivering the same high standards.

But then I think of the awesome people I've worked with over the last few years - many of whom I'll be working with again this year - and while I'm sometimes still a little scared, I realize that I'm really looking forward to what we're going to be creating.

And remember, go support the Streets of Shadows kickstarter.  Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (the editors who brought you the Dark Faith anthologies) are at the helm of this one, and it's gonna be awesome.

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Why Alliteration Ink Rarely Has Early (Or Hard) Release Dates

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As I made up Alliteration Ink's release schedule for 2014, I deliberately avoided making hard release dates.  

I rarely have a solid, hard release date for any project, for one simple reason.


As Sarah Hans alluded to in her interview with SciFiNow, the Kickstarter date (and therefore, the publication date) of Steampunk World got pushed back to make sure that she got quality stories that met the needs of the anthology.  What she didn't say was that the Kickstarter date moved from August to December

I have at least one release this year that is going to be a month behind the original release date... because the author wanted to do some more revisions after seeing some editorial feedback.

But that's a good thing.  Her commitment - as is mine - is to bring you the best book possible.  Period.

Even if it takes a little bit longer than we anticipated.

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A Quick Lesson On Poking The (Metaphorical) Bear

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This is a bear.

This is a bear.

This is a bear.

This is a bear.

This is not a bear.  It is a tanuki, or "racoon-dog".

This is also a tanuki.

This is a bear.
Any questions?

This episode in vagueblogging brought to you by people who really should know better than to poke the bear.

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Doing Open Calls After Funding: Ethics, Anthologies, Kickstarter, and You

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You may have noticed that I (as Alliteration Ink) am running a crowdfunded anthology called Streets of Shadows... and that the project inherently has an open call for submissions after the funding period.

You might have also noticed that Writer Beware recently wrote up a nice discussion of my crowdfunding policies... one of which included that I don't prefer doing open calls after the crowdfunding period.

"So," Hypothetical You says, eyebrow pointed suspiciously, "What's up?"

Which is a Very Good Question.

Aside from the obvious - I thought the concept was good, the already attached authors are ones I enjoy or have worked with, and I've been an admirer of Maurice and Jerry's work for a while - that Very Good Question is also part of why I wanted to be involved with this project.

Let's evaluate what I have done with this project against my own criteria:

A clearly stated minimum “funded” payrate and what payrate there will be if the project exceeds its funding goal.

Done. Payments will be at least the current SFWA pro rate, with a stretch goal of the new SFWA pro rate.

A clearly stated list of what options will be considered if the project does not successfully fund.

This is on the back end, but it boils down to: The authors still own any stories they've written, and we go back to the drawing board.

Contracts and Payments (the whole section)

Everything about contracts is the way I like it - I only have contracts with the Anthologists (Maurice and Jerry), and even that only comes into effect when the Kickstarter funds.

Backer Rewards

All rewards are being asked for on a volunteer basis only. Offered rewards are not tied to anything else (acceptance, payment, etc).

Campaign Backers

Contributors aren't expected to back the project.

In such instances that an open call occurs after the successful completion of a crowdfunding campaign, the submissions editor(s) will not have access to the lists of backers, nor will the organizer of the campaign have access to the lists of submitters.

There's at least one - and in some cases two - layers of separation between the backer list and the submissions. I'm handling the money and backer lists. I won't share them with the editorial team until the table of contents is finalized. Maurice & Jerry are handling invited authors, and aren't letting me tell them what submissions to accept or not. And then Maurice's intern (hi!) is the one reading the open submissions. (I'm not naming him here because I forgot to check if he wants me to tell people who he is.)

There's a clear statement telling potential submitters for the open call to read the crowdfunding policies. And the one direction that I've given the editorial team is to follow these two points:

  • There will be no preferential treatment toward current or future submissions based upon whether the submitter has backed a crowdfunded project. Executing or inciting such quid pro quo behavior is strictly forbidden. 
  • Should a submitter refer to their level of backing of the crowdfunding campaign in the submission, cover letter, or correspondence with the submission editor(s) prior to story acceptance or rejection, the submission will be summarily rejected.

So overall, I think it passes the "smell test". And that's a good thing, because I really wanted to have an open call.

Whenever you announce an anthology, it's fairly common to get asked if there will be an open call. Even if the anthology is explicitly closed. As many better people than I have said, one of the joys of being on the business side of publishing is finding and promoting new talent. Providing a place for that to happen is very important to me.

And so one of the things I want to do more of this year is to provide a place for open calls for submissions.

But ultimately, it comes back to my mission statement:

Alliteration Ink is designed to be a test bed for new strategies and methods that allow authors, publishers, and others in the industry to adapt and thrive in these changing times.

By doing this project - openly and transparently, even when it's admitting my own mistakes - I hope that we can provide an example of "best practices" for others to follow.

And share some great stories with you all.


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The Morning After A Painful Night: Restless Leg Sydrome, Or Something Else? I'm Seeking Advice.

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It's been a couple of years since I mentioned my restless legs syndrome here1, but last night/this morning was bad.

I have medications that help most of the time - most - but they usually leave me fuzzy, especially since I'm supposed to take at least one of the three pills in the morning.  The "reverse arthritis" thing still works - standing and walking alleviate the problem as long as I'm... well, standing or walking.

And there are some things that pretty predictably set it off.  For example, alcohol - specifically margaritas, wine, and some beers - will often get it going within a half-hour.  

But probably the worst is changes in barometric pressure.  Like the graph I pulled up fifteen minutes ago.  The initial spike at one am was the first time I got woken up.  I putzed around for a while, then got back to sleep.

Only to have steadily increasing pain from four onward, not only in my ankles, but also in my wrists.  Yay. 

I've not had the pure presence of mind to do completely meticulous record-keeping on this;  that said, there seems to be a correlation between the delta of barometric pressure (not direction or absolute value) and how much pain I'm in.

Fun fact:  It's how I learned that fronts (and pressure changes) are not the same thing as clouds and storms - the pressure can change prior to rainclouds arriving.

Anyway, the more rapid the change, the worse I am.  And the symptoms have been getting slowly worse over the last decade.  But I'm starting to wonder if maybe treating RLS (while mostly effective) is because everything else gets blunted.  We're learning that there's a sensory system in the skin, that our bowels impact our brain function, and puzzling disorders like fibromyalgia are starting to reveal their secrets.

But there's a bit of hope from stories like this one from that last link:
Carolyn DiSilva of Maynard, Mass., one of Oaklander's patients, says she was stunned to learn that she had small-fiber neuropathy caused by an overactive immune system, instead of fibromyalgia.
"I think a lot of people, they get a blanket diagnosis as fibromyalgia because doctors don't know what's wrong with them," says DiSilva, 47, who has suffered from unexplained pains for about 14 years.
But it's going to be a long, long slog to figure out what the heck is really going on, especially when so many of the primary symptoms overlap.

Even "hurting worse when the pressure changes".

Acupuncture helped a bit (it was worse for a day or two immediately after the treatment, then got better for a while), but was really prohibitively expensive.  I'm not at the point of doing an elimination diet, but I know I've got to do something

And so the first step has to be collecting information to take to my doc.  I know some of you who read this have your own hard-to-diagnose chronic problem, or know someone who does.

  • What information is most helpful for me to gather?
  • Where should I start?  My GP?  Or just start with an allergist?
  • Any reputable guides you know of out there on the interwebs? (I keep turning up just overly broad ones or outright quackery)
  • What helped you get to a good diagnosis and treatment quickly?
  • What got in the way? 
It'd be great if you could comment publicly so that others with similar issues can find your suggestions, but message/e-mail me if you want to keep things private.


1tl;dr - when I was diagnosed that was the first time I heard about it, the sleep lab seconded my GP's diagnosis, I've been experiencing it since I was in grade school so it's not my weight, thanks, and I experience it as pain, thankyouverymuch

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Charles Barouch writes about "Invasion" for "The Whole Is Greater"

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The Whole is Greater is a semi-regular feature on the blog where I ask the editors of anthologies to tell us about their experience working on an anthology.  Today's features Charles Barouch, whom I met on G+.  He wanted to talk about Invasion, which features quite a few members of my G+ circles.  Charles, take it away!

In March of 2013 I put up a post on Google+ saying: I need 14 coconspirators to put together an anthology based on a single theme: Invasion. We will fire-sale it for $2.99. No one will make any money but we'll put out a book we'll be proud of.

In September of 2013, the book was complete; written, edited, layer out, filled with 15 pieces of original art, had a cover and was on Kobo, Nook, and Kindle. Six months from suggestion to product. The stories are top notch. Fifteen great writers. The art is from Aaron Wood and Juan Ochoa.

90% of the profits -- after Kobo, B&N, and Amazon take their cuts but before any other expenses -- go to the creative talent.

I picked Invasion because I had just written an Invasion story which was published by PerehelionSF. Writing my story reminded me of how many ways that theme could be spun, so the idea was fresh.

If I had to pick my "surprise" moment in publishing it, I'd say "Invasion of Ideas" and "The Worms Crawl" in both changed my expectations.

Very few people can do funny SF.  With "Invasion of Ideas", Jeremy gave me a story that really worked. It made it in with a minimum of edits. I didn't expect a funny invasion.

The story with "Worms" is the opposite. I was agonizing over a story that wasn't going to make he cut. Editors cut things, but this was intended to be community driven, and it was the very first time these people were working with me as an editor. As I struggled with my options, the author came to me and said "I can do better. Let me give you a different story." That, to me is the essence of community. She came to me. What she delivered was manifestly better.

I love my team, but at the end of the day, the book has to stand up and speak on its own. People who don't know us have to like it for itself. We have turned people down. We have made choices that I still revisit. These amazing, creative, crazy authors and artist and support staff have made it a great experience.

With book two (Theme-thology: Day I Died) coming out on January 11th, 2014 -- and three more volumes already in the pipeline -- it is an experience I look forward to having over and over again.

For all you readers out there: this is a tasting menu. Nearly every author in this book has other works. Spend the $2.99 and find some new favorite authors to read. I certainly found some new favorites from working on this book.

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Grokking Twitter: The Why Of Social Media

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I originally wrote this for a small audience, but thought I'd share with you all.  While I largely use Twitter as a "baseline" here, it applies equally well to Tumblr, Facebook, G+, Plurk, or any other social media network not yet invented.

 This is the great principle of social media:

Don't get into social media to market your stuff.

And this is the great analogy of social media:

It's like an electronic version of your office water cooler or breakroom.

Let me explain:

At my workplace, people will routinely share a cool picture or video that they saw.  Or they'll talk about something their kid did.  Or point at something in the newspaper.  Or maybe they'll recommend the good book they read, or the vacation they were just on.  And if they're doing something else - participating in a charity, making crochet wombats to sell, hawking addictive chocolate mint cookies - they'll ask you if you're interested as well.

But if you never, ever talk to anyone in the break room - or worse, ignore them when they talk to you - they won't be very receptive when you ask them to buy your addictive cookies.  And if you ask repeatedly if they'll buy the cookies every time someone enters the room... well, they may just go on an Atkins diet to spite you.

That analogy explains a lot of the questions and misconceptions people have about Twitter (or any other type of social media).  Why would anyone care about your day?  The same goes for your breakroom - you share things with the people in your breakroom which you think are interesting.

And that's why the breakroom (or water cooler) analogy is so useful.  Many basic social norms carry over.  You don't have to announce when you're going to the restroom.  You don't share what you had for breakfast... unless it was cool.  

But other social norms are changed by the larger audience you have online.  I don't talk about Doctor Who with anyone I work with - nobody else there watches the show.  The role of technology in healthcare doesn't interest my writing group, but if Clive Barker was adapting a Charles Bukowski poem into a screenplay they'd be riveted.

On twitter (or other social media) there are likely to be people interested in each of those who follow my updates... so they filter out what they do and don't want to see.  As a result, I share things I think are interesting.  People who find those things (or me) interesting will follow my twitter (or Facebook, etc) updates.  And sometimes when I'm doing or sharing something cool, they might decide to check it out or support it themselves.  [1]

And that brings us to the last thing to understand:

Do not try to keep up with all the social media

At least at first, I would recommend that you don't follow a ton of people - maybe a mix people you personally know, or celebrities and news accounts you're interested in.  But even then it can quickly become overwhelming.  Again, our breakroom analogy comes to the rescue.  Imagine having to try to keep track of EVERY conversation that happens in a breakroom.  Heck, think back to Thanksgiving.  How many conversations were going on that you weren't part of?  You cannot be expected to know about what was said there - and you shouldn't be on social media either.

Likewise, you shouldn't expect everyone else to have seen your update about... well, anything.  Even if it's a popular "promoted" post on Facebook.  Consider Ferrett Steinmetz's experience of Facebook - which is totally different from a relative's:

Hopefully you've got something of an idea of what social media can be like, and the mindset to approach it with.  There's plenty of how-to guides to each specific social network that you can turn up with a quick search - and things change.

But the technology is a means to an end;  understanding the why of social media is  the important part.

Our social circles used to be limited by how far we could physically travel.  It isn't that way any longer. [2]

[1] Keep in mind that social media is, well, social.  You can reply to just about anybody who is on there - and they can reply to you.  But you don't *have* to reply to anyone either.  Most people start off by reading other people's updates, then by sharing their own, and then eventually getting into conversations about those updates.

[2] Well, not always.  Mary Queen of Scots had quite the correspondence-based relationship with Queen Elizabeth.  Hopefully your social networking experience has fewer 'splodey spouses.

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Using SBaGen (or anything that uses /dev/dsp) with a 64-bit linux system and PulseAudio by Tweaking Padsp

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I like SBaGen for a binaural beat white noise generator. It's pretty cool, and cross-platform, and lets you put other soundfiles in the background. (If you're commandline-phobic and run Windows, I used to use Raindrop for the same reason.) But SBaGen is FAR more configurable, with all sorts of scriptable options.

Do I buy the brainwave stuff? Hell, I don't know. But I do know that it's a fantastic tool to help with concentration and block out outside noise and distraction. Give it (or Raindrop) a try while wearing headphones.

But. I started having problems when firing it up on my 64-bit Debian Jessie (#!) system... especially since the venerable padsp trick stopped working. I managed to get it working flawlessly again, but I've put this here for my own reference and to help anyone else dealing with this problem:

PulseAudio is the newer system of sound servers for linux, but some older programs try to write directly to sound devices the "old way".   Padsp is a wrapper script that lets the old programs use the new sound interface.

Until 64 bit systems came along, and the old programs wanted a 32-bit sound library.  Then you get this error:

ERROR: object '/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/pulseaudio/' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored.

Here's the workaround: Download (but do not install) the 32-bit package that includes libpulsedsp (here they are for Debian and Ubuntu). Extract the file

dpkg-deb -x *.deb /tmp/extract/

Copy to /usr/lib32/
Edit /usr/bin/padsp so that the line "while getopts" now reads:

while getopts 'hs:n:m:MSDdi' param ; do

Before the line starting with *), add these lines:

if [ x"$LD_PRELOAD" = x ] ; then
LD_PRELOAD="$LD_PRELOAD /usr/lib32/"

shift $(( $OPTIND - 1 ))
exec "$@"
exit 0

Now change your script to call padsp -i /path/to/sbagen

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How To Make Life Easy For Librarians So Your Book Gets In Libraries

The following guest post is written by Laura Carruba, certified Librarian.  (Seriously, she comes from a family of librarians.)  We got to talking about getting books into libraries, and she pointed out that a lot of indie authors make things hard on librarians... and that's a bad idea.  So I asked her to explain how we can make things easier for librarians, and she was kind enough to share.  (And I swear that when I said she could use my stuff as an example, I thought she was going to use it as a bad example.)

I make my living cataloging items for a small public library system. My library department is the one responsible for adding library identification to items (stamps, stickers, barcodes and such) and entering those items into our online catalog so people can find them.

Most of my work is based on pre-existing records. When the Big Five come out with a NYT bestselling author's latest book, the publisher uploads cataloging-in-process metadata to the Library of Congress, who in turn creates a cataloging record for the nonprofit Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Any library with a membership to OCLC can download those records and tweak them for their own use.

For small presses, independent publishers, and self-published authors, their works fall largely on catalogers to analyze and upload. Many libraries skip out on this task for two reasons. Many libraries has limited access to OCLC and rely on third-party vendors for catalog records. Sadly, this feeds into the other reason why libraries skip out on cataloging small press and self-published books: a reputation for poor layout and formatting.

I create original metadata and catalog records for self-published books every month. I see beginner mistakes made by enthusiastic authors and publishers, the kinds of errors that give self-published books a bad rap among librarians. I would like to share the insider tricks librarians--especially catalogers--use to approve or reject potential library book purchases.

After meeting Steve at Lexington, Kentucky's FandomFest in 2011, I bought two of his books for my library. Coincidentally, they're the ones featured in his recent blog post about lousy book covers. The so-called lousy cover belies an excellent interior.

When cataloging books, the title page is the most important source of information about the book A good title page lists the full title of the book, the author's preferred name, the publisher, and the place of publication. Steve's Bought Love Is a Salaried Position is a good title page.

If I could not find the information I needed on the title page, such as the publisher or place of publication, I turn the page over to the flip side of the title page, known as the verso. (Means "flip over" in Latin, how cute.) Bought Love's verso not only gives the publisher and publication information but also the copyright dates and ISBN. With this wealth of information, I can build a basic catalog record. Thanks Steven!

Also, take note of the table of contents. The page layout makes the titles and page locations easy to read. Plus, Steve formatted the page numbers on the table of contents correctly: pages preceding the work (a foreword, introduction, table of contents, etc.) frequently use Roman numerals to offset the introductory material from the work itself. Simple touches like this make a self-published author's publications look professional.

(I never thought I would need to say this. Self-published authors: number your pages. Large picture books for children can get away with unnumbered pages and none else.)

I have enough information for the backbone of the catalog record, but to me a catalog record isn't finished until I give it a synopsis and assign subject and genre headings to it. There really isn't a chief source of information for these bits, other than reading the book, and people accuse librarians of doing this all day anyway. Let's "verso" Steve's book.

When I read cover copy, or "back blurbs," I'm looking to sum up your book in one to three sentences. Like the front cover, publishers design the back cover to appeal to buyers, not necessarily to catalogers. In this case, Steve wrote my synopsis for me--I simply used his second paragraph with the credit "publisher description."

Keep in mind that a back blurb is just as much an audience grabber as your work's first sentence or line. If the back blurb is something like "The second novel from award-winner author Q.T. Pie is a thrilling mix of Eragon and Harry Potter" makes me sigh, go to Amazon or Goodreads, and hope that a random reviewer wrote a synopsis better than the author. Even something like "When Khrystal Blackrayvenne finds the mystic dragon egg of Summerisle at a garage sale, she starts on an adventure beyond her wildest dreams" gives me a place to start.

Once the synopsis is finished (either cut-and-paste from the back blurb or my own summary), I create subject and genre headings based off it. The Library of Congress--and the army of member libraries and catalogers supporting it--create and maintain a standardized list of keywords for topics, names, places, and more. This regulated system ensures that there is one codified word of phrase to describe a concept and enough cross-references to ensure someone will find the "preferred" word or phrase.

This is the catalog record I created for Bought Love Is a Salaried Position:

I have to admit, I cheated. Having read Bought Love, I knew the book wasn't about fables (or belonging in the genre "fables") but fantasy realism. The subject headings reflect that. (The genre headings are obvious; sadly, at the time of this writing, there is no LCSH-approved genre heading for "flash fiction.")

Let's revisit Q.T. Pie for a different example.

Q.T. Pie created the kind of self-published book that makes me a grumpy cataloger. As you can tell from the record, Q.T. didn't have a title page--the first leaf of the book contained the first page of her story. I could only guess as to who published the book where and when. I also had to rewrite the back blurb so someone browsing the catalog could get some idea of the book's contents.

Self-published authors make these mistakes frequently. Because of these formatting errors--usually accompanied by a truckload of spelling and grammar mistakes--libraries refuse to accept self-published material into their collections. Here are some tips on formatting to make your book appealing to libraries and other potential buyers:

Create a title page, both front and back. If your publisher of choice charges by the page or by the gathering (a group of folded sheets sewn or glued into a book's binding), spend the extra money to add this crucial page. Use the other pages to add an "about the author" page to your book, or endpapers with maps, or advertise other books you've self-published.

Give the following information on your title page and/or verso:

--Author name
--Place of publication
--Publisher (if you created a publishing LLC, or the author name if you didn't)
--Copyright date (and print date if the two dates are different)

If you publish under a pseudonym, including your real name on the verso is a big help. Many authors with famous pseudonyms, such as J.D. Robb for Nora Roberts, have cross-references in the LCSH so someone can find all the works by one person using multiple names.

If your work is a multi-chapter novel or collection of short stories or poems, consider adding a table of contents. Microsoft Word and Open/LibreOffice include tutorials on how to create them and update them with new content in case you created a ToC with a draft of your work.

Number your pages. MS Word and open-source variants include instructions on how to do this as well.

Write a back cover blurb that talks about what you wrote, and try not to compare it to other books, movies, TV shows, etc. If you have a press package or pitch letter, chances are you've already tried to describe your book. Find a good paragraph from one of those sources and use that.

Purchase an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from Bowker.  (They are at )  From a library viewpoint, an ISBN provides a measure of professionalism. From a cataloger viewpoint, it's a clue leading to distinct information about the author, the title, and the individual volume of dead tree pulp needing a catalog record. For authors, as Steve says in this blog post, an independent ISBN from Bowker allows an author to sell in multiple online venues.

Follow these steps, and you could see your self-published novel on library shelves as well as, OCLC's international catalog. Bought Love Is a Salaried Position is available through WorldCat--your novel could be next!


The Kickstarter for Steampunk World - a diverse steampunk anthology from Alliteration Ink - is going on right now.

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Steampunk World - over a year in the making - is a diverse steampunk anthology from your favorite award-winning authors, including Jay Lake, Nisi Shawl, Ken Liu, and Lucy A. Snyder. 

Steampunk is fascinating. There's something compelling about the shine of clicking brass clockwork and hiss of steam-driven automatons. But until recently, there was something missing.

It was easy to find excellent stories of American and British citizens... but we rarely got to see steampunk from the point of view of the rest of the world.

Steampunk World is a showcase for nineteen authors to flip the levers and start the pistons and invite you to experience the entirety of steampunk.

We are currently seeking funding to pay the authors, artist, and editor.  It'll be published by Alliteration Ink.

Check us out on Kickstarter at .

Thank you.

Steampunk World: A multicultural steampunk fiction anthology -- Kicktraq Mini

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The Things You Say That Make Me Think You Want To Keep Being A Racist

Some brilliant images explaining white privilege (about as well as the Invisible Knapsack, IMHO) got posted to Buzzfeed about three days ago.  You can still seem them right over here: .

I don't often link to Buzzfeed, but in this case I have to.

Because the originals were taken down.

The OP is referring to the Buzzfeed post getting popular.

I have been looking for a kinder way to put this for a while, but this has me pissed.

So let me just make these points perfectly clear.
  • When you say "White privilege doesn't exist," I hear "I'm a racist."
  • When you say "I don't see race," I hear "I'm a (possibly naive) racist." 
  • When you say "We live in a post-racial society," I hear "I'm an ignorant racist."
  • When you say "...those people," I hear "I'm a racist who thinks you're stupid."
  • When you say "reverse racism," I hear "I'm a willfully ignorant racist." [1]
  • When you say "You should be less sensitive," I hear "I'm an asshole and a racist."
When people get death threats because they address white privilege, racism still exists.

This is not a point of debate.  These are the ways I will judge you.  

The only question is whether or not you want to be a racist.  Whether or not you want to behave like a racist.  Whether or not you want to be judged as a racist.

It is possible to change (I've met people who used to be Neo-Nazis and are now anti-racists).  It's definitely possible to change your behavior and how you talk.

It isn't about whatever excuse you're about to splutter at me.

It's a matter of choice.

Do you want to be a racist?  Or do you want to be better than that?

Your choice. 

[1] Yes, because you're ignorant of the difference between prejudice and racism, and haven't bothered to educate yourself.   (Try this on for size.)

The powerless, by definition, can never be “racists,” for they can never make the world pay for what they feel or fear except by the suicidal endeavor which makes them fanatics or revolutionaries, or both. - James Baldwin

Another good place to start your education is "Racism 101" at ResistRacism.

My Most Used Android Apps - What Are Yours?

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I've had to give out recommendations for apps for Android tablets three times now since Christmas, so I thought I'd just write up what I consider some "must-have" apps. 
Note:  I've left off some of the more obvious ones (Gmail, Dropbox), games, the customization ones, and the ones that require rooting or any kind of tech skill.  That said, feel free to suggest your favorites (with a link) below.

Moon Reader closest thing to a decent ePub reader.  (The official Kindle app is the only decent mobi reader I've found.)

Trello:  Corkboard-style organization.  While it has a pro version, the free version is awesome enough, and you can access it from any browser as well.

Google Voice:  You will be able to text over wifi.  You can get a new number or port your existing one.

Pocket:  Save and read stuff from over the web in an simple easy to read format

Simple Podcatcher:  Lets you stream podcasts.  You don't store them locally, so you don't have to worry about the size of your SD card.
Press:  Highly recommended RSS reader.  Works with Feedly on the backend.

AirDroid:  Lets you transfer files easily to your tablet from your PC over your LAN.

Andmade Share:  Configurable "share" menu so you don't have to see all the stuff you don't WANT to see.

Connectbot:  Pretty decent SSH client.  If there was only a way to have tab completion work....

Contacts+:  One of the best contact apps I've ever seen.  EVER.  Pulls in from where you want it to, and doesn't screw up existing contact settings.  Very nice.

Deadbeef:  Just like the *nix Deadbeef player, it handles about any audio format (including streams) you throw at it.

Draft:  If you actually want to write (anything other than code) on your tablet, this is the app you want.  Syncs with Dropbox, supports markdown.

Droidedit:  Excellent for writing code.

Android Keepass:  Compatible with KeePass and KeePassX with dropbox syncronization, so you can have your passwords secure AND portable.

Plume:  I like Plume for my power-user Twitter needs

VPNs are pretty much required these days...  I can't just have OpenVPN due to some firewalls, hence two VPN apps.

PDF Viewer:  Views PDFs as it says on the tin.  Does it well.

I didn't "get" Mint when it wasn't right there and easily accessible.  Mint makes sense on a tablet, especially with a widget.

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Diversity As A Selling Point: A Guest Post From The Folks Bringing You Steampunk Goggles Playing Cards

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In the context of the last few years - where some stories have been deemed too "difficult" or "unpopular" because they don't feature a white male (or now, thanks to the Hunger Games, a young white female) protagonist - that efforts like Steampunk World, the Tinker Steampunk webseries (which has just funded) and the Steampunk Goggles Playing Card set (still needing some backers) are actively using diversity as one of their big selling points.

I asked Dennis Consorte - one of the folks behind Steampunk Goggles Playing Card set - to talk more about why he saw diversity as something to embrace and celebrate rather than shy away from.  This is what he had to say.

From my perspective, in no particular order:

I'm one of those multi-ethnic people myself, so I have a personal interest in promoting diversity. I was one of those half-Asian, half-White kids before it became "cool." Today you see lots of mixed couples, and children. Walking down the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, a relatively urban area, it's very apparent. Other parts of the country - not so much. And in Steampunk, I'd say that statistically there are far more Caucasian fans and participants than any other group. I would guess that this is partly due to the ethnic makeup of states where it is most popular such as Washington and Oregon. I'd also guess that part of the lack of appeal to Black people is that slavery existed in America during that period. I think slavery was abolished in America in 1865, though segregation continued much longer, and the Victorian Era was from 1837 - 1901. At least that's what Wikipedia says.

From my perspective, the thing about Steampunk however is that it is an alternative future, and so it does not have to follow the rules of the actual past.

Getting back on topic, a multicultural piece on Steampunk is actually creating a new market by reaching out to a broader range of people. I can tell you that when I went to the Steampunk World's Fair for the first time, in ethnically diverse New Jersey, my first reaction was, "man there sure are a lot of white people here." (I'm not exactly politically correct - I don't believe in walking on eggshells - but that's another topic). By creating a multicultural piece in the Steampunk genre, you're helping non-Whites find a way to connect to the characters. It's kind of like when Mattel recognized this and came out with Black Barbie, because young Black girls could identify with it more than a fair-skinned, Blonde Barbie. The same goes for some Disney films.

According to the US Census, the Asian population in the US has the fastest growth rate out of all ethnic groups as of 2012. This is a growing market, and tapping into it would be beneficial to any US business, including the business of film-making.

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Dear The BBC

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I am certain, so soon after proving that you can simulcast a popular show around the world, that fans of Sherlock in the US will wait patiently while you show the whole season in the UK before it even premieres in the US.

Yes, that is right - season 3 of Sherlock will be aired in a whirlwind two weeks before episode one is available in the US. 

Available legally, anyway.

Let me know how that works out for you.


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My story "Until It Fits" is now up (and free to read) at Crossed Genres magazine.

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I am pleased to announce that my story "Until It Fits" appears in this issue of Crossed Genres.   (Yes, that's a link to the story.)

There's two things to note about this story getting published.

First, it takes the mantle from "Rust" of having the longest lapse between writing the story and sale (five years) and number of submissions before being published (19).   Both stories were effectively rewritten a third of the way through through the number of submissions, so that's still an impressive number of submissions before getting a solid sale.  So when I laugh when you tell me a story has been rejected once or twice... well, that's why.

Second, the folks at Crossed Genres need our help.  They need to get more subscriptions so that they can keep buying quality fiction and paying good rates.  Subscriptions are rather inexpensive and convenient, so pick one up, yes?


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The Year Is Dead, Long Live The Year

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Welcome, folks, welcome.

This old thing?  Yup, it's a new year.  Got it on sale, I did.

No, I think it's still pretty good quality.

The old one?  Yeah, it was okay.  Some bad patches, some good patches - but it was, y'know?  It was, in all its glorious wonderful awful splendorous despair.  Or despairing splendor.  Whichever.

Look, it's gone.  It's over.  And now there's something new and shiny.  That's the way it goes.  Don't be upset that it's gone. 

It was an experience.  Yours.  Nobody else's.  Treasure it for that, not for how it measured up to anyone else's.

Be glad that it happened.

And now?

Now, my friends, I think we've only got one thing to say to this new year.

Let's start this thing up.

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