Another year older…

You might think that not needing to visit one’s mother in the hospital, or worse, would be cause for great rejoicing, for renewed purpose and accomplishment..but, then, you wouldn’t be me.  I’ve untangled a good many mysteries over the year, but I haven’t a clue why I so frequently react to good fortune by taking an emotional nose-dive.

Fortunately, I more-or-less know my way out of the hole…and I have designated “watchers” who tell me when it’s time to “do something.”  I listen to them, but the cycle takes time—usually about six weeks, when everyone’s paying attention.

Which was nice, because I was pretty much back up to speed by Dragon*Con, which was a great con this year—a true four-day circus.  The costumes are always dazzling but my favorite remains the young woman who’s recreated Carol Burnett’s “Gone with the Wind” get-up.  I passed her just outside the new sky-walk between the Marriott and the Hyatt, for which I was grateful – that’s not a costume you want to share an elevator with, or a crowded sky-walk.

I’m also pleased to report that the lizards are back!  Last winter’s two-plus weeks of unseasonably cold weather wreaked havoc with the local populations of little reptiles.  Overall, the cold was probably a GOOD THING, ‘cause it hit the exotics harder than it hit the natives, but I lost the collection of little yellowish lizards—geckos, actually, I think, maybe—that lived in my stairwell and kept the mosquitoes out of my condo.  Things got so bad this spring that I seriously considered hanging a net over my bed.  Even running the ceiling fan full-speed all night wasn’t enough to keep them off me while I slept!  I scoured the Internet, thinking maybe I could buy a breeding pair; no luck.  Then, about a month ago, I spotted one scurrying along the back wall when I pulled into my parking space and a few days after that I spotted one over the front door.  Now…if only we have a milder winter…

Work on the Black Flame rewrite stalled while I wandered the dark side of the sun.  I’m hoping to get back to it.  It’s the most frustrating of my books; I probably should have waited to digitize it…and I may yet change focus.  Daughter of the Bright Moon was my first story and it pretty much flowed from my imagination to paper without much conscious intervention.   When I wrote the Black Flame I was trying to BE a writer and I hadn’t gotten the hang of it.  I wish I’d had more editorial input (input I got for The Guardians, btw).  Maybe I need to jack up the title and run a whole new story in underneath….

And yesterday was my birthday….many thanks to everyone who took note.  I went out to dinner with friends (Sally, Gail, Suzanne, and Michael) at Leesburg’s only up-scale, downtown restaurant, then we all went to see Guys and Dolls at The Melon Patch, Leesburg’s only functioning theater.  Sally does the choreography for some the Patch’s musicals and since it’s true community theater there’s no predicting who’s going to show up for auditions.  This time they got lucky (luck was a lady….) and there was actual dancing and acting up on the stage!

Long ago I saw my godfather act in a production of Guys and Dolls.  I can’t remember whether he was Nicely Nicely Johnson or Nathan Detroit, but I fell in love with the play.  It was a treat to see it again, and on my birthday, too.  Of course, now I’ve got those Damon Runyon cadences running through my mind…Worse than an endless chorus of “It’s a Small World”

Anyway..I’m back for another year.

Keeping busy…

I’ve added new photo galleries at my Picasa niche – two galleries to be precise: one of the Emerald Princess where Elaine and my parents and I stayed for a week and the other with some pictures of the places we visited.  I think I’ve got the album-creation and picture-upload  processes figured out now, so there shouldn’t be as much of a delay.  I’ll put together an Emerald Princess post to give the pictures some context (at least, I hope I will…write the post, that is.  I’ve somehow wound up with two not-my-computers to lay hands on in the next twenty-four hours and much will be depend on how troublesome they prove to be.)

I’ve also gotten my GoodReads page back up-to-date with my recent and current reading.  (I should probably list my Daughter of the Bright Moon and Wooden Sword in the read and currently reading shelf lists.  I’m truly on a tour of memory lane these days).

And, speaking of Wooden Sword….if the storm brewing outside doesn’t evolve into “severe weather,” I should finish digitizing that novel today…then on to proofreading.  Few things are quite as futile as proof-reading my own prose.  Elaine’s already spotted a dozen or so typos and worse that I missed in the Daughter files I put up last week, so there’ll be file revisions coming there.  OTOH, when I last checked, Samuel Delany is still finding typos in Dahlgren, three decades after the fact.

All Things Rifkind…

I think I’ve figured out how to take advantage of Wordpress’s “Category” function to create discussion pages for my books…

Just make a comment to this message….I’ll turn the comment into a post which will magically reappear below this post and stay here and serve as an anchor for an open-ended discussion thread.

Sort of an interactive FAQ

More Daughter of the Bright Moon…

Having spoken with quite a few Kindle users in the last few weeks, I’ve come to recognize the importance of downloadable FREE samples of books offered for sale.

There’s no way that I can replicate the seductive power of Kindle’s WhisperNet, but I have prepped a free sample of Daughter of the Bright Moon.  I’ve uploaded it to Box.com and you can download it from them by following this link.  I’ve added the same link to by product page at Closed Circle  — (here’s the product-page link ) and I’ve added it to my Biblography/1st Chapters page here on the blog (1st chapter link)

The box.com file is a zip file that contains the PDF, PRC, and EPUB versions of the first chapter, since these are by far the most popular formats….not to mention the easiest ones to create.

I make no rash promises, but it’s my short-term goal (now that I’ve written three pages of notes on the eBook-file-creation process) to create samples for all the books in the Bibliography/1st Chapters page, even those that are not likely to show up on Closed Circle (I’ve done a fair amount of “work for hire” over the years and getting the rights to produce ebooks of those novels is going to be a challenge.  Better, I think, to concentrate on the books I do have the rights to, at least until I’ve run out of them ;-)

Daughter of the Bright Moon

I make these pacts with myself, like no blogging or knitting until I finish re-editing Daughter of the Bright Moon and get it uploaded to Closed Circle.  Then life happens, Daughter lingers, and Face of Chaos languishes.

No more!

Just before midnight EDT (and sometimes I think I’m the only living soul who isn’t just thrilled that Daylight Savings Time starts so early now and last so very long….like we need more summer in Florida) and with Jane’s inestimable help, Daughter of the Bright Moon magically appeared on the virtual shelves of Closed Circle.  It’s for sale…here!

It’s even got a new cover that I assembled myself

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Assembled being the operative word.  Unlike Jane and CJ, I’m not much of a visual artist.  My new cover started with an image that had been the chapter heading for Daughter’s original ACE edition.  Usually authors don’t have the rights to any of the artwork associated with their books, but the chapter heading is an exception….and a story in itself.

I was living in Ann Arbor, MI when I sold Daughter to Jim Baen at ACE, but I hadn’t been living there long and before that I’d lived in New York City.  In NYC, I worked in the home office of Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., located at 1 Madison Ave.  The ACE offices were right around the corner, on E25th St, as I recall.  (Like many new authors, I made the ritual pilgrimage to visit my editor in his office once the contracts had been signed and he took me out for the ritual editorial dinner at a very nice restaurant near the ACE offices, which went somewhat awry when the maitre’d recognized me from my MetLife days but didn’t recognize Jim at all….but I digress.)

Anyway, I worked for MetLife largely because my dad worked for MetLife.  He wasn’t based in the home office, but he knew his way around 1 Madison Ave. and when he learned where his daughter’s publisher was located, he paid them a visit.  The first, and perhaps only, time that an author’s father paid a surprise visit to the ACE offices.  He asked lots of questions and, remarkably, got a good many answers, including the name of the artist who’d be doing the interior illustrations.

I don’t think anyone expected that he and my mom would drive to New Jersey to visit Steve Fabian to see how those illustrations were progressing…then, again, they didn’t know my dad all that well.  Steve flat-out confessed that he’d never had an author visit his studio, much less an author’s parents.  Fortunately for all concerned, by the time of the visit, the ACE art department had returned the illustrations.  My dad bought two of them, framed them, and gave them to me for Christmas; they hang on the wall not ten feet from where I’m sitting right now.  But Steve gave my dad the chapter illo, with reproduction rights included.  I’ve used it on my business cards and stationery every since, and I’m very happy to see it, at long last, on Daughter’s cover.

Pronoun Problems (Macmillan Again)

The kerfluffle has gone another round.  John Sargent, CEO at Macmillan, has penned an open letter to Macmillan authors and illustrators, with a CC to literary agents.

Already I’m confused.  All agents?  Just those agents with clients at Macmillan?  There is a difference.  But, since I’m definitely a Macmillan author, whose Amazon buttons have yet to reappear, I kept reading…

Over the last few years we have been deeply concerned about the pricing of electronic books. That pricing, combined with the traditional business model we were using, was creating a market that we believe was fundamentally unbalanced.  In the last three weeks, from a standing start we have moved to a new business model. We will make less money on the sale of e books, but we will have a stable and rational market. To repeat myself from last Sunday’s letter, we will now have a business model that will ensure our intellectual property will be available digitally through many channels, at a price that is both fair to the consumer and that allows those who create and publish it to be fairly compensated.

About that “we,” Mr. Sargent….  Exactly who are the “we” who’ve been deeply concerned, who’ve moved from a standing start to a new business model in just three weeks!?  I assumed, through the first four sentences, that “we” was “you”—corporate Macmillan—rather than “us”—because why else would you be sending me a letter.

Then I hit the fifth sentence:  …”our intellectual property”…

I checked, just to make certain, but there it is on the title page verso – copyright 2006 / Lynn Abbey.  Rifkind’s Challenge is MY intellectual property.  It is licensed to Macmillan/TOR under a contract that sometimes feels like indentured servitude (or maybe like the old Hollywood studio/contract system).  License is not quite the same as ownership.

But, by golly, they’re going to be fair to “those who create.”

These are the good guys?

Is it any wonder I’m confused…and just a teeny bit skeptical?

Back in the Dark Ages—the mid 70s, the post Star-Wars period when Hollywood started optioning SF—the wise words were: Get all your money up front; and if that doesn’t work never, ever take a share of net anything, especially profits.

So, now I’m back to thinking about that Wall Street Journal article I linked to few days back.  Macmillan’s got the same problem…a problem they can partially solve by sweetening current/future contracts and then offering to sprinkle the same sweetner on old contracts…all in the name of fairness….toward the creators of their intellectual property.

Yeah, there are going to be problems. Somebody’s going to have to come up with the publishing equivalent of United Artists.  UA didn’t change the game because they won an anti-trust suit against the system; they did it by beating the system at its own game