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If you cannot buy my books, remember: libraries are awesome

I’ve seen a couple of posts going around this week that indicate there’s apparently a conversation going on in the writing blogosphere re: book pirating, why people do it, and such. In particular, I’ve seen these two posts:

Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me, by Sarah Madison

This is why we can’t have nice things…, by A.J. Downey

And I wanted to call attention to these, because they both highlight a thing that I feel is very important to keep in mind about writers–not only indie or hybrid writers like myself, but writers in general.

Namely: most writers don’t actually make that much money.

People are sometimes surprised when they hear I have a full-time day job, in addition to working on my novels. The reason for this? Writers don’t make much money. For the record, in any given month, I do well if I pull in enough off my novels for a decent sushi dinner. And as near as I can tell, based on what I hear semi-regularly from other indies, the fact that I can regularly manage about a dozen sales a month is pretty good.

Please remember, though, that most of those sales are for my ebooks. And that my ebooks are $2.99 usually for the novels, and $0.99 for the short stories, and I do not make back the full price unless people buy them directly from me without going through any of the ebook sales sites, or even my Square store. So for any given ebook sale, making about two bucks on the novels, and pennies on the short stories.

On the Carina titles, it’s less. Because I worked with a publisher there, and they get their cut of the sale, too.

Even if I’d been traditionally published on any of these titles, chances would still be high that I would not make much money. I know multiple traditionally published SF/F authors who’ve had their series collapse out from under them due to lack of sales. And I also know of multiple SF/F authors, pretty big names even, who’ve written for years before they’ve been able to bail on their day jobs.

And if the biggest name genre writers, the ones who get advances for the books that’re actually showing up on bookstore shelves, have to struggle to reach the point where they can support themselves with their writing… you can imagine how much more difficult it must be for the smaller names to pull it off.

So yeah. This is one of the reasons why I do in fact keep a full-time day job. Because I don’t make enough on writing to cover the costs of paying for cover art, or for editing services, or for actually printing physical copies of my indie novels. The day job lets me do this, and lets me also afford to go to conventions so that I can sell these books I’m writing.

But here’s the thing: I also had a childhood in which my family was, to put it succinctly, not well off. So I remember what it’s like to not have extra money to spare for things like oh, say, books. Even if they’re very inexpensive books. I get that.

If you’re someone who can’t spare a few bucks on an ebook, though, and you’d like to read my stuff, I’d like to strongly encourage you to contact your local library and ask them if they’d consider purchasing my titles. Some actually have, and I’ll be putting up a page to highlight which library systems are in fact known to carry either the Rebels books, the Free Court books, or both.

And if you’re local to Seattle, I certainly wouldn’t object if people contacted either the Seattle Public Library OR the King County Library System and asked for my stuff!

That way everybody wins. I get a cut of the sale to the library. You get to read my stuff. And other patrons of the library ALSO get to read my stuff!

ALSO: if you do contact your local library to ask them about buying me, mention to them that my titles are available via Overdrive. You can find the Rebels books on Overdrive here. And you can find my indie titles (Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, and both of the short stories) here.

As always, thanks to all for your support! Let me know if you have any questions!


Works in progress update!

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so here’s a roundup of all my various works in progress and what their status is. In order of work priority:

  1. Collection of novellas owed to 2012 Kickstarter backers, now entitled Walk the Wards. This collection is going to contain four stories: the psychic story currently tentatively titled “A Power in the Blood” (although I’m not entirely happy with that title); the tuba player story; Caitlin and Gabien’s intro story in St. John’s; and, most importantly to anyone who’s read Bone Walker now, an accounting of what happened to Jude in Faerie during that book. I’m about 21,000 total words in on this, which involves the first of the stories being finished, and the other three being simultaneously worked on. The rest of the stories also need titles, and I don’t have them yet.
  2. Queen of Souls. I have received edits back from my editor on this and will be going over them in depth once the novellas are done, or at points when I’m having writer’s block and need something else to do. Right now though my ability to be creative is being more inspired by doing new words, and the novellas ARE still owed and seriously overdue, so they are higher on the queue.
  3. As of yet untitled Book 3 of the Free Court of Seattle series. Actual words have begun being thrown at this, but I have not yet made it out of Chapter 1. New word priority is going to the novellas for now.
  4. Shake the Light, Millicent’s origin story novel for the Warder universe. I have not yet begun actual work on this, past writing out a brief synopsis. This may move further up the queue if events warrant (and by events, I mean, whether or not my agent decides she wants to rep it). Further immediate work on this will probably be along the lines of writing a longer synopsis in case the agent wants it.
  5. Mirror’s Gate, a standalone high fantasy set in the same universe as the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy. Recent work on this involves having ported it finally into Scrivener so that I could re-evaluate it, and see about progressing further on planning it. I’m two chapters and change in on it.
  6. Child of Ocean, Child of Stars, another standalone SFR, starring versions of characters ported out of my days on AetherMUSH: Kaiulani and Benja. This is the story set on an ocean world, where a young telepath has to be the focal point of humanity’s first contact with a shapeshifting, ocean-dwelling species–all while also investigating while a mysterious companion from her childhood might also be the answer to an unsolved double disappearance that has hung over the entire first contact effort. Three chapters and change in on this. Recently ported into Scrivener for re-evaluation.
  7. Shards of Recollection, standalone SFR starring versions of old MUSH characters of mine, Shenner and Tance, ported into an original story. I have a Draft Zero version of this that went in about four chapters before I hit a wall and decided the story needed restructuring, including possibly a different title. Has recently been ported into Scrivener.

And now also, future projects bubbling around in my brain which will eventually receive some planning attention:

  1. A new trilogy in the Warder universe that follows up what I’m laying down in Kendis and Christopher’s story arc, and will pick up with certain critical events involving their grandchildren. Things warned of in Bone Walker will be happening in this storyline, and it will essentially be near-ish-future urban fantasy. This will also require some major planning as I’ll need to extrapolate what I want to do to the world in general as well as with Kendis and Christopher’s family line in particular.
  2. A potential sequel to the Rebels of Adalonia books that would involve several potential followups to what happened in that trilogy: what happens when Faanshi and Julian go to Tantiulo and discover certain hidden portions of Tantiulo’s history that that country really, really doesn’t want Adalonia to know; development of the romance between the new Bhandreid Margaine, and her advisor/ambassador to the elves–Kestar Vaarsen; exploration of the elves attempting to re-establish a homeland; and possible attempts to overthrow Margaine. Generally, it’d be a story about what happens in the turmoil following the massive upheaval in Adalonia following the events of the previous books. Could be a standalone book, could be a trilogy. No planning or words have been done on this yet, but it’s in the back of my brain as a possible project.
  3. Potential sequels to Queen of Souls, because I’m not entirely sure I’m done with that storyline yet. There is potential to be mined in what happens to Hecate and Hermes as a result of the events of Queen of Souls, and I am also sorely tempted by having Aphrodite and Artemis making important on-camera appearances. Possibly while being very, very pissed off at one another. Muaha.
  4. A potential Warder universe story that expands upon a snippet of flash fiction that I posted to the Here Be Magic blog a while back, over here. Mostly because I’d like to figure out who exactly Lillian Hathaway and Merekir are, and what their story is.

I have a lot here to keep me busy, I think! More bulletins as events warrant! What on this list sounds interesting to you?


About Apple Music, edge cases, and functionality failures

This blog post link is going around today, in which the writer describes how he signed up for the Apple Music subscription service–and it promptly torched all local music files on his hard drive, including stuff he’d downloaded directly from artists’ websites, and stuff he’d recorded himself.

And I’m seeing a bunch of people on my social media feeds instantly leaping to the conclusion that iTunes and Apple must suck in general, and that OHNOEZ APPLE IS EVIL!!!! Which, no. That’s not a justified conclusion.

Because this isn’t an iTunes issue–I know a bunch of people who’ve told me that iTunes has caused them a bunch of headaches, but this isn’t actually iTunes’ fault. This is Apple Music’s fault.

For those of you who aren’t Apple users, Apple Music is not the same thing as iTunes. It’s their music streaming subscription service, akin to Pandora or Rhapsody. The entire idea here is supposed to be that it can give you access to all of your music on all your computers and devices. Nice idea in theory, but in actual practice, it’s an implementation nightmare–if you’re one of the people falling into the edge case that that blog post describes. A whole bunch of users of the service are never going to have this problem, since they’re probably buying their music from the iTunes store regardless, and that’s the userbase Apple’s trying to target here.

But if you do fall into that set of edge case users, if you’re somebody who frequently buys your music from other sources (say, directly from artists on Bandcamp), and even rarer, if you’re somebody who records your own music and you’ve got that on your computer along with stuff you’ve bought commercially… then yes, this is a huge problem.

What’s happened here is that this particular guy fell into that edge case, and it revealed that Apple’s failure to gracefully handle the problem is a spectacular failure indeed.

But at the end of the day this is still just a spectacular functionality failure, not a sign that OHNOEZ APPLE IS EVIL AND IS GOING TO STEAL MY MUSIC. And I’m not saying this just because I’m a generally loyal Apple user who thinks Apple can do no wrong. This is a spectacular failure and I’m absolutely willing to call it out as such–in no small part because I’m also a QA engineer in my day job, and I am now cringing at the thought of how their QA people must have reacted to this edge case before the service shipped.

What is an edge case? Let me explain by telling you a bit about how a software development cycle works. It goes kind of like this.

  1. The Powers that Be in a software company says to their engineers, “we want a feature that does X”.
  2. The engineering team goes “okay, we’ll do X!” They start doing some designs as to what the feature will look like, and drawing up a specification for the details of how the feature should work.
  3. There’s often some debate between designers, developers, and QA (quality assurance) as to what can and cannot be implemented to make the feature work as requested.
  4. A schedule is worked out as to how long it will take to do the work. A target release date is settled upon.
  5. Developers build the feature and start handing pieces of it off to QA so QA can test it and make sure it actually works as requested, according to the designs and specs.
  6. QA files a bunch of bugs about anything that’s broken.
  7. Development fixes those bugs.
  8. QA verifies that the reported bugs have been fixed.
  9. Repeat until the release date is achieved.

Now, sometimes QA will find issues with a feature that are problematic, but only for a small likely percentage of users. This is called an edge case.

When that happens, the team as a whole has to decide whether it’s appropriate to spend time fixing that edge case, even if QA has already said that this is going to be a problem for X number of users. Even if it’s a serious problem. If the problem only affects a small number of people, then some decisions have to get made as to how the team will proceed.

Sometimes they’ll say, “We can’t code a solution for this edge case because if we do, it’ll keep us from shipping on time and we’ll have to swing back around and fix it later”. And sometimes they do just that. But sometimes “later” never happens. Sometimes teams decide that they just can’t spare the time to fix that edge case, because they have other higher priority work they have to be doing and they don’t have enough people on the team to do everything.

Problem is, sometimes that edge case they didn’t fix will come back to bite its creators in the ass. This is one of those times.

Remember, folks: computer software is written by people. People are fallible. Therefore your software is, every so often, going to fuck up. Sometimes it’s going to fuck up spectacularly. This does not mean that the creators of that software are evil. It just means they’re people.

But at the same time, if a spectacular failure like this happens to you, you’re totally justified in being upset. It’s absolutely frustrating when you lose a bunch of your personal data like that. Certainly if I’d been in the shoes of the blogger I’m linking to above, I’d have been equally pissed off.

Just try to remember if you can that the people who made that software on your computer are still people just like you. They’re really, really not out to destroy your data personally. “Let’s destroy all our users’ data” really doesn’t work as a successful business plan, after all.

Also remember: for gods’ sakes, do backups. If you’re a Mac owner, Time Machine should already be doing this for you. If you’re a PC or Linux user, and you’re not already running regular backups, find out NOW how you can do so. And regardless of what kind of computer you use, if you have super-critical data like personal creative output you’ve done, do extra backups of that stuff.

For example, all of my writing work, in addition to getting backed up by Time Machine, lives on my Dropbox account so that I have backup copies of that not only separate from my computer, but also separate to my house network. If you’re a creative person of any stripe–artist, writer, musician, whatever–I strongly encourage you to consider similar strategies for your creative output.

For more on this, I direct y’all over to Dara’s post on this topic, too. She’s got some in-depth analysis of why Apple chose to implement the Music service this way, and how she and others at the time it rolled out complained about this very edge case. Worth reading if you want a more technical look at how this all works.


Windstorm forecast for tomorrow night, site outage likely

Heads up to anyone who didn’t already see me post this on social media this afternoon: we have a windstorm forecast for tomorrow, and there’s already a High Wind Warning up with some details. We’re talking potential gusts up to 70mph in late afternoon and early evening.

And y’all know what this means: probable power outage at the Murkworks. Which will in turn impact the availability of my and sites, Dara’s, and all other websites, mailing lists, and other resources that we host. So please be advised that chances are VERY high that we’ll lose power some time tomorrow.

Dara and I will post the usual alerts if this happens. Apologies in advance for anyone who might try to visit my site over the next 24-48 hours, if I do indeed go down!

(And apologies for anyone who tries to come by this afternoon when I was also down. We lost power TODAY too, but that was apparently due to downed trees that took out power in Kenmore for about 1,200 customers. Trees that were, I suspect, weakened by this past Wednesday night’s storm. Ah, the joys of living in the PNW in March!)

If you’re local, I recommend battening down all the hatches, and stocking up on ice for your coolers and batteries for your flashlights. Tomorrow could get tricky.


General reminder about audiobook editions of my books

I received a very nice little holiday card from friend and reader Kaye. Thank you, Kaye! In it, she notes that she’d love to see/hear audiobook editions of my books in 2016.

General public reminder: there IS an audiobook edition of Valor of the Healer, though so far sales of Vengeance and Victory have not yet warranted Carina shelling out to do audio books of those. If you think they should, best thing I can recommend is that you go buy those ebooks and encourage others to do so. And, of course, buy the audiobook edition of Valor and show Carina that there is a demand for this. You can find the audiobook editions of Valor on Audible/Amazon and iTunes. Check the Valor of the Healer page–you’ll see Audible listed on the “Buy the Book” button at the top, and all of the various places I know about on the “Buy the Audiobook” button down at the bottom.

Meanwhile: if there is interest out there for audiobook editions of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, note that this WOULD be something I’d need to shell out for in order to hire a proper narrator. While it would be theoretically possible for Dara and I to do it ourselves with the equipment we have available in Dara’s studio, we learned from doing even those three-minute excerpts for the Bone Walker soundtrack that that kind of work is very time consuming and intensive. And I do not have the time to do full book-length audio editions myself, not when I also have a full time day job AND need to actually, y’know, write and stuff.

And before I can consider a Kickstarter to raise funds to do audiobook editions of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, I REALLY need to clear my prior Kickstarter obligations first. So audiobooks in 2016, not really feasible. 2017…. maybe.

If there is enough interest. So if anyone reading this might be interested in supporting audiobook editions of the Free Court of Seattle books, talk to me. If you want more audio of the Rebels of Adalonia books, go talk to Carina!



Dara and I have been having to conduct critical unscheduled maintenance of our mail server today. This was precipitated by getting a voice mail from Comcast this morning asking us to call them, and noting a risk of possible cessation of our service. I went “WUT?” and called them, and was informed they’d noticed one of our machines carrying out DDoSes.

To which Dara and I both went “WUT?!” And after we thanked Comcast for the heads up, Dara moved forward with completely flattening the box so we could do a brand new clean install with the latest version of Debian Linux. (We were going to do some dist upgrades anyway over this forthcoming winter holiday, but this just escalated the priority.)

And we went down to Frys this afternoon to get a new hard drive and power supply too, since the box was down anyway. We’re both rather impressed that the hard drives previously in newmoon had dated back to 2004 (whoa) and 1998 (WHOA!). And we’ve brought home a new drive that’s acres more space than we had on newmoon before, not to mention much quieter. So the server room should have a significant reduction in noise now.

BUT. This also means we’ve had the server out all day, and it should be down probably for the rest of the evening. Hopefully it’ll be back up by tomorrow, but operating system upgrades can be dicey. So don’t be terribly surprised if we’re not up tomorrow morning.

ALSO: this impacts only our mail server. So the mailing lists we host (notably the LexFA list and the Filk list) are down, and users who have mail accounts on our system won’t be able to use those accounts till newmoon is back up. Web services are unaffected.

Please let Dara and me know if you have any questions, and watch her and my accounts for further updates!


Need audiobook recs for iOS! Anybody?

So by and large I’m almost entirely happy with the new releases of iOS 9 and El Capitan. I’ve seen significant performance improvements on both my laptop and my mobile devices. But there’s one big pain point with me still, and that’s Apple deciding in its infinite wisdom to punt audiobooks out of Music on iOS and over into iBooks.

You could argue either way about where audiobooks actually belong. That’s not the part that pisses me off. The part that pisses me off is that since the vast majority of audiobooks I have are the full-cast audio Doctor Who adventures from Big Finish, I’ve set up a bunch of playlists so that Dara and I can listen to these in release sequence when we’re on trips. So, for example, I’ve got a “Fourth Doctor Season 1”, “Fourth Doctor Season 2”, etc.

Now, as of iOS 9, the playlists I’d set up don’t sync to my phone anymore. Even though I’d set them to do that. And since iBooks is not set up to deal with playlists, this means I have no way whatsoever to recreate that ordered sequence and to be able to know which adventure Dara and I should listen to next.

I see a few different things I can try to do to deal with this, none of which are optimal.

One: Rename all the audio adventures so that it’s obvious what the listening sequence should be.

Two: Get into the settings on each adventure and change the media type to ‘Music’ so they’ll show up in the Music app. Which would also lose me the ability to keep track of where I left off listening to any given adventure, which is after all THE ENTIRE POINT of my downloading them from Big Finish in audiobook form to begin with.

Three: Keep a running list of the listening sequence in Notes or in a file on Dropbox. In other words, an externally managed playlist, which, again, I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO BECAUSE I HAD THAT FUNCTIONALITY ALREADY GRR.

Four: Find a third-party app to manage my audiobooks if possible.

I’m willing to pay for a third-party app if a good one exists. Failing that, I’m probably going to grumpily keep a running list in Notes as to what the listening sequence should be, since that seems like the least amount of effort involved.

But does anybody out there know of good audiobook managers for iOS? Sing out if you do! And if you’re also an audio listener on iOS, you might consider going to Apple’s feedback page for iBooks on iOS and expressing your displeasure how they’ve broken things.