A “Real” Book

My first paper book: “Fuzzy Words: The Con Fluff Collection,” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

It has always been my goal to create a paper book.  Thewriting problem with doing so is that my short stories are so short that I had to accumulate a pretty good number of them (27 in all) in order to have a book of reasonable length printed.

Naturally, I encountered a bit of a learning curve in publishing something physical.  In the digital world, there is no concern about margins and fonts and all of that stuff, because the screen that your book is going to be read on may be of any size and the reader can adjust the text font and text size to their liking.  In the print world, you have bleeds and gutters and covers and inches and all sorts of things that need to be done the right way.

Things have certainly changed for the better:  Way back when, if you wanted to print a paper book on your own, you had to go through a vanity publisher, which meant paying to have a few hundred (or thousand!) copies printed.  This meant that you took a big risk of being stuck with boxes of books that nobody wanted to buy.  Thanks to modern print-on-demand technology, paperbacks can be printed as they’re ordered, so just like in the e-book world, your cost of entry is nearly zero, save for the purchase of proof copies.

I gave both CreateSpace and NookPress a try, and ended up going with CreateSpace because of their expanded distribution options.  Also their books seemed to be of higher quality and they offered a better discount to authors purchasing their own copies.

A funny thing happened as I showed friends my print proofs; I repeatedly got this ‘so you’re a real writer now’ vibe (and a comment or two) from them.  Never mind that I’ve published quite a few digital ones.  Oh well, what can you do?

In any event, now that I’ve finished my first one, I can’t wait to do another!

Adventures in Self-Publishing : Cover Stories

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It’ll do

I am not a visual person by any stretch of the imagination.

When I was in college studying computer science back in the 90’s, people would occasionally ask me if I could make websites for them.  The conversation would go something like this:

Person: “Can you make a website for me?”
Me: “Yeah, I can code one, but it’s going to look like a computer guy made it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s going to look terrible.”
So yeah, I didn’t make any websites.

Given that I’m self-aware of my lack of design sense, I don’t know what possessed me to make my own book covers when I started self-publishing short story collections.  It comes even more perplexing considering that I knew artists that could do quality artwork.  Ego may have had something to do with it; the notion of doing everything on my own.  Maybe I didn’t want to pay for art at the time.  Whatever the reason, I figured some text on a solid color background would be good enough.  I did three covers like that, and it honestly only worked for The Rules of Tech Support.

cf1cover

A picture! Yay!

I like to think I made the most of my limited skills with my Nine to Five Lives ‘clock face,’ but that may have been too clever for its own good considering its low sales (it’s free now!).

At that point I figured it was time to get some actual artwork done.  My friend Damon Cone provided some artwork for Con Fluff 1, which I used to make a faux ‘con badge.’  I thought about making similar ones as promotional items for the book.  That never happened, but it remains an interesting idea for future use.  The character on the cover is me, which seems a little conceited, but at the same time, why the heck not?

cf2cover

SO PRETTY

I commissioned an artist friend who goes by Padunk for Con Fluff 2 and she knocked it out of the park.  She was also kind enough to put the title text on the artwork, which made it look really nice.  Future volumes have also featured artwork, and with the exception of The Rules of Tech Support, most of my collections featuring my early awful covers have been put off-sale, though you can still see them here.

While I have been happy with all of the artwork (Faeries, Fantasies, and Furries is another favorite) there are a few that need a do-over:  As the first book in the series, I don’t want to pull Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, but it does need a facelift.  Funny Animals, Funny People kind-of works, but I have a better concept in mind I’d like to see for it.  I took the easy way out with Fuzzy Words by plastering a picture into the middle of a (wait for it) solid colored background.

I’ve since commissioned new cover art for the printed version of Fuzzy Words from an artist named TinyBunner.  After spending the day arguing with CreateSpace I think everything is ready to go for printed copies.  I’m very excited at the prospect of having an actual printed book, but that’s a post for another day.

Working My Way To the Top (of the page)

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Bottom, bottom, bottom…

I forget which short story collection I was working on and discussing with a friend, but he posed an interesting question as we were chatting:

Why is your name always at the bottom of your covers?  Shouldn’t it be on the top?

While I may not completely produce my own covers anymore (for the better, as you can likely tell) I do place the text atop the artwork.  The decision to de-emphasize myself was a conscious one and I did it for a very simple reason:

Nobody knows who I am.

It’s a harsh thing to admit, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If I put “Eduardo Soliz” on the top of a cover, a potential reader might think that the book is about a guy with that name, or they might even think it’s in Spanish.  Either way, my name (right now, at least) is not a very big selling point.

Stephen King and James Patterson and those guys, yeah, they can put their names up top because people will recognize then as authors who’s work they enjoy so they’ll be more inclined to pick up a book with their name on top and buy it.

Someday, I’ll be ‘big enough’ to have the nerve to put my name at the top of the page, but until then, I’ll have to play second fiddle to the books themselves.

Then again, maybe that’s how it should be!

92 Things I Noticed at Texas Furry Fiesta 2015

profu

Don’t spill the Chemical X!

Texas’ only furcon, Furry Fiesta, took place last weekend from Feb 20-22 and I had a ball.  So, without fur-ther ado:

    1. PRE-TRIP/THURSDAY: Never been on a 4-day trip that didn’t involve a tent before, time to upgrade my luggage.
    2. Nothing like that ‘did I forget to pack anything’ feeling, luckily there’s a Wally Martinez (Wal-Mart) near the hotel.
    3. Weight on Thursday morning: 267 Hope I don’t spend half the event pulling up my pants like at PAX South.
    4. Then again, that wouldn’t be so terrible 😉
    5. Thing I almost forgot #1-Nintendo 3DS, Thanks, Oscar!
    6. Thing I almost forgot #2-Cologne. Insert joke about ‘no female furries’ here
    7. Thing I almost forgot #3- Apparently my insurance card expired last October.  Oops!
    8. Thing I did forget #1: Ballcap for my Soos cosplay. Doh!
    9. Didn’t drink caffeine in purpose on the way up, finally had to succumb and stop at the Czech Stop for a soda.
    10. And some kolaches.  Mmm, good!
    11. New duffel bag has wheels…I feel so WHITE rolling it around.
    12. I was recognized by someone in the reg line and couldn’t figure out who it was until I heard his furry name.
    13. Felt honored to call Nuka “Doctor” for the first time.  Congrats!
    14. Room is on the 9th floor. Well, I did say I needed exercise XP
    15. Full-color conbook!  Is niiiice!
    16. A friend said the conbook was in color last year but I didn’t care because I didn’t have a story in it
    17. Yay, a fridge in the room…already stocked with overpriced items…BOO
    18. Karma FTL: Joked about the first guy in reg line being their guinea pig, then I ended up being the guinea pig when I upgraded to Super Sponsor.
    19. Prediction: Lots of angel dragons this year.
    20. Private joke: Wolfboy was denied chocolate chip waffles at Waffle House, dude just has bad luck with chocolate.
    21. Waffle House was great!  Now I have another place to stop at when I’m in Austin.
    22. Bad timing though, we bought a total of 15 people there and there were only 2 workers.
    23. They did an admirable job, though!
    24. FRIDAY: Had to get the genuine Waffle House experience the next morning after we swamped them on Thursday night.
    25. Bought a clip-on tie for a cosplay thinking it would be quicker, but it’s more trouble than a real one >.<
    26. Cap or ears with cosplay? Ears, of course.  Ignore #8
    27. It says something when Wally Martinez runs out of bags!
    28. Dafuzz is up with no trash cans on the first floor of the hotel?
    29. The magic is routinely being broken here. I has a sad.
    30. Feel funny hanging my ears on my rear view mirror like they’re fuzzy dice or something.
    31. Semi-retired my ears until I figure out a better way to wear them.
    32. “I’m sleepy” “Drink some coffee” “I don’t drink coffee” “There’s no better time to start!”
    33. Took a quick peek in the adult section of the art auction, funny how the quality of the art dropped a little.
    34. The Corral sends to be much improved this year.
    35. I gave away paper copies of one of my books to a few folks and it felt good, I hope the recipients enjoy them.
    36. Had to abandon my lanyard because my badge was blocking my shirt…oh no, I’ve become one of THOSE cosplayers
    37. Two researchers at the con means two surveys to do. I haven’t had this much homework to do since college!
    38. Obligatory work-related item: Saw a tech-sounding name on a building and the first thought that popped in my head was “Are they hiring?”
    39. Got bumped in the head by a fursuiter at the Bucktown Tiger performance but it was okay, he was padded.
    40. I kinda want to knee people that carry speakers playing music in the nards.
    41. Learned some photography stuff from a ‘fur-tographer’ 😀

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      #41

    42. Heard someone use the phrase “home grown country boy.”  Is there any other kind?
    43. What is a fursuiter without a fursuit at a furry con? Very very sad.  Dude got better, though.
    44. Thing I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing: Tingle-styled zentai suit.  MY EYES
    45. Elevator-con didn’t happen for me, there were a few waits, but they were reasonable.  Kudos!
    46. SATURDAY: “I’m gonna dress as Professor Utonium” “Will you have three girls?” “No, but this is a con, they’ll be around” “Yeah but they won’t be girls” /facepaw
    47. When doing a panel, make it more about the topic, and less about you.
    48. Hell, at least have an outline.  The last time I went to a panel that was that bad it was held by teenagers.
    49. Heard a bird cawing outside, not sure if actual bird or attendee
    50. It says something when I sneeze in the hotel room and someone walking in the hall says “Bless you”
    51. New thing I’m not sure about: Someone had a friend do a badge of their ‘fruitsona.’
    52. Two people have referred to me as Uncle Kage. Not sure it’s complimentary
    53. After my camera battery conked out last year, I used my iPad mini to record the fursuit parade.
    54. …in landscape.  I didn’t want to be THAT guy again.
    55. Got to portray a not-very-nice executive during the voice over panel. That was easy.
    56. Nothing like that NOOOO moment when you realize your 3DS wifi has been off for the last few hours >.<
    57. Next time I think I’ll try a room at the hotel next door because reasons.
    58. Parking Idea: Paint one side of the parking barriers red so people know not to park next to them.
    59. Parking Idea #2: Take the back way through the overflow parking onto Quorum, much faster to get to Belt Line Road or the shopping center across the freeway
    60. Got fur-tobombed while getting my picture taken with a friend, lol
    61. Thing I forgot #2: Small ice chest to store/chill drinks
    62. Wore a lab coat for a costume on Saturday (see above) and kinda liked it, especially the pockets!
    63. SUNDAY:  Still no bags at Wal-Mart? Get it together, people!
    64. Awesome idea: Use cardboard priority mail envelopes from USPS for prints to keep them fresh and un-bent
    65. Boston Market’s 3-person meal could have easily fed 4 but SO GOOOD
    66. Whispered “I don’t read Gold Digger” to the Antarctic Press guy because Fred Perry was right there.
    67. I did buy (and enjoyed) two of his other comics and Furry Tales, though!
    68. Eyeball con: Some wag went around sticking googly eyes onto random things and apparently having pupils on fursuits is not cool anymore.
    69. I was right about the angel dragons, but the ‘no pupils for fursuits’ thing is a mite weird.
    70. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” got stuck in my head after hearing it during the jazz performance Saturday night
    71. That’s not a bad thing, BUT I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS >.<
    72. Whenever I see musicians play live, it makes me miss being in a band *sigh*
    73. Had an impromptu “Be Prepared” singing session in the car and realized I’d forgotten most of the words
    74. From Sunday afternoon afterwards the con was pretty cool, seemed like most of the hyperactive kids had left.
    75. MONDAY / POST-TRIP: Woke up Monday to see a layer of snow outside…CRAP
    76. Okay, ice. I’ve spent 99.999% of my life south of San Antonio and know not of such things 😛
    77. Got some neat “furries in the ice” pictures though!
    78. You don’t know which shoes are good for ice until you actualy have ICE
    79. Well at least I wasn’t wearing sandals.

      #78

      #79

    80. For being a small con, I didn’t see some folks on some days. Odd.
    81. Found a phone, how do we find the owner? Fursuit picture on the home screen of course!
    82. Drive home had a few harrowing moments at the start, but once we left Dallas things were fine.
    83. Still fuzzing cold, though; the Excelsior (my CR-V) still had ice on it when I got home.
    84. Took over 200 pictures during the con, holy cats!
    85. Bye bye, backpack, hello super-sponsor messenger bag.
    86. Not looking forward to seeing how many FA notifications I have pending.
    87. Or work emails for that matter.
    88. Aww #1: No calendar this year.
    89. Aww #2: Didn’t get to wear my “Do not feed the bears” shirt.
    90. Realization upon cleaning out backpack: I have way too many chargers and cables
    91. Weight on Tuesday morning: 268…so why are my pants so bleeping baggy?
    92. Saw a Krystal cosplayer and thought: “Hey, a place where Krystal CAN enjoy her sandwich!

Three Years and Many Words Ago…

meOn October 27, 2011, I uploaded One Sheet Stories to Amazon.com, which marked the beginning of my adventures in self-publishing.  Three years later, I have self-published a total of six e-books to the tubes so far: one non-fiction book and five super-short story collections.  My works can be found on Kindle, nook, iTunes, and Kobo.

Like many other creative persons, I hoped that my creations would be well received.  While the number of copies of One Sheet Stories that were sold that first year could be counted on one hand (it’s free now), my second book, The Rules of Tech Support, has sold over one hundred copies and was downloaded over four hundred times when I gave it away on Amazon.

One reason I write is in the hope that this endeavor can result in financial independence, but realistically it will take some doing.  I have received a small amount of royalties.  Not much, but enough for me to let Uncle Sam know, for what that’s worth.  There are definitely no plans for me to quit my day job anytime soon.  I have, however, gained knowledge from my successes and failures that I have begun to share with others.

I like to think that my writing has improved over those three years; the fact that I give away some of my earliest works for free now is a reflection on how rough some of those early stories were.  As evidenced by the slow start, I may have been a bit premature in attempting to sell my works.  If nothing else, I learned that I needed to package at least seven stories to justify the ninety-nine cent price tag.  Lessons learned and all that.

My attempts to sell paper copies of my books were met with what I can only describe as a fantastic level of indifference (insert lamenting about how ‘nobody reads anymore’ here), but the opportunity to spread the word about my work and talk to like-minded individuals have made up for the lack of financial success.  Luckily the financial costs are low and the potential for higher levels of success are there, so I press on.

Of course, there are things that I still need to work on; length in particular is something that still vexes me.  I have at least one idea for a novella that I would like to complete someday, but only a few partially finished chapters sit unloved on my hard drive.  I have also taken a few tentative steps towards writing different kinds of stories, but the majority of my works are still humorous (I hope).  Marketing is another challenge that I am looking forward to addressing in the future.

As I enter my fourth year of being a self-published author, I can only hope that as I write and publish more, I sell more and who knows, maybe someday I will get to really say ‘take this job and shove it’ for good.  As my fourth year begins, I have two follow-ups to The Rules of Tech Support in the works as well as another science fiction collection and of course, more furry stories.

Writing and publishing has been an adventure for me so far, and I hope that you (and many others!) will join me on what should be a fun ride in the years ahead.  Thanks for reading.

Earth-Mine

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When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe.  As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:

“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here.   I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).

“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries.  These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories.  For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.”  I know, I know!

On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth.  One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously.  Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated.  Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.

The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits.  For now, anyway.

I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up.  Well, assuming I haven’t already!  😀

Click here if you’d like to read some of those stories!

More Than Words

writingI have two projects that I haven’t been looking forward to working on, but carry on I must.  The first is a fiction story that involves the death of a character and the second is the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support.”

The reason I haven’t been looking forward to working on those projects is that working on stories that hit a little too close to home or that are sad can have an effect on me.  It may have happened before without my noticing it, but while working on a short story named “The Best Job In The World” for “Nine To Five Lives,” I noticed that I began feeling increasingly angsty at work.  I was even more angry and bitter than usual and it wasn’t until I finished the first draft of the story that I got over it.

I talked to a psychologist friend about it after the fact.  I asked him:  if reading fiction affects people in some way, wouldn’t writing it have an effect on those that write it as well?  He agreed, saying that something similar had happened to him when he was writing.

In all honesty, I think I am going to have a harder time writing the second tech support book.  While I can easily disconnect myself from a fictional character, I live tech support forty hours a week, which means I can probably look forward to being full of piss and vinegar for the next few weeks.  I could stop writing about work, but the insanity that the general public brings to the table is too rich of a vein of material to ignore.  I guess I’m stuck!