Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bradley P. Beaulieu Has Booked Passage

Back in April, I published a blog post highlighting my then current project: copy editing the crowdfunded short fiction collection, Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories, by Bradley P. Beaulieu (pronounced "Bowl-yer").

Well, that blog post was four months ago, and I now hold in my hand my contributor's copy of Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories, with cover art by Sang Han, and original black and white illos by Evgeni Maloshenkov that open each of the seventeen stories.

The book is a trade paperback, and the quality is as good as, if not better than, books published by any New York publisher. I'm quite impressed with this book, and pleased to have been a part of this crowdfunded project.

I want to thank Brad Beaulieu for providing me the opportunity to work on this project with him (Here's to hoping there will be others in the near future!) and for his kind words, which he shared with readers in the book's acknowledgements:
To Marty Halpern, you have my thanks for lending your keen eye to the three new stories, and then applying it again to the entire ms. This collection would have been riddled with errors without your help.

Aw, shucks. Thanks, Brad.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing

In memory of Elmore Leonard, crime novelist and screenwriter, October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013. During his sixty-year career, Leonard wrote nearly fifty novels, twenty-six of which were adapted for television or movies.

For all the details behind these Ten Rules of Writing, please read the author's Writers on Writing essay entitled "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle," published in the New York Times, on July 16, 2001.

(via Mashable.com)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Mensch by any other name...

The Urban Dictionary defines "Mensch" as:
...someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being "a real mensch" is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous. (Rosten, Leo. 1968. The Joys of Yiddish. New York: Pocket Books. 237)

* * * *

For those of you who have worked as freelancers for any length of time -- especially in the various genre fields -- you have most likely encountered a situation when your employer kills a project that you've worked on, or the employer files for bankruptcy, or, to avoid bankruptcy, is purchased by another entity. In my years of freelancing, I've encountered this twice: the demise of Realms of Fantasy magazine, published for a short time by Damnation Books, and the demise and sale of Night Shade Books.

When these unfortunate events happen, the freelancer is typically owed money and, most likely, not all of that money will ever be forthcoming. Some refer to the money that eventually does get paid as a "kill fee"; I prefer to call it a "screw fee." A kill fee comes from the magazine industry, and refers to, say, an article that is written and accepted, but then never published for some reason. The freelancer did the work, but the article is never used; thus the freelancer is typically paid a pre-defined percentage of the money owed. In my case the work was accepted AND used, and there was no pre-defined "kill fee" clause. I simply wasn't paid the full amount owed to me by either Damnation Books or the new Night Shade Books owners, Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing.

And though I would prefer to be paid fully for work performed (Wouldn't we all?), especially at the level of quality that I adhere to for all my projects, I understand that that is one of the risks in freelancing, especially in this business of independent publishers.

* * * *

So what do "mensch" and "kill/screw fees" have in common, you might wonder....

When Night Shade Books was sold, the new publishers owed me for four projects that I had completed between November 2012 and January 2013. Though I was paid only a small percentage of what was owed, on the bright side, something is always better than nothing.

Shortly thereafter I received an email from one of the four authors whose projects I had worked on. S/he asked me how much was owed to me for working on her/his project, because, s/he said, "I want to make it right with you." The author was planning on paying me with the money s/he received, per contract, from the new owners of Night Shade Books.

So, using the percentage of what I was paid versus what I was owed, I figured out the difference, and determined how much I was still owed for that one project.

I emailed the author back, and I quote: "I want you to know that I in no way expect any author to repay me any fees owed to me by Night Shade Books. My invoices are for work performed for Night Shade, not specifically for the author." But, of course, if s/he was determined to pay me what was owed on this specific project, I certainly wasn't going to turn down any money. Keep in mind that my work for Night Shade Books was a significant portion of my income, which has ceased to exist as of mid-January.

That email was sent to me on April 10; on July 23 I received emails from both the author and PayPal that a payment had been made to me.

Now that is what a "Mensch" is. And the author? Well, that's between me and her/him, but saying "thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Colorscreen: Sunrise

For those of you who are Android freaks and geeks you probably know about the website mycolorscreen.com. And if not, you really need to check this out. On this site I have seen some of the most incredible Android home screens, especially those in which the individual has used PhotoShop to make custom wallpapers and icons. I just shake my head and say "Wow!"

Anyhow, pictured here is my home screen on my Google Nexus 7, which I have titled "Sunrise."

Now for the details, which will undoubtedly bore you unless Android is your OS of choice.

My Nexus 7 runs stock Android Jelly Bean 4.3, Nova Launcher Prime, and the DCikonZ ADW Apex Nova Go Theme for all app icons. Both Nova Launcher Prime and DCikonZ are available in the Google Play Store. The DCikonZ icon pack now contains more than 3,200 icons, and the developer is constantly adding new ones. Many are rather obscure that he has added specifically because of user requests.

1. Battery widget: I created this using the Minimalistic Text app (Google Play Store). However, I didn't use the default battery widget that comes with this app; I created my own, using a custom battery font with no numbers for the "Non-Accented" and "Normal" parts of the battery bar.

2. The Time, Day, and Date widget, also known as a "skin," was added using the Ultimate Custom Widget app, or UCCW (Google Play Store). In the Play Store you'll find the Elegante UCCW Skin, which includes just the Time and Day. I used the Elegante-Plus UCCW Skin, which also includes the Date, available only from the XDA developer's website.

3. Weather skin: I created this minimal weather skin myself using UCCW once again. I replaced the default weather condition icons with Metrowhite weather icons, courtesy of "Marco" on the MyColorscreen YouTube channel.

4. The custom "APPS" icon in the bottom left of the screen is for the Circle Launcher, full version (Google Play Store), which launches eleven of my most used apps -- other than the six media apps appearing in the dock -- in a vertical bar, as pictured in this second screen shot.

As simple as this screen may appear to be, I spent quite a bit of time learning the use of the Minimalistic Text and UCCW apps. There are numerous YouTube videos, some in multiple parts, that provide excellent tutorials for using these apps. The only problem I found is that the apps are constantly updated and the various options, settings, etc. in the vids no longer match those in the current apps. However, the vids will provide the basics, and then it's just some trial and error after that to get the options and settings just right. Just remember to save your work, as you would on any computer.

One final note: Not visible on either of these screen shots is the notification bar. I use another app called Quickly Notification Shortcuts (Google Play Store) that allows me to place up to nine apps on the notification bar pull-down. I have only six of the shortcuts being used, and included among these apps are my Flashlight, tablet Settings, Google Keep, and WiFi Connection manager.

Here's the link to my colorscreen on mycolorscreen.com.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jack Swag

If you've been in the book biz, say, at least 15 to 20 years (and even longer), then you will remember when publishers used to send out promo swag to encourage bookstores and book reviewers to push their titles. Just some of the goodies I have on hand include the cardboard mask of the cover image on William Gibson's novel Mona Lisa Overdrive, and a red and white Repairman Jack baseball cap from the F. Paul Wilson series.

Which brings me to the photo on the left: the box of swag I received as a contributor to the just published anthology Tales of Jack the Ripper, edited by Ross E. Lockhart -- the first book to be published by Word Horde.

As to the box's contents: Obviously, the most important item is the anthology itself -- one of the nicest looking trade paperbacks I've seen in a long time: true production quality. Working with Ross on this book (along with Claudia Noble on the cover design) felt like a Night Shade Books reunion project. For more on the book, you can read my previous blog post as well as view the video trailer.

Next up is the "official" Jack the Ripper knife. I mean, what would a box of Ripper swag be without a knife? The card to which the knife is attached reads in part: "Meet Jack's little friend! Stab your friends and family!" Now, the red item you see in the photograph is a spongy rubber kidney (sorry that it doesn't show up better in the photo) bearing the title of the book, "Tales of Jack the Ripper." When I first opened the box, the kidney was resting right on the blade end of the knife, and it initially appeared as if the knife had been stuck into the heart!

Last, but certainly not least, are the Tales of Jack the Ripper postcards and book marks, and Word Horde stickers.

And if you are interested in obtaining a box of Tales of Jack the Ripper swag -- including an ebook edition in the format of your choice, then hit the Word Horde site at this link and place your order for the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack.

And, enjoy the read. I'm confident that we'll be seeing a number of these stories on "best of" lists for the year, and even a few award nominations.