alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
The big news of the day: I've started blogging about webcomics (and, soon, interactive fiction) for Black Gate, where I've previously been an occasional book reviewer. My first post is about Ursula Vernon's Hugo Award and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winner Digger, which I loved and had fun getting to write about. Why am I over at Black Gate instead of just blogging here? They've got a great readership over there, and hopefully some of them will find their way over here to Myth, the Universe, and Everything -- and maybe decide to pick up the Redemption Trilogy when they're all finally released. It's a bit of marketing, a bit of fun, and hopefully a great fit for everyone involved.

As for my social media updates, I realized I don't have my Facebook page and Twitter on my website. This clearly must be remedied as I'm -- hopefully -- driving new folks over to Virgil and Beatrice. I'm also updating my Facebook page a lot more frequently than my blog -- every time one of my blog entries for Questia or Cengage Brain goes up, I post a notice on Facebook -- so if you're interested in my to-the-minute news, that's where you should find me.

Last thought for the day: every time I write about social media, using that phrase, the Common Shiner tune "Social Mediasochist" starts running through my head. It's catchy.
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
One of the Redemption Trilogy Kickstarter stretch goals that got funded was the re-editing and prettification of Into the Reach and Departure to be re-released as new editions. At long last, Into the Reach has been re-released! It's currently available through DriveThruFiction and Smashwords. I'll be releasing it at Barnes and Noble and Kobo as well -- and probably Amazon, though I'm hesitant about that for numerous reasons (but Bottom Line dictatese that it's a necessity) -- but I'm more concerned at the moment about getting Departure cleaned up and off to the backers than getting the widest distribution possible on Into the Reach. If all goes well, all three novels will be up everywhere by the end of the year.


So hurray! That's a big hurdle jumped, and I can move on to the next things. Or, rather, I can keep working on finishing up the details on Showdown at Willow Creek (renamed to give it more Western flair), which is in beta, and get prepared for that release, while also moving on to the next things. What's in store here for the next few months?

  • Edits and formatting on Departure

  • Work on Choice of Pirate, my next game for Choice of Games

  • Finishing up coding on the autobio project. The project is now in four batches per year instead of two, which means more authors and more fun. This batch features Shiloh Walker and Margaret Weis, who were both fantastic to work with!

  • Speaking of the autobio project, we've added some fun new structure, so along with the long essays, like Shiloh wrote for this batch, there are also interviews, like the one Margaret participated in. I tend to feature a lot of SFF writers, partly because I'm more familiar with their work, and partly because SFF writers respond really well to being invited. (Graphic novelists tend to be excited to be invited but too busy to contribute, though I keep following up!) I've been focusing on inviting romance novelists and have had a little success there, but I am looking for more mystery novelists, nonfiction writers, playwrights, and literary writers to invite. If you've got recommendations of approachable writers who interact with their readers online (that seems to be the recipe for successful responses to my invitations) who fit into those categories, I'd love to hear them!
alanajoli: (mini me)
I (and the art-reward backers) have gotten two images of Lindsay Archer's progress on the novel cover, and I'm getting very excited about where she's headed. It's going to be a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy!

But speaking of the trilogy, I now have in hand the re-edits from Shawn Merwin for book 1. Within the next month, I will be able to take those edits and turn the newly revised manuscript into an e-book. I told Shawn that the red showing on the first two pages was a little intimidating, but he promised me it cleans up after that.

In the meantime, I've been keeping busy on the autobio project, writing obituaries, and working on my next Choice of Games project, a Western with a little bit of mystery to it. The autobios this batch are tremendously exciting. I've gotten to work with Jim Hines on an original essay that had the same balance of laugh-out-loud and heart-wrenching I've come to expect from his novels. Joseph Bruchac did a fantastic update about his years in Africa, Pat Cummings provided amazing graphics from her illustration process for her update, and Eloise Greenfield wrote about, among other things in her update, filming her "Grandma Rap." I always enjoy working on the autobio project, but this batch has been especially fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final results once they hit the online databases.


Between review books, I'm also reading the finalists for the Mythopoeic Society's Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. I've really enjoyed being on the jury for both the children's and adult lists over the past few years, and there are a bunch of really good ones up this year.

Reading anything good lately?
alanajoli: (mini me)
I had a conversation last week with John Andrews (whose tech articles I've linked to on the blog) about freelance life. He sent me a link to an article about copywriting, which advised how to always get paid for your work. The writer's answer? Get paid up front. Ben R. Palmer-Wilson, writing for Design Taxi, probably makes more money than I do -- he clearly works on the higher end of the copywriting industry, based on my read of his April 30, 2013, article, "How to Always Get Paid as a Freelancer." Which is to say, he works for businesses, not directly in the publishing industry. Back when I first started as a freelancer, I read about pursuing clients outside of the publishing industry and decided not to do so, though it would mean a lower income on my end, because I wanted to stay as close to books and literature (and games!) as I could.

At my end of freelance writing, things work more like this:


Well, without the guns.

But I don't often get paid up front for anything. I sometimes get paid an advance, or part up front, which is great! But what I do get at the beginning is a contract. When I'm working for larger companies -- or small, trustworthy ones -- that contract is a binding agreement that's a reliable indication that I'm going to get paid at the end.

Sometimes, though, this happens instead:


That mostly happens with speculative work, where the company or editor is very forthcoming about the possibility of rejecting work even after it's completed. Sometimes it happens with large companies where they lose an invoice in the shuffle -- I've been able to recover all of those, but it can take awhile. And it's definitely happened with small companies that then evaporate.

The Kickstarter for Regaining Home is actually my first, paid-in-full in advance project ever. It's a novelty! I don't have any sage wisdom for always getting paid, but I do think it's worth noting that Palmer-Wilson's sage wisdom wouldn't work in my neck of the industry. I'd just get laughed right out of my contracts.
alanajoli: (mini me)
There are few things that sap my motivation as much as having a cold, and my house got hit last week with a whopper. Threestripe and I are both on the mend, but it's been a quiet, sleepy time around the house as we've made our best efforts toward recovery. Thankfully, the Kickstarter was in its two-week quiet period after the funding was raised but during which any kinks got worked out. Luckily, we had very few kinks, and all should be progressing forward very soon. Shawn Merwin already has Into the Reach in his hands to edit, so I expect the momentum to start gaining on that project very soon.


In the meantime, I've been following a couple of other Kickstarters, including Fireside Magazine, which got funded and now has its submissions guidelines posted for flash fiction. I'm thinking of taking a look at my 3000 word short story draft of "Retirement" and seeing if I can cut it down. It needed work anyway, and maybe reducing its size would work out some of the problems that substrater Max Gladstone helped me identify when I first wrote it. (Speaking of Max, he has a guest post on Romance of the Three Kingdoms up over at A Dribble of Ink. Check it out!)

I've also begun work on my next Choice of Game, a Western currently titled Kidnapping at Willow Creek. As that's just starting, it's fun to see Choice of Kung Fu still getting some Internet love. Club Floyd, a group that plays interactive fiction together, played through Choice of Kung Fu awhile ago, and the full link to their experience of the game is available up at All Things JACQ. If you haven't played it, this is full of spoilers -- it takes you through all of Club Floyd's decisions on how to play the game through. There are multiple endings, of course, and multiple ways to get there, so if you're interested in seeing how other people played it, this might be a fun read. (Their commentary was certainly fun for me to see!)

In addition to writing, I'm reading longlist books for the Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Awards, review books for PW and Kirkus, and I'm one of the readers for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards this year. It's the first time I'm reading for ABNA in the romance category -- I've done the YA section before -- and I'm having a great time. The two titles I've read so far were really enjoyable, and I have high hopes for at least one of those titles to make it into the final rounds. It'd be nice if the rest of my titles were as fun as the first two!

Since I can't talk about most the books I'm reading -- what are you reading now, and what would you recommend to other readers?
alanajoli: (mini me)
We did it! This morning, an increased pledge pushed us $55 over our funding goal on the Regaining Home Kickstarter. Regaining Home is go!


(Clearly, I am influenced by Bug's taste -- when I hear the phrase "We did it!" I can't help but hear Dora the Explorer's ending song.)

What this means so far is that we definitely have the funds to bring out Regaining Home sometime by the end of this year. We are less than $300 short of our first stretch goal, which would allow us to edit the first two novels and make them available in multiple formats, rather than just pdf. As I write this, we have 69 hours to go -- it could still happen!

Thanks to everyone for continuing to support the project. Seeing so many familiar names among the donors -- or the retweeters or the facebook posters -- has meant the world to me.
alanajoli: (mini me)
It's true what they say about Kickstarters being crazymaking. I am vacillating between:

almost there

And this:

There are still three days to go and just over $500 left to raise (and another $350 would get the original books reedited and up in multiple formats). If you've been thinking about contributing, or want to send word around to others who will make it a reality, please drop by the Kickstarter and spread the word!

Luckily, I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy! I'm just finishing up a batch of obituaries from famous individuals who died in 2012. One was Roger Sherman, who wrote the songs from Mary Poppins and other Disney films -- including a movie I'd not thought of for years: The Gnome-Mobile. I don't remember anything about the plot, but I do remember the very catchy jingle, "The Gnome-Mobile, the Gnome-Mobile, we're riding along in the Gnome-Mobile. Sooner or later we feel that we'll find what we want in the Gnome-Mobile." (Lyrics are from memory; I've not Google checked to make sure that they're correct.)

I also get to write an obituary for Maurice Sendak, who I'm saving for last.

I'm also delighted to say that I'm signing a contract for my second Choice of Games project, just as soon as the printer cooperates. I'm extremely pleased to be working with those folks again, and I'm delighted to continue to increase the amount of my living that I'm making from writing games. As a high school friend once told me about my career: I'm living the dream!
alanajoli: (mini me)
One of the interesting things about running the Kickstarter is seeing where the donations come from -- not just meaning people (I recognize the majority of the names on donations, and I am incredibly grateful that some many people from so many different parts of my life believe in this project), but websites. The Kickstarter dashboard shows where people linked from to get to the Regaining Home Kickstarter. Almost 40% of the pledges don't have referral information, but I thought this was an interesting rundown of some of the other percentages:

  • Almost 33% of my donations have come linked from Facebook

  • Around 10% come from somewhere inside of Kickstarter's system (and most of these are from folks I don't personally know

  • About 3% come referred from LinkedIn

  • I make up about 4% from Livejournal, my homepage, and twitter

  • The most surprising: a full 3.5% came referred from the fantastic web comic, Thistil Mistil Kistil by Sarah Schanze

Loki, from TMK by Sarah Schanze

Sarah, I owe you cookies or something. Thank you for sending your readers my way -- and thanks to everyone who's been spreading the word on Facebook. Clearly, that's working!
alanajoli: (mini me)
Over the next two weeks, interviews about the Regaining Home Kickstarter should be popping up with me around the net, which is great, since we're getting into the final half of the campaign. Things are, thus far, going quite well -- as of this writing, we're at 58% funded with 14 days to go. But the extra press will definitely help toward reaching (and exceeding???) that goal. The podcast interviews were also a great chance for me to chat with some very cool podcasters. Brian LeTendre of course is an old friend of the blog -- he and I go way back to the very first days of Into the Reach being released, and Brian was a regular in my Mythic Greece game back when those heroes were still out changing mythology. Chris Sniezak of Misdirected Mark is a friend of Shawn Merwin's (Shawn is, apparently, a regular guest on the podcast), and also a great interviewer. I had a tremendous time chatting with both of them, and I highly recommend both Secret Identity Podcast and Misdirected Mark (which I started listening to and got totally involved in after finishing my interview with Chris).

Chris also made me aware that I hadn't updated my website since Choice of Kung Fu came out, so clearly that needed to be fixed. So instead of working on obituaries tonight, I've been updating my page, playing Marvel Avengers Alliance on facebook and Fallen London in another tab, listening to podcasts, and watching cute videos of baby elephants. All in a day's work!

alanajoli: (mini me)
At the beginning of January, [ profile] asakiyume posted on facebook:

2013 Creative PAY IT FORWARD. The first 5 people to comment on this status will receive something from me this calendar year - a surprise gift of some sort. There will likely be no warning. It will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? You must also post this as your status and pay it forward. (Please PM me your address if you are one of the first 5).

I thought this was a fantastic idea, and, knowing how wonderfully creative [ profile] asakiyume is, I definitely wanted to get in on that action. Not being super crafty myself, I posted to my own facebook page that I'd produce some sort of story snippet for people who posted on my page. It never occurred to me that baking would count toward the creative pay it forward until I received these in the mail:

Painted cookies by asakiyume!

Six cookies (one not shown here because its broken arrival meant I ate it immediately) that were as beautiful as they were delicious! Now, I am no artist, but I do like to bake, and I've come up with a few fun words about molasses and a small hero named Elias that my own pay-it-forward friend will be receiving.

fish! by asakiyume
A close up of my favorite image by the fantastic [ profile] asakiyume

One of the things I'm noticing about having a Kickstarter campaign up and running is that I'm far more likely to donate to other people's Kickstarter campaigns. I'd donated to two, and one indiegogo, in the few years before starting my campaign; I've doubled the number of campaigns I've backed in the last two weeks, and I expect that trend to continue. There's something about funding other people's creative endeavors that's really satisfying, and because I'm so grateful that people are funding mine, it makes me even happier to give to others. I suspect that's one of the reasons Kickstarter is so successful -- and hope that other people feel as good about contributing to mine as I feel about contributing to others!
alanajoli: (mini me)
Great news for art lovers! Lindsay Archer has agreed to let people in on the early stages of the art process, so we've created a $35 reward that includes all the $25 rewards, plus digital updates as Lindsay works on the cover. Our new stretch goal also involves art: If we hit $4300, Lindsay will do a signed and numbered limited series of prints of the cover art -- we'll start with 12 available as a $75 reward (which will also include everything from the $35 reward), and if demand is high (and we continue to raise funds), we'll make more available.

If you're not familiar with Lindsay's work beyond what I've already posted here (you've seen a lot of her work over the past few posts), she has an amazing gallery at her home page that is well worth browsing. I am delighted to have served as one of Lindsay's models as well!

I'd love to see us add more art rewards, and if we can keep raising enough funds, that will become an option -- but most of those rewards won't be available until we go over the initial budget. So if you'd like to see more of Lindsay's work show up in this Kickstarter, spread the word!
alanajoli: (mini me)
Great news for aspiring writers and game designers -- editor extraordinaire Shawn Merwin has agreed to offer up his services for manuscript review of up to 50 pages as one of the rewards for our Kickstarter for Regaining Home.


Just $40 gets you not only three e-books, but also some excellent professional critiquing from one of the best editors I've had the pleasure to work with. (He's also an accomplished writer and game designer in his own right!)

If you know any authors or game designers who could use such a service, please pass along our link -- it's a limited reward, so it might go fast.
alanajoli: (mini me)

Nara, by Lindsay Archer

The Regaining Home Kickstarter has hit $1000 is are about a third of the way to our goal! In honor of that, we've added a new backer reward for $75: Improv Snippets by me. Backers who donate $75 can send me a genre, setting, and two characters (named or given by profession), and Alana will create a unique scene featuring those elements. The Improv Snippets will be compiled into a backer-exclusive e-book. (I may choose to use the snippets for another project in the future and retains any pertinent copyright, but the backer's name will be listed along with the snippet wherever it appears, in perpetuity.) To pad the Improv Snippets collection, I may choose to include original snippets of my own creation, or original snippets as they appeared in the Empty Room Studios Art Book project.

I hope this will be a fun mini project -- I've written romance novel blurbs for friends and really enjoyed creating the scenes for the ERS Art Book, so this seems like a great way to involve people in the creation process and create a unique reward that's worth that high backer level!
alanajoli: (mini me)
I love good crossover fiction. I'm sure that's part of the reason I love The Avengers. (Also, Joss Whedon, I'm looking at you.) So I was really excited to see that Rick Riordan has announced he's doing a crossover short story featuring Percy Jackson and Carter Kane -- heroes from his two major mythology series. (Shannon Maughan's Publishers Weekly article with the announcement and full details is here.) It's planned as a short story, and it's currently only being published in the back of a paperback book (the hardcover of which I already own), but I have hopes that as the pub date approaches, we'll see an option to buy an e-version of the short for 99 c. Because I would totally spend that on a short story.

(Cute crossover art by SpiralNinja05 at Deviant Art, found by my Google Image search.)

I got to interview Rick back in 2006, when I was writing for Literature Community news, when the first two Percy Jackson books were out, and Rick had more adult novels published than YA titles. I look at that article and think how much his world must have changed in the past seven years.

Rick isn't the only writer doing crossovers. Ally Carter crossed over her two brilliant series -- The Gallagher Girls and the Heist Society books -- in Double Crossed, which, best of all, she gave away for free. I grabbed it the day it came out and read it on my computer, since the nook edition wasn't up yet, and it's delightful. If you haven't checked out either series, this isn't a bad entry point into the worlds -- and it should definitely get you intrigued about both series.

In other news, the Regaining Home Kickstarter hit 21% in the first 24 hours. Woo! I'm very hopeful that we'll make the goal -- and I even posted the first stretch goal, re-editing the first two books and publishing them in multiple e-book formats, this morning. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed or spread the word, and thanks to those of you who are planning to do so!
alanajoli: (mini me)
The news is in: the Kickstarter for Regaining Home has been approved, and we've launched! I've set a budget for the project that includes paying editor Shawn Merwin for his editorial expertise, artist Lindsay Archer for a brand new cover image for the Regaining Home e-book, and me for doing the writing and revisions to get the book ready to launch, as well as covering the software I'm planning to buy to use in the e-book creation process.

Here's the link!

Here's how you can help.

  • Donate. If you already have the first two books, there's a $3 reward to get a copy of Regaining Home a week before its publication. I expect to price all three e-books at $2.99 once Regaining Home is published. There are also rewards to buy all three e-books, get deleted scenes, have a minor character named after you (or someone else, within reason), or even take part in the editorial process and weigh in on specific events in book 3. If you just want to keep track of our progress (and get your name in the acknowledgements), there's a $1 option, just to show your support.

  • Tell your friends. Kickstarter is, from my experience, driven by social networking and word of type. So, tweet, facebook, google plus, pinterest, or whatever you do. Any help in getting the word out will make a huge difference to us!

I am really excited to get back to the Redemption Trilogy and to finally get Regaining Home out of my head and into the world. I hope you'll all be pleased with the results!
alanajoli: (mini me)
It's holiday sale time over at DriveThruRPG, and the Drunken Goblin has a whole stocking full of great stuff to offer -- including the first two books of the Redemption Trilogy. Right now, you can get the books for 99 cents each! You can go straight to my books here, or see what else is on sale on the Drunken Goblin page.

Part of this sale is prepping for a Kickstarter. I've talked with editor Shawn Merwin and artist Lindsay Archer, and they're both on board for getting Regaining Home back out of the ether and into complete digital form. Keep an eye out here for further news about how you can help make book 3 a reality! (If you have any words of wisdom or advice about Kickstarter, I'd love to hear them!)

In other good news, Choice of Kung Fu has been submitted to online app sellers, and it should be appearing on the market just in time for Christmas. Despite the awesome Adam Morse sending me e-mails to keep me up to date on the launch date, I find myself semi-compulsively visiting the Choice of Games home page, so I can be among the first to see the public announcement when it hits. In the meantime, there are a few new games I haven't finished playing through, and I want to try them out before I start on my next game pitch!


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Alana Joli Abbott

March 2019

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