Author Archives: Steph Shangraw

Whole lotta writing (and moving) going on

Yes, okay, it’s been a while since the last post.

Given the choice between the wonderful energy of being in the middle of a story that’s flowing well (even when it hits speed bumps), and detaching from it enough to think of something to say about writing per se, well, it’s not really much of a choice at all. That would be the same thing that’s keeping my sales rather minimal, since I’d much rather indulge in further writing than do self-promo and marketing.

However, thanks to all that writing, I intend to have three novels released this year. The first one is Renegade, which has a description above, and the second, I hope, will be Lamia, ditto, since I finally fixed the issues that were frustrating me (yay!).  The third, if all goes well, will be an other-world fantasy called Shaman, for which I really need to write up a description. On top of that, the serial Moonblood is still going strong – I’m not expecting even a break from it until at least July.

As it turns out, there are advantages to depressive episodes that make you disinclined to spend any time around people, or doing very much except writing. There is that old saying about everything having a silver lining, right? When you aren’t even tempted to waste time on silly things like a social life or housework (major exception: my three feline overlords are always looked after, no matter what) you get a lot of writing done. 🙂

The other project on the go is relocating this blog and Moonblood off wordpress.com. Why? Because. Because, in a nutshell, the recent “improvements” are only improvements if you’re using a mobile device. If you’re on an actual computer, they’re annoying at best, and dysfunctional otherwise. Trying to post about a thousand words per post on this blog, and somewhere between 1500 and 2500 on Moonblood, is awkward on the new posting interface – and that says nothing of my opinion of the new stats pages, or the new theme search, or whatever else has changed that I haven’t yet noticed. I’ve been through similar too often in the past few years, and I’m no longer willing to put loyalty over functionality. The fact that so many people don’t like the changes here, for good practical reasons, and yet WP has determined in all their “wisdom” that it’s the best direction to go in (best for whom?) tells me that it’s time to go. Therefore, this blog and Moonblood are now self-hosted on my own official writing site. I’m still using WP software (and Jetpack), in the optimistic hopes that 1) it will make it more comfortable for readers who choose to follow and 2) if the self-hosted version follows the changes, there are a great many clever devs out there and someone will find a solution. If worst comes to worst, maybe by then there will be more options available.

So, this is the last post on this blog, although the archive is going to remain as-is, without updates to the pages or sidebar. The new one is live and I invite you to check it out and subscribe to notifications by email. The main difference, I think, will be that posts will no longer appear in the WP Reader. Which, I confess, I don’t mind at all, since hits/views through the Reader don’t turn up in the stats for some stupid reason, which makes it impossible to see who’s actually reading anything. Oh, and there will be no ads at all. On the other hand, I’ve found some readers via WP, and I’m rather disappointed that I’m probably going to lose current readers and potential future ones… all because WP decided to do “upgrades” that aren’t. (Techy dev peeps with WordPress and Flickr and Facebook and icanhascheezburger and on and on and on, say it with me, please: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and by all that’s good and right, quit “improving” things!)

My main writing site, slightly revamped to match the two new additions: http://prysmcat.com

This blog’s new home: http://prysmcat.com/blog

The serial fantasy Moonblood’s new home: http://prysmcat.com/moonblood

Hope to see you there!

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Novels and Serials

Two posts in one, more or less!

Black Wolf, the novel

Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t do a post here when Black Wolf was officially released on Smashwords!!! Of course, I spent a large part of that day re-uploading it, trying to make the inexplicably cranky formatting  behave itself, and I desperately hope that it’s now doing so for readers. I have to admit to walking away that evening not wanting to think about it any more for a day or two. So, belatedly:

Black Wolf is officially released, as of Hallowe’en!!! For info on how to get a copy for yourself, drop by here: http://prysmcat.com/black-wolf/

Now Yin-Yang isn’t sitting out there all by itself! And there’ll be a third sibling for them this spring, if all goes as planned – an other-world fantasy, rather than another urban one.

Moonblood, the serial

Now, finishing a novel leaves a hole, a space that’s full only of potential: what shall I work on next? The fastest way I know to sabotage myself is to choose based on what I can complete the most quickly, because I’ll lose interest in it rapidly. However, there are a few projects that were previously released here and have been removed for revision before official publication, and they do have some claim on being near the top of the list. With Lamia still in limbo (I seem to find more that I’m unhappy with every time I open the file, even though I adore the characters and it has several of my favourite scenes I’ve ever written), that pretty much leaves Moonblood.

Moonblood‘s a bit of an odd one, though. It’s not really a novel. It’s a set of characters having adventures in another world, each of which is largely complete in itself, though the first few do have an overall loose arc. Some of those adventures are fairly substantial at 20k+ words. Some are much shorter. It was intended to be open-ended, potentially able to go on indefinitely, swapping through the characters that part ways, have separate adventures, and recombine in varying combinations as time (quite a lot of time) passes. I have considered turning the part that encompasses the arc into a collection, in ebook and print-on-demand forms, and I still probably will. But… between now and then, I think I’m going to try something different.

Moonblood is going to be released in serial form, on a blog sister to this one. Read the rest of this entry

Self-Publishing outside the US

I resigned myself to making my ebooks entirely free, rather than inexpensive and accessible, thanks to the US IRS. I live in Canada, and having them take 30% of the little I expect to make made it seem rather pointless. The info on the Smashwords website as far as dealing with this leads into paperwork and fees that made it equally pointless – why spend more than I expect to make in order to have people pay for my books?

I don’t expect to earn much. That actually isn’t a main motivation for me, something I’ve discussed elsewhere. Essentially, I know myself well enough to know that if I try writing for a living on the grounds of making said living doing something I love, then sooner or later, probably sooner, I’ll find myself making said living doing something I used to love but that is now just an obligation and a chore. However, making enough to cover ordering test copies of print-on-demand versions, for example, would be nice.

A friend pointed me to a wonderful article discussing exactly this problem for non-US independent authors. http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/

As of less than an hour before this writing, after a fairly brief phone call, I now have an EIN. I still have forms to fill out for Smashwords and Lulu, and I’m told it will take about two weeks for my info to percolate through the IRS system, but it should in fact be straightforward from here.

So. If you’re not in the US and you’re planning to publish independently, I strongly recommend that you take a look at the article above. It has an easy solution.

Now, off to clean up the final version of Black Wolf and get going on the formatting, so I can release my second novel officially!

The Value of Encouragement

I mentioned last time that something interesting happened while I was working on the revisions for BlackWolf.

This needs a little backstory, so here we go with a flashback scene.

Go back twenty years. I finished the first complete version of BlackWolf (then, the full title was Black Wolf, Demon Wolf – I got tired of typing that). It wasn’t my first novel, but we don’t talk about the first two; this was the first one I had hopes for. A very good friend and mentor, a local mystery author, read it for me and gave me her thoughts. She also heard that a Canadian fantasy author, Charles de Lint, was Writer in Residence in Ottawa, a rather larger city than ours, and that he would read work sent to him and send it back with his thoughts. What she didn’t discover from her source was that, quite reasonably, one was only supposed to send the first 100 pages or so. We sent the whole thing. Oops.

He was kind enough not only to read the full thing, but to say some very encouraging things and write me a rather long letter breaking down his observations and suggestions. He also offered to meet with me to discuss it. So, in May of 1995, my father gave me a ride to Ottawa (I was 21, and I never did get the whole driving thing) and I spent a very instructive afternoon. I was at least as shy then as now, and I was nervous, and I remember I started to giggle a couple of times at comments that were meant to be serious, but I also remember that he was very patient. Between his letter and that discussion, I learned the fundamentals of how to take what I had written, this wonderful ecstatic creative outpouring of raw material, and look at it in a whole new way, so that I could work it into something not just good, but much better than good. Read the rest of this entry

BlackWolf and Yin-Yang

So… yeah.

I’ve been madly and obsessively working on a heavy-duty edit of BlackWolf roughly since my previous blog post. First a detailed comb-through by myself and repairs on all the things I flagged, then reading it aloud to my patient Jackie and repairs on all the things we noticed that way. It’s now reached the point where anything else I try to do myself will be more harm than good, so I’ve sent it off to my wonderful test readers. Based on their feedback, I’ll make whatever further changes are needed, and I’ll release it this summer – in July sometime, if all goes well. While its in their hands, it’s time for me to switch focus to other things. Writing-related things, of course. Housework? Don’t be ridiculous! I don’t get a massive creative adrenaline high from housework!

Something interesting happened in the process with BlackWolf, but it’s long enough and sufficiently different from the rest of this post to deserve its own, which I’ll do in the next couple of days.

Several other books are clamoring in my head to be the next on the list for “official” release. I believe Renegade gets that honour. Even though I originally wrote it rapidly and simply as an experiment, I’m actually too pleased with it to leave it to languish in the shadows. I’m already working on editing that, and finding that it’s relatively easy to do compared to the older works. Why? Because it’s all new and clean and shiny, written based on an old-old idea but otherwise entirely with my current skills. There’s much less repair work to do because, well, it’s put together properly the first time! That’s making me feel rather optimistic, actually, that perhaps the process of editing will be less exhausting once I get the old ones cleaned up and released and can move on to newer ones. Read the rest of this entry