Loose Fantasies — just when you think it’s all over, it all starts all over again!

Today if all went well, our new book, the last of the Lennox series, Loose Fantasies  The Memoirs, comes out. If it didn’t  . . . oh wait, it kinda didn’t. We had a little text hiccup.  About 3 paragraphs went astray, so we have to herd them back in.

Notice our lack of upsetment?

People tend to think that printing this book is the end. As if!  It’s usually after you print it that you actually see problems. And so it is with this book. But we go with the Guy Kawasaki method, ie, go ahead and roll it out. It has to happen sometime. Even if it has flaws, you can fix them. If you wait for perfection, you’ll never get it out, or published, or done, or whatever.  So, at this point . . . .

The last book of this series is out, it does have some typos, but is it enjoyable anyway, you bet.  Still, we do care, so we are going to be doing a new round of editing on all 6 volumes in Sept, starting with book 1, and rolling the whole series out through B&N PubIt! (the ebook creation tool they use) for Nook.  We’ll also be taking a crack at turning them into Kindling (Kindle format?). If all goes well, the ebooks set will be up and out in time to take with on your Thanksgiving journey.

Nook and Kindle is something we’ve never done before, although all our books are in an ePub ebook format and available through Adobe Digital Editions. One of the downsides of the PDF format is its static. It doesn’t work well on readers.  And too, Amazon will only sell its Kindle format, ditto Nook, so we felt we needed to tackle this issue.  If you’re following along for the month of September, expect to read an endless stream on this topic and its related issues.  If you’ve been thinking of setting up with Nook/Kindle, it might do you well.

We’ll get around to upgrading the print/PDF versions to match the newer Kindle/Nook versions in a bit, but it’s not like it’s going to make a huge difference to the read. These won’t be major story edits. In other words, these remain the same leisurely, intimate family drama / romance / travel mysteries, you’ve all come to know and love.

In the meanwhile, we’ll also be going through a general round of “end of book” things . .  . the copyright process (all done online thank heaven!), and the mailing out of complimentary copies, and copies to the Library of Congress copyright office.

There’s also all the updating and adding on to do to the FAB website, and Bowker, and Google books. And even before we finish that,  we may have some other books by other authors will be in the pipeline. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe. (People doing marketing probably know this, but you may not, ARCs went out months ago.  An ARC is an Advanced Review Copy.)

The upshot is, if you do decide to become a publisher, you probably won’t get everything right the first go round, even if you do hire a great copy editor, proofreader, designer, media person.  But it’ll still all be ok. Hang in there. You’ll get another chance, and another, and another.  And if you went with LSI cover corrections and text block correction are only $40. Practically guilt free.  Sure some people may snicker, but so what.

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus . . . whose got the last laugh now?

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Part 2: Interview with Acascias Riphouse, in which the author gives 10 commandments for young or aspiring writers before winging off in a tiz.

So, Sphinx, what made you start writing?

It’s pronounced “sss – pinks” not “sffff – inks”.

Well, maybe you could explain, since we’re on the topic of nicknames . . .

We aren’t Ozz-waldo.

My name is Osvaldo, “oth- vall – doh.”

What made me start writing?

The series? Or in general? . . .

The series was something I came up on a trek through South Africa with to avoid stressing out about some family issues that were going on back home.  And . . . no wait, that is why I started writing too. Family stress.  It really can be a plus.

Writing is your “happy place”?

It’s my “stress reduction place.”  It’s not real life in a real world.  It’s a fantasy. But at least it keeps me from having a heart attack or a breakdown.

That’s what I liked about FAB’s philosophy.  It’s why I decided to do the series for FAB. You guys get that books can be valuable as escapist entertainment.  They can be therapeutic if you will.  For the reader and the writer.

Murder as stress release?

Murder as plot point.  Human relationships as stress release (and stress maker).

For me a book is about the world and the people in it.  The plot devices are kind of secondary.  I tried to make that clear from the outset, with the first book.  This isn’t really so much a series about murders, as coming of age, of growing into the person you were always meant to be but didn’t know it.

The Sarsfields books are all about the hero’s [Ioan Lennox] realizations and revelations about himself, about his parents, about his friends, his coworkers, his lovers, and even his true place in the world. Each book takes on one of those themes through the medium of murder and by the end, readers see how the totality of those things changes the ultimate course of his life.

It’s why I don’t bother to write much graphic detail. These aren’t books about graphic murder, or . . .

The Banquet at Roma in book 5?

Ok, I admit that was a bit . . . colorful in the description. But it was confined to a gentleperson’s verbal description and it was necessary to show both the character’s emotional detachment from the ferocity of the acts and the difference between historical and cultural viewpoints on death.

There are definite aspects of [anti-heroine] Rachel Digby’s personality that today seem borderline psychopathic.

But when put in the context of her viewpoint, her historical / cultural reference points, knowing that, the reader moves her back into the “normal” category.  And James [Rachel’s husband] acts as fulcrum. He’s somewhere between Ioan’s very modern view of life and death, and Rachel’s very archaic one. It’s through James’ viewpoint that readers subconsciously begin to question what really is the “correct” way to see or act in the world.

I like doing that, opening people’s eyes to the things they take for granted.

No question there. Moving on . . . what writers inspired you to write?

Dumas.  Absolutely. Loved his work. A must read for any aspiring fiction writer.

As a child I grew up reading classic children’s lit, Black Beauty, Lassie . . . It’s probably where I got my Georgian / regency bent. Scholastic Books also had a big role . . . Love of exotic, goofy humour. How to Eat Fried Worms, Phantom Tollbooth.

And too, my father was a great traditional story teller, and both my mother and grandfather were published authors. I think I just grew up believing anyone could write a book and probably should write at least one. I still very much believe that.

That everyone has one good book in them?

Absolutely! At least one. Maybe only one.  But definitely one.

Do you recommend young authors read a lot of fiction to develop their style?

I think when you’re young, you should read anything you can.  But as you mature, you’ll realize everything your read, shapes your style.

Explain?

My folks sent to me to a parochial school, where I became a master of the KJV Bible, and I wasn’t allowed to read real fiction because that was “sinful.”  In high school I had a friend introduced me to Harlequin Romance, Austen, and others, but we had to read it on lunch breaks, hidden away in the janitorial office (we both worked in janitorial part-time), out of sight of other students.

Then I knew this other friend, whose sister was in university and reading Tudor (English) History, so she had all these intensely factual history books lying about. BUt she read historical novels voraciously. So we would read her books and then debate about her novels’ historical accuracy.  I remember that’s where I first saw PBS too, at her house. She had that series on the six Henry VIII’s wives and used to walk about chanting: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

A bit creepy?

Only when she said it some place like Baskin-Robbins.

That was in the rabbit ear days, when PBS was hard to get. I lived in a valley. It came in, but only one channel, and fuzzy, but I’d watch anyway.  Ever watch Shakespeare in a blizzard? That’s what it was like.

Thank God for cable?

Man, yeah! And then I discovered BBC America.  My life was complete.

(laughing) I’m not sure if that’s geeky or not?

I guess you could say I was a culture geek. Plays, opera, musical theatre, DIY, HGTV, I loved it all.

And did that make you want to read more? After you left high school?

It made me read more history and autobiography.  But I actually had given up reading modern fiction by then because it was so . . . uninteresting compared to real life, to history, to older work.

That was in the era of Jackie Collins, when things in that vein were best sellers. It was all vulgar language, bad behavior, and trashy sex.  I turned off completely. I couldn’t relate to those characters and I didn’t see why anyone in their right mind would want to.

But I’m a firm believer of the mind is what the eye reads just as the body is what the mouth consumes.

Parochial school?

Popular Science, and The Journal of Developmental Psychology.

So that’s when I began reading history, autobiography, and ever more exotic foreign classics most of which had been translated in the Victorian era, or in the 1960s, but were generally composed in the 12th – 18th century.

So I guess there was always that  “out of synch with the times” way of looking at the world and using language floating around in your head?

Totally. Which is why, when it came to writing the Sarsfield series for FAB, I opted for a contemporary setting, but characters from slightly out of synch places such as Lampeter (Wales), Prince Edward Island (Canada), and rural Virginia, who were living slightly out of synch lives — as bush doctors, tall ship captains, or 200- year-old CEOs the victim of early scientific experimentation gone horribly wrong.

I could never do true fantasy writing. I’m not a fantasy writer. The genre has no appeal for me. For me a story has to be ground in 99% reality. I can appreciate when other author do fantasy and pull out all the stops. But, it’s not me.

Any advice for young writers?

As once was said by a pastor friend, “If you can do anything else in life, do it.”  I think that’s the best advice you can give.  If you aren’t passionate about it, don’t do it.  If you lie awake thinking about it, might as well give in now.

Write what you want to write about.  Don’t try to be someone else, or write in someone else’s style.  It’s okay to admire someone one, to love their work.  But be yourself, always. Love what you write about. Write it in your own way, in your own voice.  Be authentic.

My final piece of advice would be don’t be a jerk.  Your writing has to fit in around lawn mowing, oil changes, vacumming, diapers, taking your elderly friend to the  market, baby sitting your cousin’s stepbrother, walking the dog . . . and probably going to work. You really can write a great book in 15 minutes increments, while doing laundry, if you have to.

Or, maybe just women can do that.  Not sure.  I probably shouldn’t have said that. I’ve never been a man. Can you edit that out?

Sure. Any other advice?

  1. Do have a Facebook, Twitter, blog and website if you can manage it. At least have a website where you present yourself as an author. About.me and LinkdIn could help too.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask people you respect for opinions about your work. But accept that strangers will comment, and listen to what they say. You won’t know most people that read your book (hopefully).
  3. Always be polite and open minded toward copy editors, but don’t give in if you think you’re right. Copy editors are exist to help you, and can make a read difference to your work, but it’s your voice that matters, not theirs.
  4. Do send out query letters to publishers if you can’t find an agent to take you.  Or if you don’t want an agent. A lot of writers are going free agent these days. Stay open to the simple twists of fate in life and the changes going on in the world.
  5. Don’t quit writing if  your marriage goes bad. Or your car breaks down. Or you get a new job. Or you develop an incurable illness. Or. . . [insert excuse here]. But if writing is causing your marriage to go bad, or your paying job to suffer . . . .
  6. Always print out hardcopy proofs and have them proofread by at least 3 friends that were English majors before you send out your manuscript to a publisher that liked your query. Proofreaders are vital.
  7. Do remember that self-published authors are authors and do make money. Setting up your own publishing company isn’t that hard. Making it successful . . . that’s another story.
  8. Don’t accept bad cover art. Cover art is marketing. It’s best left to marketing people. Think of your reader when you see /design cover art. Make marketing explain every choice on the cover to you, from color to graphic, to font, to placement of blurb. If they can’t explain why every detail is the way it is, they’re not good at their job, in which case go with your gut reaction.
  9. Always stay true to who you are. That is: it’s ok to say no, or I need a break, or that’s morally comfortable for me. Editors, marketing people, fans, etc, will respect you for being honest.
  10. Finally, be respectful to readers.  People are paying money they worked hard for to buy your book and spending hours of their life they’ll never get back reading your book. Appreciate that, even if they don’t. Make your words worth reading.

Um . . . so we’ve been on you about Commandment 1 for two years now . . .

Really? You want to go there, again? After I took a complete chance on FAB when I could have published anywhere, under my own name, and sold millions of copies by now?

After I’ve written 6 books for FAB and spent two years letting FAB work all its production kinks without a single complaint — including when you put Prince Edwards Island on the back of the last cover blurb!?

And  you bring this up? While I’m still working through the final edit of book 6? I mean . . . Really?  That’s what you want to say to me, you little . . . .

[author storms out, reisling in hand, slamming the door behind her]

And I think we’ll close there! Hope you’ve all learned something. If not, come back next week (Weds, July 27) when we kick off a month-long inspirational/practical series on writing, publishing, getting published, and so forth.

Ok, ok, we know you’ve been wondering. So, here it is. Observations Upon “The Religion of Doctors” — Your end of summer read about a FABulous wedding on gorgeous Prince Edward Island awaits!

No, we didn’t plan it this way, but apparently theRoyal couple, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine nee Middleton) are beginning their Candian Tour tomorrow and making a stop on beautiful  Prince Edward Island * for the Fourth of July weekend.

If you’d like to enter the contest to win a trip to PEI, the good folks at Tourism PEI are sponsoring a “follow in Royal Footsteps” contest, allowing the winner to go to all the charming spots in Canada the Royal couple will visit.

Observations Upon “The Religion of Doctors,” Book 5, of the series we’ve been publishing about the Gardner Museum heist (by Acascias Riphouse), had been rolled as of today. It is the penultimate book of the series, and features a contemporary Labor Day wedding on Prince Edward Island (home of LM Montgomery’s famous red-headed Anne of Green Gables).

If you’re wondering what it would be like to vacation on PEI, pick up a copy now and tag along to find out about all the PEI summer hotspots while solving the mystery.  Or, hang on to it for your own end of August getaway (or that destination wedding your dreading) and see how your adventures stack up with ours. Hopefully your holiday / wedding won’t end in murder!

If you want to check out the first few chapters, you can do that on our main website, or check out Google Books.  Haven’t read the earlier books in the series? No worries, you can always catch up. If you want to see just how beautiful the island really is, click Dan James’ CEO Blues Gallery link and see our favorite shot. Dan, amazingly is not a professional photographer, but CEO of silverorange web systems.

This book is only available in Trade paperback or e-Book formats, because really, who buys hardbacks these days?

Next month we’ll be devoting some blogspace to an author interview. So, fasten your seatbelt, we’ll be asking all the ugly questions about the Welsh, autoimmune diseases, auction houses. And the most important, did you know Whitey Bulger was living in Santa Monica? And hopefully we’ll have some dish on the final book of the series Loose Fantasies:  The Memoirs which will be available at the end of August.

*(Yes, it really is Prince Edward Island, not Prince Edwards Island, but we probably messed that up at least once somewhere in the book, or on the website, or even on the cover. Sorry.)

Pull out the lawn chairs and throw down the beach towels Harry Potter fans, it’s official Summer Solstice is Here!

This is Stonehenge Aotearoa for those of  you that are wondering. It’s a really interesting place.  Check it out if you’re ever in New Zealand.

Built on the same scale as Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in England. Stonehenge Aotearoa is not a replica.  It is a complete and working structure designed and built for its precise location in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. In this awe-inspiring place, people young and old can explore the mysteries of our past and learn how early cultures, including New Zealand Maori, used the Sun, Moon and stars for life and survival.

Awesome! But equally awesome is JK Rowling’s upcoming announcement regarding Pottermore, the website, due to take place Thursday (6AM EST/ 3AM PST). Interested in hearing more? You  can click an owl to  go through to the Pottermore official countdown on youtube. But that’s about all you’ll discover.

There’s been rampant speculation about what Pottermore is or will be and so we’ll weigh in with our flights of fancy.

Hate to say it, but odds are heavily in favor of it being a pure merchandizing site. Books, memorabilia, plastic figurines, all that sort of thing. An updated rerelease of the books, that most likely merchandizes the movies, and merchandize associated with the movies.

It would be nice though, if the site were for Potter books legally released as eBooks, to date they haven’t been released legally. And if that were the case, we’d expect those eBooks would be to some extent interactive with additional content stored on the pottermore website. (6/23/11 update: see, we were totally right!)

Alternatively, perhaps the books are being released in a simple graphic comic book form, for younger readers, or readers whose grasp of language is not up to the level that reading the actual books requires.  JK Rowling has always been dedicated to promoting literacy and this would be an ideal opportunity to advance that cause.

Finally there’s a good chance Potter will go the way of many other popular children’s books and become a saturday morning comicbook-style tv series. It’s the next logical progression for the series. And the graphics on the website do lend themselves to that notion.

We don’t really think there’s any “more” coming in the real sense and in fact, JK Rowling has already said, “No more Potter books.” But then again, authors always say that.

However, if you’d like to know more about Harry and Potterworld in general, and you don’t yet have this title check out  An Unauthorized Harry Potter Companion (Formerly titled: The Harry Potter Companion, but JK Rowling’s lawyers asked that the title be chanced because they thought the word “The” made it sound definitive.) It’s 537 pgs of revelations. And by friend of the firm, Acascias Riphouse.

This book is the ultimate, exhaustive companion to the Harry Potter series, complete with maps, illustrations, diagrams, recipes, biographies, spells, timelines, terminology, bibliographies, class schedules, houses, demerit counts . . . you name, it’s here and then some!

Covering books 1–5 and small assorted books that were published by JK Rowling related to the series, it intentionally does not cover the final two volumes of the series, so as not to spoil any surprises.

Think of this 537–page book as the ultimate fact check. It’s that pause in the series, that chance to dig into the details of the books and prolong the fun, before reading the exciting concluding volumes. A must have for every Potter fan.

AVAILABLE FROM

Virtual Bookworm Publishing

http://www.virtualbookworm.com

Amazon.com Or Any Fine Book Retailer

ISBN: 1–58939–582–4

6” x 9”

537 Pages

TRADE PAPERBACK ONLY

Releasing our Start Your Summer Right Read this week, Book 4 of the Series

For those of you that have been patiently keeping up to speed with our Ioan Lennox series and just finished the “Easter” book, A Choice Collection of Rare Secrets, Bk. 3, in synch with the season, good news!

We’ve just sent our “Summer Kick-Off Read” to press today. The Powder of Sympathy, Bk. 4, which is set in June, will be available to order in a couple of days in ebook ($2.99) or paperback editions ($12.99, unless you buy Amazon, in which case $8 something).

(And yes, it is a brand new book. But we only publish NEW books in paperback because that is the only format that is Certified Sustainable Forest Industry product.)

Preview chapters, as always, are available on the FAB website (bottom of the page), and will be on Google Books within the next few days.

Here’s the blurb

It’s June in New York and Chief Investments and Acquisitions Officer Ioan Lennox is gearing up for the perfect summer at Sarsfields Auction House. With his wedding plans sorted, his fiancees career launched, and his own star ascending, it should all be smooth sailing.  But with the FBI’s sudden appearance in his office, a Vermeer’s sudden disappearance, and a perilous report that may or may not exist, the seas are about to become very choppy indeed. Can he chart a true cross through the towering waves, or is he destined to be dashed on the rocks? Discover for yourself in [Touching the Curing of Wounds:] The Powder of Sympathy – The Most Universal Cure.

Enjoy, you lucky sods!

Yes, it is a really long book title, but when you publish a series that uses genuine 17th-century book titles, it comes with the territory. If you can’t find the book listed under P for Powder, try using T for Touching!

And if you haven’t been keeping up with the series, catch up now, because our penultimate August End of Summer Fling read, Observations Upon “The Religion of Doctors,” and our series All Hallow’s Blow-Out Conclusion book, Loose Fantasies: The Memoirs, will be coming out right on time.

It’s not a symbol of mourning. It’s a symbol of hope.

“It’s a place holder. It’s not a symbol of mourning. I see it as a symbol of hope.”

— Anthony Amore

In the wee hours of this day, 21 years ago, as drunken St Patrick’s Day revellers were staggering home in the streets of Boston . . . . the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was robbed of 13 of its greatest and most well-beloved treasures, including the Vermeer pictured on the bookjacket below.

Over 2 decades have passed, but the museum has never given up hope that the art would be found. There remains frames, awaiting the return of canvases at the museum. And a $5 million reward is still waiting to be claimed.  At this point, there’s complete immunity for anyone that brings the art home. One can only hope that in the current economy, someone will return it for the reward, if not for the love of the art.

Until then . . . you can read a multipart story based on the fictional recovery of this art by Acascias Riphouse’s, starting with The Closet [of Sir Kenelm Digby, Esq.] Opened, published by Far Away Books (of course!) It’s available through Amazon and other retailers. You can also preview a few chapters online or even purchase the book for your e-reader for only $2 through Adobe Digital editions or other fine eBook retailers.

Officially OUT

The second book of the Ioan Lennox series is officially out.  Finally.  And in a decent time frame too as this is title is set at Christmas!

Last year we published the first volume in Sept, which was a bit of squeaker. The title is set in late October.  But, now people can read next month and another over Christmas, while we slave on to publish the “Easter” edition.

However, before any of that happens, the staff is going on retreat. Yeah, right!  And end up having to charge our customers for that? I don’t think so people.  But we can wander over to the local Buddhist center for a workshop on mediation and mala making.  A little window of calm in an otherwise wacky world.

Good enough.