Mystery Workshop in November–Register now!

It’s official! Brian Thornton and I will be at Cascade Writers November 5, talking and teaching about Writing Mysteries. Register soon for this all-day workshop!
cascade-mysteries

Posted in Uncategorized, workshop/teaching

More Kickstarter news

Oh my! The Kickstarter for The Death of All Things and 2 other new anthologies from Zombies Need Brains is over 50% percent funded. And there’s still 27 days to go. Spread the word and let’s hit those stretch goals! Special reward levels include tuckerizations, extra stories, and special swag!

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapbookery (Using Cheap Impostor)

I decided to create a small chapbook of a short Greywalker story that I did back in 2007, so I’d have something to take to Bellingham Comic Con. So, I’m relearning how to impose and mock up a small booklet. I have a journalism degree, but I haven’t had to use this knowledge in 25 years, so I’m a bit rusty and had to start over from scratch. After a bit of looking around on the internet for a cheap alternative to professional software, I found several options and, in this case I’m using Cheap Impostor and a cranky HP printer at home.

The chapbook mock-up (on the right), with a sample imposition page with notes for various pdf and printer adjustments. (The dragon is just being a paperweight.)

The chapbook mock-up (on the right), with a sample imposition page with notes for various pdf and printer adjustments. (The dragon is just being a paperweight.)

This is a bit of a best-guess-rough-and-ready sort of process here, but after a lot of investigation and ruined paper, it did work, and produced a useable PDF (or in my case several variations) that can be sent to a print shop to create a 2-up print-and-bind imposition for the interior of a small book. The software can produce multiple signatures (it’s explained in the pdf manual that comes with the download) if one is a little mental and desperate to create a whole novel-length book, but it takes a bit of mucking about to figure all this out. On the other hand, it’s $35, instead of several thousand for a pro set up.

The annoying thing about this specific process is that you have to create a pdf of your text with the formatting already in place (I used Libre Office, but with a longer piece I’d be using a compiled files from Scrivener that had been tweaked in LO-pretending-to-be-Word). A big professional set up just flows the raw text into the print format, allowing you to tweak things like font size, leading, kerning, and so on as you set up the print file. This software is not that flexible. Once you’ve got a pdf that’s basically what you want, you feed it to Cheap Impostor and the software then reduces your original pdf pages to fit in a 2-up imposition of 2 pp per side, double-sided, in a landscape orientation (basically a standard letter-sized paper, folded in half to create 4 page positions). The default is standard signatures of 32 pages, but it happily creates sub-standard sigs of any multiple of 4. In this case a “half sig” of 16 pages, which is 4 sheets of standard US letter paper.

But because the software is, essentially just reducing photos of the pages and moving them around, the print gets tiny and big white spaces develop at the top and bottom of the page while side margins and gutters get a bit thin. The answer, I discovered, was to reset my paper size from US letter to A4, which, once reduced, is closer in proportion to a half-sheet of folded US letter paper than an unfolded sheet of US letter is and produces a more pleasing proportion and margins–though I did still have to tinker a bit with the margins a bit.

First page, interior of chapbook mock up with full, printed imposition.

First page, interior of chapbook mock up with full, printed imposition.

The other thing I had to figure out was the font size. The standard 12pt Times becomes an unreadable 9 point nightmare at the standard 69% reduction required. So I had to go back into my .docx file and tinker with the font sizes, effects, headers, footers, white-space blocks, and so on, reflow, check in the print preview and then adjust again until I got it right (or acceptably close.) In my case I ended up with 18 pt Baskerville–it is a little thinner and taller than Times and “shoots down” a little less bulky, but Times would have worked all right.

Because my HP OfficeJet 7500A wide format printer doesn’t do automatic double-sided printing, I had to set Cheap Impostor’s output preferences to “manual duplex,” and (because the HP collates back to front) set the duplex printing order to “reverse odd pages.” I also had to reprint a few times to figure out exactly how to flip the paper when I reloaded it for its second run through the printer. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of paper figuring it out, but in the end, I got several pdf print files which will work for whatever type of print set up I run into.

Mock up interior showing final page (and copyright information) of the full, printed imposition.

Mock up interior showing final page (and copyright information) of the full, printed imposition.

Now I just need to do something about that lack of proper cover, but I do have one interior page and up to three cover positions (besides the front exterior, where the art or title or something will go) on which to put additional information about the book series, my website, bio, social media contacts and so on.

Posted in book business, diy, print-and-bindery, short stories, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Death of All Things Anthology Kickstarter is LIVE!

SUBMERGED_Final.jpgThe Kickstarter for the next Zombies Need Brains Anthologies is now open for pledges! Laura Anne Gilman and I are the editors for The Death of All things–a collection of stories featuring Death itself (himself? theirselves?) in many variations and incarnations– and the line up is stellar! Which is not to say that the other anthologies in this set are not going to be superb as well–just look at the lists of contributors who are already on board and you know they’re going to kick some ass. You really want these–yes you do–so go, pledge, and pass on the news to your friends, family, and coworkers who love a good read!#KickZNB4

Posted in Uncategorized

Urban Allies Reviewed

Urban Allies got a nice review at Publisher’s Weekly last week! “Readers will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing their favorite heroes solving cases together and will enjoy being introduced to new characters and settings.”

It’ll be out on July 26 so… if you want to read some really cool crossover fiction, be sure to pre-order. (Easy ordering links to all your favorite sites are available on the Harper Collins site: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062391346/urban-allies )

Posted in anthologies, blatant self-promotion, Book reviews news and 'zines, Cool writerly people, short stories, Stuff about the book(s) | 1 Comment

Media Update

Greywalker film/TV option renewed for another 6 months. (*small squee*) Hoping for further exciting news on the work front.

Posted in blatant self-promotion, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Project Started

I started a new project today based on an old project I can remember but not find the scraps and notes for. So far it’s weird in ways that make me happy and I did 1,531 words. I shall show you the following 69 of them:

They probably think he’s dead—he hopes they think he’s dead. He thought he was dead. But he’d thought that since he saw the two thugs on his tail. What’s Threcki got to be so pissed about, anyhow? It’s not like Ince killed anybody—or even stole anything. He just… borrowed the signal scrambler for a little while. He put it back! God’s death… There’s no pleasing some people.

Posted in blatant self-promotion, WiP, Writing

Workshop Podcast Upcoming

The second half of my Round Table Podcast, the Workshop Episode, is coming up tomorrow!

Posted in blatant self-promotion, Uncategorized

Podcast is Up!

I’m on the Round Table Podcast “20 Minutes With…” segment today with Dave Robison and Heather Welliver!

Posted in blatant self-promotion, Uncategorized

20 Minutes With… Me!

Whoohoo! I’ll be on the upcoming “20 Minutes with…” interview at Round Table Podcast this coming Tuesday, May 31!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

We Have a Cover!

We have a cover!

Shadowed Souls

My short story “Peacock in Hell” is part of this amazing anthology, Shadowed Souls, that will be released in November (and you can preorder it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite Indie!). I’m in great company, here. Edited by Kerrie Hughes and Jim Butcher, with stories by Jim, Tanya Huff, Erik Scott de Bie, Kevin J Anderson, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jim Hines, Lucy A. Snyder, Anton Strout, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Posted in anthologies, other people's books, short stories | 1 Comment

Hooverville

Outlet of the Research Rabbit Hole: I’ve been looking at a lot of material about the Great Depression of the 1930s and one of the interesting things I’ve discovered is that Herbert Hoover–who is sometimes called one of the worst presidents in American history–turns out to be a fascinating, contradictory, and complex guy and probably a better president than he’s given credit for. It’s interesting reading during a particularly bizarre election year.

Ironically, it was Hoover–a Republican–who started many of the programs that FDR adopted into “the New Deal.” He backed the Glass-Steagall banking act we now hear so much about, and the Bacon-Davis Act that established the maximum 8-hour work day. He outlined what became FDR’s “Good Neighbor Policy”. He was a Quaker, pro-labor Progressive, humanitarian, relief worker, and reformer. He was a mining engineer, and self-made millionaire who rejected Andrew Mellon’s “laissez faire” policies, a progressive, but also a prohibitionist, who was both courted and reviled by both major parties at various times in his career. He backed Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive “Bull Moose Party”, but was a registered Republican. He was appointed to offices by a Democratic president, and had been wooed to run for President earlier as a Democrat, but chose not to run at that time and later ran for President as a Republican, while having the support of FDR and other Democrats, but not the Republican president (Coolidge) whom he was about to succeed.

At the same time he made political enemies of Winston Churchill and other key European leaders by organizing various food relief projects for Belgians, Germans, and Russians after the first World War. At home, he strangled the licensing of “non-useful” radio stations, and was unable to stop (or turned a blind eye at the time) to the brutalization of black farmers during relief and relocation efforts after the Mississippi flood of 1927, which he then persuaded Robert Russa Moton–President of the Tuskegee Institute–to help him cover up so his presidential campaign would not be damaged.

Interesting stuff.

Posted in research, writing stuff