Becoming a Bookseller

Corrugated Sky’s books at the Ellicott City Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

Last Saturday, June 30, I set up a small table for my first on-site book sales venture. The location was historic Ellicott City, Maryland, which has recently been ravaged by flooding for the second time in just a few years. The venue was the Howard County Historical Society’s Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

As nature would have it, the weather was not only hot, it was dangerously hot. The sale was smaller than I expected it to be, and for the first two hours a small but steady stream of people came by the table. And as the sun rose higher in the sky, the people evaporated in direct proportion to the amount of shade available — or more likely, ran for shelter to a nearby building or the air conditioning of their cars.

I sold two books, and I got sunburned. I passed out bookmarks for all the available titles (in case you can’t see them clearly in the photo, from left to right the books are Seacombe Island, Tales of the Black Dog, Smoke and Steam, and Hellfire) and chatted with a few people who stopped by. Quite a few people were accompanied by their dogs, who gamely trotted alongside their owners despite the heat.

While I wouldn’t call the sale a resounding success, it wasn’t a flop, and it was good to get out from behind the keyboard and spend some time outside. It was also a good way to test out the table I bought and play with some ideas for displaying books at events. I have a shopping list now: banner, table cloth, book easels.

The next venue is HallowRead — also held in Ellicott City — at the end of October.

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More Steam!

This week we are promoting our Steampunk anthology, Smoke and Steam, Corrugated Sky’s second title. The four stories are novella length, and yes, there are airships!

I’m answering the question about what inspired my story “Hekatite.” When we first decided on a Steampunk theme for the second anthology I began thinking about Victorian adventure stories, which is something that’s always had appeal for me. Journey to the Center of the Earth? Check. The Time Machine? Check. The Mysterious Island? Check. Check.

Combine that interest with the fact that I’d written about Arctic and Antarctic exploration a couple of years back for an encyclopedia that is coming out this year, and I suppose the germ of an idea was hatched. Oh, and throw in a James Bond-esque island with a hidden warehouse inside it, and you have Seacombe.

My story “Hekatite” takes place in the same world that my novel Seacombe Island is set, and includes three characters from the novel. The events in the novella take place roughly five years before the events in the novel and the story fills in some back story for the characters as well as information about Hekatite, the mysterious fuel that everyone wants to get their hands on. Hekatite is a volatile energy source that is refined from the Hekate orchid, a fictitious plant that grows only on Seacombe. Unfortunately, while the Hekatite is a great source of energy, it’s also quite poisonous.

Ha! You knew there was a catch, didn’t you? Well, there wouldn’t be much story if everything was so easy!

Now as it happens, I wrote “Hekatite” before I finished the final round of drafts on Seacombe Island. I found myself stuck on a few details about the protagonist and his interactions with a few of the characters, and writing the short story helped me sort out quite a few plot issues that I hadn’t managed to get a handle on. “Hekatite” is a fun read and I think you’ll be hooked and want to read the novel. Or, if you’ve read the novel, pick up the anthology. And if you haven’t read either, get both books! It won’t matter if you read the story or the novel first; while “Hekatite” fills in some blanks, it won’t spoil the plot of the novel and you’ll feel superior when you have an inkling of what’s happening while the novel’s protagonist, Thomas Ashton, is still trying to figure out what’s going on at Seacombe Island.

And actually, I’m still trying to figure out Seacombe Island. I’m sure the island is big enough for a few more mysteries — and a few more stories.

 

Seacombe Island Is Here!

cover of Seacombe Island

It’s here! My novel Seacombe Island has been published and is for sale on Amazon!

I began the novel as a 2011 NaNoWriMo manuscript. Since then, I’ve rewritten and edited most of the chapters several times and added a few characters that the zero draft didn’t include. Somewhere along the way I had put it aside while I finished graduate school, but the amount of work wasn’t ever really the issue. The big problem was that I had trouble developing the main character, Thomas Ashton. I had supporting characters who knew who they were right from the start, but not my protagonist. He was playing his cards close to his chest and refused to confide in me.

And so I put the manuscript aside and let the problem stew for awhile. Eventually I began sorting out some of the themes and gaining a better sense of what the driving forces were behind my characters. As I went through and edited some of the bits that were really irritating me the protagonist’s personality became clearer, and the more I delved into his backstory, the better I understood him.

What really helped me sort out some of the backstory was writing a short story based on the Seacombe Island world, “Hekatite,” which was published in the Smoke and Steam anthology this spring. Even though Tom isn’t in the short story, Edward Grey and Tom’s friend, Samuel Grey, are. Writing about them and figuring out what they were up to, and how it would affect Tom in the future, gave me a guideline and was a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoy Seacombe Island!

Running through the Year

My first attempt at acrylic painting. In case it’s not obvious, the red things are pears. And don’t ask why one of them is standing up!

I’m trying to get back into running. No, scratch that. I am getting back into running. I signed up for a 10K virtual race this time. No 5K — just straight into a 10K. Well, I haven’t been running, and the race is scheduled to be live in just three weeks, so I don’t have much time to train. That means, of course, that I’m going to be doing a lot more walking than I am running. The biggest issue is going to be just dealing with the time, because music, audiobooks, or story line for the race aside, the treadmill gets boring very quickly. But I have a list a mile long of why I won’t run in the neighborhood, and why I don’t want to drive to a park to do my running. So, treadmill it is.

The race is the Run to the Deep and I already have the tank top in hand (because who can resist a kraken?), but I won’t wear it until the official race. That’s going to be my reward for training and seeing the race through. After the race I’ll likely drop back and do some additional foundation work, aiming to keep building muscle and adding in some sprints to get my speed up. I’ve only been training about two and a half weeks, but I can feel a difference in my legs already.

In writing news, we’ve begun working on stories for our third Corrugated Sky anthology, which we hope to release in September. I can tell you that the theme is zombies, but you’ll have to buy the book to read the stories. I’ll keep posting updates as the projects progress. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up the cover art for Seacombe Island and doing a final read-through to catch any typos or other issues. The novel should be ready for release in early March and I’ll keep you up-to-date on its progress. We also have some other novels in the works, and a writer’s journal series that is currently under development. In all, we are hoping to release five new titles this year, so it’s going to be a busy spring and summer!