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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Encountering the Black Dog

Tales of the Black Dog was Corrugated Sky’s first anthology.

When you tell someone that you’re a writer, the first thing they ask is what kind of things you write. The second question they ask is where you got your inspiration for a story or book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

When we decided to form our own publishing company we put our heads together and came up with some themes for anthologies. The black dog legend has a long history and surprisingly is found in cultures around the world. For my story I was inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” as well as traditional English ghost stories that I grew up reading. The atmosphere of a lonely country road, the local inn where the country folk harbor some dark secret, and being stranded or trapped in a place or situation that you can’t get out of are all part of the setting for these traditional stories, and they worked their way into mine.

During the summer when we were working on Tales of the Black Dog my husband and I went on a trip to Maine. We stopped at a coffee shop for a bite to eat and took our coffee and sandwiches outside, where there were tables and Adirondack chairs for guests to enjoy. I went back inside the shop for something, and when I came out there was a huge black dog sitting next to my chair as though it were patiently waiting for me to return. No kidding, this really happened!

My husband gave me one of those knowing looks, and I burst out laughing. I sat back down and for a few minutes the dog didn’t move from that spot. Yes, it was really weird, but despite reading old legends of black dogs being associated with death, I’d read other legends that said the black dogs were protector spirits, especially of women. I’m pretty sure it was a real dog, and that is was just a coincidence, but there’s always that small doubt … in any case, that particular black dog did a good job of protecting my chair and making sure no one else sat there until I got back!

And now we’re working on our third anthology, which is about zombies. I hope I don’t meet one of them!

October Is for Anthology

Ah, yes, that’s a bit of a lame title for the blog post this week, but it’s eerily prescient. Last year (in October) we launched Corrugated Sky Publishing with the publication of our first anthology, Tales of the Black Dog. We started a second anthology with the hopes of printing it this spring, but that came and went and then the summer sun burned down on us and we still didn’t have a finished book in hand. And now it’s October again, and we are very, very close to getting the second anthology in print. So close that we will probably have it next week, just in time for Halloween — again!

This second book is called Smoke and Steam and it’s big: 260 pages, which means that what started out as four Steampunk short stories morphed into four Steampunk novellas, including “Wings over Staria” by JC Rock, “Hekatite” by Karen Garvin, “Heart of the Matter” by Michelle Schad, and “Freedom for a Foster” by Cathryn Leigh. We’ll have the book available in paperback and ebook versions on Amazon, but while you’re waiting for our second anthology, why not pick up a copy of the first one — Tales of the Black Dog? After all, it contains some great horror stories, and what better time of year to read them?

With the anthology all but finished except evicting a few typos and finalizing our print files, it’s time for me to get back to other writing projects. The looming question, with November coming up, is whether I’m going to do NaNo this year. I did it last year and managed to meet the word count, so technically I had a “win,” but the story never quite jelled into something worthwhile. It was supposed to be a noir mystery, but the only “noir” was my character riding a bus at night and the only “mystery” was the plot. I loved my title (Killing Palatino); I also liked the art I came up with for the cover. Maybe I’ll dust it off sometime, but not this fall.

I do have another book idea that I’ve been thinking of developing. It would be a young adult story and the protagonist would be a young girl who lives in a country where being healthy is considered a social duty and being overweight is illegal. I want the politics to be in the background, not in-your-face, but I’ll need to develop an interesting character who has motives and desires. I have some ideas, but you’re going to have to wait at least until December to learn more … as will I!

October Scribblings

This year has been pretty unproductive as far as writing goes, although I’m pleased to announce that Corrugated Sky‘s second anthology, Smoke and Steam, is in production and we hope to have it out before Halloween. Save up your dimes and be sure to buy a copy (or two or three)! The book will include four novella-length short stories, so this volume will be much heftier than Tales of the Black Dog, running in the neighborhood of 250 pages.

I have to admit that work has wiped me out mentally this year, but I finally feel as though I’m pulling out of the nose-dive and managing to get back at the keyboard without feeling an overwhelming sense of loathing. Since I work as a copy editor, I read all the time and I guess I just got burned out. Instead of writing and reading, I’ve been taking up knitting (yes, really) and making small projects that make me feel as though I’ve accomplished something. Although I did make a shawl, and that wasn’t really a small project, so I feel doubly accomplished for managing to finish the project (and I’ve even worn it a couple of times).

I have three major writing projects on my desk right now: the Smoke and Steam anthology; my novel, Seacombe Island; and a nonfiction project that I’m developing from my master’s thesis, which has been sitting for three years collecting dust. I’m ambivalent about doing NaNo this year, but a part of me says that I need the mental challenge and group pressure to get back at the keyboard and stay there. We’ll see. I have 26 days to make up my mind!