Category Archives: Conventions

Bogged Down in Tax Prep

It’s that time of year again when I haul out all the receipts I’ve compulsively saved and start wading through them to find the numbers necessary for the accountant (yes, we have an accountant, first because Ramón was a 1099 contractor and I wanted a pro to help us with deductions, and now because I have the multiple income streams of a creative worker and I need a pro to make sense of them to the IRS). I know this would all be much faster and easier if I regularly entered everything in spreadsheets, but I find going through the receipts to be oddly soothing.

Prepping Ramón’s numbers is pretty straightforward — he works from home so I have to go through and tot up all the utilities for the house so that the accountant can work out the deduction for the dedicated home office. Then it’s my turn. Turns out I didn’t sell that much jewelry last year (not surprising), but I did spend a hellacious fortune on business expenses, mainly travel (also unsurprising, seeing as I attended Wild Wicked Weekend, RT in Vegas, Evernight’s writer retreat in Ontario, and did a research trip to the Atlantic coast of Florida). At least now I know where all the money from Empress of Storms went. And my accountant will be happy because I have all of these legitimate expenses backed up with paper.

That being said, I’m going to seriously rein in the travel this year, mainly because both my laptop and my desktop are on the way out and I need to replace them ASAP with what I make from royalties. So no RT for me this year, and I probably won’t do RWA either which is a bit disappointing but oh, well. On the other hand, if I write my ass off and put out another Two Thrones and two more Pacifica Rising books this year, plus the standalones that are patiently waiting for me to finish them, I should be able to buy the computer equipment I need this year, and go to RT and RWA next year.

Speaking of that, once I get all the papers off to the accountant on Monday I will be spending most of next week outlining Pacifica Rising 2 and Two Thrones 3 (try saying that three times fast). I still don’t have a really solid idea about PR2 apart from the fact that the main romantic focus will remain on Evie and Ben while a rogue bodyguard from the Denali Protectorate shows up and makes Rob’s life difficult, but TT3 is going to feature a Hellan tournament to celebrate Danaë’s pregnancy (thank you, Medieval Times, for giving me the idea) during which an unexpected rival from Matthias’s past resurfaces and complicates things. Oh, and we’ll get to meet the Grand High Magister Aeris, Epilonious, who has decided to take young Luna under his wing and drive her grandfather and step-grandmother absolutely batty in the process. Fun times!

It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.

And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.

To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year)  I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).

So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.

Author swag, promo, and wine — oh, my!

facebookad_countdown3So I’m running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to get my gift basket and author swag for Wild Wicked Weekend put together, and I like how things are shaping up. The gift basket will have a tiara, three–count them, three–bottles of wine, both Two Thrones books and Degree of Resistance (CreateSpace worked a miracle and the print copies should arrive the morning I leave for San Antonio), some lovely chocolates from World Market, Belgian hazelnut cookies, a VISA gift card, a Burt’s Bees care package, and a purse-sized lint roller and bottle of hand sanitizer for purposes of practicality. If you’re coming to San Antonio next weekend, make sure you bid on my basket — it’s going to be awesome. Also, come find me at the group signing and get me to personalize your books.

lhI’m also busy doing promo on Facebook and Twitter for Degree of Resistance, (THREE MORE DAYS, PEOPLE! Get your copy at 99¢ while you still can!) and I came close to disaster a few times. See, in order to have the ad graphic appear instead of the graphic link to Amazon I have to upload the ad first, then paste in the text with the Amazon link. The link is still active, but that way I get to choose what graphic gets used in the post.

Under normal circumstances this little dance works splendidly, except that my graphic is only one of two graphics on my desktop at the moment and I almost posted a picture of Louis Herthum a couple of times. Which wouldn’t be bad, mind you, especially since he provided so much inspiration for this book. But it’s rude to involve people in your PR without their permission.

That being said — damn, he’s cute.

The State of the Writer

As of an hour ago I finished the Weasel Word edit on Degree of Resistance. I am going to do a final read through this morning (what I refer to as the gloss pass), then compile the file for Amazon and upload. As of tomorrow it’s pretty much locked in place, so all I have to do then generate the ARC copies for my advance readers and focus on advertising, whee! I have to admit I am very pumped about this book — all of my betas have been very positive about it, and one even said it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. I also realized that it’s my seventh full-length novel, which is kinda cool now that I think about it. I Are A Writer!

Getting the ebook locked in also means I can get this place clean before heading down to San Antonio next week for Wild Wicked Weekend. I’ll have print copies of Empress of Storms and Palace of Scoundrels available — I was hoping to have copies of Degree as well, but I don’t think I can get them shipped in time, boo!

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By the by, we’re having a release day party on Facebook starting at 7:00 PM CST, and among other things I’ll be giving away a brand-new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet with 32GB of memory, as well as Amazon and Starbucks GCs and custom jewelry, so make sure you stop by for the festivities.

And She Returns…

My goodness, I haven’t posted anything since before RT, have I? Bad romance writer, NO new MacBook Pro!

No, seriously, no new MacBook Pro. I was going to buy one this weekend with my royalties because my existing laptop is 1) over eight years old and 2) was a refurb when I bought it, but as it turns out I need to use my income for other writing-related expenses — namely, a cover (more about that later), sponsorship and attendance for Wild Wicked Weekend, and to pay off my half of an upcoming trip.

So the new laptop will have to wait another month. Which sort of sucks, but that’s adulting for you.

Anyway, back to RT — I decided to drive from Dallas to Vegas instead of flying because I was in the mood for a roadtrip (and er, I had a lot of shit to bring). Said road trip was gorgeous, and I learned that it is geographically noticeable when you cross from Texas into New Mexico and New Mexico into Arizona. At the TX/NM border the landscape immediately changes from flat plains to gorgeously colored mesas, and at the NM/AZ border it immediately turns into scrubby desert with the occasional mountain until you get to Flagstaff, at which point you’re definitely in the mountains. Lovely, and I’d like to do it again with Ramón if possible.

Vegas itself is the neon-lit adult funland that it’s always been, so no real news there. The Rio was perfectly serviceable as a hotel, although I did hear that the route from the hotel rooms to the conference area was referred to as “the Hallway of Doom” due to its distance. Let’s just say that I hit 10K steps on four different days and leave it at that. Much fun was had with the lovely LD Blakeley as my roommate, and we attended some nifty panels, hung out with great folks like Kenna Nauenberg and Alex Gordon, and of course attended the amazing Cirque du Punk party on Friday night.

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Kenna, LD, and myself. I was yelping, “I have a waist, I have a waist!” when LD was lacing me up.

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Lady Amphitrite before the nails and corset went on, because those were saved for last, you betcha.

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Two erotic romance writers loose in Vegas. I’m surprised we didn’t get into more trouble.

Photo courtesy of Michael Patrick Gleason

Competing in the CdP costume contest (picture courtesy of Michael Patrick Gleason). I cannot adequately express how much I love this costume.

The other big event of RT for me was the Book Fair on Saturday. I didn’t sell a lot, but I did get to see sights like this:

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My life is so hard.

Sunday was spent tidying up, trying to get everything packed (or in LD’s case cursing UPS for their extortionate charges to ship stuff to Canada), and hanging out with fellow Evernight author Khloe Wren and awesome cover model Michael Gleason:

KhloeLDMeMichaelRT16

After this LD and I looked at each other, said, “Let’s get out of the hotel for a bit,” and went for a cruise up and down the Las Vegas strip during which we spotted many crimes against good taste, what we suspect is a genuine murder hotel, and a gigantic and truly scary gift shop.

The next day I dropped LD off at the airport and headed home (including a white-knuckle drive during a severe thunderstorm in the Texas Panhandle) to get back to work on all the WIPs I need to finish toot sweet. I also tried to finish a short story for Evernight’s Dark Captive anthology, but the damn thing blew up on me and turned into a short novel. So, um, yeah, look for Do No Harm this summer from Belaurient Press!

In other publishing news, I sold the German language translation of Trickster to Me and the Muse Publishing in Germany, I’m currently waiting on a decision from Juno Publishing in France as to whether they want to publish Empress of Storms in French, and a very good friend of mine will be releasing a hot and hilarious new M/M erotic novelette on Tuesday which I will be helping out with on promo (trust me, you want to read this). The current work queue includes (counts on fingers) Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4), Behind the Iron Cross, Prince of Scoundrels (Two Thrones #2), Do No Harm, and Trickster: All In. That should be enough to keep me going for a couple of months, don’t you think?

Mermaid crown progress pics

It’s official — I love Worbla thermoplastic because this shit is da BOMB. I deliberately wanted the crown to look a bit rough and organic (twisted spines between the fins, etc.) so I didn’t worry too much about smoothing out the surface apart from a layer of wood glue. If you do want a smooth surface you can use wood glue, gesso, or air-drying clay (NOT SCULPEY — you bake this and the entire thing will melt), or apply some craft foam instead. Tried it on and loved it. Loved it even more when I put on a layer of gold paint in the garage and it looked like gold foil. Yay!

If there’s another costume event next year, I’m going as Lady Amphitrite again, but I’m going in her battle gear. Hee, hee, hee…

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75% of the way there, costume-wise

CostumeTest01Okay, for those of you following along at home, this is the chemise, skirt, corset, and bustle of my Steampunk Mermaid costume, plus trident (the pole will be painted gold tomorrow along with the crown once I finish it). And yes,that’s my cello in the background.

I couldn’t put on the whole thing (wig and makeup) because the cats picked that moment to go completely apeshit and start hissing and fighting all over the place, but this gives you an idea of what I’m working with. It’s not very clear unless I spread the skirt, but those are sparkly blue tulle fins on either side, and the white and gold rope trim close to the bottom of the skirt covers the marking line where I was supposed to put a bottom ruffle before I found out that 1) I didn’t have enough blue satin material and 2) the bustle material simply wouldn’t work that way (note for costumers — if you ever work with a foil material, be aware that you’ll need to stabilize it somehow, either by using a lightweight iron-on interfacing or doing a zigzag stitch along the edges, because that shit will tear apart at seams at a harsh word if it’s not reinforced). Que sera, sera. At least the trim looks nice, and I have pretty white fishnet stockings and gloves that will finish off the piece.

Shoes? Pewter granny boots. Totally steampunk.

The corset, by the way, will be covered in a teal hologrammatic scale fabric (shown below), but I’m literally just tacking it to the corset so I can do that any time between now and Friday. Now that I have the actCostumeTest04ual clothes done I need to get a move on and finish the crown tomorrow so that I can vacuum up the metric ton of blue glitter that’s been shed all over the house from the tulle trim (I found some in my eyebrows this afternoon. I ask you).

The bustle, despite being made in that shreddy foil material, turned out to be gorgeous. There was a drape section in the pattern that went across the front of the skirt, but I didn’t make it because 1) I ran out of time and 2) I didn’t really want to add more mass to that particular area of my body. I’d like to take a crack at doing a proper bustle skirt and matching jacket one of these days, especially now that I have the pattern for it. And I pointed out to Ramón that my corset comes in three other colors, including maroon. Seeing as he loves me in a corset and we just got our tax refund, I may be getting some pressies soon, whee.CostumeTest02

Further Notes From Costume Construction

  • Chemise01I’d completely forgotten the hell that is slippery/synthetic fabric and the pain in the ass that it is to pin and cut accurately. The chemise at left had me channeling curse words from Sumerian.
  • Speaking of the chemise, it’s actually off the shoulder, but I had to pin it onto the hanger in order to get the picture. It looks better in person, I swear. Not thrilled with the sparkly tulle trim — I wanted it to be puffier and more drag queen-esque, but couldn’t figure out how to do that.
  • Sometimes you have to say “hell no” to a pattern and go your own way. I do not need three rows of ruffles and a ruched front on this skirt. I’m going to be sweltering as it is — I don’t need to add “passing out from heat exhaustion” to the evening.
  • Especially since I will be wearing (from skin outwards) a bra, panties, nylons, fishnet stockings, the chemise, bustle skirt, corset, wig cap, wig, and crown. And pewter granny boots. I suspect I will need someone to pry them off my feet by the end of the evening.
  • Since I’m not making extraneous ruching, however, it means I can use the extra fabric left over from the bustle fabric to make a single ruffle around the bottom, mainly because it turns out I don’t have enough of the skirt fabric to do so.
  • Do you know what’s the easiest way to gain a cat’s attention? Rustle paper. Do you know what sound you make when cutting out patterns? I swear, half of my day was spent turfing cats off the cutting table.
  • Glitter is indeed the herpes of the crafting world.
  • All the skirt sections sans ruffle have been cut out and will be sewn together in the morning. With any luck I may finish both skirt and bustle tomorrow night. Then I just have to do the crown, paint the trident pole gold, tack down the scaly fabric on the corset, and we’re ready to rock.

#RT16 Cirque du Punk Costume So Far…

What I have purchased so far:

  • 5 yards of pale teal crinkled poly fabric (chemise)
  • 1 yard of silky white poly fabric (chemise)
  • 5 yards of metallic teal and gold striped fabric (bustle skirt)
  • 5 yards of deep teal satin fabric (bustle skirt)
  • gunmetal underbust corset
  • 1 yard teal hologrammatic fish scale fabric to cover underbust corset
  • golden trident
  • Worbla for crown
  • blue/green long curly wig
  • brilliant blue contacts
  • white fishnet stockings
  • white fishnet gloves
  • false eyelashes
  • Maybelline eyeshadow set in Shimmering Siren
  • Nyx thick eye pencil in Milk
  • Nyx single eyeshadow in Turnt Teal
  • Nyx thick eye pencil in dark blue (have no idea of the color name)

What I still have to get:

  • wig cap
  • wig head for styling wig/creating crown
  • white sparkly tulle for shoulder poufs, damn you RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • flat side pearls and paua cabochons for crown
  • craft foam for crown

On the plus side, I will be wearing this costume again to various cons and events, I can assure you. But man, that’s a lot of stuff for one evening.

Well, then!

As of yesterday, Empress of Storms earned approximately $6,092 in royalties for Q1 of 2016. Not only is this a career high for quarterly royalties, it’s also a career high for any individual title from me, and has paid for Wild Wicked Weekend, my upcoming appearance at RT 2016 (plus my awesome steampunk mermaid costume), and part of our new furnace. As Carl the Groundskeeper from Caddyshack would say, I’ve got that going for me.

Even better, the sales don’t seem to be slacking off any time soon, so hopefully this trend will continue because we still need to fix the foundation and put in new flooring and windows (right now the house is echoing with rapid fire knocks as the roofers tear off our old shingles and put on new ones in advance of the storm we’re supposed to get tomorrow. Thank Cthulhu for homeowner’s insurance, that’s all I have to say). In the meantime, I’m hard at work on Palace of Scoundrels, and since cover artist Jay Aheer has now been signed exclusively to Evernight Publishing I’m going to take a crack at doing the cover myself. I showed the draft cover to L.D. Blakeley a couple of days ago and her response was, “LOVE!” so I think I’m on the right track. Once I’ve got everything ready for edits and loading into various sales outlet I’ll do a cover reveal, promise.

Of course, if you want to see the cover earlier you can always sign up for my mailing list. It’s super low traffic, and subscribers get first crack at covers, sneak peeks, and swag giveaways.

In other news, I’m about a third of the way done with my RT costume, and I picked up eye makeup, press-on nails, and false eyelashes last night to complete the look. I also popped for blue contacts — they’re not super obvious, but look nice enough. It was fascinating to see myself with blue eyes (my real eye color is brown), because the resemblance to my blue-eyed blond brother became much more marked. Now if I can just finish the chemise, bustle skirt, and crown by April 9th, I should be ready to roll.