Category Archives: Vella

Bluenoses At the ‘Zon

Crystal Blade Episode 27: Eureka! is live at Kindle Vella. You know the drill.

I have noticed something fascinating with Kindle Vella. As you know, Bob, some of my stuff can get rather steamy and Episode 26 was one of those zesty episodes. I named it Down Mexico Way because that is an amusing nickname for the activity that happened in the episode (and if you don’t know what the term refers to I suggest you read the episode and find out).

Usually when I post an episode, it gets approved within a couple of hours and goes live. But when I posted Down Mexico Way it took a full eight hours to get approved. I then had to edit it slightly (wound up adding a bit to the last paragraph that I needed to delete and move to Episode 27), and resubmitted it. It took another eight hours to get approved. When you release episodes on Vella you are warned that they can take up to 72 hours to be released, presumably so that if a reviewing bot stumbles across something “questionable” in the ep it can be put in a holder until a human reviewer can get to it). I can only assume that either the reviewer bots know what “Down Mexico Way” means or found some key naughty words in the episode that caused them to put it on the, “Yeah, we need a grownup here” list.

Which is good to know for future episodes because there will be more zesty scenes coming up in Crystal Blade. Being aware that it will take at least eight hours for them to be released gives me a more accurate timeline of when I should click the Publish button.

By the way, I’m not complaining about the extra hold. I’m playing in the ‘Zon’s sandbox and I have to abide by their rules, and they will not publish anything that contains certain verboten topics (and with good reason) so they need to check what’s published through them. But it amuses me that some human had to spot check my little episode of languissement.

Stupid Body Tricks

Crystal Blade Episode 26: Down Mexico Way is live at Kindle Vella. If you enjoy spice, you’ll like this one.

Meanwhile, my left leg is acting up and the knee is hurting like a complete bitch due in part to 1) osteoarthritis, 2) what I think is a sciatica attack, and 3) the mondo hella rainstorm we had in the wee hours of the morning, so I didn’t really get to sleep until 5:00 AM and didn’t get up until noon. This neatly screwed up my plans for the day to go to the main branch of my bank and get my business checking and savings account started. I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

And yes, it is nice that I have the freedom to sleep in if I need it, but I also work every hour the Flying Spaghetti Monster sends so there are tradeoffs, believe me. With luck and a handful of NSAIDs I should be able to get to sleep early tonight, which will let me head out in the morning and hit the bank. Once that’s done, I can start the business PayPal account, and then I can start selling signed books from the website.

I’m also  looking into ways to use the Silhouette to brand the boxes. It’s a little extra work, true, but readers really like having the decorated boxes and it’s only an afternoon’s worth of work to print out and apply the decals to a stack of boxes. If nothing else it give me an excuse to play with the Silhouette and make some more magnetic book marks to add to the books as swag.

I Am the Queen of Organization

I was serious when I said I’m going to start thinking like the small business owner I am.

I already have spreadsheets for my income and expenses so I just have to update those tomorrow with the month’s numbers. But I now also have three separate punch lists in Excel—one for Belaurient Arts, one for Belaurient Press, and one for general Belaurient business, all items with Due By dates and switches to indicate whether or not they’re done (and if not, what has to be done to get them finished. Because sometimes Stuff Happens™).

In addition to the punch lists I have a schedule for formatting books and setting them wide, and once that’s all done by the middle of June I’ll haul my recording equipment into the master bathroom closet and start recording audiobooks (yes, you’re finally getting audiobooks from me. I figure I did a podcast for years, did voiceovers for various training projects, and according to people who have listened to me at cons I give good reading so I may as well do them myself).

As for today, I formatted Storm Season, put it wide, and got started on formatting Breaker Zone (why oh why was I using such huge chapters back then? It is a puzzlement) before I had to run out and pick up some stuff, then make dinner. Once I post this I’m going back upstairs to knock out Friday’s episode of Crystal Blade for Vella, then at 11:30 PM I’ll publish tomorrow’s episode.

And I dunno if this mindset is impressing people, or I’m being rewarded by the universe, or what, but I have sold ten books just on Amazon in the last week. Since my series are no longer in KU and actual sales are the only way I’m making money on the ‘Zon, this is cheering.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Belaurient Press

Crystal Blade Episode 23: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise is live at Vella. You know the drill.

I got my proof copy of Melanie’s short story collection Random Realities today (the print version really did turn out beautifully), and I noticed the colophon on the spine. That’s when I realized—I never explained how Belaurient Press got its name, did I?

Story time—back in college I used to play D&D occasionally, and one time I was working on creating a magic user character. I noodled around with some names and finally came up with Bel’orient (it was the mid-80’s, I apologize, I know better now).

One of my fellow gamers who was clearly ahead of his time suggested that I get rid of the apostrophe and change the name’s spelling. Thanks to the beauty of homophones, I adjusted it to Belaurient and thought, “Ooh, yes. I like that. My character’s name is Belaurient.”

She died in the next game. Fast forward to 2008 and I decided to set up an Etsy store to sell my jewelry and other wares. When it came time to name the store, Belaurient popped back into my head and I decided to go with Belaurient Arts.

Fast forward a little more to 2012 when I decided to bring out Random Realities and needed a name for my eensy publishing company that would produce the book. I figured, what the hell, I was a sole proprietor and could do what I liked, so I named the company Belaurient Press.

Of course, because I am a completist I needed a colophon (the little graphic that is the logo of the publishing house and is printed on the bottom of the spine) for Belaurient Press. I wanted something simple yet memorable, and after some noodling around in Illustrator I came up with the little juggler logo because 1) I am actually a juggler (learned it for a community theater production of Barnum), and running Belaurient Press requires a lot of juggling of assorted hats.

So that’s how my publishing company was named and its colophon came to be. Of course, once I start my LLC I’m going to have to come up with a name that encompasses both the jewelry company and the publishing company. Must think on that a bit more…

And Finished

All of the Melanie books have now been sent off to Smashwords and Google Play, so hopefully everything will be accepted at SW and sent off to Kobo/Apple/B&N later this week.

Which means I can return to Crystal Blade and get episodes 23 and 24 hammered out, edited, and uploaded to Vella for release on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. I also need to get on my stick and get the book finished ASAP because I no longer have a two week cache of episodes anymore and that makes me nervous.

I also really need to knuckle down and get the PayPal business account started this week so that I can add purchase buttons here. The thing that’s holding me back is that I would really like to have an EIN and a separate business bank account first, in order to keep the book money separate from my personal money. I’m just gonna have to get an EIN online, then go into my credit union and set up a new account. Ideally I would also prefer to have an LLC, but that will have to wait until I have enough money to file for one.

Mother’s Day Approacheth

Crystal Blade Episode 19: At Her Majesty’s Pleasure is now live on Kindle Vella. Go read it already.

So yeah, Sunday is Mother’s Day, not that this has any real onus on me since my mother is currently sitting at the heavenly poolside dandling William Holden in her lap, but I know it’s an important day for a lot of mothers and their kids. If you fall into one of these categories I hope that the day is pleasant, stress-free, and provides you with everything that makes you happy.

In other news, all of the Olympic Cove and Two Thrones books, as well as Stealing Dmitri, are now officially out of KU and I fully expect to see my Amazon income crater until I can get Crystal Blade out. Still, I think I’m doing the smart thing by taking most of my series out of KU (I’m leaving the Paladins of Crystal books in there because KU is tailor-made for Why Choose readers). I’ve already seen a significant jump in wide sales of the Esposito County Shifters books and omnibus, better than they had been selling on Amazon, and I’m hoping that as I set the other novels wide I’ll see improved sales on all those as well. Maybe not enough to offset the KU income loss, but hey, that’s what Vella, audiobooks, and selling print books from my website are for, right?


It’s Wednesday. You Know What That Means

Crystal Blade Episode 18: That Escalated Quickly is now available at Vella. Help a writer out and read the story, okay?

In other news I’m busily plowing through Shadow of the Swan in Vellum to make sure the formatting is accurate, and I have to admit that this story holds up well. I probably went a little overboard writing in a Victorian style but it’s still fun and engaging, and The Crimson and the Black is a pure romp. When I get around to working on To Love a Wild Swan I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with Louisa’s cousin Nessa and her unwilling Seelie Sidhe fiancé. I’m still toying with the idea of giving him a boyfriend who also takes a fancy to Nessa, but I’m not sure how that would fly with readers of this series.

Then again, Fyodora is pan and there was a FF love scene in Crimson, there are gay and lesbian couples in the supporting characters, and nobody’s complained about that. I think it might be fun for Nessa to join an icily handsome Fae and a (literally) hot djinn in a menage.

I Do Love a Productive Monday

  • Got Crystal Blade Episode 17: Loose Lips Sink Ships up at Vella
  • Finished editing Blade Episodes 21 and 22
  • Got them saved on Vella so I have a full two weeks’ worth of episodes to post every M-W-F
  • Started working on Blade Episode 23 and got a goodly chunk of it done
  • Did a very necessary food shop
  • Swept and vacuumed the downstairs
  • Finished shaping a double gallery setting—next up is building V-shaped prongs and attaching those and a bail
  • Made dinner
  • Updated both blogs (sorry about the delay with this one’s posts)

All in all, I feel like I successfully adulted today.

Nobody Ever Tells You How Much Paperwork There Is In Indie Publishing

Crystal Blade Episode 16: Children Are Our Most Valuable Resource is now available at Vella. Because maybe you’re not going out tonight and need something to read, I dunno.

I am also delighted to announce that people are starting to pay for Crystal Blade eps and not just read them using their free tokens, so I’ve got that going for me. Now if I could just rustle up some contract work and send Ramón home for two weeks things would be magic.

In other news I’ve got a weekend full of business work ahead of me (I need to start a business PayPal account so that I can sell books and jewelry through the website, start reading Zoe York’s books on the business side of indie romance publishing, update all of my income/expenses spreadsheets, and tweak my Amazon ads), plus I really need to do a big stock-up shop and give the bathrooms a deep clean.

I keep thinking that eventually I’ll have a weekend where I can just relax, read, watch TV, that sort of thing. I still remember a Sunday many years ago when the house was clean, I’d gotten all of my tasks done for the week, I didn’t have any jewelry projects on the go, and I spent the afternoon on the couch reading. It was freaking magical. I would like to experience that again.

The Writer At Work In the Garage

Crystal Blade Episode 15: A Ball Is an Excellent Way To Make New Friends is now available at Vella. Go check it out.

As you know, Bob, when I’m not slaving over a hot computer during the day I’m usually out in the garage making jewelry, and I’m currently working on an exceptionally fun custom order. It’s a sterling pendant setting that will hold a large marquise cut (oval with pointed ends) rutilated quartz that’s been faceted. I get to use prongs for it and make my own double gallery setting with V-shaped prongs on each end to hold the points securely. It’s complex but the result should be gorgeous, plus this is excellent practice for me in using prong settings.

Which leads me to say that I would cheerfully shank someone for a real jeweler’s bench right now with the cutout and catch drawer because man, I am tired of dropping teeny things on the floor (like, oh, the bur container that came apart while I was bringing it down from a shelf and scattered the burs all over the floor. I still can’t find two of them and my curses are still ringing in Plano). Dropping things, BTW, is a regular occurrence in every silversmith’s life, which is why the cutout and the catch drawer/sling were developed in the first place. But my bench is a regular workbench from Harbor Freight with a particleboard top screwed into a metal frame so I can’t even make a cutout myself.

Oh, well. I can dream. And keep an eye on local sales groups to see if I can pick up a used one. In case anyone wants to buy me an early birthday present, this bench would be ideal. And in the meantime I’ll keep plugging away on my Harbor Freight table (and keep looking for those last two burs, goddammit…).