Giftmas 2023

The sun is setting over a lake with the words "Giftmas 2023" written on it.

Update: We did it! See note at bottom.

Once upon a time, there was a town.

It wasn’t a city, large and anonymous and impersonal. It wasn’t a tiny village, either, with only a few households of families local for generations. No, this was a town, of exactly the size you’d think of in a heart-warming holiday tale, and populated entirely by middle-class folk with harmless quirks and mildly interesting jobs.

Henry (he sponsored lighted wreaths for two lamp posts on the town square) noticed it first. He watched for a moment, and when it was time for his coffee break he went next door to the post office (garland on the counter, with some fairy lights twisted in) and pointed it out to Tanya. She was intrigued, and she thought to take a photo and text Miranda (who saw to the lighted and animated Grinch figure in front of the library). Miranda knew Todd (lighted candy canes for the courthouse lawn) would have a good view, so she asked him to walk by and report.

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Best Short Story!

Just a quick update!

I’ve just returned from the RealmMakers conference and awards banquet. Of the five short story finalists, two were mine! They were “Neon Green in D Minor,” a cyberpunk retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, and “Love My Neighbor,” a contemporary fantasy.

And “Love My Neighbor” won Best Short Story!

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D-Dames is here! D-Dames are here? The book of D-Dames is here!

Plural titles can be tricky, because the correct phrasing will sound wrong if the listener doesn’t know it’s a title. But, to the point, a new book is out!

D-Dames

D-Dames is a collection of short stories about women with elemental magic in World War 2. These stories were written originally and separately for the elemental anthology series from Tyche Books and edited by Rhonda Parrish, but now they are collected for easy enjoyment together. And I’ve also added, through the power of ebook expansion, annotated versions!

(Ebooks are cool, because they’re kind of little Bags of Holding, able to hold a great deal more without increasing your shelf footprint or carrying weight.)

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Software Wars, or Why Updates Aren’t So Simple

 So, I thought updating my ebook and paperback files would be relatively simple.

Ha!

It started with a good plan. I would update an older series I hadn’t done much with, actually collect them as most people didn’t even know about all of them, and give them fresh covers for today’s market. No major overhauls, no big deal.

Ha!

Covers

The cover updates were actually quite fun. I knew I wanted to keep the primary art, so there wasn’t too much to do. And I made a cool little series logo to number the stories.

(“I made” in this case means “I put together and modified some pieces of clip art” but just go with it, I’m proud of it.)

Anyway, the cover updates went well, so hurray.

Rōmaji

The text update I wanted to make was the romanization of the Japanese in the stories. Without getting too technical, there are several systems for converting Japanese into Latin characters, so that for example the two syllables おう might be rendered oo, ou, ō, or oh. American readers tend to interpret these different renderings in different ways, so a reader not already familiar with Japanese might imagine a very different pronunciation.

I had originally used an older Hepburn system, writing warlord as daimyou, but the Revised Hepburn system has become the dominant system, rendering the same word daimyō. I’m personally not as keen on this because it’s sometimes harder to reverse engineer to the original Japanese word (ō can equally represent おう or おお) but I recognize that it’s good to give readers what they expect.

So I sat down to update the Japanese to (mostly) Revised Hepburn. I thought this would be a straightforward process. I’m going to greatly shorten the telling and just say that while I did not do any find/replace for vowels or vowel combos, only for a complete word like onmyouji to onmyōji, somehow Word got overexcited and made some additional changes anyway.

Suddenly my characters were in dangerōs trōble.

But not all /ou/ combos were updated, resulting in sentences like “you will have a rōgh time,” and I just could not find any sort of system for the extra changes. And while I could have gone back and started over, that would mean manual changes for every Japanese word anyway, so I went ahead and did manual checks for the whole manuscript.

Printing

So revision took a lot longer than it was supposed to, but at last it was done. On to the printing! This is easy stuff!

Well, no. Because the PDF software I’ve used for years saw the new vowels with macrons and promptly panicked.

While MS Word was handling the new characters just fine, DoPDF could not render them without doing ridiculous kerning and making all kinds of layout issues. The result was illegible.

I checked the DoPDF support forums but could not find a thread for a similar issue. I tried to register to start a new thread, and was instantly perma-banned. At registration. For “spamming.”

How could I spam before I even completed registering an account?

I found a support email address and wrote for help, but that was two days ago. So.

I then exported the paperback PDFs directly from Word, which KDP accepts but which Ingram dislikes. So paperbacks at Amazon have been updated, but paperbacks everywhere else have not, until I can get new PDF software.

New Books

But finally the ebooks everywhere are fully updated and the Amazon paperbacks are fully updated. Paperbacks at other retailers will be updated as soon as I have new PDF software (suggestions welcome).

Patreon supporters will get the fancy collected boxed set ebook this month—all supporters, regardless of tier, because that’s how we’re getting back into the swing here.

I’d really appreciate your reviews on these poor stories I’ve definitely neglected for years. And I’d really, really appreciate any tips if you should find any remaining typo from where MS Word brōght the enthusiasm.

My plan is to make these into audiobooks too, but first I need to recover from these simple updates!

Kin & Kind, at last

So I was having an exchange with someone who ordered a paperback copy of Kin & Kind for a friend, trying to make sure she understood that it would not reach her friend before Christmas, and was that still okay?

“I’m ordering it for her before the book was even supposed to be out!”

Well, that’s a valid point, if the book was still on schedule it wouldn’t even be on sale before Christmas, so you make a good argument and thank you. :)

Because, yes, Kin & Kind is releasing early!

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G is for Ghost

G is for Ghost

G is for Ghost releases today. It has 26 stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. There are 26 days ’til Halloween. Coincidence?

A teenage girl’s classmates begin disappearing only to haunt her dreams, ships full of ghostly passengers in need of release test those who are tasked to give them peace, psychopomps whose job is guiding the spirits of the dead to the other side meet in a support group, and more fill these pages.

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