Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updates on my life… And no, I’m not Dead Yet

It has been a long time since I’ve posted something meaningful on this blog, and I truly am sorry for that.  I honestly can’t say why that would be, either.  It’s not that I don’t have lots of interesting things to talk about, because I do… I suppose.  And it’s not necessarily that I don’t have time for it either, because I suppose I have that as well. 
Perhaps it’s just sheer procrastination.  I’m not sure anymore.  I’m busy, as always, but that is really no excuse.  I’ve just plain been avoiding it, I guess.  On a side note, I’m in some pretty desperate need of a solid job, and though I’ve been applying all over and have had several interviews, I’ve yet to be hired.  It’s rather discouraging, to be truthful, but people keep telling me that perhaps it’s because I just haven’t found the right job yet, and that God knows which one I need.  I keep praying about it.  Hopefully something will come up soon.

But speaking of interesting jobs and what not, there’s been no end to creative release for my overly active mind.  Over the holidays I made a TON of new jewelry.  I also lost my camera, which is why there have been no pictures of them, but I found it the other day so hopefully I’ll be able to post new pictures soon.  I honestly don’t know what I find so fascinating and fun about twisting wire and adding beads, but I find it soothing… something for my hands to do without my mind having to process a whole lot of information, guess.  It’s comforting.

On the other hand, I’ve also picked up a few new commission jobs; some exciting ones at that. :)  I know that some of you out there are writing friends and followers of Jake Buller over at his blog “Teenage Writer”.  And if you follow Jake, then you’re probably aware of his novella “The War Horn” which has been in progress for a while now, and has been discussed on his blog several times.  Jake is quite the talented writer, I must say, and I was excited when he let me read through part of his first draft for TWH.  But I was totally honored when he came to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would do his cover art for him.  Jake currently lives in Liberia, having just moved there with his family from Kansas.  He is planning to publish TWH for kindle through Amazon, and the proceedings from the book will help fund his way back to the States for a writing conference that he really wants to attend.  Right now he’s waiting for feedback from his ARC’s, but the book should be available to purchase sometime near the end of February.  Here’s a look at his cover art, in case you are interested.  If what I’ve read and what he described for me was anything to go by, the book should definitely be worth looking into.

But that’s not the only exciting piece I’ve started work on.  I know that many of you are followers of Jill Williamson and her “Blood of King’s” trilogy Published through Marcher Lord Press.  Her newest book “Replication” just hit shelves in January, and I wrote a review for it here on the P&P.  It was quite a page turner, I’ll tell you!  Now, Marcher Lord is preparing to release yet another of her books in the fall, and GUESS WHO’S WORKING ON THE MAP FOR IT!!!  ^_^

 I seriously cannot tell you how excited I am. :D 

Jill Williamson is one of my most favorite, if not THE most favorite Speculative Christian Author on my list today.  Her “Blood of Kings” trilogy is really phenomenal, as is her new book “Replication”, and I’m sure that her latest book will be just as awesome.  On the flip side of the coin, Marcher Lord Press is the premier indie publisher of Christian Speculative fiction in the world.  They’ve published some truly spectacular material, and picked up some big names in the last few years with Sharon Hink’s “Restorer” books, and Kathy Tiers’ “Firebird” trilogy.  And they continue to grow.  It’s just a little mind boggling for me to think that if all goes well, one of my maps might actually be in an MLP book… and not just any MLP book, but the book of my favorite Christian author to date (besides Tolkien and Lewis, of course.)  It’s a little frightening and a whole lot of tingly.

I gotta tell you, God is amazing. ^_^

And speaking of God and books, I finally, FINALLY moved forward with Magpie Eclectic Press.  We are now open to submissions. :D  However, I’ve decided that the company’s official launch date won’t be until we actually release a book for market.  Because, after all, we definitely want people to see what we can offer them.  ^_^

Still, for now, Magpie is up and running and we are on our way.  And at the moment, I’m just trying to get the word out about the open submissions.  I have several online interviews lined up to talk about what the company is about, how we differ from other houses, why we are different from self publishing and vanity presses, etc…  The types of questions that authors want to know the answers to before looking at a publisher, as well as the types of questions all curious authors want to ask about the publishing business itself.

I must be honest, it’s daunting to look at some of the questions being asked.  I believe I’m ready for them – I honestly and truly do – but this is still a big first step for me.  Do I have the answers to all of them, and if I do, are they the right ones?  I won’t lie, I’ve already wondered if I might have opened the company too soon, or if I should have opened it at all.  Can I truly handle this, or was it never meant to be? 

Well, I believe it was certainly meant to be.  I believe that the idea for it was planted and watered by God, and I believe that I have the passion and knowledge to carry it forward.  But I’ve disillusioned myself.  I said from the beginning that I couldn’t do it alone, and I stick by that instinct; I’m hiring out for help.  No way could I complete everything by myself and do it well… God has placed many talented people in this world and in my path, and I’m so grateful for his provision.

But do I actually have the answers to the questions that people are going ask me in these interviews?  Am I really ready for this?  Will the authors see and understand from my answers that I will really WORK for their books… that I truly want to, and will pour my heart into it?  Will they understand that my passion goes beyond these words into the actions and the steps that I will take for them… or will they just see a girl pretending to be something as if this were all just a dream?  Will they read what I have to say and take me and this company seriously

I guess that’s what I’m really worried about.

But I’ve done my research and thought long and hard on everything that this huge endeavor is going to take.  I’ve hosted and read interviews on the subjects involved, read articles, watched and listened to news casts, read books, searched blogs, studied publishing companies, their methods, and their markets, written papers and articles on the subject, blogged about it… I’m even studying to be an English Major simply because I know that I’m supposed to be working in the publishing industry, and I might decide to take on a publishing major afterward.  I’m not even going to try to pretend like I know everything now, but I know a lot and I’ve answered questions like these before.  Like I’ve said, this is a large first step for me, but I know I have God on my side, and my passion is for words.  I desperately want to help other writers bring their words and stories into the world so that readers can enjoy them too.  I want Magpie Eclectic to be trusted as a source of good, strong Christian Speculative fiction all over the U.S. and hopefully beyond.  I mean, truly, it’s all about the stories and coming together as a writing/publishing family, based on Christian morals and standards.

So yes… I think I’m ready.  God willing, I’m ready.  Prayers are welcomed, as I work to get Magpie securely anchored on its feet.   But you can’t take a step forward without standing first, and that’s why I’ve opened Magpie for submissions.  That’s why I knew it was time.

(And sorry if this all sounds like a bunch of rambling thrown out to form some sort of pep talk.  If you don’t understand what I’m going on about, no worries.  I simply think best when I’m typing freely, and I do THAT best when I’m blogging. ;D)

If, by any chance, you are interested in submitting to Magpie Eclectic Press, you can visit our temporary Website at  Please ignore any missing apostrophes or the like that you may stumble across… I haven’t figured out exactly WHY the site is refusing to leave them in, even after I go back through and insert them all again.  I know it looks very unprofessional without them, and its driving me insane!  But I am working with someone to prepare a more professional and polished website for the company… one that will have no problem leaving punctuation in its proper place.  Aside from that, however, this site does have our terms laid out for any who wish to submit something to us.  If you are interested, go ahead and take a look. :)

And now… well, I think I’m going to go ahead and end this blog post for now, and I might go ahead and write another one for another time.  Perhaps one that doesn’t feel quite so jointed together.  Maybe even one on the writing process.  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of those, and I’ve started to have more success with SOTD again as well, so perhaps it’s time for me to dig through my notes and actually write something about writing again.  :D  We’ll see.

In the mean time, what are your thoughts on traditional publishing verses self publishing?  What do you think of Indie Presses like Marcher Lord Press, Splashdown Books, and Port Yonder Press?  What are your thoughts on Indie Authors who go it alone?  Are you for them?  Against them?  Why or why not?  Do you prefer E-books or physical books, and what are your thoughts on the way the publishing market of today is turning out? 

Let me know what you’re thinking.  I love to hear all the interesting things everybody has to say. ^_^

Goodbye for now, and happy writing!



Galadriel said...

How exciting! Keep working on it.

Philip Nelson said...

So, you asked for thoughts on publishing. :) This is what I wrote on my blog as my initial reasons for wanting to self publish via ebooks:

- It's not entangling. I don't give up my rights; I retain control over the title, cover, and content. I can change content as I please.
- The potential reader base is huge and persistent. Even if a book stays stagnant for years, something may happen to send it viral.
- I'd like to. It sounds like fun; other methods of publishing don't. Maybe I'll change my mind after a while, but eBooks are easy enough to try.

I can add that I'm impressed with Createspace POD paperbacks. You can see my Dad's new book here:

In short, I can self-publish quality books via ebooks and POD without entangling myself in contracts. If it doesn't work, I can always try something else. From what I've seen, it would be harder to go from traditional to self-published.

Having said all that, I think there's a place for a publisher in an ebook-dominated world; I just don't know what it would look like.

In our discussion about your company, for example, I felt like I was coming from a self-published viewpoint, and you were coming from a traditional, and we both traveled in each other's direction, but didn't meet, and I don't know what it would look like if we did.

I'm glad, though, folks are interested in Christian speculative fiction. As a friend of mine said, I don't believe God wants to stop creating great stories with people. There are more to be found and made and read. :)

Star-Dreamer said...
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Star-Dreamer said...
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Star-Dreamer said...

Thanks for the comment, Phillip. :) Those are all good reasons to want to self publish, and they are valid. And well thought out.

Self publishing has certainly risen up in the last 8-10 years. It's interesting to watch the market change, and to see how other writers react. With the rise and success of authorpreneurs (a new word... ;D Can't remember where I first came across it...) like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, I must say that self publishing is quickly cultivating a good name for itself. :)

Personally, I have nothing against self publishing whatsoever. I can't tell you how many times I've considered just publishing my books myself... I still might someday. But I've always known that for my biggest project, "Eldrie"... well, I'm really hoping to take that one the traditional rout. (I still haven't quite decided what to do with SOTD, even though I think I'm still going to try for the traditional rout first. ;D)

In the mean time, though, I have decided to try an experiment, and I'm really curious as to how it will turn out. I have a couple of finished short stories that I'm really happy with, and a few unfinished ones with potential. Today I decided to try something with them: I'm going to finish the uncompleted stories, and then either publish each story separately as an e-book, or maybe combine them all into an anthology and publish them that way.

I have two reasons for doing this.

#1, I'm curious. I hear a lot of hype about ebooks and self publishing through kindle (I just purchased a kindle, myself... at long last), and I want to see how well it would work out; dip my toes in the water, so to speak.

#2, it will give me experience in working with ebooks so that when Magpie is 100% on its feet, I will have dealt with the ebook formats once before and I will have a better idea of what I'm doing.

I don't know, but I'm sort of excited for this. It's nothing big... I probably won't launch a book tour or hire trumpets for a fanfare or anything like that... but this could be a very interesting, and potentially educational experience. :D

Well, I wish you luck on your writing endeavors, and congrats to your dad!!! :)


Philip Nelson said...


Authorpreneurs: I like it. :)

One thing I forgot to mention is that I have two non-fiction books in the works, and so even if I did submit a speculative manuscript to Magpie, those I couldn't, since they're outside Magpie's scope. I'd still want to know how to self-publish via ebooks and POD: and then I'd have all that experience/knowledge/etc on how to do it: so there's an efficiency to self-publishing everything.

On the other hand, I'm willing to wait and see with my biggest project to date (the Beastlord of Underrim).

I wish you the best with your short stories. :) For Amazon mobi format ebooks, I recommend hand-coding the HTML data file and XML NCX file. I found this a great site to learn how (and she's updated it since I looked last: it's packed with information):

And this helped me with the NCX file:

The auto-convert tools like Calibre just weren't good enough. :/

Philip Nelson said...

You might also want to check out kindlegen 2 (scroll down):

I used kindlegen 1. It's a command line utility; not a lot of bells and whistles, but it did a good job of converting the input files into a mobi.

Squeaks said...

Sounds like you've been keeping very busy!! :D *reads through recent posts* good stuff good stuff! And I love the cover art you did for Jake :) very well done! You're so talented :P

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