aroslav: Blog

Behind the Ivory Veil

November 17, 2017
Posted at 10:25 pm
 

It has begun! The long-awaited (but not really anticipated) prequel to The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality has begun posting tonight. I'm now busy uploading all the remaining 26 chapters for posting every three days. The story is complete.

Already, as I read the preface and first two chapters tonight, I found a couple of errors and have uploaded corrections. Hope they didn't throw you when you started reading.

The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil was the first novel I ever completed, back in 1979. I say it was the first completed. I actually began writing The Props Master 2: A Touch of Magic first, but soon realized that I had at least one more story I needed to write before I could progress to that one. I'm currently going over A Touch of Magic to prepare it for release soon after Behind the Ivory Veil finishes posting (I hope). Then, in 1980 or 1981, I wrote the book sandwiched between the two and posted here on SOL first, The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality. After those three were written, in 1984, I got started on the final in this series, The Props Master 3: Child of Earth. That one probably won't make it here until 2019.

So, the stories were ancient when I began digging out my old typewritten copies and cleaning them up for release after nearly 40 years. With luck, some of what I learned about writing in that period of time allowed me to improve on the original drafts. I'll leave the judgment to you.

Public comments have been turned on, and of course, I invite your response via email. Voting will start after chapter five. The book will be released in paperback and Kindle next Wednesday. My $5 and above patrons at www.patreon.com/aroslav received the entire book last week.



I was just recognized by the Seattle Region of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as their wordiest participant with a total of 1,068,000 words written over the course of 14 consecutive Novembers. That makes me a small region by myself! Not sure if that is a great accolade or not.

Nonetheless, the writing of my new novel, City Limits, is progressing well and I am thankful for my pre-readers as they comment and help me through rough spots as I write the book. I hope to release a version of it on SOL about March 1, even though this is not considered erotica or a sex story. Well, we all need a break now and then.

Enjoy!

Ritual Reality v2.0 is now live on SOL!

November 11, 2017
Posted at 11:05 am
 

Yesterday, with little fanfare and no announcement, v2.0 of The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality was uploaded and released with no apparent errors in posting yesterday. I'm pretty stoked about this, partly because so much of the story was based on my college years as a theater designer in Indiana. As one of my earliest attempts at writing a novel (~1983), Ritual Reality was originally titled The Four Faces of Carles, words that meant absolutely nothing to anyone and had no draw at all. Even when I rewrote it-from the ground up-and posted it here on SOL in 2013, it was heavily flawed with plot holes and character inconsistencies. And the eBook cover was slapdash at best.

Of course, Amazon never replaces the original cover on their product page, even when it has entered a second edition and has been replaced in the book itself. You can see the original eBook cover on the Amazon product page at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H2A2GGM. If you click on the cover to Look Inside, you'll see the new cover in the eBook itself.

This is just one of the many braindead features of Amazon and I'll say more about that in a moment. First, though, I'm also pointing out that in the first paperback edition released yesterday, the cover and description are all correct, but you can't get there from here. Go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/1939275717 to see the paperback info. Amazon has provided no way for me to link the paperback and Kindle editions on the same page.

Of course, all this is leading up to the first chapter posting of The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil on SOL next Friday. This one was the first of the stories that I wrote in this series in 1978. In fairness, I'll say that the next one I'll release, A Touch of Magic, was begun before Behind the Ivory Veil and that I had to go back and write Veil before I could finish Magic. Life of a writer. Be thankful you weren't reading these as live posted serials back in the 80s! You can see the cover for Behind the Ivory Veil at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0776RHH4K where it is available for pre-order. The first chapters will release here on SOL the 17th and the eBook and paperback versions will release on November 22, in time to make your Thanksgiving bright. Of course, all 28 chapters will post on a three-day schedule here at SOL.



I ranted on Facebook this week about the big megalith corporations who control our lives, specifically in my case, Amazon. I have been publishing my books through CreateSpace (a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon) since 2007-not only my own, but several other authors, some of whom I still work with. I've also used LightningSource and Lulu in the past, but overall, I preferred the service, timeliness, and responsiveness of CreateSpace. I admit that part of my reason for using CreateSpace was because it is owned by Amazon. Books released through CreateSpace show up on Amazon as much as two weeks before a book released through LightningSource. The propagation to Amazon was within three days. Of course, the difference was that it now takes as much as a week or two to get it released at Barnes and Noble. Yeah. Just corporate politics.

There were several other reasons that I liked CreateSpace, but the biggest one was the CreateSpace eStore. Each of my paperback books had a separate page at the eStore.

1. It was clean and relatively free of ads.
2. I could customize the book page with graphics that matched the book and created a theme for my company identity.
3. The discount rate paid to CreateSpace for books sold in the eStore was 20%. Compare that to 40% at Amazon and 60% at any other online or brick and mortar store.
4. I could customize the page to direct customers back to my website so they could see the rest of my books all neatly laid out with links to purchase them (in the CreateSpace eStore).
5. Since many adult book vendors and independent booksellers are not officially recognized as bookstores, I could create custom discount codes for vendors (or for special promotions) and give the codes to the customer for the correct discount instead of depending on CreateSpace's ridiculous 60% discount.
6. When I pressed the "Publish" button, my book was instantly available in the CreateSpace eStore. I could begin promoting it immediately.
7. I could hold certain books for my use only and not release them through Amazon or other stores, but only in the CreateSpace store. This was handy for things like the church directory that we didn't want advertised on Amazon.

So, imagine my surprise Thursday as I was preparing to release Ritual Reality when I found out EVERY DAMN PAPERBACK LINK ON MY SITE WAS BROKEN! They all went to a 404 page that suggested that I search for the title on Amazon.

CreateSpace/Amazon discontinued the eStore feature. After scouring their website for an hour, I found an expandable FAQ that said the stores were eliminated on November 1 and that all links to the store would be automatically forwarded to the corresponding Amazon page. Hunkadora… except they didn't work.

The first thing I had to do was go through every book setup on CreateSpace and make sure that I'd released it to all their normal and expanded distribution channels. The books I had released only on CreateSpace were simply not being distributed anywhere. Since I used custom discounts for bookstores and vendors, none of my books were now available to any expanded distribution. Some of my books will continue to be unavailable for expanded distribution, like the last three volumes of the Model Student series, Triptych, Odalisque, and The Prodigal. I refuse to price the books above $15.00 and the lowest price I could have for books this size in expanded distribution is $16.50 because of their length and the stupid 60% unalterable discount.

I then searched for every one of my titles on Amazon, copied the new links, and edited all my webpages. I further edited and made sure all my titles had shown up on my Author Central page at https://www.amazon.com/Devon-Layne/e/B009L4XMP6. Then, just before I uploaded my newly edited webpages, I browsed my website so I could check the changes as I uploaded them and discovered that all the links to my CreateSpace eStore now miraculously and correctly pointed to the Amazon page. Apparently, going through the process of editing the distribution of all my books had triggered the forward link.

What really burns me-as if all this crap doesn't burn me-is that the FAQ, which wasn't announced in any email or alert to publishers, states: "To better serve customers and improve the online buying experience, we will redirect customers who click on your CreateSpace eStore links to their corresponding detail pages on Amazon.com starting October 31, 2017."

I have found absolutely NO WAY that this change better serves me or improves the online buying experience. It serves Amazon's profit margins, pure and simple. Because-you guessed it-there is no longer the 20% discount rate I got through my eStore, but now Amazon's standard 40% discount. That cuts any potential profits I might have realized from my eStore by over a third.

Thanks, Amazon and fuck you, too!



Aren't you glad I don't rant often? This week has been a bitch.
And that bleeds over into other parts of life, I'm afraid. I stalled on City Limits yesterday after having written only 1,500 words for the day. The next word just wouldn't come and I am just enough of a pansy to be thrown into panic, self-doubt, and depression over being unable to figure out the next step in the story. No particular improvement today, though I've had no problem writing a 1,500-word blog post this morning.

I was up at 4:45 this morning and my first pot of coffee is gone now at 7:30. I've decided I need a change of pace this morning and I'm heading for the beach in a little bit. I'll cross over the mountains and perhaps stop at the San Juan Hot Springs in Caspers Wilderness Park on my way to Capistrano. Then I'll work my way north along the ocean past Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. I'll finish from there by cutting north on CA55 to CA91 and then back to my little trailer south of Corona. I'm thinking that if I take a pack of index cards with me (and a few cigars), my characters just might agree to start talking. If not, it should be mid-70s and sunny at the beach, so even that won't be as much of a waste as the past two days have been.



I have a last word. I have been opposed to nearly every military intervention that has occurred in my lifetime. I consider the vast majority of them to have been clever manipulations by profit-minded corporations to preserve and create artificial profits that will ultimately crumble. These corporate-sponsored military acts needlessly put the lives of American soldiers on the line under pretense of protecting our liberty.

However, I am NOT anti-military nor hateful to our country's military personnel. On this Veteran's Day in the United States, I want to thank each of you who have served, whether in time of war or peace. Vigilance is our safeguard and I thank you for your service. I apologize for the wasteful ways in which our political-industrial complex has needlessly endangered you, and pray for your continued safety if you are still serving. Several times in the past 20 years (I'm not going to look up the numbers right now) bills that support Veteran's rights, services, and benefits have come before congress and have been turned down. The new budget can only make things worse. Here at home, we will continue the fight for recognition and the care that you deserve after your selfless service.

Thank you.

An Unplanned Accident

November 8, 2017
Posted at 10:03 pm
 

That's redundant, isn't it? Are accidents ever planned? I wish.

As I was working during a 60-minute word sprint early this afternoon, my page suddenly flashed and disappeared. I looked through open windows (I often have several open while I'm writing) and my file was nowhere to be found. I reopened the Word document only to discover that none of what I had been working on during the sprint (about 27 minutes worth) had been saved.

I could identify what was most likely the cause, but that doesn't help after the fact. I had failed to turn off my touchpad when I started the sprint and had inadvertently moved the pointer onto the close box while I typed. One more accidental tap and the file closed. I was typing rapidly at the time, so keystrokes canceled the save and closed the file before I realized I'd even hit the close box.

It was a mean and nasty trick to pull on myself. I never go 27 minutes without saving. I never type with the touchpad active. I NEVER lose 500-700 words of freshly spewed verbiage. And I certainly never shut down my computer in disgust with myself and spend the rest of the day angry and stomping around my trailer, eating chicken drumsticks, and drinking.

Well, not by accident, at least.

The result was a wasted afternoon, but I couldn't bring myself to start over on that passage. Instead, I spent time reading, eating, and drinking. And feeling a bit sorry for myself. I wasn't even sure if I liked the content I'd just generated as I hadn't had a chance to read it over and evaluate it.

Shit happens. Live with it.

Now, at nearly seven in the evening, I find myself drawn back to the task of writing, thinking of it for the first time this month as a task. I decided to blog my unfortunate event before I tried to recreate the file.

But will I recreate it?

There was a line or two that I really liked, and I remember them clearly. Like the judge asking if Gee couldn't find someone to lie for him and Gee responding that he didn't want anyone to lie for him. The way it was phrased was good and established Gee as a fundamentally honest person who was loathe to use a falsehood, even when it would get the desired result. That's something I want to recapture when I start writing the missing passage.

I got to thinking that life is sometimes like that. We get resets that we can't control and try to recreate an event while only keeping the good parts and editing out the drivel.

Well, so much for that!



In general, writing is going well on this story, but I've reached the point at which I no longer have the detailed plans and outlines laid out for the next episode of the story that I had for the first three episodes. In fact, the scene that I was writing did not appear on any of my 300+ 3x5 index cards that I keep shuffling through. I'm now a little over 33,000 words into this story and I'm just hoping the characters are going to start taking over for me. I might have to take a long drive tomorrow.

This weekend, I will post the fully revised v2.0 of The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality both here on SOL and in eBook and paperback. Next weekend, I'll start posting The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil here on SOL. If you already know you won't be able to wait for the 28 chapters of the new story to post, it is available for pre-order on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0776RHH4K?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660. If nothing else, take a look at the striking cover and blurb. The eBook and paperback will release on 11/22/2017, a few days after it starts posting here on SOL. The story will post a chapter every three days.

And while you are enjoying that story, I'll still be slaving away on City Limits. Remembering, of course, to save often and to turn off the damn touchpad.

Before the Fire

October 27, 2017
Posted at 9:15 pm
 

I don't usually write short things because readers like long, involved stories. But this little ditty came up for a submission to anthology that wisely decided not to publish it. A little stylized and a little less explicit, it is nonetheless my contribution to the Halloween celebration.



A quick mention that Halloween means it is almost November 1! Yes, that is the beginning of NaNoWriMo. Also in November, I'll start posting The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil. I've finished the html and am working on the print and eBook versions. Of course, as I work on that, I continue to discover things in the original that I need to correct. Just one of the advantages of producing so many versions.

So, it behooves me to mention that I have a Patreon page. First of all, pretty much anything I write that is worth anything, I post here on SOL and I have no intentions of stopping that. Complete stories, no come-ons. Everything available right here for free. Let's face it, I read shit for free here. I contribute to the steaming pile.

But there are those who like to support their favorite authors (and are financially able to do so) so I have given them the opportunity. When someone supports me, I like to give them something a little special. My $5 patrons automatically receive access to each story I publish, in its entirety, a week before it starts serial posting here on SOL. I think that's fair.

There are, of course, those who are gluttons for punishment and want to see the raw, unedited version of what I write, sometimes months before it sees the light of day. These are what I call my "Sausage Grinder Patrons" who are willing to suffer through my typos and inconsistencies in order to get the story before even my editors have seen it. They contribute $10 per month for the privilege at www.patreon.com/aroslav.

Those folks who sign up before November 1 will get the full released versions of The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality second edition and The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil a week before they are uploaded to SOL (just as current members received the little Halloween story "Before the Fire" last week). The Sausage Grinder patrons have been following my development notes for City Limits (20,000 words so far!) throughout the month of October and will receive each chapter I write in November as soon as I've finished writing it. I'm realty not sure if that's good or bad.

Regardless, in order to receive the advance release of the two Props Master stories or the chapter by chapter releases of City Limits, patrons must be signed up before November 1. The rewrite and edit process for City Limits will take at least two months before the story is ready for upload to SOL. (City Limits has little sex in it and none that is very explicit.)

Please understand, this changes nothing regarding what or how I release on SOL. I'm far more interested in having people read and enjoy my stories than I am in having people pay for them. I don't write for a living; I write to live. I am committed to providing my stories for free on SOL for as long as I can keep writing, even when they aren't that good!



I'm now two-thirds of the way down the state of California and camped for the weekend in Adelanto. Monday I'll move to a tiny little nudist resort south of San Bernardino. November 1--right when I'm frantically trying to get City Limits started--I'll move to my winter campground south of Corona and plan to be non-textile for at least a week before I leave the camp. I'm a little tired of traveling at the moment (and wearing clothes), but the characters have been jabbering away at me for the past 700 miles, so I'm pretty sure it will be a good November.

Enjoy "Before the Fire"!

On the Move

October 23, 2017
Posted at 7:02 pm
 

I know you haven't heard from me and for both of you who wished I would say something, "I'm sorry." I am delightfully about half way from Idaho to Southern California. Have been on the road for a week now. I was cursing the fact that I started too late when I spent half of Friday in snow and wet through south central Oregon. Weather was too foul for me to stop at Crater Lake. On the other hand, I spent a great weekend with one of my clients at Mt. Shasta, CA with good walks, a windy trip up the mountain, and peaceful time next to a stream. This afternoon, after a 150-mile drive and 3000-foot elevation loss, I'm sitting outside next to the Feather River with a cold drink in 92-degree weather. Oroville, CA.

I've been trying to stay off freeways, but it looks like I'll be back on 99 south of Sacramento until I get to Bakersfield. Then??? Well, I don't often make that decision until the morning I wake up, hitch up, and leave.



Am I working? Oh, hell yeah. I'll post my little Halloween story this weekend. It's too short to enter into the contest, but it's a fun little story. Nothing major.

I'll be updating The Props Master 1: Ritual Reality early in November, including updating the eBook and releasing the first print edition. The html is ready to upload and the print book is laid out, but I need to finish the eBook this week. That's all in preparation for The Props Master Prequel: Behind the Ivory Veil, which will begin posting about Thanksgiving. I've been formatting and proofing in my browser. I still find errors as I proof and probably will, even after it gets posted on SOL. It never fails. I have the original draft of The Props Master 2: A Touch of Magic at hand and will probably start working on that in December.

In the meantime, I'm deep deep deep into preparing to write City Limits. I haven't done much in the way of literary fiction for a few years and almost forgot how much prep it takes to write a book like this. My "sausage grinder" patrons ($10) at www.patreon.com/aroslav have been receiving weekly updates of the planning material, including characters, action scenes synopses, map, history of Rosebud Falls, and many other bits of info. In November, when I'm actually writing the book, they'll receive each chapter (raw and unedited) as I finish writing it. Of course, then I'll rewrite the whole thing before I publish it-probably around February. Of course, my premier patrons ($5) receive everything I publish a week before it is released and they don't have to worry about waiting for me to upload each chapter. These folks make it possible for me to keep writing and keep posting for free here on SOL. Thank you!

When I publish City Limits it will be under my literary author name. I'm trying to decide if I should create a separate penname on SOL for it, as I will post it here. But it is a book with very little sex (explicit) and is more about the characters and what is going on in Rosebud Falls. We'll see. I'll probably post it under the same aroslav name but publish it to the public under my other name.

Suffice it to say that I am very excited to start actually writing this story and continue to get inspirations of what to include every day.

I will return soon!