This isn’t Hamilton fanfic. This is what happens when there is Hamilton fanfic in a world where ghosts gain or lose power based solely on “how well and widely they are remembered”, and takes place in that oddly physical limbo between life and whatever comes next as seen in A Girl and Her Fed.
All Hope Blackwell wanted was a quiet Mediterranean vacation. Sun, sand, local cuisine…and tracking down Archimedes’ ghost to learn if he’s been tampering with the fabric of reality. But when you’re a psychic whose specialty is communicating with the dead, a trip to Greece means you’ll come face-to-face with legendary heroes.
As Hope and her friends explore the ruins of the ancient world, she soon learns she has attracted the attention of one of the most famous women in history. Helen of Troy is nothing like her stories, and she’s got a problem she thinks Hope can solve.
Hope isn’t too sure about that—if righting a 2,500-year-old wrong was that easy, wouldn’t Helen have found the time to do it herself?
Some of you seem to really enjoy these posts on self-publishing and the living nightmare that is the production phase! Please. Come. Read my hair-pulling, head-to-wall-bashing, chew-through-own-bottom-lip-for-the-joy-of-it experience.
Greek Key goes live today–the first eleven chapters, at any rate. The cover is gorgeous.
A brief post on worldbuilding.
STATE MACHINE has been out for five days and is doing quite well (thank you for making this happen!). The post I put up on Monday had several good comments about the structure of the Rachel Peng novels, and questions about the upcoming Hope Blackwell novel. Lemme try and answer these in the time-honored fell swoop:
A GIRL AND HER FED should be considered the original source material. Thus far, the only thing I’ve abandoned is aligning the comic and novels to “real world” time, mostly because I’m a stupid-slow artist and the Rachel novels would take place back in 2007 or so. Nope, our world moves too fast for that continuity nonsense.
(…she sighed, wistfully remembering how she really enjoys that continuity nonsense…)
I’ve also placed one red herring in the comic. It’s in Chapter 8 if you want to start guessing, but that’s all I’ll say about that.
The Josh Glassman Novellas
Short pulp novellas, between 35k and 50k words. Wacky sex comedies featuring our favorite Pornomancer, and told as a retrospective fantasy to Mare. Josh has been married eight times, to seven different women (and Mare twice), and this is how he bedded and wedded each of them. Josh loves who he is and what he can do, and he revels in the collective. Josh and Mare know about the ghosts, so ghosts are permitted, but will only show up if it makes sense within a given story. THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING is the only one out so far.
The Rachel Peng Novels
Full-length novels, between 110k and 120k words. Mystery-thriller format, with a central crime that sets off the action and must be solved over the course of the book. Over the seven books in the series, Rachel Peng takes down Richard Hanlon, the villain who tortured and manipulated the 500 young kids who would grow up to become OACET. These novels take place in the five-year break between Parts 1 and 2 of the comic. Hints of ghosts here and there, but no koalas whatsoever! DIGITAL DIVIDE, MAKER SPACE, and STATE MACHINE are the three books in the series that have been published.
The Hope Blackwell Novels
There might just be one of these? I need to see how it performs before I commit to another series. I’m expecting GREEK KEY to come in around 80k to 90k words. Yes, Speedy will definitely be in this/these. The ghosts will be there, too. Not sure how to categorize this book…the draft is reading like Percy Jackson forgot his Adderall and decided to put on a modern-day reenactment of the ODYSSEY, but it’s only half-done and might take a Turn. Due out near Halloween.
(…screaming sounds forever…) Now that STATE MACHINE is done, getting the audio edits done on the books is my new full-time job. Again. Whee.
Hopefully this gives some general non-spoilery answers to any questions you might have had about the different overlapping series. Now, I’m gonna fall down for, like, six days and maybe twitch a little when Brown pokes me in the eye to check if I’m still alive.
It’s Monday! I’m paying bills! I’m organizing my schedule! I’m drawing pictures of
penises in tiny hats happy kittens playing with bits of string. Let’s throw some of these deadlines out there and see where they stick:
Novels & Stories
The soft release date for STATE MACHINE, the third Rachel Peng book, is on or around May 4th. I’ll do a firm release date when the cover art is finalized.
The soft release date for GREEK KEY, the first Hope Blackwell book, is on or around June 15th.
It’s looking like the third tier on my Patreon will be met sometime within the next few months, so after I get the Kickstarter nailed down, I’ll start working on Joshsmut again.
I have a story about Ami the Assassin out on spec to a sci-fi publisher. I should hear back within the next month whether they’ll take it. If they pass, I’ll put it up for sale in the store.
This thing, guys, this thing… I don’t even…
LEAGUE NIGHT and COME BOWLING WITH ME have already been sent out. Backers who bought the challenge coins (and nothing else) have already received them.
As for the rest… Okay, I need to speak generally here, as I have prepaid a Supplier and don’t want what I say to backfire on me (read: Sucker! Your money is MINE FOREVER), but there is a certain level of irony to needing to take out a loan to finish fulfilling a Kickstarter. There’s yet another level of irony to paying a Supplier to do work that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself, but they do it so poorly that you then have to do it yourself anyhow. I’m drawing a second mini-comic for all backers who also bought a copy of ZOO STORY as an apology for the delay.
I’m aiming to have the audiobook of DIGITAL DIVIDE finished and shipped to backers before the third Rachel Peng book hits, so this will be on or around May 1st.
As for final product shipping, we’re headed back to the studio soon to finish recording MAKER SPACE. Once I’ve completed the digital edits, I can put everything in the mail and ship it all out. I don’t have a firm deadline on when this will happen.
GIMME BOOK 2014 is over, and all books have been shipped. Except for the person who sent me this:
I’m thinking of changing the fourth tier from “Get rid of ads on the website” to “Make the Wedding Story.” I’ve had the script Pat and Hope’s wedding finished for years, and I’ve never had the time to draw it. I’d give this project priority status in the Neverending Queue if the fourth tier is met.
Also, my ad company changed hands recently, and they’ve stopped a lot of the nonsense that made me want to ditch them. They’ve added an auto-report feature where I can report a problematic ad and it’s removed immediately. If you ever see any ads with malware or are triggering (e.g.: sexist, racist, etc.), let me know and I can get them pulled.
This blog will begin updating soon, as: (1) we’ve done the math, and we’ve accepted that we’re trapped in this Amityville horror and can’t afford to move; and (2) the financial cost of the foundation repairs we’re going to do this month would buy a very nice car. We’re talking a fine German engineering level of “nice”.
I approve. I am in favor of Spring.
I’m doing some editing on the third Rachel Peng book, and there’s a throwaway bit of dialogue that struck me as interesting. Here’s the spoiler-free version of the text:
The suspect’s face was thinner, her eyebrows altered to look further apart. Her hair was a different color and cut after she had lost the red wig, and she now sported a longish brown bob. She was wearing a trendy but loose jacket, and a pair of Armani jeans that looked painted to her body but moved easily when she walked. A stylish pair of sneakers finished the outfit: she was ready to run if she needed to.
“She knows she could be caught,” Rachel mused through the phone lines. “She’d definitely here for a reason.”
“Maybe a handoff?” Santino asked. “Is she carrying the [MacGuffin]?”
Rachel started to protest: she tried to avoid prodding around clothing and what lay beneath. Larger objects, like guns and most knives, she could pick out no problem, but they were chasing a piece of metal the size of her palm and that involved a slower, more… thorough set of scans.
“Just do it,” Santino muttered. They’d had this discussion many times before. “If you asked someone if they’d rather have you stare at their naked bodies, or pry into their minds, I bet nine times out of ten they’d rather be naked.”
“Reading emotions is not the same as reading minds,” she said, as she fine-tuned her scans to go through pockets and purses and all manner of private places. “And who’s part of a hivemind here anyway, you or me? I’d much rather have someone in my head than pawing at my body.”
“Yeah, right. Ask Zockinski which he’d rather… You know, this might be a gendered issue.”
“Jesus, Santino. Go write a paper on it.”
“Shut up,” she muttered, and this time she meant it. Her partner fell silent as they held their positions, keeping Miss Armani in sight until the police could get close enough to tag her.
So! I’ve already asked friends who identify as male or as female whether they’d rather have someone spy on their emotional status or spy on their naked body. So far, it’s been unanimously males who’d rather have someone look at their bodies, while females would rather have someone look at their emotions. But I think my sample size is too small.
If you’re okay with answering these questions, would you mind noting which type of privacy violation you are most okay with, and whether you identify yourself as male, female, or differently gendered?
I live in the United States –North Carolina, to be specific– and am a one-woman show. Each day, I get up and put in 8 to 14 hours on various projects. Comics, short stories, novels, products… I do all of my own shipping. I answer emails (poorly, and usually in batches when I finally get a spare hour). I’m trying to salvage a simple Kickstarter that went so far off of the rails that I’ve had to start building new rails. You want to see me juggle plates? I will try to juggle plates! And then I will need new plates.
In other words, I’m exactly like every single other independent businessperson working for themselves in the creative economy. Sure, the tasks change: maybe you make music instead of comics, or put out .pdfs of knitting patterns instead of novels. Regardless of the flavor, we all put in the long, long hours because we love what we do.
(Lord knows it’s not for the money. This has been my first year as an independent full-time creator, and it’s been ridiculously rough. Sometimes I’ll search online just to learn what a dental hygienist or an actuary makes, and sigh.)
But as of December 30th, I’m making minimum wage for a typical 8-hour workday. In North Carolina, this works out to $7.25 an hour. That was my benchmark for whether or not I can (airquotes) make it (/airquotes) as an independent creator. I gave myself a year to see if I could do it. And I can! Woo hoo!
Here, I’ll save you the math: this works out to $290 a week, $1160 a month, and $13920 a year. Also, this does not include overtime. If I work over 8 hours a day, it’s unpaid labor.
(Did you know that an actuary can earn upwards of $250,000 a year?)
One of my steadiest sources of income are digital downloads. These are amazing! I create a product, bundle it in a handy downloadable file, stick it in my store, and forget about it. I don’t have to invest in maintaining an inventory or shipping. It’s an up-front investment of my time that can pay out again and again. Combined with Patreon*, digital downloads are a major component of my earnings.
are were also the best way for me to reach international readers. I no longer offer shipping anywhere other than within the United States. I will ship overseas when asked, but nothing turns a potential customer away more quickly than seeing that the shipping and handling on an item exceeds the cost of the item itself. There are no barriers to digital downloads.
Well, not until January 1, 2015.
I wrote about VAT-MOSS a month ago, when I first learned that new tax regulations would target digital products in the European Union. These taxes are… complicated. The stupid-short version is that taxes are based on where the customer is at the moment of purchase. Not where I, the seller, live and/or work. Not where the customer lives. It’s determined by the location of the customer when they decide to purchase a digital product.
I’ve been watching the subsequent VAT-MOSS clusterfuck like a dog watching that last pizza crust on the plate —Where’s it gonna go? How’s it gonna land? Will I be quick enough to take advantage of it?– and I’ve been hoping that the EU would simply decide to postpone the VAT-MOSS rollout for creators making less than X-Amount for another year. Since those supervising VAT-MOSS at the EU seemed surprised to learn that independent creators across the entire freakin’ planet had never even heard of this new legislation until it gained traction in social media, I felt that this wasn’t an unrealistic expectation. Allowing a one-year exemption for small independent creators would give everybody time to sort out the mess and prepare for the next stage in the creative economy.
As of December 29th, it appears that VAT-MOSS will roll out as scheduled.
There have been some minor changes to cushion the blow for small businesses, but these aren’t substantial and will have no significant effect on me. (I should point out that while the article I just referenced says “non-EU sellers are probably safe if they ignore [VAT-MOSS taxes]”, the breakdown from the gov.uk website states that “Businesses outside the EU (for example, the USA) that supply digital services to consumers in one or more EU member state are also affected by the changes,” and I’m gonna go with that one, thanks.)
So, I’m disabling digital downloads from my store to EU customers. This won’t involve much, since I use Big Cartel/Pulley as my shopping cart system and they are awesome. I change a setting, and EU customers no longer have the option of buying my digital products directly from me. Sorry, guys. I don’t want to be a dick. I’ll make sure you have access to these items through third-party vendors, Patreon, and by giving them to you free of charge when all else fails.
Finally, I don’t think this is a death knell for me as an independent creator. I was lucky enough to squeak in under the wire. But if 2015 were my make-or-break year… Well. It’s not. I got lucky. My sympathies to those who have to make major changes to their stores, or who have to abandon their creative pursuits altogether.
(I should tie all of this together with another joke about becoming an actuary, but that’s in poor taste when peoples’ livelihoods are a’splodin’ all over the world.)
*I should note that my Patreon has been lurking in the $750 range until mid-December, and the Spirit of My Readers are FREAKIN’ AWESOME! recently tipped it over the top.
ETA (5:15pm): Big Cartel also has a tax setting, and is aware of the VAT-MOSS changes. They are looking into workarounds so they can collect and report tax directly, but it will take time.