Working My Way To the Top (of the page)

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Bottom, bottom, bottom…

I forget which short story collection I was working on and discussing with a friend, but he posed an interesting question as we were chatting:

Why is your name always at the bottom of your covers?  Shouldn’t it be on the top?

While I may not completely produce my own covers anymore (for the better, as you can likely tell) I do place the text atop the artwork.  The decision to de-emphasize myself was a conscious one and I did it for a very simple reason:

Nobody knows who I am.

It’s a harsh thing to admit, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If I put “Eduardo Soliz” on the top of a cover, a potential reader might think that the book is about a guy with that name, or they might even think it’s in Spanish.  Either way, my name (right now, at least) is not a very big selling point.

Stephen King and James Patterson and those guys, yeah, they can put their names up top because people will recognize then as authors who’s work they enjoy so they’ll be more inclined to pick up a book with their name on top and buy it.

Someday, I’ll be ‘big enough’ to have the nerve to put my name at the top of the page, but until then, I’ll have to play second fiddle to the books themselves.

Then again, maybe that’s how it should be!

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92 Things I Noticed at Texas Furry Fiesta 2015

profu
Don’t spill the Chemical X!

Texas’ only furcon, Furry Fiesta, took place last weekend from Feb 20-22 and I had a ball.  So, without fur-ther ado:

    1. PRE-TRIP/THURSDAY: Never been on a 4-day trip that didn’t involve a tent before, time to upgrade my luggage.
    2. Nothing like that ‘did I forget to pack anything’ feeling, luckily there’s a Wally Martinez (Wal-Mart) near the hotel.
    3. Weight on Thursday morning: 267 Hope I don’t spend half the event pulling up my pants like at PAX South.
    4. Then again, that wouldn’t be so terrible 😉
    5. Thing I almost forgot #1-Nintendo 3DS, Thanks, Oscar!
    6. Thing I almost forgot #2-Cologne. Insert joke about ‘no female furries’ here
    7. Thing I almost forgot #3- Apparently my insurance card expired last October.  Oops!
    8. Thing I did forget #1: Ballcap for my Soos cosplay. Doh!
    9. Didn’t drink caffeine in purpose on the way up, finally had to succumb and stop at the Czech Stop for a soda.
    10. And some kolaches.  Mmm, good!
    11. New duffel bag has wheels…I feel so WHITE rolling it around.
    12. I was recognized by someone in the reg line and couldn’t figure out who it was until I heard his furry name.
    13. Felt honored to call Nuka “Doctor” for the first time.  Congrats!
    14. Room is on the 9th floor. Well, I did say I needed exercise XP
    15. Full-color conbook!  Is niiiice!
    16. A friend said the conbook was in color last year but I didn’t care because I didn’t have a story in it
    17. Yay, a fridge in the room…already stocked with overpriced items…BOO
    18. Karma FTL: Joked about the first guy in reg line being their guinea pig, then I ended up being the guinea pig when I upgraded to Super Sponsor.
    19. Prediction: Lots of angel dragons this year.
    20. Private joke: Wolfboy was denied chocolate chip waffles at Waffle House, dude just has bad luck with chocolate.
    21. Waffle House was great!  Now I have another place to stop at when I’m in Austin.
    22. Bad timing though, we bought a total of 15 people there and there were only 2 workers.
    23. They did an admirable job, though!
    24. FRIDAY: Had to get the genuine Waffle House experience the next morning after we swamped them on Thursday night.
    25. Bought a clip-on tie for a cosplay thinking it would be quicker, but it’s more trouble than a real one >.<
    26. Cap or ears with cosplay? Ears, of course.  Ignore #8
    27. It says something when Wally Martinez runs out of bags!
    28. Dafuzz is up with no trash cans on the first floor of the hotel?
    29. The magic is routinely being broken here. I has a sad.
    30. Feel funny hanging my ears on my rear view mirror like they’re fuzzy dice or something.
    31. Semi-retired my ears until I figure out a better way to wear them.
    32. “I’m sleepy” “Drink some coffee” “I don’t drink coffee” “There’s no better time to start!”
    33. Took a quick peek in the adult section of the art auction, funny how the quality of the art dropped a little.
    34. The Corral sends to be much improved this year.
    35. I gave away paper copies of one of my books to a few folks and it felt good, I hope the recipients enjoy them.
    36. Had to abandon my lanyard because my badge was blocking my shirt…oh no, I’ve become one of THOSE cosplayers
    37. Two researchers at the con means two surveys to do. I haven’t had this much homework to do since college!
    38. Obligatory work-related item: Saw a tech-sounding name on a building and the first thought that popped in my head was “Are they hiring?”
    39. Got bumped in the head by a fursuiter at the Bucktown Tiger performance but it was okay, he was padded.
    40. I kinda want to knee people that carry speakers playing music in the nards.
    41. Learned some photography stuff from a ‘fur-tographer’ 😀

      #41
      #41
    42. Heard someone use the phrase “home grown country boy.”  Is there any other kind?
    43. What is a fursuiter without a fursuit at a furry con? Very very sad.  Dude got better, though.
    44. Thing I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing: Tingle-styled zentai suit.  MY EYES
    45. Elevator-con didn’t happen for me, there were a few waits, but they were reasonable.  Kudos!
    46. SATURDAY: “I’m gonna dress as Professor Utonium” “Will you have three girls?” “No, but this is a con, they’ll be around” “Yeah but they won’t be girls” /facepaw
    47. When doing a panel, make it more about the topic, and less about you.
    48. Hell, at least have an outline.  The last time I went to a panel that was that bad it was held by teenagers.
    49. Heard a bird cawing outside, not sure if actual bird or attendee
    50. It says something when I sneeze in the hotel room and someone walking in the hall says “Bless you”
    51. New thing I’m not sure about: Someone had a friend do a badge of their ‘fruitsona.’
    52. Two people have referred to me as Uncle Kage. Not sure it’s complimentary
    53. After my camera battery conked out last year, I used my iPad mini to record the fursuit parade.
    54. …in landscape.  I didn’t want to be THAT guy again.
    55. Got to portray a not-very-nice executive during the voice over panel. That was easy.
    56. Nothing like that NOOOO moment when you realize your 3DS wifi has been off for the last few hours >.<
    57. Next time I think I’ll try a room at the hotel next door because reasons.
    58. Parking Idea: Paint one side of the parking barriers red so people know not to park next to them.
    59. Parking Idea #2: Take the back way through the overflow parking onto Quorum, much faster to get to Belt Line Road or the shopping center across the freeway
    60. Got fur-tobombed while getting my picture taken with a friend, lol
    61. Thing I forgot #2: Small ice chest to store/chill drinks
    62. Wore a lab coat for a costume on Saturday (see above) and kinda liked it, especially the pockets!
    63. SUNDAY:  Still no bags at Wal-Mart? Get it together, people!
    64. Awesome idea: Use cardboard priority mail envelopes from USPS for prints to keep them fresh and un-bent
    65. Boston Market’s 3-person meal could have easily fed 4 but SO GOOOD
    66. Whispered “I don’t read Gold Digger” to the Antarctic Press guy because Fred Perry was right there.
    67. I did buy (and enjoyed) two of his other comics and Furry Tales, though!
    68. Eyeball con: Some wag went around sticking googly eyes onto random things and apparently having pupils on fursuits is not cool anymore.
    69. I was right about the angel dragons, but the ‘no pupils for fursuits’ thing is a mite weird.
    70. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” got stuck in my head after hearing it during the jazz performance Saturday night
    71. That’s not a bad thing, BUT I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS >.<
    72. Whenever I see musicians play live, it makes me miss being in a band *sigh*
    73. Had an impromptu “Be Prepared” singing session in the car and realized I’d forgotten most of the words
    74. From Sunday afternoon afterwards the con was pretty cool, seemed like most of the hyperactive kids had left.
    75. MONDAY / POST-TRIP: Woke up Monday to see a layer of snow outside…CRAP
    76. Okay, ice. I’ve spent 99.999% of my life south of San Antonio and know not of such things 😛
    77. Got some neat “furries in the ice” pictures though!
    78. You don’t know which shoes are good for ice until you actualy have ICE
    79. Well at least I wasn’t wearing sandals.

      #78
      #79
    80. For being a small con, I didn’t see some folks on some days. Odd.
    81. Found a phone, how do we find the owner? Fursuit picture on the home screen of course!
    82. Drive home had a few harrowing moments at the start, but once we left Dallas things were fine.
    83. Still fuzzing cold, though; the Excelsior (my CR-V) still had ice on it when I got home.
    84. Took over 200 pictures during the con, holy cats!
    85. Bye bye, backpack, hello super-sponsor messenger bag.
    86. Not looking forward to seeing how many FA notifications I have pending.
    87. Or work emails for that matter.
    88. Aww #1: No calendar this year.
    89. Aww #2: Didn’t get to wear my “Do not feed the bears” shirt.
    90. Realization upon cleaning out backpack: I have way too many chargers and cables
    91. Weight on Tuesday morning: 268…so why are my pants so bleeping baggy?
    92. Saw a Krystal cosplayer and thought: “Hey, a place where Krystal CAN enjoy her sandwich!

Three Years and Many Words Ago…

meOn October 27, 2011, I uploaded One Sheet Stories to Amazon.com, which marked the beginning of my adventures in self-publishing.  Three years later, I have self-published a total of six e-books to the tubes so far: one non-fiction book and five super-short story collections.  My works can be found on Kindle, nook, iTunes, and Kobo.

Like many other creative persons, I hoped that my creations would be well received.  While the number of copies of One Sheet Stories that were sold that first year could be counted on one hand (it’s free now), my second book, The Rules of Tech Support, has sold over one hundred copies and was downloaded over four hundred times when I gave it away on Amazon.

One reason I write is in the hope that this endeavor can result in financial independence, but realistically it will take some doing.  I have received a small amount of royalties.  Not much, but enough for me to let Uncle Sam know, for what that’s worth.  There are definitely no plans for me to quit my day job anytime soon.  I have, however, gained knowledge from my successes and failures that I have begun to share with others.

I like to think that my writing has improved over those three years; the fact that I give away some of my earliest works for free now is a reflection on how rough some of those early stories were.  As evidenced by the slow start, I may have been a bit premature in attempting to sell my works.  If nothing else, I learned that I needed to package at least seven stories to justify the ninety-nine cent price tag.  Lessons learned and all that.

My attempts to sell paper copies of my books were met with what I can only describe as a fantastic level of indifference (insert lamenting about how ‘nobody reads anymore’ here), but the opportunity to spread the word about my work and talk to like-minded individuals have made up for the lack of financial success.  Luckily the financial costs are low and the potential for higher levels of success are there, so I press on.

Of course, there are things that I still need to work on; length in particular is something that still vexes me.  I have at least one idea for a novella that I would like to complete someday, but only a few partially finished chapters sit unloved on my hard drive.  I have also taken a few tentative steps towards writing different kinds of stories, but the majority of my works are still humorous (I hope).  Marketing is another challenge that I am looking forward to addressing in the future.

As I enter my fourth year of being a self-published author, I can only hope that as I write and publish more, I sell more and who knows, maybe someday I will get to really say ‘take this job and shove it’ for good.  As my fourth year begins, I have two follow-ups to The Rules of Tech Support in the works as well as another science fiction collection and of course, more furry stories.

Writing and publishing has been an adventure for me so far, and I hope that you (and many others!) will join me on what should be a fun ride in the years ahead.  Thanks for reading.

Earth-Mine

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When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe.  As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:

“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here.   I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).

“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries.  These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories.  For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.”  I know, I know!

On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth.  One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously.  Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated.  Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.

The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits.  For now, anyway.

I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up.  Well, assuming I haven’t already!  😀

Click here if you’d like to read some of those stories!

More Than Words

writingI have two projects that I haven’t been looking forward to working on, but carry on I must.  The first is a fiction story that involves the death of a character and the second is the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support.”

The reason I haven’t been looking forward to working on those projects is that working on stories that hit a little too close to home or that are sad can have an effect on me.  It may have happened before without my noticing it, but while working on a short story named “The Best Job In The World” for “Nine To Five Lives,” I noticed that I began feeling increasingly angsty at work.  I was even more angry and bitter than usual and it wasn’t until I finished the first draft of the story that I got over it.

I talked to a psychologist friend about it after the fact.  I asked him:  if reading fiction affects people in some way, wouldn’t writing it have an effect on those that write it as well?  He agreed, saying that something similar had happened to him when he was writing.

In all honesty, I think I am going to have a harder time writing the second tech support book.  While I can easily disconnect myself from a fictional character, I live tech support forty hours a week, which means I can probably look forward to being full of piss and vinegar for the next few weeks.  I could stop writing about work, but the insanity that the general public brings to the table is too rich of a vein of material to ignore.  I guess I’m stuck!

RANDOM REVIEW: 2013 A.D.

2013As the final hours of the year tick away, I have to say that 2013 was a really good one for me.

After years of dealing with apartments and all that malarkey, I broke down and bought a house.  Home ownership has been pretty awesome so far: I went from one-bedroom apartments to a two-bedroom house with a garage and a huge backyard and rabbits and I can barbeque and have friends over and I love it.  Given the age of the house, home repairs and replacing things will eventually come but for now its been smooth sailing.

On the e-book front, I decided to try to sell printed copies of my work at a few conventions and events and failed spectacularly, at least from a business standpoint.  I can count my total sales on my hands.  People just don’t read much anymore, or at least not the types of folks that go to anime or furry conventions.  On the plus side, I did get to talk to lots of folks, present some panels and if nothing else, hopefully inspire some folks to ‘go it alone’ themselves.  I only published one new e-book (should have been two, but life and all that) and definitely need to up my output next year.

2013 was a fun year of conventions, camping, writing, video games, furries, cookies, home maintenance and most importantly, friends and family. I am optimistic that 2014 will be even better; my goal is to compete at least two story collections as well as the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support,” which is my best-seller so far.  I am also hoping to attend some new conventions, make new friends, and well, get some work done on the house.  So without any further ado:

MISSION START!

51 Things I Noticed at Oklacon 11

oklaconlogoThis year marked my second Oklacon, and I did a much better job of keeping up my usual list despite, or maybe because I kept it on old-fashioned paper!

  1. Fursuit parts are apparently very good for keeping yourself warm.
  2. This is a great con for attention whores: Just yell or talk very loudly and EVERYONE on the campsite can hear you.
  3. Anyone playing the guitar at 7AM should be shot or at least kicked in the nards.
  4. I’m thinking that its about time to retire my old Sears Hillary tent. 😦
  5. I was happy I could get a signal on my Verizon iPad in nearby Watonga, OK, but then I got to the campsite annnd its gone!
  6. Even instant cappuccino tastes great when you’ve been sleeping in 30-degree weather.
  7. I’m not sure which is bothering me more: not wearing my university ring or not having a comb in my pocket.
  8. Someday Dr. Nuka will tire of my ‘What’s up Doc?’ greeting and get all sciencey on my tail.
  9. Somehow ‘All My Exes Live In Texas’ got stuck in my head.
  10. They should probably make sure the participants are able to play volleyball out of suit first.
  11. Plastic hammer + heavy metal stakes = FAIL
  12. I was a bit overdue for a shave on Thursday but the cold is keeping me from doing so.
  13. Good idea: Putting QR codes on my dealer’s table sign. Almost Good Idea: Putting QR codes on my dealer’s table sign at a con where cell reception sucks.
  14. Maybe its just me, other folks seem to be doing just fine. Just what I need: another reason to dump Sprint.
  15. I learned today that Canada apparently has its own version of Texas called Alberta. The thought that each country in the world may have its own ‘Texas’ might explain a lot…and fills me with fear.
  16. One of the researchers was having problems with her camera and was getting frustrated, I had to quip: “This is the part where they usually call me at work.”
  17. Even though I’m not at work, my tail was still dragging at about 4PM…should have had that second cup of coffee!
  18. The collective rolling of eyes could almost be heard whenever someone insisted they were the only one in the furry fandom whose fursona was an X.
  19. Best money I’ve spent recently: $15 for a small stool for sitting in the tent; its a little snug in the forbidden zone, but otherwise worked well.
  20. Its funny how the lack of data turned my smartphone into a glorified watch…and a phone.
  21. I only posted once to social media all weekend and haven’t missed it. It feels good to be talking to people that are actually sane.
  22. The rain snuck up on us Friday night but surprisingly nothing got into the tent…there but for the grace of God go I.
  23. Unlike last year, the bathrooms were kept up and I even contributed by plunging a few times and even fixing a toilet, nice to put that homeowner skill to use.
  24. I should have been annoyed by Reville being played at 9am, but instead I found it amusing…because I was already awake.
  25. My writing panel went well, four people showed up!
  26. Hot dogs? At a furry con? Say it ain’t so!
  27. My laptop is a battery…a big, frakking, heavy battery.
  28. The zipper on my tent was misbehaving and the first thing that came to mind was ‘MY KINGDOM FOR SOME DUCT TAPE!’
  29. Things I forgot to bring: wet naps, duct tape, mayonnaise and once again, a roll of toilet paper.
  30. I could only not shave for so long, Saturday night the face fuzz was gone.
  31. I might need to switch to Mountain Dew from coffee, the Dew seemed to keep Nuka going.
  32. He graciously gave me one of his, and I gave him some of my cough drops, balance of the universe and all that.
  33. Yeah, it was great to hear my dealer-neighbors bicker back and forth like an old married couple…which they probably were.
  34. Furries apparently really hate sports, which is yet another way I stick out in that club in addition to being straight and over 30.
  35. From the ‘clever idea’ department: Previous year’s con shirts: $12 for 1 or $10 for 2
  36. Hearing the rules for ‘Predator and Prey’ made me think of ‘Calvinball.’
  37. When in Rome: I got mustard on my camera’s strap during lunch and my first instinct was to try to suck/gnaw it off.
  38. Part of me want to either stay in a tent alone or get an A-frame bunk next year…hmm.
  39. f I had known coffee cups/mugs were going to be sold at the auction I would have been there in a shot.
  40. I wonder what the organizer thought when I gave him my tax form that said “Sales: $4”
  41. A guy nearby needed help tearing down his ‘insta-tent.’ I knew there was a reason I didn’t like those things.
  42. Well, that and they cost twice as frakking much.
  43. Very thankful to have a second person in the car on the drive home, I probably would have had to stop for sleep otherwise.
  44. Saw so many Braum’s burger/ice cream/grocery joints on the drive up/back that we had to stop at one on the way home. Quite good!  Still haven’t been to Waffle House.
  45. Put over 1,100 miles on the Excelsior the whole trip and used up just over two and a half tankfuls of gas.
  46. Flying J has REALLY good coffee.  That, or drinking instant coffee at work for so long has ruined my taste buds.
  47. We encountered absolutely zero traffic problems on I-35 from Oklahoma City all the way down UNTIL we hit San Antonio and spent 25 frakking minutes going the last 5 miles home…REALLY, SAN ANTONIO?
  48. Good Idea: Empty fridge beforehand so no food goes bad during the drip. Problem: No food in fridge to eat upon return.
  49. While I only sold 2 storybooks during the weekend, it was still 2 more than I sold during Furry Fiesta. *shrug*
  50. Thank you, Sharon.
  51. I can’t wait to do it again!