Event Report - Rose Hill book talk

On Saturday August 27 I spoke about Kansas 1874 at the Rose Hill Public Library.

This was the second time I appeared at the library. At the previous talk I spoke at the south end of the library. Since then the library had finished the north end into an area slightly separate from where the books are. I like the arrangement; it kept my talk from distracting and being distracted by ordinary library patrons.

About a dozen people came out to hear me speak. There were some interesting questions. One of the points that arose was how so many of Kansas' early writers were newspaper editors, rather than fiction or nonfiction authors. While these newspapermen were very talented wordsmiths, they aren't as remembered today as they might be if they had written books.

Someone asked how much books cost back then. I recalled that even in the one notice in the Wichita Eagle for Joseph McCoy's book on the cattle trade, no price was given. I wonder how questions like that, about ordinary life today, will get answered in the future. Will future historians know, or will they like we just have to guess?

I plan to have a new short novel out this week. I'll post the information next time.


Short Stories for Sale!

Back in May I began uploading some of my published short stories to the Kindle Store and to Smashwords and putting them on sale for 99¢. You can find them by clicking the links to my Amazon Author Page or my Smashwords page. Here are the titles of what's available:

What To Change
A Stop at Stanford
The Camlan Gift

Plus these Frigate Victory stories:
Dramatic Solution & The Allergy Factor
Who You Trust

I'm putting up two stories (or groups of stories) each month. I should have several stand-alone science fiction stories up by the end of the year, along with a batch of Victory stories. I expect that next year I'll be uploading my Gwen Conner fantasy/mysteries and some general fantasy stories. I'll try to blog when new stories are up, though there might be a handful mentioned in a single post.

Check out a sample, and please consider a purchase (or two, or three...)


Book Review - Whedonistas

At OSFest I picked up a copy of Whedonistas, a book of essay on the various TV series created by Joss Whedon. I read the book while at the con.

It's from the same press that published Chicks Dig Time Lords, and follows a similar format. There are essays by women about Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and Doctor Horrible's Sing-Aong Blog. The pieces come from fans, authors, and two interviews are included: one with writer/producer Jane Espenson, the other with Juliet Landau (Drusilla).

One of my favorite pieces in the book is an appreciation of Firefly's Kaylee. It points out that though Kaylee is smart and a good engineer, she's also a young woman who likes to feel attractive and is deeply in love. This is an important point: female characters are often forced to be either smart or girly, rarely both. It's something I'm going to keep in mind as I write more about Lisa Herbert and her adventures.

The downside of this book is that it's not so much "warts and all" as CDTL. There wasn't that much criticism of the series or of fandom. I think both of these are due to the fact that Whedon's works only go back to the mid-to-late 1990s. Standards are higher for genre TV, and fandom has become more diverse. I would be curious to revisit this subject in another ten years.

That said, this is a good book to buy if you have any interest in Whedon's work. I give it 3 out of 5 stars at Goodreads.


Event Report - Country Threshing Day

Saturday, August 6 was a hot day to be out. I was up in Goessel at the Mennonite Heritage Museum to do a book signing with Cheryl Unruh (that's her above, reading from her great book Flyover People). We were in the bank building on the museum grounds, which had air conditioning. It wasn't cold, but it was much cooler than being outside.

We started the signing before noon. Cheryl read from her book at 1 PM. I've read the book, and it's a great read, full of essays on life in Kansas. It was good to hear her read from the book. Authors can sound one way in conversation, and a different way "on stage." Hearing how the author interprets their writing out loud can be enlightening. I recommend you go to her site and learn more about her books and her appearance schedule.

I was supposed to give a talk later in the afternoon. By then the crowd had thinned, so I chose not to. I'd already met several people, talked about my books, and had sold a few, so it was no big deal not to speak this time. Overall it was fun day.


So Long And Thanks For All The Film

On Monday, June 20, I went to the Augusta library to look at microfilm ordered through interlibrary loan. I've been doing this for about the last 12 to 15 years. That Monday was the last time I'll make such a trip.

There was an increase in the price of copies, but this only moved up the day when this was going to happen. The main reason for this has to do with the nonfiction side of my writing career.

As you know, right now the nonfiction book I'm promoting is Kansas, 1874. I had planned on promoting it just through next year. But I haven't reached all the places I wanted to so far. I'm wondering if I might still be doing events for it through 2013. That would push back the release of the next big nonfiction book about county-seat fights in Kansas. I plan on giving myself three years to promote that, since it covers so much of the state. Any delay in the release pushes back when my new Kansas Pacific railroad history comes out (and my book on the struggle over slavery in Kansas, which I wanted to have out at the same time).

Obviously, I'll be promoting my nonfiction books through the rest of this decade.

And after that? Well, I have some ideas, but that's all they are right now. They're interesting ideas, but I'm not as passionate about those projects as I have been about what I've been working on. If I'm going to spend time and money on them I should really care about them.

I've also wondered about researching and writing any project if it will several years before I can publish it. Does that make the effort more of "something to keep me busy" rather than "a book I want to write?" Does it make sense to work on a book now that I'm not passionate about, and that won't come out for a decade or so?

Something else I've thought about is how technology is changing research. I had to look at microfilm because that was the only way to get information out of old newspapers. For several years efforts have been underway to digitize newspapers and put them on the web. I took advantage of those resources for the Kansas Territory book, and more recently for the KP book. There aren't many newspapers online right now, but what about several years from now? I think I'll wait and see what more is done before starting on any new projects.

Then there's my fiction writing. The split between fiction and nonfiction hasn't bothered me because the nonfiction work gives me ideas, and it makes me money. But I have ideas in fiction that I do care about. What if the fiction end takes off (however modestly)? I already spend a lot of time and money promoting my nonfiction. Would my fiction do better if I put more resources into that instead?

So, that's where things stand right now. I'm going to promote what's coming out. I'm going to finish up the research and writing of the Kansas Pacific history. I'll spend more time on fiction. Then, in several years, I'll see where I am and what I want to do.

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