What I’ve Been Doing

It’s been almost a month since my last post here, which has shot a major hole in my aim of two to three blog posts a week. Part of the reason for that absence has been laziness, but it has also been a busy time. Here’s part of what’s been going on in my life since I reported on the Shamrock Run in March.

I launched a new podcast! Since I wrapped up the podcast of Purgatory two years ago, my podcasts have been few and far between. I had originally hoped to write and podcast a new short story every week. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I am not Scott Sigler, who can turn out quality work week after week. I didn’t want to podcast stories just for the sake of doing them; I want to put only quality work out there. Consequently, I released only a couple of interviews I did over Skype. Until a few weeks ago.

My new show is called The Geek Side of Life, and I intend it to be an exploration of all sorts of geeky culture, from old stories to modern books, movies, music, and TV shows, and anything else that fits the geek mold. As I write this, I have released five episodes: Two short stories that are in the public domain (by H.G. Wells and Robert E. Howard), a short story of mine, and two interviews. The interviews have been especially fun (I enjoy hearing someone else’s voice rather than my own.) Jenn from the Jennisodes podcast gave me a crash course in game design and production, as she readies her new role playing game Project Ninja Panda Taco for release later this year. I also had a terrific time chatting with singer-songwriter-podcaster John Anealio about his music. If you haven’t heard his new song Empire State yet, you need to download it now. In fact, I think that song will be the subject of my next post.

I’ve already recorded two more interviews, one with writer-podcaster Justin Macumber, whose novel Haywire is available for sale now, and with author-singer-graphic designer Starla Huchton. Both of those conversations will hit the feed shortly. My plan is to release new episodes every two weeks. That seems to be a comfortable span for me; a regular schedule that shouldn’t prove to be too burdensome.

I continue to ready Purgatory for self-publication. Starla is busy designing a book cover for me while I re-read it for the billionth time and continue to catch mistakes or problems. One issue popped up quite suddenly a few weeks ago. If you’ve listened to the podcast, there is a scene where the protagonist, in an attempt to find the gateway to earth, begins to sing a pop song from the 1960’s. In another scene, one of the other characters sings a couple of lines from a Beatles song. This didn’t seem like a big deal when I was giving away a free podcast; it’s a much bigger deal if one intends to make money from the work at issue. I realized I had to weigh into the treacherous waters of getting permission to use these lyrics.

I am a researcher by day, and I commenced an investigation to identify the publishers of these songs. While at a Barnes & Noble store one day, I found a Beatles songbook that contained the song I used. I flipped to the page, found the copyright information at the bottom, and snapped a picture with my phone. A Google search revealed that the publisher is a joint venture of Sony and the estate of Michael Jackson. I got an email address from their Web site, dashed off a request, and got a response within a few days. The response provided a form for me to complete and return.

Shortly after I returned the form (and in the mean time discovered that the same publisher owned the rights to the other song), I received a licensing price quote from them. They requested $300, and I was to limit the print run to a total of 500 print and electronic copies combined. The $300 was a discouragement; the limit on the print run is a deal-breaker. A very quick rewrite will eliminate any traces of the lyrics from my book.

The weeks ahead will include finalizing the cover, hopefully catching all typos in the text, creating a PDF for the print version, formatting it for the various ebook formats, doing all the uploads and getting it to market. I don’t think it will seem real until I see it for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, the iBook Store, and everywhere else that I can think of. I anticipate selling more ebooks than physical books, but I plan to bring several copies of the print version with me to Balticon in May.

Beyond that, my day job has kept me very busy, I’ve gotten a bit more freelance work lately, my work on two library boards of trustees draws a lot of my attention, and something really nice has happened in my personal life. More on that some other time. My exercise routine has slipped a bit, with the result that some of my pants feel like they’ve shrunk. That’s something that must change immediately.

So, that’s the news from Lake Wobetim. I’ll have a new post again soon. Promise.

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