Civic Duty Done

We have a runoff election for Collin College Board of Trustees so I stopped off at Carpenter Park to do my duty as a citizen. Yes, I vote in every election because if I don’t vote, I can’t bitch. Besides, I like collecting my little sticker.

Afterwards I stopped off at Hirsch’s to pick up meat for the week (was going to make taco salad tonight but the Brit offered to go out and bring back curry and I am not going to say no to that), came home and took a business call that may open up some very nice avenues in the near future. More on that I cannot say at the moment, but if y’all could think good thoughts for me that would be appreciated.

I also dug a really, REALLY cool swashbucker’s hat out of my closet yesterday. I think I bought it at an SF con years ago because of my membership in the SFWA Musketeers and stuck it in the closet after we stopped fencing publicly. I think I need to wear it in more TikTok videos *nods firmly*.

Rabbit Rabb—Eh, You Know the Drill

June has started with me getting all of the personal and business finances organized and up to date, all bill paperwork and receipts filed, and I even have the projected taxes calculated and ready to go on 6/15/23 and a reminder set up in Outlook. Because I know, I know, that something will happen that will completely blow any thought of that straight out of my mind and I’ll be sitting here at 11:59 PM on the fifteenth thinking, “…wasn’t there something I was supposed to do today?”

Computerized reminders are a godsend, I swear.

In the meantime I’ve got a new custom pendant order on its way and I also got word that my next quilting project is in the mail. I’m doing a t-shirt quilt for a friend’s daughter and she wants a stained glass effect with different sized panels so I’m going to take a look at the shirts when they arrive and see how best I can fit them all together. This should be fun.

A Productive End to May

Seeing as I had a hell of a time getting to sleep last night I had a remarkably productive day (I did kinda think I was going to collapse into a coma around 5 but I powered through it). Got another Nicola book formatted and off to Smashwords and Google Play, worked on another episode for Kindle Vella, did my blog posts, updated the financial records for the month, got the bezel soldered for a pendant I’m making (I know I’m too tired to do any more work on it now—the setting will involve eensy pure silver balls and I need to be fully awake for that) and now I’m gonna go do my time on the treadmill, tra la!

I’m also looking forward to tomorrow because the On the Hook cod and chips truck will be in Plano and I can go pick up some excellent fish and chips for dinner. Hey, sometimes it’s the little things.

Back to Work

I’ll take Sunday off, I promise.

But I got a lot done today for Nicola, and then I went into the garage and finished a gorgeous little silver decoration from an antique shot plate. It looks like a little Victorian doodad and I’m going to use it with a Petoskey stone cabochon for a pendant. This is going to look glorious when it’s done, very stylish and elegant. Can’t wait to hammer out and finish some of the smaller decorations and start using them in my scrollwork earrings.

Speaking of which, I hit Daiso today for some kitchen things and picked up a little tray that will be perfect for holding my plasticine while I put together those finickity little earrings. I didn’t get started on the amber earrings yet and it’s a little late to do it now, but I’m going to solder together all the bezel cups I need for that tomorrow, then try out the plasticine/investment soldering method. Wish me luck.

Also, I have a large orange cat currently sprawled next to me who really, really wants a chunk from the pork chops that are cooking for dinner. I keep trying to explain to Jeremy that there’s no way he could take down a pig in the wild, but he doesn’t care—he loves him some pork. Weird cat.

So Did I Actually Relax Today?

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Have you met me?

I did wake up late because I felt like having a lie-in, but after breakfast I got my proof of Random Realities, decided it looked spectacular and went upstairs to put it with my other proof copies in my office, and thought, “Hmm. This room is really dusty. It wouldn’t hurt to give it a good cleaning and vacuum the carpet. Ooh, and I can reorganize the electronics rack at the same time and store all of my print books that I’ll be selling up here.”

So instead of relaxing, watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and generally recharging the way I wanted to, I was climbing on a freaking stepladder to dust and reposition pictures on my office wall and hanging the standing thread spool rack over my sewing machine. Because I am an idiot who does not know when to take a break.

Oh, but it gets even better. When I was putting stuff away in my closet I noticed the non-functional Brother label printer and decided to pull it apart and clean off the leaked battery acid that was fouling the battery terminals because, well, tomorrow I was going to start being a proper small business owner and being able to label my newer files in my filing cabinet would be a goodness (see: I am an idiot).

In the process I managed to detach the wire leading from the terminals to the guts of the machine, so I asked the Brit to solder it back on. He wound up having to replace the entire wire, but even with fresh batteries it wouldn’t turn back on (no big deal—it was a freebie that came with his Brother printer). I put it in the recycling pile and ordered a new one because I’m OCD and it’s a tax write-off since I’ll be using it in my office.

Then I sent off two invoices for custom projects, did laundry, vacuumed the downstairs, fed the cats, and made to-do lists for Belaurient Arts, Belaurient Press, and the pending business stuff in general. It’s 9:37 PM and I haven’t had dinner yet. I clearly need a minder.

I Do Love a Productive Sunday


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Woke up and got a bunch of Nicola work done and dusted, had coffee with T and hit Daiso for some kitchen stuff I needed, then made dinner, got my treadmill time in, and now I can actually relax for a change before heading off to bed. Luxury.

And I have made an executive decision. I am taking tomorrow off from the writing business. I still have more work to do but it’ll be there on Tuesday. Tomorrow I am taking my investment and my plasticine into the garage and I’m gonna make a set of earrings that I’ve wanted to do with some gorgeous 6mm amber cabochons and two flower-shaped shots that I pounded out a few weeks ago.

The image at left shows how I want to set the cabochons in plain silver bezels with open backs so that light can shine through them, connect them with silver balls, add a jump ring onto the setting and another one onto the flower, then connect them together and solder an earring post onto the back of the flower. Since this will involve working with a lot of small, fiddly pieces, it’ll be a great test for the plasticine/investment soldering process. If this works the way it should, making anything with small pieces or intricate scrollwork is going to get a LOT easier.

And While I’m At It, New Stories


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I need to preface this post with some info—if you weren’t already aware of this, Amazon announced this month that they were raising print prices for any books printed through KDP. Price increases had already happened at other printing platforms so it didn’t come as a surprise. That being said, it turned out that printing costs for books with a 6″ x 9″ trim size (which is the standard for fiction trade paperbacks) were going to go up rather significantly as compared to books with smaller trim sizes.

Now, almost all of my Nicola books have an 5.25″ x 8″ trim size because that’s the size Evernight used and I liked it. And when I formatted the Future Classics anthologies for print I used that trim size as well because I am OCD and like to have all of my books the same size on the bookshelf.

But Random Realities was my first self-pubbed title and I had used the 6″ x 9″ trim size on it. Since I would actually like people to be able to buy it in print (and buy author copies myself) without breaking the bank, I decided to reduce the trim size to 5.25″ x 8″.

Except that trim size is locked into the ISBN number you use for your book so you can’t change that unless you unpublish the book and republish it with a new ISBN. I thought about it and decided to do it—it wouldn’t affect reviews, and Amazon now provides tools where you can archive old, unused titles and link new print editions to the ebook edition.

And then I thought, “Well, wait. This book is 11 years old and you published a bunch of other stories in the interim. You only had 10 stories in the original edition of Random Realities and were already thinking of releasing a new short story collection. Why not just add those stories to Random Realities and make it a decently sized book?”

See, Random Realities was *touches fingertips* a bit of a vanity publication. I wanted to have some work of mine in print and this was the easiest way to go about doing that, even though the total size was in novella range and kind of short for a print book. But if I added another ten stories written in the intervening eleven years, including my delightfully weird take on how the French would deal with experimental humanoids (“Le Gardien”) and my steampunk novelette “The Lark Ascending,” that would increase the size of Realities to a very respectable 67K. And with a smaller trim size that would result in a decently sized book.

So that’s what I did. Now, if you already bought Random Realities you don’t need to buy this new edition—the bulk of the additional stories were published elsewhere so chances are you’ve already read them. But if you’ve never bought it before and would like to have a collection of my stories on hand, it’s now available in ebook and print versions.

New Covers

Since I have to reformat Random Realities ANYWAY, I thought it was time for a new cover. And to be frank I needed a break from formatting.

The problem with covering this collection is that it has SF, fantasy, one horror-adjacent story, and a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. How the heck do you represent all those on one cover? Which is why I went with the “girl blowing bubbles with the bubbles representing different realities” on the old cover.

But let’s be honest, my graphics skills have improved mightily in the last ten years, and the SF/fantasy antho market has also changed. Gotta keep up with the times, don’t you know? So this is my new provisional cover—gonna give it a couple of hours to cool, then come back and see if I still like it. If I do, I’ll add it to the Vellum file and upload to the assorted platforms.

What I especially like about this picture is that with all the cool stuff visible through the door, the girl and her teddy are still looking off to the right like something even better is over there. I think it gives a sense of hope and optimism for the future, and God knows we all need that right now.

Let’s Get ‘Er Done

Since I’m in the process of setting the bulk of Nicola’s books wide I figured I’d do the same for my alt history mystery novel A Most Malicious Murder, my short story collection Random Realities, and the two anthologies I manage for my crit group.

Mind you, the bulk of them were already essentially wide—AMMM was the only one that had ever been in KU. But I realized that neither the short story collection nor the anthos had been uploaded to Google Play. Well, we can’t have that, now, can we?

So AMMM is now fully wide, as is Tales From a Lone Star (A Future Classics Anthology Volume One), and I’ll be creating the Google Play versions of Random Realities and A Lone Star in the Sky (A Future Classics Anthology Volume Two) later today.

Then I get to go back to the nine pending titles that still need to be converted and uploaded. This indie publishing gig isn’t for the weak, I can tell you that.

Yay, My Investment Came!

No, not that kind of investment. I mean the super-fine casting powder that can be used when casting lost wax figures that are then melted out in a kiln and metal is poured into the void.

And no, I’m not doing that, either. For one thing, I don’t have a kiln. But investment can also be used in a soldering technique where you put delicate, fiddly pieces of a setting together on some plasticine, then form a barrier around them and pour on a layer of investment. Once the investment, which can take incredibly high temperatures, is bone dry you turn it over, peel off the plasticine, and the jewelry parts remain in the investment and are ready to be soldered together on the bottom.

This has two benefits:

  1. I don’t have to hold my breath while putting together fiddly bits or worry about bumping something out of alignment.
  2. Soldering everything on the bottom keeps the top looking clean and pristine and means a lot less cleanup for me.

I’m going to make up some bracelet links this weekend with this method and see how well it works. I think it’s going to make my job as a silversmith a lot easier.