One of magical things about having been connected to enough things to be “collectible” is getting to drop off a box of your papers and such, cheerfully announce what you were doing in 1993 or so and having someone get excited about that. I went by the Tretter Collection at the U of MN this morning to give them a box of files and books for my archive (I also have a satellite archive at the SFWA archives in Dekalb, FYI). This round includes some new books; Queen of Swords Press memorabilia; bisexual women’s organizing papers from the early 1990s (including my volunteer work for the 1993 March on Washington); bookstore info from Grassroots Books, my long ago feminist/queer bookstore; Iowa Women’s Music Festival memorabilia, also from the early 1990s; and miscellaneous activist memorabilia from various feminist and 1980s Central America solidarity and lefty activities. I think this adds another virtual cubic foot to my shelf space there so I have a great sense of accomplishment.
some lovely friends have been running interference for me for the last 6 weeks or so in order for me to get things done and some friends have been making sure I had some semblance of a work/life balance and Jana has been running errands and helping out and Alexa has been helping with Queen of Swords Press stuff and you are all awesome! Thank you!
Here's what I accomplished during that time:
1. New ghost story, "Lost Girl," written and accepted for the October 2019 issue of Fireside Magazine.
2. One new book set up for April release for Queen of Swords (WIRELESS AND MORE STEAM-POWERED ADVENTURES by Alex Acks - in preorder now!)
3. One gaming tie-in story draft nearly done, about which more later if the editor likes it when he sees it this weekend.
6. A couple of thousand words written on BLOOD MOON.
7. One requested gaming proposal outlined, the second in progress.
8. Two classes prepped - both are still open for registrations.
9. Two story pitches accepted.
10. One article accepted for the SFWA blog.
11. A talk on small press publishing given at DreamHaven
And probably stuff I'm forgetting.
One more push and I can take tomorrow (coincidentally, my birthday) off!
Birthday fundraiser, for those interested. I am once more raising money for SAGE, a national nonprofit that works with LGBTQ elders, seeing as I am now an elder. :-)
Here's a few things that have changed in the last 2 years of running my own small press
- I got a bunch of pointers and good ideas from my lovely pals who run Blind Eye Books, to give credit where credit is due. They inspired me to get a table banner, new approaches to shipping, structuring sales and planning.
- Queen of Swords Press now has a YouTube channel for readings and other related content.
- I’ve put out 8 books total, built up a reviewer and book blogger network and increased the outreach footprint for each book.
- I saw one book make it to the Colorado Book Awards Finalist’s list (yay for Alex Acks and Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures!). Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) got a really nice review in Publisher’s Weekly and Silver Moon got on the Rainbow Awards list.
- I edited and published out Queen of Swords' first anthology, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), featuring stories by authors from 7 countries.
- Thanks to Andi at Dragonbyte, we have a website shopping cart so you can buy Kindle and Epub format ebooks direct from us (we’ll do print on special request, at the moment).
- I published my first author who is not me, namely the awesome Alex Acks, whose books you should be reading.
- I started a monthly newsletter (you can sign up on the website!)
- Had books in 2 StoryBundles so far. In addition to selling books and making money for the press and our authors, they both raised money for Rainbow Railroad, a nonprofit that assists LGBTQ refugees.
- I've hired a part-time press assistant to help with monthly marketing, proofreading and other tasks and am contracting with a marketing person for bigger campaigns like book releases.
- I've got a regular book designer, Terry Roy, who makes our print books look fabulous and several cover artists who do amazing things.
- I've been trying something new additional for each book and trying to get on a schedule for something new each month: different promotion, more review sites, more announcements, more tie-in events, videos, etc. It seems to be working so far. Sales were up 23% in 2017 from 2018.
- I'm going to be starting a line of mini-collections this year, with a small collection (5-6 stories) of my horror to be released around Halloween. I'm talking to another author about next year's collection and hope to announce it soon. I've noticed that people are more open to new to them authors at the $8-10 range at book tables, so we're going to give these a whirl
- Blood Moon. Which I will finish this year, dammit.
- Opening up to book submissions for a few weeks in late April - May. Stay tuned.
- Plan at least one more title for 2020 and look into crowdsourcing for a second anthology.
- Get books out sooner to make the 3-4 months before release print deadline for Library Journal and the Library of Congress.
- Keep growing and start paying myself.
- We'll see how it goes. Stay tuned!
I've got a new guest blog up today, this one on author Karelia Stetz-Waters' blog, on the topic of writing good sex scenes. This an appetizer for my online class, In Flagrante Delicto, which I'll be teaching on 3/31 (assuming people sign up) at Cat Rambo's Academy for Wayward Writers, so if you like my post, the class may be for you. I'll also be offering a class on editing anthologies on 4/6. And we are doing our financial planning for the replacement and attic redo this summer so if you're thinking of taking a class, now would be an excellent time. See also: buying books.
Speaking of books, I'm in the process of pulling together the latest Queen of Swords Press title, Wireless and More Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks. Wireless is a sequel to Acks's Murder on the Titania and features more Ramos and Simms stories. They're both rollicking good reads and I highly recommend them! The cover reveal will be coming soon, along with preorder links, and the release date will be midApril (probably the 10th, but perhaps a week later), hopefully in time for ClexaCon and almost certainly in time for UntitledTown in Green Bay.
I'm also doing a talk on running a small press at DreamHaven Books on 3/21, "Running a Small Press: It's an Adventure!" This will be a sequel to the talk I did in 2017 on getting started in small press publishing. There'll be time for Q&A, hopefully amusing anecdotes and some munchies, as well as QoSP books for sale. I'm also hoping to open up for book queries for 2020 for a bit in April and May, since i have a part-time assistant who i doing great work and can help me manage things. Fingers crossed.
Apart from all of this, I'm working on stuff. Blood Moon, the next menopausal werewolves novel, is moving along at a reasonably brisk pace. I hope to have a draft done by end of April, maybe sooner. I'm into that phase of pantsing where I know how it needs to end and that helps move things along. I've also sent in a pitch for an interesting project, am polishing up an essay for submission and will be getting some other things out the door this weekend while tackling my invite projects. I'm also looking forward to the Huldufolk Art Show on Saturday and Theatre Unbound's production of "Iphigenia and Other Daughters" on Saturday night (the same playwright's Fringe production, "Blood Noctourne" about Elizabeth Bathory was amazing). I'm also doing catch up on all my missed meetings and meetups from Snowpocalypse February. Should be fun.
I just added another couple of events so there'll be more updates soon. Apart from that, I'm trying to get a bunch of things done before new deadlines appear. Our new boss gave us tomorrow off so I look forward to a jolly day of tax prep and other fun ahead. And next week, another furnace estimate (our third). I suspect that company #2 is going to win, but we'll see what company #3 has to offer. Still banking on my job lasting through the year; it's difficult to have much faith after having three years of layoff notice hanging over my head. Sigh. Onward! Excelsior! And all that.
And now to sit up until midnight working so I can see this Super Blood Wolf Moon.
In other news, Queen of Swords Press is celebrating its second birthday this week (which also happens to be Jana and my 24th anniversary and my 6th year at my day job)! There'll be a party at Bingley's Tea Salon in Minneapolis on Saturday from 2-4 with books and tea and munchies and there will be a prize drawing for newsletter subscribers. You can sign up at the website or at the tea (current subscribers are automatically entered), and prizes include free books, a Queen of Swords Press mug, some tea from Bingley's, a literary candle from Frostbeard Studios and other fun stuff. The drawing will happen on 1/20 so I can announce it when I send the newsletter out. Hope to see some of you there!
I was interviewed last week on the British horror/dark fantasy/weird fiction site, greydogtales, for their portion of LGBTQ Horror Month, and as part of the wrap-up to the festivities, I'll be putting my short fiction collection Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories, on sale from 1/21-1/27.
Now back to organizing for talks and classes and getting a new story written and submitted.
Also last night, my friend, playwright Anne Bertram, Theatre Unbound's Artistic Director, has decided to retire from that role after 19 seasons. I'm hoping that gives her more time to write some more amazing plays like "The Good Fight," "Murderess" and "Frankenstein Incarnate." But I will miss her smiling face at the box office.
Friday's other big event was a visit from a representative from the company we will be hiring to replace our furnace later on this year. In our 100 year old house, this will involve ripping out the ancient octopus furnace, including asbestos abatement and building the new furnace inside our basement. We will also need new piping run up through the bathroom (losing our bathroom storage cabinet in the process) in order to heat the attic. The attic will then require some swift contracting work on the insulation and the windows before winter. In return for the mayhem this will cause (we were Marie Kondoing our possessions before everyone else got on the bandwagon, the basement is Jana's studio, the cats and I may have to go hotel it for a few days, etc.), we get a much more energy-efficient furnace that will also replace our window unit air conditioner. And we'll have better control over the humidity in the house. And we can stop living in fear that our ancient furnace will conk out in the middle of Minnesota winter. The price ticket? Adding in the additional attic insulation work, which we don't have a firm estimate on yet, this will run around $25k. Which is so many zeros. And which we would need by April or so. Hence what follows. We've got a start on saving toward this rather vast amount of money, but I want to make sure that we're not in desperate Go Fund Me territory or huge amounts of debt at the end of this so expect more marketing-related posts and blasts for my writing, Queen of Swords Press, Jana's work, our classes and so forth. I'll try not to be super obnoxious about it.
Queen of Swords Press - if I could get the press to the point where I was selling an average of 40 books a week, it would be much less of a drain on the exchequer and would be pretty close to self-sustaining. I've got to come close to this goal this year or changes will have to be made, just saying. Boosts are appreciated too! Our books are available:
- Direct from the Press website
- Smashwords/B&N/Amazon, etc. here and here and here
- Bella Books
- Indiebound - your local independent bookstore can order our books in!
- Libraries - ebooks available via Overdrive, print directly from Queen of Swords or via Ingram Spark. Most public libraries will order our books in if you request them, just saying.
- Various international outlets too!
Miscellaneous other stuff: I have a Ko_fi account and a Curious Fictions account. You can pledge or do one-time donations.
- The annual list, updated as new things arise; right now, there's a bunch of things that aren't yet confirmed but I expect updates soon:
- Hannah's Bookshelf - February 2nd, 4-6PM (U.K. time). I'm getting interviewed by the amazing Hannah Priest, editor, writer, scholar, politician and radio host on North Manchester FM. Check out the livestream if you're not in the area.
- Cocktail Hour Podcast - February 7th. Air date shortly thereafter. I'll be interviewed about my current and upcoming work and Queen of Swords Press
- Quatrefoil Women Author's Reading - March 18th. 1-4PM. Annual event at the Anderson Library at the University of MN. Come and hear your favorite queer women authors read their latest! Readers include Rachel Gold, Catherine Friend, MB Panichi and other writers, including me.
- "One Night in Saint Martin" on the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - March 31st. My work read aloud! By someone else! With theatrical flare!
- ClexaCon - Las Vegas, NV. April 5-9. I'll be on the panel "Labels: Why We Need Them. Or Do We?" with the publishers from Blindeye Books and Sapphire Books. Queen of Swords Press will also be splitting a table with Blindeye Books in the Dealer's Room.
- Shelfies Interview - April 30, online at Underground Book Reviews. Interview about my writing process, publishing, plans for Queen of Swords Press, etc.
- WisCon, Madison, WI - May 25th-28th. Programming participant. Also hosting a release party for Queen of Swords Press' new title, Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks and sundry other works.
- Books and Beer Pop-up Store, June 23rd. 1-6. Summit Brewing, St. Paul.
- 4th Street Fantasy, St. Louis Park, MN, June 22-24
- OutWrite 2018 - Washington, D.C. August 3rd - 5th. Author reading and a panel discussion.
- St. Cloud Pride/Pride in the Park - St. Cloud, MN. September 14-15. Queen of Swords Press table at Pride in the Park on the 15th. I'll also be doing a reading and author talk at the Great River Regional Library with author Rachel Gold.
- Once Upon a Crime Bookstore: Karin Kallmaker and Friends - Minneapolis, MN. September 28th, 7-9PM. Group author reading by Karin, Jessie Chandler, me and other folks.
- 2018 Twin Cities Book Festival, St. Paul, MN. October 13th. Queen of Swords Press will have a book table and will be hosting author Michael Merriam as a guest author.
- Wordbrew 6, Kieran's Irish Pub, Minneapolis. October 28th, 1-5 PM. The annual extravaganza of local science fiction, fantasy and horror writers reading their work. Different line up every year!
- Emily Byrne at I Heart Lesfic on November 9th.
- Books and Beer Popup Store, AZ Gallery, St. Paul. December 1, 1-6PM. I'll have a book table and there will be munchies and art and other authors.
- Book release party for Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) - DreamHaven Books, Minneapolis, December 5, 6:30-7:45. Featuring readings by yours truly and Michael Merriam. Also chocolate.
- Minnesota Women's Art Festival - Minneapolis. December 8, 9:30-4:30. Queen of Swords Press will have a book table and will feature artwork by book artist Jana Pullman.
- Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) Reading - Eat My Words Bookstore, Minneapolis. December 13th, 7-8PM. Michael Merriam and I will be reading and signing books.
- Queer Holiday Fair at the L Spot - Minneapolis. December 15th, 4-8PM. Stop by Minneapolis's new fun LGBT shop for a holiday craft and book fair.
Starting with the events and experiences part of things, I was interviewed on North Manchester FM's radio show "Hannah's BookShelf" by the amazing Hannah Kate herself, then appeared a few weeks later on the Cocktail Hour Podcast. I did a reading at the University of Minnesota's Tretter Collection in March for the annual Quatrefoil Library's Women's Reading, went to ClexaCon in Las Vegas as a vendor with my pals from Blind Eye Books and hosted a Queen of Swords Press party at WisCon. I got interviewed at Shelfies by Bill Kieffer, got interviewed with author Rachel Gold in the St. Cloud Times (best headline ever!), interviewed by Paul Weimer at the Skiffy and Fanty Blog and answered 5 Questions for author Loren Rhodes. As Emily L. Byrne, I did the WLW Blog Hop, and had guest posts up at I Heart Lesfic, Women & Words and on Sacchi Green's blog, Reaching Out. In addition to ClexaCon and WisCon, I did readings and panels at Outwrite in Washington, D.C., DreamHaven Books and Eat My Words Books and WordBrew 6 in Minneapolis. Queen of Swords Press had tables at St. Cloud Pride, the Twin Cities Book Festival, the Minnesota Women's Art Festival, 2 instances of the Books and Beer Pop-up Store, the Queer Author Holiday Fair and probably something I'm forgetting.
Writing and editing. Queen of Swords Press/me and company put out three books this year:
- Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks (Steampunk/weird West)
- Medusa's Touch by Emily L. Byrne (Lesbian SF Romance)
- Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) edited by Catherine Lundoff (Mixed genre pirate anthology)
- “A Winter’s Tale” in A Few More Winter Tales edited by Matthew Bright. December, 2018 (Fantasy).
- “A Cry in the Night,” forthcoming TBD. World of Darkness: Ghosthunters (final title TBD).
- “The Letter of Marque” reprinted on Curious Fictions. August, 2018. (Historical)
- “Faceless” and “Firebird” reprinted in the OutWrite 2018 Journal, Issue 1. August, 2018 (Fantasy).
- “The Mask and the Amontillado,” Tales of the Unanticipated #32, edited by Eric Heideman, July, 2018. (Horror)
- “One Night in Saint Martin,” March, 2018. Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast, edited by Heather Rose Jones. (Historical)
- And had an excerpt from Silver Moon in D.C.'s Metro Weekly
Emily (Other Me) had 4 stories published this year -
- "Rainbow's End," an homage to hot women, queer bookstores and queer poetry in Year's Best Best Lesbian Erotica Vol. 3, edited by Sacchi Green (Cleis Press, December, 2018).
- "Phone, Sex, Chocolate" in Candy Lovers: Sugar Erotica edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, RKB Enterprises
- "Permanent Position" in Blood in the Rain 4: 18 Stories of Vampire Erotica edited by Cecilia Duvalle and Mary Trepanier, Cwtch Press
- "An Incident in Whitechapel" was recorded for the Nobilis Erotica Podcast in December
Now for a brief respite, then on to 2019!
Also, book sales!
On Smashwords (12/25-1/1/19):
Silver Moon and Out of This World by Catherine Lundoff are on sale.
Medusa's Touch, Desire and Knife's Edge by Emily L. Byrne are on sale.
Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks is on sale.
I HEART LESFIC MEGA SALE (12/26-12/30) -
Desire by Emily L. Byrne
And stay tuned for Queen of Swords Press birthday events in January! For local folks, we'll be having a party in Minneapolis on 1/19/19. There'll also be an online celebration, prize drawings for newsletter subscribers and so forth so stay tuned on that as well (you can sign up for the newsletter on the website).
I'm trying to wrangle my workload into submission this week, see friends and do stuff, plus day jobbery. It's exciting to say the least. Year in review post coming this week as well.
You can find copies at DreamHaven Books, at the Queen of Swords Press table on Saturday at the MN Women's Art Festival, at Eat My Words Bookstore on 12/13 or at the Queer Author Holiday Book Fair and Benefit at The L Spot on 12/15. Or any of the usual places fine books are sold. :-D
Off to go recover from Hell Cold in time for tomorrow's event.
And through it all is the constant thrumming terror that this book will tank, that it won't sell, that I won't get it together to do another book. I also worry about the horror perpetuated by my country's government, my family and friends, environmental and social collapse and the insanity of my day job. But I function best with more manageable worries, so the book and the Press are front and center right now. Alright, nose to grindstone, off to do more work and hope for the best.
Now for the announcement. I was waiting until some more things got finalized, but since folks are beginning to ask about my 2019 events, I'll do the preliminary announcement now. A lovely new convention, MultiverseCon, has invited my wife, Jana Pullman, and me as guests to their inaugural launch! Jana, in addition to being a participating artist at the WisCon Art Show, has done design binding for Shelley's Frankenstein, Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, several Ursula Le Guin-themed projects, Minnesota Center for Books Arts Winter Book projects with science fiction and fantasy authors Will Alexander, Eleanor Arnason and Bryan Thao Worra and a bunch of other things. It is quite rare for a con to invite a queer couple as co-guests - the only other examples that I can think of are headliners like Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner or Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge or writing teams like L.A. Graf, but there may be other folks that I'm forgetting about or am not aware of. So anyway, it will be awesome and you should come to Atlanta 10/18-10/20 and participate in the fun!
In other news, my forthcoming pirate anthology, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is starting to get some good buzz. There's a nice review on NetGalley already and geek blog The Nerdy Girl Express just posted an excellent review this morning. It's up for preorder for both ebook and print and other print now and you can add it to your Goodreads list and all that good stuff.
This week is doing some catch up stuff, then going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark at the new Parkway Theater on Thursday, then checking out a reading at Eat My Words on Friday and going to here some friends read at the Subverted Fairy Project Reading at the Phoenix on Saturday. After that, I'll be sequestered at a secret location to writer and edit for a few days. Then I'll be enjoying some Friendsgiving times with various friends. More on all of that later though. Now to go empty the foot spa and get some sleep.
November is lower key - I just got Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) submitted to Ingram and reviews are starting to trickle in. It's out for preorder and up at NetGalley so here's hoping that's enough to give it some serious lift when it launches at the beginning of December.
How is Queen of Swords Press looking so far? Well, the learning curve is really exciting and I'm putting out some swell books. Financially, I'm actually a couple of hundred bucks short of what the Press brought in last year and I'm still not paying myself. My royalties are keeping things afloat at present, though Alex's book has generally done pretty well. Scourge will be the most expensive book I've done so far, what between paying 15 contributors, a copy editor, cover and interior work and production costs, so I'm really doubling down on book tables, events and so forth. It's under consideration at Publisher's Weekly, so hopefully they like it and a rising tide lifts all boats. I'll have to do a check-in post at the end of December and talk about how it went.
Writing. Well, I'm working on Blood Moon and I have a new secret project in the offing and revisions I have to do on a different secret project and another thing kicking around that I want to write. I'll probably spend part of Thanksgiving week sequestered away at a friend's house where I'll have to get some work done. Day job is super stressful right now and I'm running my usual round of ear infections and migraine that come with weather changes.
Apart from that, we're going to have to have to have the big ash tree in the front yard taken down. It's getting too big for the space we have for it and is sending roots into the sewer line and the house foundation. Add to that, we're not treating it for Emerald Ash Borer because we knew its days were numbered, so our tree guy says taking it out now is the most sensible choice. But spendy. And I'm kind of sorry to see it go. We'll have to find something smaller and more suited to our space to plant in the spring. We're also into discussions about replacing the furnace in the spring, which will mean asbestos abatement and changing our ductwork and other fun. We'll be spending the winter getting rid of a LOT of stuff to make it possible to even get at things to do this. Our furnace guy assures us it will be worth it in the long run. Eep.
Never a dull moment...
More events and announcements coming soon. Stay tuned!
On the less happy end of things: Arisia seriously fucked up and I'm very angry and sorry to see it. I won't be going back again until the wronged parties say that things have improved a lot.
In the rest of life: work on Blood Moon continues slowly, but steadily. I'm taking an actual week off in November to write and do things of that ilk. Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is puttering toward the release date of 12/1/18. I'm hoping to load the print version for preorder in the next week. Ebook preorders may be found here for those hoping to get a jump on things. I'm blitzing the universe with announcements and review copies and such so hopefully it soars. There are some wonderful stories in it.
Now off to unwind before bed.
- First up, author Jason Sanford interviewed me about Queen of Swords Press on his Patreon market report.
- It's Queen of Swords Press newsletter sign up time again! Sign up on our website by 10/15 to be entered in the quarterly ebook drawing!
- Twin Cities Book Festival! This Saturday, 10/13 10-5 at the Fairgrounds. Queen of Swords Press will have a table and author Michael Merriam will be our guest.
- Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), my new pirate anthology, will be going up for preorder by next week. Early reviews are quite glowing! ARCs will be available - it releases 12/1 from Queen of Swords Press
In other news, my day job layoff, originally scheduled for the end of this year, has been cancelled, so no frantic job hunting on top of everything else. The world is a shitshow, but I've seen some great local theater, am checking out new events and going to benefits. Getting offline helps a bit, just saying.
Hang in there, folks.
Had a fine and splendid time at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, which was capped off by a nice guy who gave us tickets for the Sky Ride so we didn't have to claw our way back through a billion people. Good crop art, excellent miniature displays, discovered a new to us band, enjoyed grilled peaches with goat cheese, all the good stuff.
Also, hey, I have a new book coming out in December from Queen of Swords Press! Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) has an awesome lineup and now, an awesome cover by artist S.L. Johnson to go with it!
Also in the works: a print edition of Emily L. Byrne's Medusa's Touch, just in time for our St. Cloud events on 9/14-15!