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Lord and Master re-issue

I’m busy getting my Loose Id titles back into print with the sterling help of Alex Beecroft. First up is Lord and Master, with new cover by Alex below. I’m using Draft2Digital to push the book to retailers other than Amazon, and they have a Universal Book Link which if clicked on will offer a selection of online stores, linked to the appropriate site for the location of the person clicking – eg USians choosing Kobo should be directed to the US Kobo website, Australians can choose Angus & Robertson amongst other offerings, etc. I’ve also found a Thing on the Amazon affiliate site which is to direct your website readers to their local ‘Zon site but I have not got to grips with that yet…

Onwards. Please admire the new cover art, suitable for current fashions in romance novels, and the shiny new links below the blurb. If you go to Amazon you will also find that you can buy it in paperback.


Lord and Master cover art - man looking through Window. Art by Alex Beecroft.

When Mark’s PhD supervisor sent him for a job interview with an old university friend, he didn’t mention that the friend was devastatingly handsome. He also neglected to mention to either that the other was gay.

Steven was just looking for a young scientist to train as a PA to help him run his technology company. No extra services required. But watching other people react to a young, pretty man playing secretary to an openly gay CEO amused them both. Watching people wonder if they were having an affair was an entertaining game.

But when the game became real and caught them both up, Mark was left wondering… how real? Because he’s the one PA in the building who can’t marry the boss.


Draft2Digital universal link: https://books2read.com/u/38EMkZ

Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07WQHPZBW
Canada: https://amzn.to/2HBeK5h
Netherlands: https://www.amazon.nl/dp/B07WQHPZBW
Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07WQHPZBW
UK: https://amzn.to/2My7oU8
US: https://amzn.to/2Zr7BKV


Incidentally, since writing Twitter has been discussing library ebook purchasing, here are some numbers: I’ve set the ebook price at $3.99 for purchase by individuals – my percentage of that varies by site, but I’ll get somewhere between $2 and $2.70. At Draft2Digital I’ve also enrolled it in various subscriptions, including the Kobo Plus programme, which is Kobo’s rival to Kindle Unlimited but doesn’t require the author to make the book exclusive to them. Yay Kobo. 🙂 I’ve taken D2D’s suggestion on the price for library purchases, that being $7.99, of which my projected royalty is $3.74 for One Copy One User, or $0.46 for Cost Per Checkout. Someone wants to give me money to make my book available to people who prefer or need to read for free? I will have some of that, please.

And I see Amazon still thinks this is LGBT literature, sub-class erotica. I may have to do some emailing to customer services. At least it hasn’t been filed under BDSM anymore.

Hello, I appear to be a writer

Only a month since my last post on my Dreamwidth journal. Things are improving.

Anyway, in between my various medical appointments I have been working on getting some of my old Loose Id books back up as self-published ebooks. I could not have done this without the generous help of Alex Beecroft, in the form of advice and some spiffing new covers. I should be hitting the publish button before the end of the month, and with any luck a good bit sooner than that should the medical problems push off for a bit. More later.

The Best of Philip E High

As the title suggests, this is a collection of some of High’s many short stories, together with an essay by one of his editors. High was active from the 1950s right through to his death in 2006, and this collections spans decades. Naturally his older stories are old-fashioned, and they’re unlikely to appeal to readers who aren’t old enough to have grown up with this style of writing; but for those of us who are it’s a pleasant walk down memory lane. As far as I remember I’d never read any of his short stories, but I read several of High’s novels when I was a teenager, and this collection makes me want to find out what else of his has been brought back into print by the SF Galaxy imprint. If, like me, you loved his writing way back when, get a copy of this – there are some gems to be had.

Australia
Kobo ¦ Apple ¦ Amazon

UK
Kobo ¦ Apple ¦ Amazon

US
Apple ¦ Amazon

(Yes, those are mostly affiliate links. Also I wish to give some love to not-Amazon.)

“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho

Yes, still here. Sort of… Anyway, I finally remembered to download the Hugo voting packet last night. 🙂

Byam isn’t a dragon. Yet. It takes at least a thousand years, and if pesky humans see you and don’t believe you’re a dragon, you won’t be. The only good thing about them is that they’re useful for a second opinion on questions about the Way. And by the time you’re into your third millennium you might find one who doesn’t run away screaming at the first opportunity…

This is a lovely novelette drawing on Korean mythology; sweet, hilarious, and with a joyful ending even amongst sadness. It left me feeling happy, and glad that its well-deserved Hugo nomination brought it to my attention.

Available free at the Barnes&Noble SF&F blog.

There’s also a short sequel at Cho’s own website.

First Thoughts – Ohto Rook pocket fountain pen

It is possible that I have too many fountain pens. I did not, however, until very recently own a pocket fountain pen; and that one is sufficiently expensive that I’m a little reluctant to take it out of the house. So when I was browsing the clearance section at Cult Pens and saw an Ohto pocket pen at £6 I decided that I Wanted That.

Ohto Rook fountain pen in green and black colorway, capped
Ohto Rook in green and black colorway, capped

This thing is tiny. According to the info at Cult Pens, it’s 93 mm long when closed, and expands to 142 mm long when you remove the cap and put it on the other end. As for the width, it’s a snug fit around a short international cartridge. It’s much more like putting a nib on a cartridge than putting a cartridge in a pen. It’s so tiny it will even fit in the #pockets in women’s clothing with room to spare. If you’re really in a hurry and can’t be bothered to post the cap, you have around 86 mm of pen, which is getting a bit small even for my small hands, but is usable for scribbling a few words. Cap and barrel are aluminium, making it very light for a metal pen; only 11 g.

Ohto Rook fountain pens, one posted and one capped.
Ohto Rook fountain pens, one posted and one capped.

So, the scribbling words bit. I’d poked around the internet for reviews, and one thing that bugged several people was the cartridge that comes with it; apparently a black ink but more like grey. I have plenty of quality international cartridges knocking around so fed it with a Graf von Faber-Castell deep sea green instead. I did not wash the pen through and dry it first, which has a bearing on the writing feel when I first started using it. It was skipping a lot and feeling very scratchy, with a distinct and tiny sweet spot. I did wonder was it a bad nib or was it just manufacturing oils, but after a week or so of occasional use it smoothed out quite a lot – still a bit scratchy but no skipping.

It would probably have helped to prime it properly rather than running the nib under water and then scribbling for a couple of pages, but to do that I would have had to fill a thin convertor and stick it in the back of the barrel, push through some ink, and then take the convertor out again, because this thing is far too short to take a convertor as its actual ink supply. I did not think of the “and take it out again” bit until afterwards, but may try that on the second pen I bought.

Detail of Ohto Rook fountain pen nib
Detail of Ohto Rook fountain pen nib

The pen comes from Japan but the nib is unbranded and marked “iridium point” on the green/black one I bought and “iridium point Germany” on the orange/silver, along with a simple but pretty engraved pattern. It’s apparently a Japanese medium or European fine, so it’s going to be inclined to scratchiness anyway. I can live with it, and it still manages a little line variation. I can’t tell how easy it would be to swap it out, but at that price you’re not losing a lot of money if you mangle it. Ditto if you feel like adjusting the nib.

Ohto Rook fountain pen, disassembled to show the parts
Ohto Rook fountain pen, disassembled to show the parts

It’s a snap cap and very much designed to be posted, so it’s unlikely to scratch the barrel. When snapped closed it’s solidly seated and needs a good tug to get it off again, but not so for posting. It turns out that you need to post the cap firmly. If you do not it will fly off the barrel at the slightest provocation. You also need to make sure the little piece at the end of the barrel that unscrews to allow you to change the cartridge is screwed on very firmly, because otherwise it will unscrew itself and go for a flying lesson along with the main cap. Ask me how I know…

It has a clip. I generally don’t have a use for clips, but this one seems tight and springy.

One thing that I suspect is going to get really irritating is that Ohto miniaturised it by having the lower barrel almost the length of the cartridge, which means only the bottom 6 mm or so of the cartridge is visible once seated. Which makes it very difficult to tell when it’s near to empty. And you can’t carry a spare cartridge in the barrel…

Summary:

It’s tiny. Tiny enough for #pockets. And yet big enough to write with comfortably.

It’s very pretty.

The nib’s not great but is usable.

You need to be careful about posting.

Better not care about knowing how much ink is left.

I’d have been unimpressed with this at the RRP of £13, but like it enough at £6 that I went and got the orange and silver colourway a few days after buying the green and black version. They’re both pretty. 🙂

Hello Dreamwidth

I haven’t posted since mid-May. Apparently I haven’t read Dreamwidth since shortly after that, since I missed the news about a friend’s new job. (Congratulations to that friend. 🙂

There are a number of factors in this, not least the ongoing migraine issues which chew up quite a lot of bandwidth and don’t leave much for things other than day job. Also, at one point one of the side-effects of the meds and/or migraine was a bout of something close to hypergraphia, which is how I come to have a completed short story, a large chunk of a different short story draft, a bunch of random jottings on story ideas, and an outline and substantial chunk of something that is probably going to be at least novella length, all as a result of the #cockygate nonsense. This lot was mostly written by hand, with fountain pen and ink, and needed/will need to be transcribed onto electrons.

And that was before my Firefox install fell over multiple times, on one occasion taking Edge with it. Those things that require the big screen on the laptop plus a proper keyboard were not happening, and that includes Dreamwidth, both reading and writing. Actually fixing [expletive deleted] Firefox seems to involve removing every trace of it and then doing a fresh install, then waiting for the next time it falls over, so the only two reasons I use it at this point are Containers and NoScript. It makes Edge look stable by comparison.

And at some point I have to face the task of updating my website, so that will consume such spare clock cycles as I have. I shall endeavour to post slightly more frequently than I have of late, but am not making any promises.

Loose Id has closed

My primary publisher, Loose Id, has alas closed as of 7 May. My books published through them are now out of print, although you may see them on third party distributors for a short period while the out of print notices work through the system.

I do intend to make the books available again, but that takes a lot of time, which is a resource I’m rather short of at the moment. I’m also waiting on Loose Id to finish working on the rights releases for the cover art I’d like to re-use. I’m focusing on writing new material for now.

If you’re still looking for something of mine to read, I do have books at NineStar Press under the name Storm Duffy, which are still available and will be for the foreseeable future.

Stationery review – Le Yogi writing slope

I’ve been intending to post this for the last two months… Never mind.

I have neck problems and instructions from the physiotherapist to remember to use a good posture, so went in search of a writing slope to use at home. It needed to be relatively light, big enough to hold an A4 page in both portrait and landscape orientation, sturdy enough for an adult to use, not require me to lean hard on the paper with my non-writing hand to pin it down, and have a lip to catch any escaping paper sliding down. This ticks almost all the boxes, for a reasonable price as such things go. The one thing it misses is “portrait A4”. The surface is big enough, but there is a pen rest groove cut into the slope 2 to 3 cm below the top, and the top edge of an A4 sheet resting on the bottom lip will lie over this — something to note if you want to write/colour to the very edge of the page.

It’s made of a sturdy sheet of acrylic folded into shape, with a nonslip silicon strip on both surfaces in contact with the table, and another along the bottom edge of the writing service as a lip, thick enough to hold a colouring book in place but thin enough not to press too hard into my arm. I’m mostly using it to write on A5 paper, and finding it much better for my neck than writing with the paper flat on the table. It will also take the weight of an iPad 2, which is handy when I’m playing with electronic jigsaws. The only fault I found is that the gloss surface reflects overhead lights. Mine’s black but it’s also available in white, which may or may not be better for the glare problem. For me it’s worth every penny of the 20 pounds I paid. Oh, and you get an email with a link to a downloadable colouring book. 🙂

Amazon UK

Stationery review – Schneider refills

In the never ending quest to tidy my room, I decided to have a cull of the pen herd. I have many, many pens of various types accumulated over the years, some dating back to when I was at university [mumble] years ago. I can tell, because they’re in the biscuit tin I used as a pen case.

I was going to be ruthless about throwing out the ones that didn’t work anymore, but some of the ancient and venerable have sentimental value, or are promo pens in a barrel style that I find very comfortable to use, so I set about investigating the availability of refills.

First port of call was the Cult Pens website, a wondrous cavern of everything pen. It turned out they were having a three for two special deal on Schneider products, and Schneider make All the Refills, or pretty close to it. I already had a Schneider disposable courtesy of a sample in a previous order, so I knew they made decent cheap pens. Cue buying binge…

I needed a selection of refills, and I haven’t had a chance to do much with most of them yet, but so far — nice refills. They write smoothly and don’t need much pressure to get them started. I really like the Slider 755, which is a Parker style G2 filled with Schneider’s ViscoGlide hybrid ink. It writes very smoothly with no skipping and almost no pressure once it gets going, but can write on gloss paper without smearing even if it gets wet. It’s described as combining the best features of ballpoint and gel pens. It’s moderately expensive but I think well worth it if it continues to perform like this. I do love my fountain pens for not needing any pressure to write, but this refill comes close and is waterproof to boot.

The refills are all clearly labelled with brand, model number, colour and tip size, even the tiny D1 format multipen refills. This might not sound important, but when you’ve just opened an envelope full of miscellaneous loose refills, it’s very useful for matching refill to pen. Definitely for my “buy again” list.

You can find the Schneider range in lots of pen shops, and as of the time of writing there is still a three for two offer at Cult Pens for the entire range.