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Monthly Archives: May 2013
My Thrilling Tales books are on sale at Amazon, at over 40% off

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves: on sale at AmazonI’ve got no idea why, or for how long, but at the moment Amazon has offered a deep discount on my two Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual books.

You can get either Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves or The Lair of the Clockwork Book for just $10.79; that’s a discount of 43% on the first, and 45% on the second, or, um, inevitably, 44% on the two of them together.

Each one’s about 130 full color pages, at some amount I am too weary to calculate per page. But, you know, a bargain. They’ve gotta be CRRRAAAAAZY to offer these deals!

The CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress, revisited

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

Preview of the CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress

Here’s another preview screenshot of my CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress.

So far the config screen lets you add categories, rename them, change their options, change their sort order, and delete them; within the categories you can – this afternoon! – add books.

Adding the books means I have to generate thumbnail images for them. That’s because of the big surprise I found when I added CreateSpace books to the Archonate Bookstore: the thumbnails expire! It must have something to do with Amazon’s cloud hosting.

They generate a thumbnail image dynamically when you visit the page and a few hours later… that image won’t be there any more. So my plugin captures the thumbnail, does some processing on it, and saves off a permanent copy of the image.

Next up is sorting and deleting books within a category. The ‘Refresh’ buttons below the books will capture a new thumbnail image (in case the cover is changed).

I may need to stop working on this tomorrow, at least for a little while, so I’m hoping to have everything in the Admin UI working properly by then.


About Jack Vance, from two sides of “The Dragon Masters”

Filed under Can't Stop Thinking

I’ve reached that stage in life when the people I’ve admired for as long as I’ve been admiring people have begun to disappear at what’s probably an accelerating rate. There are obvious reasons why I think that’s a shame; some selfish (it’s proof that aging is going on, somewhere near me) and some, maybe, unselfish (because I’m sorry for all of us that these folks aren’t here with us any more).

jack vance: the dragon masters

So this week, it’s Jack Vance.

I try to avoid eulogizing people I didn’t actually know. After all, who am I to weigh in? So I’ll just say that even though I try to avoid having favorites, Vance was still a favorite writer of mine because he was just way too good to yield to my policy of unfavoritism. I mean, you just couldn’t keep him down. And though he hadn’t been writing for quite some time his body of work is still every bit as wonderful as it ever was. If you don’t know that work, you ought to.

Now the world is full of people who did know, or work with, or correspond with Jack Vance. What they have to say about his passing is a lot more compelling than anything I could write. I noticed a curious symmetry in two of these: Matthew Hughes remembers his first exposure to Vance through the magazine publication of The Dragon Masters, while Frederik Pohl remembers publishing it. Taken together they’ll tell you about 10% of what you should know about Vance: the rest, you’ll get by reading him.

New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
Voyage of the Hypatia: the limited edition closes on Tuesday

Filed under Works in Progress

Voyage of the Hypatia limited edition print

It’s a busy day here in the Secret Laboratory: I had to wrestle WordPress to the floor and I just had it begging for mercy when my mail carrier arrived with the final proof for Voyage of the Hypatia; that’s the extremely limited edition print from my recent failed Kickstarter campaign. Backers – and even a few strangers – have been ordering their copies from the pre-order page while I’ve been mucking around with the proofs.

It’s a three day weekend here in the US of A, and so I can’t order the prints until Tuesday morning. That makes sometime early on Tuesday the time when the limited edition will close; and as I promised during the bloodbath at Kickstarter, this is the only time this picture will be made available as a large format print.

So sometime Tuesday, it’s all over. But until then… you can still get yours.


In progress: CreateSpace Shop Manager Plugin for WordPress

Filed under Print On Demand, Works in Progress

A few days ago I put up a working online bookshop for Matthew Hughes’ Archonate web site – actually it’s the second book shop there, since I’ve been feeding his site with eBooks all year long.

This one’s different because it’s stocked with print-on-demand paperback books, printed and shipped by CreateSpace. CreateSpace allows self-publishers to sell through several sales channels; the author gets a different cut of the sales price at each one. You can buy these paperback books at Amazon – in several countries – or direct from CreateSpace. It’s not surprising that an author gets a much better percentage of the sale if it’s made through the CreateSpace “store”.

But the CreateSpace stores are primitive objects. Each one offers just a single book and there’s no way for an author to tie all those individual book pages into one single, unified storefront, which is sort of necessary if you hope to sell your books online without a middleman like Amazon.

The Archonate‘s CreateSpace store is a proof of concept for what I’m working on now – a WordPress plugin that lets you combine any number of books into any number of category pages and host them – all together, all with a single shopping cart – within your WordPress blog. All an author needs to do is to set up the shop and go back to writing promote it.

You can see a screenshot of the admin screen for the plugin below.

CreateSpace Bookshop Manager plugin for WordPress

It’s going to take me awhile; this is my first WordPress plugin, and the past few days have been made livelier by my creative use of language while I discovered new and exciting things to yell about.

At the moment I’ve managed to create a plugin that WordPress recognizes, set up its configuration screen, and add and retrieve the plugin’s options from the WordPress database. That’s been a heck of a lot of work for a plugin that doesn’t do anything yet, but I have the working proof of concept to look at while I’m, um, swearing.

I like the way the content is pulled in from CreateSpace and modified in ways that the user can extend. So long as the WordPress blog is cached, this adds very little work for the blog’s server or for the CreateSpace server. All in all, I think it’s pretty neat.

Once it’s done I might even do a very similar thing for Amazon affiliate sales, which, of course, aren’t limited to books. I’ve used Amazon’s own AStore system (you can see an implementation right here in my blog) but having used it, I know how cumbersome and unwieldy a thing it is. Surprisingly, it looks like I can do better. So maybe I will.

New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
Two new paperback books from Matthew Hughes and (sort of) from me

Filed under Works in Progress

I think I’ve mentioned from time to time that I built a web site for Matthew Hughes, author of the Archonate novels and stories – and more – like Majestrum, The Spiral Labyrinth, and Hespira.

I may have also mentioned that I’ve been formatting his backlist and new anthologies as eBooks, which he sells on his site.

But because I’m a books-are-made-of-paper kind of guy it’s always been my secret hope that Hughes would try publishing his books as print-on-demand paperbacks.

Why? Because the eBook formats are more crude than web pages are, that’s why, and if I’m going to design a book I want it to look its best.

So you can imagine how happy I am that he’s taken the plunge into self-published paperbacks. I got to lay out the interiors and covers (though the cover illustrations aren’t mine) and I’m very happy with the way they’ve turned out.

I’m still working on the section of his site that will sell the paperbacks directly. But for now I encourage you to have a look at them at Amazon through these links. Nine Tales of Henghis Hapthorn already has its “Look Inside” previews; The Meaning of Luff and Other Stories is a couple of days younger and its previews aren’t yet ready as I write this.

I could tell you how well I like Hughes’ work. I could probably tell you until you started rolling your eyes. But who listens to me?

Listen to this guy:

“Hapthorn’s picaresque adventures, an adroit blend of SF and fantasy, pay homage both to Vance’s Dying Earth fantasies and his classic Demon Princes future history… A tremendous amount of fun.” George R. R. Martin


New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story It Came from the PULP-O-MIZER, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
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