lunes, 6 de agosto de 2018

A huge achievement

Last night, I feel like I closed a chapter by finishing the 8th book. Neither the 7th and 8th An Ominous Books have been "officially" published. It's a well-known fact that stretching series indefinitely accrues very few sales, so I don't know if I would be interested in pushing the publicity for two books that took me a very long amount of time to write for few economic rewards.

It's probably more of a pet project than anything else at this point.

I do leave a lot of unresolved issues at the end of the 8th book and there are things I'd like for the story. I might feel tempted to write a 9th book as a sort of standalone story to close other possibilities, and I'm certain it would be very fun to write it.

And here comes the conundrum: Few people will actually care if I write more sequels.

It's a tough call, because I find it very fun to write therse novels. I could very easily do the draft for a 9th novel in 6 months at the current pace I write in odd bursts of free time/inspiration/urgency to finish the blasted story.

However, I would also like to write about other stories filled with fantasy, and even other Young Adult novels that have absolutely no fantasy elements whatsoever. The possibilities are infinite.

For now, I have to make the tough choice to close the final chapter of this amazing series. It was a really fun ride.

I do wish to continue drawing artwork related to the series, because it's so damn fun. Problem is, drawing takes a huge amount of time for me and I just don't have a lot of time to draw these days.

And while I feel sad about leaving more stories on hold, it doesn't mean I am totally against writing more as pet projects.

All in all, good day, Spaulding. It was a real thrill writing your story these past 3 years!

No, this isn't Spaulding, it is a very crummy Hama drawing I quickly made with Photoshop. The lack of my intuos pen obviously shows.

If you are one of the... what... 5 people? That have bothered to read my book series to the end, wow, I'm amazed that you made it so far.

Maybe you could do me a huge favor and reviewing my work on Amazon and Goodreads, I could surely use the reviews!

miércoles, 1 de agosto de 2018

Making mockup publicity images of my published books

Mockup ads seem to get more popularity and when you think about it, you can easily see why. Add a dabble of color in the background, put a mini blurb with something that entices the reader and PAM! A small piece of publicity that is easy on the eyes.

I finally chose to do this for fun and enjoyed the result. Each image was purposely chosen as something related to the plot of each book in one way or another.

I wish to thank the awesome website for the free use images. Thank you!

An Ominous Book is also available on Smashwords!

domingo, 8 de julio de 2018

Book review scammers... again?

Okay, enough with the nonsense!

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post that somehow attracted a minimal amount of viewers. I got 1 like from a real person on Goodreads that might have enjoyed the heads up.

For better or worse, I also got 3 wanna be generic book review mails this week. And yes, they felt cringeworthy to read.

I opted to remove the emails to avoid the unwanted extra publicity for the most part. I wouldn't have cared if they had appeared in the spam folder like usual, but I felt like Ned and Homer when they wake up in Vegas with two new stripper wives when I realized the first email had somehow reached my regular folder. Ugh.

Look guys, I'm not going to purchase your service. Just... stop wasting people's time!

Thank you, Ned Flanders!

martes, 3 de julio de 2018

An old book review scam shows up at Goodreads

I'm mexican, deal with it.

I grew up in a country where cops are the real life epitome of all of the jokes from The Simpsons.

Oh, so you were the victim of some serious crime? Let me write it down on my invisible typewriter. Hahahaha

Come on, you haven't grown up in Mexico if you don't get the Sor Juanita joke, courtesy of a cop that pulls your car tries to pull for some reason (sometimes bogus, sometimes they stopped you because you did a minor driving infraction like go out with an odd number on even number license plates driving day in Mexico City and lack a special permit). If you don't get the joke, the image below should be enough to illuminate you.

I don't own a car and have never been the culprit of that kind of minor traffic offense, but I have been a passenger when cops have stopped for various reasons. Usually they will be legit and give you a fine, but I have heard the "Give me a Sor Juana and we'll just forget about this" sort of shady deal.

Ergo, I guess as an author, I am highly suspicious when I get random unsolicited emails that will offer me a gazillion reviews for my books if I pay them 400 USD. I usually just ignore them, the emails are sent to the spam folder anyways and get deleted automatically eventually.

However! Just a while ago, a persistent Goodreads scammer of some sort that goes by varying usernames pulled a doozie on me. He/she/it/zer/whatever posted a "book question" asking for a free ARC copy. Innocent enough.

But I am a mexican and knew from the start it was bunk.

And since I have little patience for this kind of nonsense, I'm pasting a screencap for posterity to laugh and hopefully deter other turds from pulling this lame scam on me:

The "question" doesn't even bother to mention the name of my book or the reasons why the scammer would feel entitled to read a Young Adult fantasy starring a mortal elf with a human name and lots of issues with authority figures.

A quick google search of the dubious email will direct you to plenty of discussions on Goodreads and even Facebook about people flagging this email. If you're going to pull a blatant book scam, at least try to be creative and rotate the emails a little bit, will ya?

Some users have pointed out this stranger has connections to a mysterious website: with no street cred of any kind.

What happens to gullible well-meaning and/or desperate authors that do send a book to this email? Their book will probably appear as a bootleg making some Nigerian Prince slightly rich at your expense.

If the person had paid any real attention, my book is sold for only 1 usd on the legit channels and I have been known to offer ARC review copies for the first novel of my series every now and then. I no longer offer the sequels for free these days, mainly because I'm planning on changing the book covers and I have been busy writing the final sequels of the series to pretty much wrap things up (much to the annoyance of my scant die-hard fans that never seem to get enough of my works).

As to any potential scammer, as you can see, I take spammy fake review requests sort of seriously and tend to immortalize fruitless attempts for posterity. I hope it will serve as a deterrent and if I start to see a surge in spammy emails on my account, I will probably write another blog post.

Maybe you could take a nap, just like our model cop Wiggum, what do ya say?

sábado, 16 de junio de 2018

The Shanghai Maglev is the fastest commuter train in the world

This is part 2 of my super China expedition bonanza!!!

If you have never been to Shanghai Pudong airport before, you'll be vastly grateful to know that they filled the place with very straightforward signs to make it insanely easy to locate the Maglev train. Once you exit the terminal, there is a sign right above showing the way (image with my selfie above)

You just have to continue walking ahead around 300 meters. Now, along the way, they had a bunch of quirky looking statues (image not shown, but if you want me to add to the post, just send me a message in the comments section!), and in the middle, an unusual treat for China: those flat escalator walkway things that are omnipresent at airports. There were times in China's train stations that I would have loved to see these things... particularly at Hangzhou's East station.

Halfway along the way, the signs post the entrance to the subway. The other exits are the bus stops and parking lots.

Eventually you reach the Maglev ticket office and just tell them in clear English that you want to buy a ticket. A one way ticket costs 50 yuan. I showed the guy my used plane ticket and I got a nice 10 yuan discount. Hey, 30 MXN saved is 30 MXN! I got my little ticket and I was directed to a side entrance that had a nice waiting room.

The waiting room has comfy red velvet chairs and a spiffy Maglev figurine. Eventually, the next train was due to arrive and the lady informed us to go down the escalator to the train track. How fun!

It's fairly simple to get inside the train. They have a storage room next to the doors for heavy luggage and unusually bright turquoise fabric seats. Oddly enough, the chairs are set backwards in the opposite direction of the train. I can only presume it's for safety reasons due to the immense speed it attains.

Now here is the big question. What does it smell like? Oddly musty, but a different odor from an old grandma's home. Maybe add a little sweat in here.

For better (more like worse) I sat next to a window that was awfully blurry with glasses that were blurred from humidity. And no, the humidity didn't magically evaporate or clear away during my ride. Darn!

The train had more and more people pouring in and 10 minutes later, we were on our way! The views are rather ordinary, highways, residential districts, some farms, nothing that is awfully different from my experience riding the Skytrain in Tokyo. The Maglev also doesn't start at 0 and in 10 seconds reach 400 km/hr, it's more gradual. It spent most of the trip at around 200 km/hr.

However, around the 2 1/2 minute point, the train starts to accelerate big time and you feel a strong pressure in your body. Unlike normal bullet trains where you can comfortably stand up and walk around, I wouldn't test my luck at the speeds this monster attains. It started reaching 350 km/hr and that is when I decided to record the cute video pasted below. Enjoy!

Before I knew it, the train slowed down and after what seemed like only 5 minutes (the company claims the trip lasts a bit over 7), I was feeling like "This is it?". Maybe it's because I expected a longer haul after riding two planes for around a total of 18 hours, but the experience felt rather fleeting.

However, it's an amazing trip that comfortably brought me to Longyang Road subway station. From here, you descend the escalator and just follow the signs into the subway and well, here ends my second post of my super China trip. If you are ever going to Shanghai Pudong Airport, you should try this train out!

Oh, BTW, when they claim the train closes at 10 pm, no joking, the train stops serving before 10 pm. If your plane arrives or leaves too early or late, you will have to miss out on this awesome experience. :'(

domingo, 10 de junio de 2018

My first trip to Shanghai China (experiences & a few tips) Pt. 1

I've been very lazy with my blog. A part of me wants to create a formal website of my book series and write character profiles and art of the characters and fantastic world of my book series.

Sometimes it makes me feel like writing a blog almost nobody will ever see feels redundant.

However, China can be a daunting country to visit. Between the cost of a plane ticket, contamination, hurdles to get a visa, the HUGE language barrier and a lot of partial misconceptions steer a lot of people away.

I was in fact going to Canada and the Philippines for vacation, but a last minute change of dates for my vacations screwed me big time and I had to purchase a different plane ticket. I already had my mind set at visiting Shanghai as a layover en route to Manila, and couldn't miss out on the interesting things the country has to offer. I therefore bought a round trip via Aeromexico.

I've traveled Mexico's flagship airline to Tokyo once and they are a good airline for these long haul flights. Usually these tickets costs around a prohibitive 35,000-40,000 MXN, but either I was just really lucky or it was still low tourist season last May and so I got a very good deal for 17,000 MXN. Only bad part of the deal was that both flights left at 5 am. Spending the night in two airports isn't all that great, but getting to China and back was sure worth it.

First step, the visa.

I have two citizenships which come with the perk (and curse) of visa free travel to different countries. Cool because I can easily enter Bolivia as a mexican without hassles, but enter Chile as an American without paying the entry courtesy tax for mexicans. The bad thing is that certain countries are cumbersome to visit as a mexican. I can visit Cuba without a fuss, but I can't enter Puerto Rico with my mexican passport because as an unofficial part of the USA, I'd need a US tourist visa which I can't get for obvious reasons). I have to be picky with travel routes which can cause a few headaches sometimes.

For these reasons, of all the years I have ben traveling abroad, I've never had the need to get a tourist visa until now.

China has a consulate in Mexico City that has a very hassle free tourist visa process. Just go online, print the form which asks you to write your port of entry, around 50% of your itinerary with hotel (hostels are ok too) reservations, your address, job title, job address and phone and a suitable passport sized photo. You must bring a copy of your hotel reservations, passport plage with your photo and email confirming flight or ferry reservation as well. You leave your passport with them so that they glue the visa on it.

The office opens Mon-Fri between 9 am-1:30 pm. I showed up on a Monday and the place was almost empty. I was probably waiting in line 20 minutes at the most. Since I had all of the required forms filled out, the consul simply asked me if I wanted a single or multiple entrance visa. As much as getting a 2 entrance visa would be great, you have to use it within a 6 month time frame. Since I don't get vacations every 2 months, that would have been pointless. I also told her it had to be the urgent visa that is ready in 24 hours. She looked at my papers, retrieved the ones she needed, returned everything else and gave to me a voucher to pay at any HSBC bank for 700 MXN. I had to return tomorrow after 9 am at the express line to pick up my passport with the visa, pretty much confirming I had an approved visa.

Everything went smoothly the next day and there was no going back!

After flying over a good portion of Japan (I got to see Nagoya, Osaka and Hiroshima from above), the plane crossed the sea for around 90 minutes and I finally got my first glimpse of Chinese soil. Lest to say, it was very swampy with a lot of freight boats bussing around. I don't know why the photo ended up looking so clouded. While smog is a true issue in China, the view was a lot clearer than this image.

Staff sprayed the cabins with some really nasty pungent aeroseol to ward off mosquitos that was pretty awful for a few minutes, but otherwise, the plane made a smooth landing and my heart was pounding nonstop with excitement that I had just officially landed in my 9th country!


I'll be uploading more entries about my trip and some tips so that you have as much fun as I did!

sábado, 9 de junio de 2018

A small book editorial in Mexico called "Palabras Palibros"

One of my book fans sent the link to this small scale book editorial for me to look at. The editorial is called Palabras Palibros which doesn't seem to have a specific book specialty (aka, as in only focusing on poetry, Sci-Fi & fantasy, romance, non-fiction, etc...) and it has only a few titles.

They not only offer the service to publish your book in ebook and physical format, they also offer translation services to English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German.

The requirements to send manuscripts seems pretty straightforward. You must show proof that you hold the copyright via the mexican copyright office INDAUTOR (all of my officially published novels have one), and you can either send them via e-mail or print a physical manuscript. They will then decide to decline or accept to publish.

The website doesn't specify much of the details after that except that it seems like you have to provide some cash to print the first edition and then they will take care of the publicity and getting your book in local bookstores. By getting published with them, you get something the average Mexican Indie Author can't easily get: invitation to a highly coveted book convention which could help you gain readers.

I don't know what my book situation would be. They don't specifically state if they are forced to reject books that you previously self published. I guess that as long as you continue to hold the rights and pull off the other edition of the book, they can accept your manuscript. I guess I'd have to email them, just for the sake of curiosity.

What about royalties?

They offer 30% royalties which for a publishing house is quite good. I don't make much of any cash selling the Spanish version of my book on Amazon, so I don't lose anything by at least sending them an e-mail. Createspace is a great service, but they don't ship books to Mexico very easily for some oddball reason. Palabras Palibros doesn't state how many copies they'd print, but if the book sells well, they offer to print the second edition on their own dime.

I am not familiar with any of the novels they have published, but these two seem pretty interesting:

Caballos en Tropel by Juan Carlos Martinez (seems to be a drama novel about a politician that retires to the countryside)

Gesta de luciernagas by Marco Antonio Alfaro del Ángel (seems to be a romance novel taking place in France, a protagonist named Deian is a well respected warrior peasant that wants to marry a noblewoman...)

The books aren't available on Amazon, only by mexican bookstores such as El Sótano. This could have a good and bad result. The book could sell pretty well locally, but you'd still be trad published and get your name out. I notice none of the books from the editorial are listed on goodreads. That isn't very good either because the editorial isn't pushing for the minimal external forces even though they claim to offer marketing services.

All in all, I am grateful for the kind suggestion and decided to give it some well-warranted publicity on my blog. I might think about emailing them sometime. I lose nothing by asking if they are interested in the Spanish version of my novel. I self translated it, but it needs to be professionally revised by a native Spanish speaker. I would be willing to let them improve any grammatical problems with the prose if they are genuinely interested in trad publishing it.

Visit the website HERE.